Danny Denhard - Growth & Marketing Leader, Non Exec Director
This is my personal blog, offering insights, tips, predictions, frameworks, processes from twenty years of Marketing and Growth leadership and four years of running EMEA’s largest crowdfunding platform.
We research each area, we discuss and debate the vertical and the key players and then we break down the history, the current situation and then where we predict that industry will go to with our c-suite hat on.
The first four episodes have been well received and cover:
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The Future State Of The High Street 🛍 Nick and I to discuss the important elements of the high street and answer the important questions:The challenge of the high streetThe history of the high street was to address the needWhy the evolution of butchers and grocers were so important in shaping today’s landscapeThe community and local aspect of the high street and the importance of retailIs the Poundlound IPO a sign of potential promising times?The question that we should consider: Did fast fashion outlets kill the high street or was it online marketplaces? Thinking more than just eBay, Amazon, the newer marketplaces like Onbuy.com, notonthehighstreet & EtsyAre high streets, shopping centres, retail parks considered the same thing or are they all competing?Why immersive experiences are the way to goWhy Google, Amazon and Apple have stores as essential brand extensionsWhat’s coming next… a brighter more integrated high street?
Last year I set up Focus, which is a dedicated company culture and company strategy consultant.
My mission is to: fix the broken world of work.
Many people have had negative experiences in business and they typically come down to two key elements, the workplace and the people. Unfortunately, businesses just don’t have the time or right management in place to address these issues.
I have worked in:
The best environments where you feel empowered and you win every day.
The worst toxic cultures and you feel helpless and no one should feel like that at work.
In most businesses, the more senior you become, the more disconnected you tend to become from the day-to-day.
What people are feeling, what they are doing and what hurdles they are facing.
In some instances, I was lucky to be close enough to colleagues to hear what the issues were, what problems they were encountering and how the team were feeling.
No one is ever trained or prepared to be a business leader and fix every problem.
It is important to call out I love coaching and mentoring and part of the deal when you continue to help ex colleagues after leaving is you become known to provide “therapy” to colleagues years after leaving.
🧠 Brainwave 🚀 or Brain Fart 💨 ?
In a brainwave, during the first lockdown, I mapped out issues people faced, from the most junior to the most senior members of companies.
The most common issue that kept coming back in my spider diagram was the leadership and important decision-makers were “too busy”, too unapproachable or disconnected from the day to day to understand that the strategy was broken or the culture was failing.
The business person in me knew there was an opportunity to help junior to senior members of companies with an anonymous way of getting in touch with me. No one junior to mid-levels wants to email from their work email address that their company has issues and could be traced back.
Often senior leaders do not want to be the first person to speak up or speak out against the consensus, sad but true.
More than an unanswered agenda item
Even more common, sadly, company culture and strategy are agenda items on the ELT agenda or the MT agenda, they are often nudged down or deprioritised while firefighting other issues.
The Marketer in my head kept suggesting that people will want to contact the right person or people to help, particularly with company culture, so I created the anonymous textline, (a simple process really I brought a new virtual number, added to my mobile), where I do not use the name or number of the person who has reached out but some unique identifier and enough background to highlight the issue and the company would benefit from listening and creating conversation around the issues they were facing.
I promoted out as a content marketing rather than advertising, I promoted via my newsletters, I tweeted, I shared on LinkedIn, I shared to industry leaders and waited for the flood of texts to come in.
The flood never came.
The honest truth, I have received 3 text messages in nine months:
One was too early for the company to tackle
Another was an agency that needs help but cannot sign off the budget due to corona
And the other wanted me to cold call without any information as they were in a unique place at the company.
Why this story?
Some times the best idea even with decent distribution can be too early especially in a pandemic while everyone is just keeping their heads above the (troubled business) water, it can be too subtle, it can be mistimed or misplaced or it can be too easy for people to reach out for help. Sometimes friction does help.
Or potentially a good idea needs to be made great by investing huge amount of paid advertising behind it to make it hit the critical mass.
In life you can hit home runs, more regularly you have to stop, review, tweak and go again.
In marketing and growth being prepared to go a few more rounds helps you standout and win vs other competitors who are short term thinkers, so the lesson is to deliver a great product offering or feature, be prepared to tweak, test and iterate and iterate again.
