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Bill Hunt: Summer School, Learning from the Experts

This summer we are taking you back to school! We are focussing on education in Digital Marketing: what is the best education, what background is important? Questions you will see answered throughout the summer by those you can learn from the best: the experts. Those that already earned their stripes and are now willing to share with you how they got there and what you should do to get that far as well.

Today we listen to a veteran in the business: Bill Hunt. Bill is currently the Global Digital & Search Marketing Strategist of Back Azimuth Consulting.

More about Bill here.

Summer School

What type of education did you have? Is your education related to what you do now?

The degree in International Business helps in some areas.   The account and business skills helped somewhat running multiple global agencies.   Honestly, my 10 years in the Marine Corps taught me the most about solving problems, motivating people and clarity in the mission we do for clients.

How did you get into digital marketing?

I had a traditional consulting and retail company and started using forums and eshops in 1994 in Japan to sell products.   Then created a website and listed it in Japanese and English directories.  After a Japanese public TV reporter  pointed people in Japan to the site after the Kobe earthquake we generated a ton of sales.  This made the local and national news resulting in a bunch of large companies asking me to help them use the Internet to crack Japan and the rest is history.

Bill-HuntDid you need extra schooling? If so, what type of extra schooling did you get?

No formal.   I have taken courses on programming, database management, server management to help me understand why people were making the mistakes they make.

How do you think the state of education in marketing is these days? Do marketers learn what they need to learn?

I don’t think so.  My two children graduated from University in the past few years and one was an International Business Major and the other Psychology but focus around product marketing – talking the them about what they were learning was frustrating.  They were frustrated with their professors preaching how TV is the best marketing and both of them got their TV from the web mainly to cut out commercials that did not relate to them.  I think you should have to do job shadowing or some sort of internship with a variety of companies learning about marketing and sales and not just what some teacher thinks is current.  I think you will never leave the 4 P’s but how they are extended into a modern world.

How do you feel about online training courses?

Honestly, most in Search and Digital are worthless.  They are either too basic,  developed by people who are better educators than practitioners and none cater for large global companies.  I really like Lynda.com and use it to get that one piece of knowledge I need on an application or a programming technique.

What is your tip for those that want to learn more?

Be curious and just try something.  I tell people to start a blog or small ecommerce site – even an affiliate site and see what works.  It should not be your core business but take chances and test offers and review customer and reader feedback.   In general be observant and make notes of what you like and others like and it is all about attracting, engaging and retaining customers so see what works for different businesses but most importantly what does not.

What resources are best to learn marketing?

Honestly your brain and talking to customers as the best way to learn marketing.  I find too many people are afraid to talk to their customers.  I think people should also ready Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson and Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug both of these go to the heart of why most marketing fails – you have to do something – anything and do it in a manner that connects with a consumer’s needs.

What’s the last lesson in marketing you learned?

Make sure you offer the simplest of details.   Don’t assume that people have the same level of knowledge about your product or service.

Know about what is changing in marketing!

Keep up with the latest digital marketing developments, views and how-tos through State of Digital’s digest newsletters. Be the first to hear about events, white papers, e-books, webinars, training and more!


Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.