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.
In my work with Focus, I speak to a number of company leads, department heads and Heads of. I am asked a number of questions, I tend to bucket each question into a category or a theme.
One recurring theme is “How do I get the most out of my team?”. The answer is not it depends, it is:
How well do you know your team?
What is your team members stage?
How Well Do You Know Your Team?
How well do you know your team should be straight forward, I will nudge the manager towards: understand the individuals, get to know the individuals better ➡️ understand their motivations ➡️ and, understand how they work together as a team and then as a department.
What Is Your Team Members Stage?
The second is more straight forward however requires getting to know your team and the individuals better first.
Ultimately what stage do your team members crave to be on? Where are they most comfortable? & Where do they gain their energy?
Their stage is always different, your extroverted team member will want to stand up in front of the company and present their work or the teams work. They thrive in front of an audience, they gain their energy from other people and importantly the limelight.
Your ambivert will gain their energy differently, they might enjoy the creation process, they like the detail phase, the write-up phase is where they excel, a detailed retrospective to help the rest of the team to take learnings moving forward and enjoy creating a detailed presentation while actively not wanting to present it.
You can have introverts who gain their energy and know their stage is in delivery. Their stage is performing not putting on a performance.
Their stage is where it enables and allows your team members to truly shine.
Your Role As A Leader
Your job as a department head is to understand these personal elements, their energy sources, the praise they like, when and how they like to receive praise and how your team members like to perform and what and where their stage is.
The best Marketing Departments I have worked with, in or led are typically a mix of complex personalities, introverts, ambiverts and extroverts all having their own unique perspectives, personal requirements but importantly they have understood each other’s personalities, their preferences, how and where they like to operate and how they like to perform and importantly what stage and role each play.
Time To Step Up As A Lead
As I mentioned in f*** fear, it is time for you and your team to step up, get to know each other, understand where you can help to make it tick and this will help your team beat performance anxiety, fatigue and start delivering quality work and campaigns.
In the coming weeks, it is essential you and your team come together, find ways to workshop (remote with docs or tools like Miro or Mural), build out your playbooks and getting the most out of your team by truly understanding each team member and rolling into your team.
I have been creating a lot of action plans and reviewing a number of pitches and ideas recently.
One of the biggest forms of frustration in business is the brainwave to idea to validate concept, some people just don’t have the right opportunity to presents, others don’t have the right partner.
I call this the great idea partner flow, finding the right idea partner or sparring partner makes all the difference. I have been lucky enough to find great sparring partners in life and work and they are often the difference.
Here is the great partner flow.
In the next few weeks I recommend seeking out your great idea partner, you are likely to want to find someone who offers a different point of view, someone who isn’t afraid to discuss the idea and use devils advocate but as important those to support you and help co-create and co-present where needed.
Not for the obvious pandemic reason, but, from fear of….
Doing something wrong,
Fear of not knowing what will work,
The fear of not delivering against aggressive goals,
The fear of not trying something,
The fear of missing an important deadline or target,
Or the fear of being seen to have made a mistake.
There is also a fear of not performing, many Marketing and Growth teams get performance anxiety after a campaign or programme doesn’t quite land or hit.
Marketing and Growth teams have always been the teams that have known that 80% of their work won’t quite hit the first time, there is an optimisation phase and a go again phase.
Marketing is as we know art and a science and relies on timing.
Stop this school of thought and thinking you get one shot, you get many shots, it’s how you react and optimise is how you will gain more confidence, hit more goals, gain more internal buy-in, gain more budget, obtain more customers.
It’s time to say F fear, most important projects, products and programmes have created the plan, run through the tactics, understood the risks and it doesn’t quite land. The first set of results are the first set of results, not the final set, you have to go again, you have to tweak, refresh and shake the project again.
Say f*** fear and go again, try something different, try something new but know you can go can again, you can reuse, recycle, repurpose, reimagine and make it work harder.
Recently Twitter co-founder and current CEO Jack Dorsey suggested that they would consider allowing users to bring your own algorithm to Twitter.
On the surface this is not the worst idea, why? Users could decide what algorithm works for them (it should work more like filters) and what they would like to see.
I imagine Twitter sees this like their previous ways of working with tool makers who would build onto the Twitter platform and enable developers and tool makers to create a self serve service where you can be served the best content from your followers, from topics and from the trending world.
Or alternatively like what TikTok offers to serve you content you just like and will stay on the platform for, with Twitter’s background and insight into your liking, engagement and tweeting habits this should be something that could happen.
One issue providing users knew how algorithms worked and understood that not everyone has the same experience and choosing your own adventure might actually decrease your experience or worse still push you into more filters.
Twitter’s obsession with being seen and used as a news source could also be a problem for their more recent idea.
A last potential issue is advertising would be a nightmare and would need to flip the model completely to make it work.