So yes, the above actions is what I am going to do.
I live, learn and hopefully going to liberate a number of company’s struggling.
FWIW: The anonymous textline number is +447480064060
Back in 2014, I was helping brands with their Marketing, typically either auditing existing teams and activities or helped to build our their department and work with teams on workshops and developing long term campaigns.
In a recent googlemail search, I came across a deck I ran through and worked with a large travel company.
The sign that it was a good deck, you could still reuse the majority of the slides.
A go to popular slide that really stood the test of time was:
You Have To Be
“Kings of content”
“Queens of data”
“Chiefs of engagement”
“Leaders of common sense”
“Presidents of user signals”
“CEO of Personalised Marketing”
It dawned on me that these are still true, over the last two years we have slowly seen every brand become a media company, some are media first others are product first with (content) media building trust and audience.
I thought it would be an interesting exercise to review these statements and tweak for 2021.
“Kings of Content” – still true, could be improved with rich media.
“Queens of data” – still true and going to continue to be. The question of needing more internal data vs using external data will be the debate for many businesses moving forward.
“Chiefs of engagement” – still true and requires more handholding and more great content and one to one engagement versus one to many as it was back in 2014.
“Leaders of common sense” – still true and actually should be doubled down on much more now than before. Particularly with the rise of personal brands and multiple brands within businesses.
“Presidents of user signals” – “Presidents Of User Intent” still true however could be improved to user intent. User signals were more specific to the requirement to SEO first businesses in 2014, today intent is a much better metric, signals are still a vital part of the funnel or loop.
“CEO of Personalised Marketing” – still true, however, in today’s world we are now living in an over personalised marketing landscape, this could be improved and optimised to CEO of marketing personally.
NEW: Masters of Distribution – By far the area of marketing and growth that is grossly misunderstood and still too spray and pray versus being more intentional and deliberate in tracking and optimising for the user and each user. This is not easy but the data and tools are available to make the best distribution action plan at a personal level.
Any new product or a product that is winning in 2021 has three components: 1/ User brings their network and creates a must use narrative, 2/ We serve you great & right content – you will share this to your closest friends and family (one to one or one to few) not blast (vs one to everyone) which brings a recommendation referral to the product or service 3/ This product is going to replace one very clear activity or action – we know our audience doesn’t need millions of tools, or one master tool we need one tool that does something brilliantly and bundles or unbundles current below par products.
NEW: Customer Champion – We live in a time of customer power and empowerment. Are we doing enough to market to our customer at the right time for them, on the best channel for them when it is convenient for them? This is the question to answer in 2021 as reducing churn and driving repeat usage, repeat purchases (retention) as we come out of this cycle.
This all means there is a lot of work to do but core principles you can follow and the problems you can answer for you and your customers.
On your next campaign or pitch, consider these statements and build towards making you the Kings of content, Queens of data, Chiefs of engagement, Leaders of common sense, Presidents of user signals, CEO of Personalised Marketing, master of distribution and customer champion.
Important Related Reads To Improve Your Marketing & Growth
In “marketing is” I break down the 9 actions you have to think about to deliver a great campaign.
Vision is something that few people have the older they become.
Vision is like being arty and being creative, I believe vision is often undone from you around the early teen years and the older you become the less you get chance to really use or exercise it – depending on home and work life.
The closer to delivering every day, the more tactical you are, the less likely you are to be able to see differently, take a step back and see a bigger picture, a bigger trend.
People & Products
Many people will be seen as a data first person, show me the data and I will make something fit.
Or here is problem I need you to solve and more people can go away and solve a problem posed to them.
This is not right or wrong however it is what makes us all different and unique.
Unique To Humans
This is how us as humans are unique, we are led into different paths and forget we can make the change to see or think differently.
Humans are easily conditioned by their surroundings, this often leads to we then do not challenge ourselves to make the change or self improve to get this muscle back.
It is also fine not to want vision. Or not to always see it.
Vision To Me
This is how I see vision, I am often asked about the difference between tactics and strategy, I actually think the other layer is vision, vision to see more broadly for a strategy to fit into with a number of tactics to roll up into it.
Vision is something maybe 5% of people have and actively work on and through.
Vision really to me, is to see differently, vision to think differently, vision to act and create differently.
