Exclusive interview with Ian Bentley, a lead generation expert and founder of Ian Bentley the brand. Ian graduated from the University of Florida in 1997 and later founded his first company, which was acquired to the tune of an 8-figure liquidation event. Simply put, he’s one of the leaders in the lead generation space.
In this interview, he has shared some insight into his personal and professional life. Read on to find out more about him.
What’s your story?
After I graduated from the University of Florida (circa 1997), I discovered this new thing called the internet. As a graphic designer, I was drawn to designing and developing websites. I quickly honed my skills, and in no time, I was able to secure high profile clients including radio stations, national rock bands, and record labels.
Fast forward a few years, I connected with my then business partner to develop and market a consumer-facing cigar website. Shortly after that, we discovered the enormous potential in online marketing, and thus, we founded a lead generation company, with a particular focus on the mammoth automotive industry. Within a month of launching the agency, we quickly scaled, and 7 years later, we became the largest privately-held lead generation agency in the USA. So much so, that we were acquired to the tune of an 8-figure liquidation event.
Name of your business/company and what exactly does it do?
I have a brand of my own name i.e. Ian Bentley. In simple words, I brand myself. I help digital marketing agencies in growing their bottom line and expanding their client base.
Share an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know.
This isn’t really a fact – it’s more about my past. Not many people know that I was a theater major and toured with a nationally recognized rock band playing bass, singing backup, and producing multiple records.
Apart from this, because of my success in business, I am able to leverage my marketing skills, investment funds, and knowledge of music to produce on Broadway (The Encounter & dear Evan Hansen) and develop and orchestrate a musical (Finding Helena).
I also was able to bridge a major gap with a San Fran startup (Liquid Seats) by forging relationships with that company and major music acts (Creed and Britany Spears). With those relationships, Liquid Seats quickly transcended from west coast sports-oriented secondary market ticket broker to a household name (StubHub).
What was your secret to success?
I would say the reason I succeed in the first place is that I always thought big. I never considered myself an ordinary person and did not stop anywhere. Apart from this, I believe my never-ending thirst for knowledge and the ability to pivot quickly as roadblocks come about also played an important role in helping me reach where I am today.
How did you make a name for yourself in your industry?
It’s simple: by owning the largest privately held lead generation agency in the automotive space. Before our acquisition, I was looked at as an authority in the lead generation industry. After our acquisition, being a high profile executive allowed me to interact with other top executives in major companies such as General Motors, Ford, and other top players in the space.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
The most exciting factor in my business right now is being able to share my years of experience and successful strategies with companies, and witnessing massive growth rates as a result of implementing my proven systems and strategies.
How do you ensure that you hire top talent from the industry?
With social media, you can easily differentiate between the real deal and the wannabes by being active in specific mastermind groups. Also, you need to have the ability to find the needle in the haystack by posting jobs on the top job recruiting sites.
What is your favorite quote?
From a movie: ‘If you’re not the first, you’re the last’ (Talladega Nights).
From my personal experience: ‘When there’s a fork in the road, you take it!’
What obstacles did you face to get to where you are now and How did you overcome these obstacles?
Like everyone in the world, we use top platforms such as Facebook and Google as the main sources of traffic. When those companies come out with algorithmic updates, they can cause a negative shift in our results sometimes.
In such a case, rolling with the punches and adapting quickly allowed us to stay at the forefront of delivering quality referrals on a consistent basis, and at scale. Understanding why they update their algorithms, accepting them, and quickly adapting – rather than cursing the 10,000-pound gorilla – always allowed us to pivot and come out of the other side in a better position.
How will you continue to grow and succeed?
I do not plan to stop. I will continue to find more like-minded, success-driven entrepreneurs to partner with and witness success when they achieve their goals.