Twitter is an enragement engine, more enragement the more engagement and more engagement it sees. Twitter has quickly become the angry centre of social media and despite the odd bright light or insight, in recent times it has made users unhappier than when they started. Twitter is primed for doomscrolling.
Tweetdeck is still a better experience for Twitter, using filters and search filters you can have a decent experience and one away from the dominated news cycles.
This could also be a play towards a substantial subscription model away from advertising that has struggled for Twitter. Charging users to use, charging users to follow, charging to engage are all options, charging based on followers or exclusive content is the most logical but sometimes Twitter just isn’t logical.
I see the potential and some logic in BYOA, only for those who truly know and understand the tech. Twitter has to be the product leaders to enhance and improve their out of the box algorithm, relying on external talent to keep you relevant and improve your users experience is likely a recipe for disaster.
2020 has had a number of interesting trends that have leaped out.
Here is a list of interesting trends that you, your growth and innovation teams can consider or Marketing teams should get involved with
Fitness: Health and fitness app installs increase 37% in H1 of 2020 – will you be looking at physical or mental health in 2021. Mental health apps have rightly become mainstream, will Calm, Headspace and co make it into your org or into your integration plans?
Dedicated Chat Community: Discord has exploded in popularity – do you need to be on discord and offer another way to support your customers or community? Important Note: Be wary of the push to WhatsApp business, although it can appear useful for businesses, you are going into Facebook controlled platform and likely to charge more and more for chat commerce. Will iMessage support be something you will revisit?
Toys 2020: There was a huge growth in toys and board games in the middle quarters of 2020 – is there an opportunity there for you and your business?
Virtual Life 3.0: Zoom released OnZoom (marketplace) – do you have something you can offer? Or charge for? Subscription services on Zoom vs having to have an app or dedicated website?
Gated Content: subscription sites like Substack (newsletters + podcasts) had a breakout year, especially those who are charging for their newsletters, will you and your brand look to leverage the trend? Is there something you can charge for? Is there a platform like Onlyfans, Patreon or substack that would be applicable for your business?
Virtual Events: LinkedIn is going big into virtual events – will you be following suit or using LinkedIn / Hopin.to or similar for internal or external events?
B2B Marketing – LinkedIn has just hit 722 million users with record levels of engagement, will b2b marketing have another moment like it is at the moment? Will LinkedIn to the new home for brands? Maybe LinkedIn stories are your new platform…😥
Mixed Reality: AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual) and MR (mixed) all had good years, particularly AR which is now being used in many apps, Apple, Facebook and Snap all are going deep into AR. Is there a move into MR for you? Would AR help your customers or staff have better product or employment experiences?
Will you be joining any of these stand out trends?
I believe our daily scrolling now exceeds the height of the Eiffel Tower.
We are bombarded with content, we cannot really get away from content of all shapes and sizes, quantity has overtaken quality, it’s a battleground; the good, bad and the ugly.
We have TV, books, magazines, podcasts, newsletters, blogs, websites, online video (YouTube), apps, news, social media, instant messages all vying with our attention and energy all day every day.
I know, like me, many find this exhausting.
Our news has been tweaked and mixed with entertainment and then blended with reality tv, we are now served a world where news is not news it has to be seen as entertainment to keep viewers and keep them on that channel.
If we want the news it has entertainment thrown in with a reality spin or headline. This has slowly but surely changed since the 1980s.
It is important to remember important decision-makers are making essential decisions not knowing a different world of content.
Content has never been so accessible, so open and so ‘free’.
For years I curated the best content feeds I could on any social platform or tool (Twitter, Feedly, YouTube) I use tools (like RSS and Nuzzel) to serve me must-read content without me having to scroll through endless feeds and email me the most shared articles or shared from those accounts I deemed as most important.
Tiktok and the next-gen of apps have flipped the need to discover and follow friends, into watch more effortlessly and be fed more content you will love to consume and share.
Desires are driven now by algorithms.
We face a huge amount of negative content exposure, I always referenced the old saying ‘bad news is only good news for journalists’ and now it is great news for advertising companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.
This is a difficult cycle.
Anything for clicks → anything for monetisation → anything for more content.
‘Content’ is supposed to be an escape, a quick update, amusing, a way to cure an itch or an urge we might have, now it is becoming addictive, engineered to keep us checking, reading and sharing.
Is it time for JOMO (joy of missing out) not FOMO (fear of missing out) – I likely think so.
Without rethinking and reframing, are you going to keep following the same cycle?
Is this the best time to change or go on a content diet?
For me, I will be, it’s not going to be easy with the must reads newsletter but it is something I know I have to do and steps I have to take to keep my content snacking to a minimum.
Will you be changing your content diet? I hope so.
They create team fatigue, they create greater MRS (meeting recovery syndrome), and without proper guidance or agreed principles, they often lose the zip and the punch required.