This is often the difference between:
Short term do-ers – 65% of people
Midterm thinkers – 30% of people
Long term changemakers – 5% of people, people likely with vision
For me this is why many people see things overly binary (black and white, 1’s and 0’s), because the vision or idea does not fit in their own set of boxes, they have to try and place into a box they have or they dismiss.
Vision Is Everywhere
Vision is often what separates the good and the great sportspeople. Some players are two or three plays ahead or two or three passes ahead. Sometimes it is the intangible, the unexplainable.
Excitement Vs Dread
Vision unlocks excitement in a tiny few, others feel scared or get anxious from something new or big.
Having vision is about seeing things differently, being able to understand it and see opportunity where 95-99% of others just don’t.
Vision is often what enables business people to act differently, challenge the status quo and the norm with new and fresh takes.
Vision is often extremely complex to articulate and the key part of enabling others to see your vision is to breakdown into the smallest chunks and compare to something else that is available or an updated version. Think why we often have to compare a service to something else, examples like: The Google of X, the Uber of Y, the new Z.
Where Do You Land?
So what per cent are you? The 5% or the 95%? Do you have vision? Can you develop it?
Everything As Experiences 🤯 is the third theme in the future of marketing blog series. Everything as experiences is a way to think about the next move in Marketing and giving your customers real experiences they want to talk about, share and re-experience.
There has been many things written about the third space, right now we have two clear spaces, home and work.
The third and important space is the experience space. The 10% space where we will crave to have more experiences, enjoy more stimulation and look to escape.
With the number of varying lockdowns and quarantines, we have experienced many fewer experiences, some crave the theatre, some immersive movies, or like me art and zoo’s.
We have craved experiences with lockdowns and quarantines, we have had our homes become work and our work defaults to being at home. Humans are craving experiences, we are looking for immersive experiences, can you add something to the mundane or what has become boring?
Can you add to it by creating trails, walking adventures, walking tours, running playlists etc? Simple experiences that you can do solo or in a pair alongside pairing with a leaderboard or leaving notes or tips for others looking to experience this will be great ways to engage this audience.
Safe, Intimate, Personalised
Cinema / Theatre – Smaller more intimate experiences are what we will crave and feel safe with, can you offer an exclusive first look, a slightly more luxurious experience, or consider how you can spread people and colleagues out and build out deeper immersive experiences with brilliant visuals, brilliant surround sound or spaces where you do not want to use your mobile?
Yes, this does mean scaling down or scaling up experiences with smells, different sounds and more tailored experiences, this also comes with better margins and people talking about the experience vs just the film or performance.
Retail has been one of the hardest hit industries, huge brands have collapsed, many have been sold and brought by younger, online only brands.
Something that has been missed from retail is the touchpoints and the experience of good retailers.
There are many elements that have been missed and are actively being craved and this won’t change:
The inspiration (and the aspirations)
The aural experience
Hearing the sounds, the music, people around you – many miss being around strangers
The touch of something on your skin, the feel of the item of clothing, the varying quality between two items
And then the taste, treating yourself to a coffee, a snack from your favourite treat spot and being able to have one day full of experiences.
There are many areas we look for, here are the areas you will want to include when creating your experience, visuals, audio, text (seeing and engaging with text), the touch / feel of something and adding taste into the experience.
I truly believe retail as the biggest opportunity with the right positioning and training can kickstart revenue spending and win over online for many people.
Dark kitchens aka ghost kitchens have grown exponentially in recent years, not just because of restaurants shutting but down to being able to scale, offer your food to many dinners at completely new and different locations and branch out your offerings in a repeatable way, alongside ensuring you can keep your margins down.
Many dark kitchens operate on the well-known food delivery apps, some are available directly and although the cost and logistics are higher the ownership is higher.
What if in the future, these dark kitchens become hubs of experiences, blended with many of the other options and inspirations offered above but combined with retail, combined with personalised days organised for you.
Partnerships will be essential to win this space, this is how many local highstreets and stores have stayed alive and competed against much larger businesses. Local communities tend to step up and support each other in times of need. If you remove friction points and enable quick, convenient and reliable experiences you have a chance to win the even increasing bagel economies.
