19 Plus Tips In 19 Years In Marketing, Growth & Innovation

Danny Denhard

I recently presented at the Digital Transformation Summit in Manchester, it was a great audience with a lot of engagement and tweets.

A number of people requested the deck and I wanted to share a number of experiences from 19 years in marketing, growth and product roles wider than just at the conference.

I have broken down the presentation underneath the deck below for more context, with tips, links and info to help you improve your team, your strategies and approach to marketing, product, growth and innovation.

19 plus tips from 19 years in marketing and management deck
Everyone is a marketing expert really
  • If you have ever worked in marketing, you are constantly recommended and suggested ideas, have you thought of this, why haven’t you done that, let’s do a TV ad.
  • It is great to get collaboration and inspiration but not everyone has and can do marketing, but if you If you ever want to know to upset your director of marketing, CMO or team — tell them you have a great idea 😉
  • Something that people learn the hard way is you never really know everything, but even “know-it-all’s” like me can not confess to knowing everything, we are not built or engineered that way
  • If you really are struggling for cut through I have learnt there is one thing that get’s people listening, sex.
  • The only time everyone pays attention is when sex is mentioned, especially in business, you will see heads turn and opinions fly, I learnt this having a leading European sexologist as a client and having a meeting in a Costa coffee, everyone listens in!
  • Something to keep in mind, everyone will have an opinion, said or unsaid, so be prepared.
  • I am an annoying morning person, I do my best work in the morning, especially by lunch, I get in early, finish earlier and get back at it later when have had time to re-think and refresh.
  • You have to respect your brain and your team!
  • One piece of advice, if you’re an afternoon or evening person, go in later. Businesses & managers have to be flexible.
  • Don’t make your staff work towards times that does not suit them — but most do and in 2018 that is wrong in my opinion.
  • There are two books that will help you; Deep Work by Cal Davenport & Sprint by Jake Knapp.
  • I have been a manager since 17 — you rarely get any training whatsoever.
  • You can’t make everyone happy but you have to do everything you can to retain and entertain,
  • Short 25 minutes 1:2:1’s are key for most personality types.
  • Build out something people can believe in, even if its a statement that allows them to be brought into a specific vision will really help.
  • There is no secret to successful meetings, never!
  • No one likes meetings apart from the meeting owner,
  • You never get through an actual agenda (apply a 70% stretch rule)
  • It’s rare that you can change minds or set in mindsets in one meeting
  • Look to ban distractions (aka phones) from meetings, senior people are the worst for using them
  • Presentations within meetings can be used as a base, as soon as people start reading off it — stop the meeting
  • Proposed solutions in meetings typically bring up additional idea’, usually being too big and need refining, it’s ok but will lead to two more meetings.
  • It’s rare you miss something huge in a meeting and if you do it’s up to the owner to share this piece of information
  • All engineers hate meetings (that include specific personality types too) so try to be quick, direct and have your asks lined up, think about replacing meetings with stand up’s / sit downs where possible
  • Never call a meeting if you know the answer, it’s not time to show off
  • 1:1’s shouldn’t be seen as a meeting
  • Crisis meetings aren’t a meeting — remember that in setting expectations
  • Hold stand-ups, sit-downs, wraps ups, use tech to help bring teams closer together, especially if they are remote
  • We have the most tech & best tech we have ever had and more content available, use this to help — leverage it
  • Feedback is key — don’t let feedback loops stop
  • Education through transparency — there is the commonly known and the uniquely known, don’t stop the uniquely known from being shared and understood
  • No one really loves rules, but frameworks help guide and nurture
  • GROW works both ways for this (google framework is simple and applicable for almost everyone)

Framework To Use

Don’t yawn give them a go

I have created a google doc with a selection of these matrix’s to use @ dannydenhard.com/matrix

Strategy was a core focus of slides in the presentation, this is something that divides opinion and everyone understands “strategy” differently:

Strategy Tips:

  • Have an one-liner people can understand and support
  • Have one deck that everyone can get behind
  • Have a master 1 a3 sheet that you complete as a team
  • Tactics should evolve constantly, never ever stop people in your team evolving tactics or tweaking the plan, proactive and reactive work hand in hand
  • Framework to consider — think big, act small, by when, this is the simplest way of packaging your strategy.
BHAG is a concept created by James Collins meaning: Big Hairy Audacious Goal

Talent Tips

  • Talent is essential, regardless of age.
  • Always remember Mark Zuckerberg was 20 when he was CEO of Facebook. Evan Speigel is only 28
  • High potential high performers are always ones you have to guide not drive, never ever drive someone unless they ask
  • Micro management is the devil, unless people ask for it

