Expert Interview Series: Dustin Brackett of hivedigitalstrategy.com on Careers in Digital Marketing

Dustin Brackett is the CEO and Founder of HIVE Digital Strategy, a leading inbound marketing agency.

We recently checked in with Dustin about career opportunities in Digital Marketing today. Here’s what he shared.

Can you tell us about your journey into digital marketing? What drew you to the profession?

I started in digital marketing on the client side. I was managing an internal marketing team and it became very obvious that our best ROI was in digital marketing. I focused exclusively on digital marketing for two companies on the client side and then decided that I wanted to help more businesses in that arena and started my agency. I’ve always been intrigued by the constantly changing digital environment which always provides new challenges and opportunities.

What excites you today about being in digital marketing? Why has it been a worthwhile career choice for you?

I never have two days that are the same and that is something that I absolutely love. There are always new things to learn, fires to put out, and opportunities to have. Digital marketing gives me an outlet to express both my creative and technical sides. It’s NEVER boring!

How has digital marketing grown as a profession? What do you think the future looks like for the profession?

It’s no secret that marketing is moving digital. The lack of analytics, tracking and ROI of traditional methods are making those tactics outdated and they’ll continue to be utilized less and less. I think the profession is evolving into an industry where we’ve got to be helpful before being sales focused. With the amount of people already doing research on their own (about 57 percent of the sales cycle is actually complete before someone ever reaches out to a salesman), we’ve got to focus on helping consumers make the best decision for them, whether it’s with us (hopefully) or not.

What are the most important skill sets someone interested in a digital marketing career needs to obtain?

I think the skill that I’d hire for first is the ability to critically think. We pride ourselves on not being “order takers”. We don’t just have our clients tell us what they need and then we produce. We actually tell them what we think their best path is and we’ll push back when a client wants something that we don’t think is going to be beneficial for them. It’s taken us some time to understand that telling a client no is actually very important. As for a more concrete answer, the ability to code well is indispensable. A good coder is worth their weight in gold. Learn to code, especially if you’re a woman, and you’ll have your pick of jobs.

What skills would you love to see more digital marketers have? What skills will they need to survive in the profession in the future?

I’d love to see more well rounded marketers. In the world today, coders are coders, designers are designers, strategists are strategists. The people that can code, design and strategize are like unicorns. Sure, it takes a special kind of personality and talent to be able to do all of those things, but if you’ve got that kind of bandwidth, you’re a huge asset in this world.

What are your favorite resources for growing your skills or knowledge in digital marketing?

I love reading business books, really anything that resonates with where I’m at at that particular moment. Start With Why by Simon Sinek is one of my favorites as is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. We are also a HubSpot Partner Agency and they provide an amazing amount of training on various inbound marketing topics and we’ve tried to take them up on every piece of education that they offer. There are even some that are available to the public at http://academy.hubspot.com.

What are the most important lessons you’ve had to learn as a marketing professional?

I think the hardest one to learn was to say no to a client that was a bad fit. There are many businesses out there that have never worked with an agency and don’t understand the dynamic. There are also clients that simply aren’t a good fit to work with. Taking on clients for the sake of adding a new client will get you into relationships that you don’t want to be in. Turn down bad fits. Not everyone is going to be a fit for you and that’s OK.

What’s one piece of advice you’d offer adult learners who are interested in pursuing a marketing career today?

You have to get educated. If you’re not familiar with the digital landscape today, you’re miles behind. Learn everything that you can and always investigate the newest and hottest trends. Not all will pan out, but with the ones that do, you’ll be at the forefront.

Follow Dustin’s advice on ongoing education. View open courses.

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