The High Street is struggling, many will be ghost towns when they re-open, there will be real estate that goes unopened, unused for many months at a time, what if we rethought this and applied a dark store approach.
In September 2020 I recommended in my 2021 predictions local would be essential as would the opportunity around dark stores. Some ideas:
Being able to offer fewer people (not cramming) into the store,
Offering invite-only in-store experiences you make the experience far more compelling. In-person, red rope treatment has been lost in recent years – leverage this.
Personalisation: you can offer personalised experiences with personalised pricing
You can connect online and offline together, gaining a better idea of ROI and CAC, alongside connecting LTV.
If this location was dark and invite only this would mean customers could book and you can build scarcity around the store, you could offer stock levels and instant picks ups – which many will look to, click and collect is still a huge influence on purchasing.
This truly can improve bad trips and turn into true experiences.
3D / 4D Experiences
Experiences require more than one layer, experiences are more than two dimensions they are 3d or 4d. Remember going to your favourite galleries, your favourite sporting events, they include the visual, they include a sound (even silence) they include the arena, they include people around you (a small number to a group or crowd) and they typically involve the smell and a feeling.
Taking inspiration from your favourite theme park, the theme part craft experiences:
The story is vitally important
The way your emotions follow the three-story arch
The way you feel and the ways you connect and then interact with the story
Most recently they added smell and liquid, typically water to add another layer of connection and experience and leaves you walking away thinking about the experience and wearing it (wet clothes or smelling od something) for the rest of the day.
Is this format something you could leverage, could you create or curate experiences using all of these senses?
Win the future of marketing and growth by creating experiences, where you can consider leveraging contactless tech, leverage billboarding and improving experiences connected to you and your brand.
In this post, I dive into ✋ Everything As Contactless and the huge opportunity there is in contactless and innovating.
✋ Everything As Contactless
1/ Entertaining Experiences
We will need to consider how we market and connect safely for a number of years to come. Contactless evolved massively in the last fifteen months, QR codes were used more than basic uses, contactless payments become default experiences. How can you make the contactless experience more entertaining, more rewarding, can you offer perks and rewards on receipts etc? Be inspired by offering experiences with contactless, rewards are great to create habits and make connections to products, people and brands.
2/ Developing QR Codes
QR codes to make payments is commonplace in Asia, it has been for a number of years, it has not been commonplace in the west.
This is now about to change, how do you consider QR code design, how do you make this experience smart, seamless, safe and entertaining. All area’s to consider, develop out and build experiences.
3/ Online To Offline To Online aka O2O2O
QR codes were designed to connect – we have spent years attempting to connect offline and online together, we are going to see this flow add another loop, offline to online to offline or online to offline to online, this is how to close the loop and build deeper experiences.
Driving footfall was somewhat hard to prove but driving offline online become more important and more interactive.
The question to answer with this is: How do you add a frictionless extra experience to improve marketing opportunities, more growth opportunities and add true value and convenience to the user.
4/ AR (& Mixed Reality) Becoming A Reality
AR (Augmented reality) experiences will be key, something that gaming has led the way with is offering AR and developing their games when it was not as safe to be outside, Pokemon Go won by tweaking their game and introducing indoor experiences versus having to go outside, this led to a record year for the game. Snapchat has really developed out their toolkits to incorporate AR.
How would you build in an AR experience with mobile phones? Apps, browsers etc. All important and lower cost now than ever before.
How can you drive an extra element of experience with shopping? With pickups? With curbside? These are all exciting opportunities for Marketing, Product & Growth teams. AR doesn’t have to be expensive but done right is imperative. Can you introduce AR or MR into your roadmap and connect with your customers?
5/ Physical Product Enhancements
Consider how you can tweak your physical product to incorporate different elements of contactless, can you add a QR code to add to the experience like Coke and many other brands have done recently? Can you add an SMS number or WhatsApp number to contact for quick feedback or help those who could be struggling to download the manual or gain support? These are not new concepts however these are all areas which contactless can reduce friction and increase loyalty?
As part of the Future Of Marketing series, I took a closer look at Peloton and how they built and developed much more than a product or a series of products, they recreate the brand, the luxury fitness at home category.
Here are the slides from the broader presentation:
Connected High End Fitness Trend
Fitness has always had connotations to more affluent communities, fitness is expensive, gyms membership, personal trainers, work at home equipment are all expensive options.
