The Business.com Market Experts are our resident thought leaders. Get to know this month's "Market Expert of the Month": Brian Hughes!
As you may have noticed, Business.com is not your traditional news outlet. The majority of our writers are not journalists—in fact, they're not even writers at all.
The Business.com Market Experts are business owners, tenured professionals and subject matter experts who help us carry out our mission of bringing you the knowledge and the "how" to run and grow your businesses and careers. They provide the uber-practical and valuable knowledge and a peer-to-peer perspective that's much more about how to do something than simply "about" something.
In an effort to help you better get to know our Market Experts, we're acknowledging the stellar individuals that write for us with a "Market Expert of the Month" recognition. And there is no better fit for our very first Market Expert of the month than Brian Hughes.
Brian is the owner of Integrity Marketing and Consulting, a digital marketing agency out of Texas. Not only is he deeply knowledgeable about digital marketing, but an extremely passionate and dedicated leader. His love for marketing and the true investment he makes in the people he works with is evident in all he does.
I chatted with Brian about how he has built his business, the most important trends in marketing, and much more. The 10-question interview is below. I hope you enjoy getting to the wonderful Brian Hughes!
Tell Us “Your Story” as an Entrepreneur
Brian Hughes: For the first part of my career, I held several different sales positions. While the jobs were unfulfilling, the fear of starting a business myself always held me back from venturing out on my own. When circumstances forced me to leave my last sales job, I knew it was time to take a leap of faith. Instead of settling for another mediocre sales position, I decided to go into SEO full-time and ultimately start my own agency. Now I get to experience the blessings that come from helping businesses increase their revenue, which in turn blesses their families, their employees and their families, as well as my family.
Tell Us About Your Business
BH: Integrity Marketing & Consulting is a digital marketing agency that delivers solutions for any size business – local and national businesses, start-ups, brands, entertainers, authors, organizations, charities and churches. I founded the business in 2011 on two core principles – integrity and excellence – and believe it is my commitment to these principles that has enabled the business to prosper through good times and bad.
What Inspired You to Start Your Business?
BH: I started Integrity Marketing & Consulting to provide honest and ethical digital marketing solutions and SEO expertise. I credit my strong faith in God as a strong source of inspiration from day one. Rand Fishkin also continually inspires me; I admire how he has challenged the online marketing world to follow industry best practices and focus on building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with end users rather than relying on short-term tricks to “beat” search engines and Google.
What Is the Most Rewarding (And the Most Challenging) Part of What You Do?
BH: I genuinely love helping clients build their digital brands and hear that they’ve landed new business as a result of our marketing efforts! It also means so much to hear from people via social media or email that they’ve benefited from something I wrote or shared. My greatest challenge is juggling my passion for digital marketing with the day-to-day realities of running a company. I honestly wish I could help everyone who comes to me for free, but at the end of the day my business still needs to generate revenue and pay bills on time!
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Which Current Marketing Trends Do You See as “The Future”?
BH: I’m just going to say it: SEO as an independent profession is dead. Today’s digital marketers need to be fluent in SEO, PR, social media, content marketing, inbound marketing, and data analysis. Mobile, mobile, mobile.
What Do You Believe Makes for Successful Marketing?
BH: Successful marketing is selfless rather than selfish. Today’s savvy consumers are sick and tired of having products sold to them. Great marketing is all about understanding the challenges people are facing and delivering creative solutions to improve their lives in a meaningful way. The “sale” is secondary and comes naturally when people have a strong, positive relationship with your brand. In short, I believe a successful marketing perspective is one that says how my products or services can be beneficial to you, rather than how I can get money out of your pocket and into mine.
If You Had to Give the Former You a Few Words of Advice, What Would They Be?
BH: Don’t be discouraged, start sooner, think for yourself and be more organized.
How Has Your Experience in the Business.com Market Expert Program Benefitted Your Business and Career?
BH: I’m grateful for the opportunity the Business.com family has given me to write for such an awesome audience about the things I love doing. Since becoming a Market Expert, I’ve met some incredible people and furthered my industry knowledge through research, interviews and networking. The experience has given me an edge amongst my peers that I would not otherwise have.
Which Entrepreneur Do You Look Up To, and Why?
BH: Marcus Lemonis and Mark Cuban are my two entrepreneurs who I greatly respect. They both have compelling stories of how they built their empires from nothing. Success hasn’t “changed” them; they both continue to help others and have a true passion for affecting positive change on the world around them.
What’s Your Favorite Motivational Quote?
BH: “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” – David Brinkley