Handling Change Tips

  • You will notice that the older you get the less you like and will adapt to change
  • Your team can help you, you should be helping them and never keep a list
  • Develop a champion program, let champions own a specific area or vertical and give updates and educate the rest of the team
  • Algo’s control search, social, email, communities — remember that and embrace / kill where applicable

Things we all know

  • Everyone in the world works with an idiot
  • Even the smartest people are idiots (generally the worst kind)
  • Typically they won’t know or care…. show them if you have to
  • Guess what, most of the people in your team(s) think you are an idiot & that’s ok, it’s how you adapt

Fighting Attention Tips

  • Seth Godin famously said — “Marketing is a contest for people’s attention.”
  • Work out how to keep someone’s attention, on your team, on your app, on your website, in real life.
  • Educate visitors, users ASAP, if you don’t someone else will, remember anchoring bias (people always tend to remember the first piece of information as the most trusted)
  • Obvious Alert: Make the CTA stand out, we are idiots, we want to be told what to do and when
  • If visitors have to come back, you’ve probably lost them. Give them something to remember!

Product wins over marketing over budget over stupid people

  • Wait until Facebook or Google ventures into your space, you will realise your silver bullet or moat only goes so far!
  • You are really only as good as your product — so make it brilliant
  • Your product roadmap may as well not exist if you don’t deliver it exactly when you say you will
  • Monzo is great at making you think they are amazing — they are good but preception & unbundling the rubbish experience banks provided, has set Monzo up for long-term success.
  • You become only as good as your most recent release, most recent messaging, most recent push notification — you are judged at every given step
  • Maybe Jeff Bezos is different, he has ten years strategy or thinking ten years ahead but most companies are thinking at the end of their arm
  • Here are a couple of great Jeff Bezos quotes:

“If you’re going to take bold bets, they’re going to be experiments,”

“And if they’re experiments, you don’t know ahead of time if they’re going to work. Experiments are by their very nature prone to failure. But a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work.”

  • A great product that evolves is worth more than any budget
  • You will really struggle to keep people if the product is below word of mouth great
  • Marketing will struggle to patch product holes — there is only so much CPA / marketing can do for product teams
  • Innovation is not optional!
  • Referral and retention won’t happen if the product is basic or rubbish

Data Tips

  • Data should guide you
  • Data is hard to understand for most people
  • If numbers and maths intimidates you, then you have no chance with big data
  • Understand what you would like out of your data and requests, guide the data and then let the data story-tell where applicable
  • Content marketing and SEO were great at leveraging data, but probably ruined it for the rest of us (GUILTY)

Performance Anxiety Tips

  • Everyone celebrates as a team when things go well
  • Teams are undone when performance drops, applies in sports, work and family life
  • Get people used to loving dopamine kicks, get them to write down to do lists and cross them off, get them hooked on the feeling & bring that into teams (make them feel they are together in wins and losses) — watch the all or nothing Man City series
  • Everyone can complain, moan and bring the mood down,
  • It is up to you and your team to attack those problems, always suggest one problem two solutions
  • Do not be afraid to guide which is your preferred solutions to your manager, get them on your journey
We all learn the hard way, don’t let your team
  • Keep your eye out for a couple of bad days
  • Mad and frustrated is ok, angry is hard to come back from, if not impossible
  • Ask what you can do to help as quickly as possible — you can always spare some time for people and if you cannot or don’t want to, you are no doubt part of the issue
  • My bad days are Tuesday’s (apparently it’s down to being the furthest from the weekend & common), this could be partners within your team
Please remember thank you and recognition is a gift
  • Hand written notes are something more powerful than you realise
  • Go beyond formal feedback and just saying thanks. Slack and IM have reduced the impact of a thanks or a shout out
  • In behavioural economics, it’s known as trivialisation effect
There is nothing wrong with being number 2 or 3 if you can accept it and growth
  • Copying is fine until you cannot scale or copy at speed
  • There are hundreds of search engines…. Google wins no?
  • Understand what you are uniquely good at and scale the heck out of it
  • (Economic) Moats are easily removed now — concentrate on building them out
Make sure you embrace each type
  • All people are different, embrace it
  • Really empower the right type of person and what makes them tick
  • Head people are those who use data as their guide
  • Heart people are those who know the idea or campaign but let data back it up
  • Gut people are those who say f-ck the data this is going to work and i’ll do everything I can to make it work and prove people wrong
  • Gut people are creatives and marketers and often the ones who have amazing ideas and don’t need the data (they never always had it)

Last but most importantly:

We are all human believe it or not

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions happily tweet me @dannydenhard or add me on LinkedIn

Image sources in deck:

Book recommendations

Danny Denhard

Written by

Director Of Growth at JustGiving. Career in Product, marketing and growth in growth based companies. I write a weekly newsletter over at dannydenhard.com/weekly

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