Peloton – Leader of the Pack
Peloton has been clear from the moment they launched they were for the high-end fitness fan.
So, here are the learnings you can apply from connected fitness and more specifically.
Community Member Living, Breathing, Touching & Sweating Peloton
I created Jess as a persona you can connect with:
Jess Loves connecting with people safely and as an introvert, she can work out from her comfort area
Jess loves her Peloton, in her space
Working out in groups and working out realtime feels like something that keeps her going
Jess loves her instructors and connects with them on personal levels not just as her instructor – affinity is key
Jess is powered by beating her personal bests and sharing these achievements on her social media
Jess was convinced by her friends in their friend’s group chat to buy her bike and subscription – Peloton best growth tactic is friend gets friend, this is a considerable benefit Peloton gains from their business and performance model. Joining an active network or growing one makes a product experience far more
Jess is a huge advocate and convinced her friends to invest in Peloton, this is herding her friends not just referring them.
Instructors Are Celebrities
Peloton was deliberate with their instructors and turned them from instructors to influencers and celebrities.
Emma Lovewell is the original instructor and was part of the original Kickstarter campaign.
Instructors connect with millions of Peloton community by training them regularly, engaging with them in real-time (& on-demand) and working out in their homes, seeing their home, seeing them sweat with you are all levels of connection you wouldn’t get with other products.
Emma is also attempting to grow her own audience on YouTube, offering insights into her life away from fitness.
The Peloton community were looking for Pelotons in hotels to book and continue their fitness ritual their streak their status their Instagram update finding their place on the road.
When something is engineered to keep you as active and engaged as Peloton, Peloton lovers will do everything they can to continue their workouts (streaks) to stay involved and connected to the brand. Many search and seek out the physical Peloton product vs use the app. This is very smart and engineered.
Peloton also has app options so you can work out if you don’t have access to your equipment or are looking to work out and cannot afford their specific equipment.
Peloton & Connected Fitness
Peloton might not be the first or last but combining with the connected fitness space there are many more reasons to work out and expand the Peloton model
Boxing and combat-based fitness has grown exponentially and will continue to do so, Hykso and Fight Camp are just a few in this space that is doing well and connecting equipment tracking fitness
With the recent expansion from Zoom with onzoom their marketplace offering for PTs etc and Apple’s move with Fitness+ we will see an unbundling of fitness and see masterclasses from huge pro athletes and ex-pro’s who will love to connect and train with their audiences with inspirational brands.
The Future Of Fitness Is Shaping Hotels
Hotels will be the first to think about how to become more connected to their customers.
Prediction to leverage becoming:
Pop up venues
Hybrid conference venues etc
The truth be told the gym 🏋️♂️ was inconvenient like many other offline activities.
We have however just moved our exercise & sharing habits online too.
Peloton, Mirror etc are just the tip of the iceberg for offline moving online & having a celebrity instructor train you will be almost normal but only accessible for those who invest.
Peloton have grown tribes and moved tribal habits into herding, herds of people bring others along with them on their fitness drive. Why? Price, increased status, feels bigger & more important than a product
Apple fitness+ will be biggest & best athletes training you. Do not discount Apple coming into the space more aggressively and making their brand presence felt, especially with the first non apple produced product that aligns so well with Apple quality and branding.
Lessons To Learn From Peloton & Connected Fitness
1️⃣ Question to answer every year but essential in today’s market?
Am I part of a habit
Can we be part of a ritual
Can we make it onto their lists
Tribes & Herding
How people think of Tribes: The bond over common enemies.
But Tribe typically means:
Do I belong? – Yes and with the instructor, we get to know
How can I belong to this? – With exercise & in their groups & leaderboard, it’s being a better you
Where do I go for this feeling? – And how do I continue with this feeling?
Why is this the future of marketing?
Affluent community = high spend, high renewal, will make their money work for the high priced fitness equipment
This is your equipment, it is worth over £3000 – it will take prime real estate in your house. Potentially the only item that will challenge the television for prime real estate in your house
The quality product works – a quality product is your best marketing and cheapest marketing campaign
The rider gets rider loop = referral loop of friend convinces friend to invest in to the Peloton ecosystem.
Social Gold – every ride is posted online and maximises the reach of the brand and leverages vanity as the sharing mechanism
Social media groups have really connected members and created a deeper community layer
The different option of classes makes it flexible and connective. Live classes – connection to the instructor and the other riders On-demand – makes the class flexible for you and enables you to connect to the instructor when you cannot be live
The instructors form connections with the riders, their backgrounds
The leaderboards feature is not unique but allows you to compete or compare yourself on your latest ride. It can be something you choose to review or choose to ignore.
Tribal communities connect at a deeper level, herding also happens with friends bringing friends to the product and then friends of friends joining and being able to compete
In the future when we return to travelling or having to visit other offices, Peloton and connected fitness members will seek out these devices to continue their streaks and fitness workouts.
Despite the recent issues with stock levels and keeping up with demand, Peloton have built a model many brands can replicate moving forward. Marketing, Growth and Product leads should use Peloton as a guide to affluent communities and addictive products and services.
In the recent The Future Of Marketing webinar I hosted, I recommended that we would see the future recycle a number of features and tactics we have experienced previously.
I made a number of recommendations where I broke down the future and how to capitalise on it. In The Future Of Marketing blog series, I will include blog posts, decks and rich media-based content to help inspire you and help shape your thoughts moving forward.
The wider larger concepts we will see are:
The shift towards interacting with items, objects and people differently
How there are going to be thousands of opportunities with objects becoming billboards
A new demand for how we see and interact with entertainment,
How we view and interact with “live as on-demand”
How we will see a huge shift and a new demand towards the third space – the experience space.
The everything as a theme came from how we will be inspired by reliving and re-introducing ourselves to experiences, to objects and
Here were the ways I suggested the attendees think and consider with build the future not reacting to it and being too late.
Everything As A…
🤳 Everything as a billboard
✋ Everything as contactless
🤯 Everything as experiences
🤩 Everything as entertainment
👁 Everything on demand
In the coming posts, I will share five ways to think about these concepts and how to consider using these in the future.
In this post, we will tackle 🤳 Everything As A Billboard and how to think around billboarding and refreshing the concept in the transitional period we will be experiencing until midway through 2022.
Here are five ways to look at opportunities in forms of billboards.
🤳 Everything As A Billboard
1/ Walking Billboards
With limited activities, we are seeing a lot less stimulus in person, tote bags, clothes, food and drink packaging are all billboards. Many brands lost Marketing opportunities when they removed free bags and were charging for brands, this was right for the environment, many brands missed out the second-order effect of this and did not see the risk and missed marketing opportunity. Starbucks is still incredibly lucky they are open and have the ability to turn any walk into a billboard moment, consider how you leverage this with your brand and brand packaging in the near term future.
2/ Wearable Billboards
While everyone is using video screens to communicate and host events, an opportunity is to leverage what is in view… an example is what people wear, what their backgrounds are, what you make appear as a prop or how your logo appears. There are great opportunities in this, especially with QR codes etc.
3/ Leveraging View, Touch, Sharing Experiences
In the near future, we will see more shops, galleries and ‘normal everyday life happenings’ open up, these are huge potential moments for Marketing, Product and Growth teams. Consider how your brand can stand out and can create touchpoints back in normalising times. Bags were and are great adverts, viewing items, touching, feeling, eating all great opportunities and experiences to connect and leverage packaging as actionable and shareable billboards.
4/ Locational Billboards
Consider how you think about key locations where people will be walking, running and when possible eating outside, these are all opportunities to leverage billboard moments or create billboard moments. Leveraging locations will be smart but competitive, see how you can leverage this early and beat your competitors to the punch.
When we are comfortable to eat outside, there will be a number of opportunities to leverage billboards, think of outdoor spaces like sponsoring benches, communal areas, food packaging and working with local councils to offer sponsorship or development of local area’s. Local has been hyper-relevant to everyone, especially those who proactively decided to move out of cities or move further out of busy cities. Shop local will continue but convenience is always the factor that wins.
5/ Micro Moments
Can you offer something more compelling, more engaging, more rewarding with these micro-moments? Leverage the mobile phone and AR to truly build connections and shareable billboards.
Billboards are not just static and basic adverts anymore, billboards are what you make of them…