The silent people on your next video call meeting are likely more frustrated with the format as they are with the same people talking vs just being tired or annoyed another video meeting.
Virtual Meetings cause numerous issues within teams and performance, there isn’t always an operational person or consultant who helps guides businesses around meeting design and getting the most out of meetings.
So here is a list of virtual meeting principles / rules that should help improve virtual meetings,
Have a tailored agenda – be clear with the required outcome
Include the question you require to be answered in this meeting
Calendar Invite to include:
The optional attendees,
The URL of virtue meetings,
Dial-in details (not everyone can join on a URL)
Meeting chairperson details (always have one and select them prior to the meeting with their acceptance)
Link to a centralised open document with agenda and notes
While In The Meeting
Mute your mic when not speaking
Have your video on (unless agreed this is not essential)
Use gallery mode where possible
Please use a headset or headphones with a microphone – everyone loves that person who has the dishwasher on or hears their dog bark
Use raise a hand or agreed with a gesture if you have a question
Use chat to add a comment and back up idea proposed to streamline meeting
Use open documents (or dedicated open to all software) to keep centralised notes, follow up actions and to gain feedback
If you would like more tips download my free ebook on the future of the office, the hybrid office.
Recently I have sat in a number of remote pitches for a few clients and advising brands. It’s been tricky for remote pitchers, especially with tech issues.
Something I have noticed is how badly the remote video conferencing tools are for two or more pitching and hosting meetings with a Q&A element.
I have been on Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, Slack and on FaceTime for pitches, these all have been pretty bad for those who are pitching and somewhat irritating for the client.
It surprises me that companies and software companies haven’t attempted to address this or created a hack for dual person pitching.
As someone who has been on every side of the pitching table and conditioned with the best possible slides with the best presentation wins, it must be particularly frustrating for the agency or potential partner pitching and not having a signal for “next slide” or having to say it.
So here are a quick tip or two for pitching via video conference tool.
Have a signal between teams for next slide, simple easy, and something that doesn’t break the flow
Record the pitch and review, keep them as a bank and revisit to evaluate how you got on (ask clients permission just in case)
Exec summaries work for pitches too – say more with less upfront
Reduce down creds and deck filler – explain the deck flow ahead of time or at the beginning of the deck, the first few minutes are essential
Don’t be concerned if you send ahead of time and pick out core slides as time always gets away
Manage time around Q&A, set out expectations at the beginning of how you will handle questions
Make sure the most up to date slides or URL is being used for the deck – your surprise is the potential client’s surprise
Mac Users: Use the do not disturb feature on the mac so no notifications that flash up
Turn off anything that pings
Turn off desktop chat apps (WhatsApp especially)
Have a tablet or phablet, use these as second screens if you are pitching remotely, might help you with time checks and keeping up with notes or feedback
Please use headphones…ideally with a mic – a cheap default apple pair will help block out noises and holds the mic at the right position to talk
Go on mute as default
If more than one person is pitching have a test run or run through when knowing your queue or having an owner of the section
If you have a multi-screen set up be wary of looking away from the camera
Have gallery view/mode switched on, see all the attendees, this will really help see the reactions and take note of the visual cues in pitch
It is ok to explain you have written notes or presentation notes
Send and share notes with actions, like a good meeting don’t forget the simple things
Reduce video, gifs and renders, these all look and sound pretty bad over video conferencing tools and software
If you are old school and print out your slides, suggest the slides you are discussing
With Q&A no one expects instant answers, take note or ask for the questions and suggest you will come back with the answers. Stumbling with a bad internet connection or struggling on screen can appear worse than it is
Good luck to anyone who is pitching remotely, it’s an odd experience seeing how all tech platforms aren’t cut out for this yet but getting the basics and following these tips might just help you out.
It’s true. 2020 is a massive cluster-f for everyone.
Businesses are trying to adjust, scrap, survive, and try and thrive. This year wasn’t survival of the fittest, it was survival of the scrappiest.
We have had to adjust constantly, many people have struggled with working from home and adjusting to a new normal week after week. Some people have lost their jobs, some have found new passion projects others are sick of the status quo.
Friends and business managers have said they feel concerned their career will slow or go into reverse with everything going on.
I challenge these thoughts.
Take back some control.
Craving out 5 – 30 minutes a week to develop. That’s the time to make a cup of tea or cook a meal.
If you review your calendar you can make time and claim it back. Almost everyone can save 30 minutes a day by questioning, on a walk or when you are finishing up your day you will be able to
Leverage earlier starts 08.30 vs 09.00
Leverage people finishing at 17.00
Take your full lunch breaks and block out time for owning a subject or category
Invest in a book or two that’s on your wish list
Find a mentor
Find a coach
Be a mentor
Be a coach
Taking control of your career, it is easier if you break it down step by step.
I have written previously about personal and professional SWOT, this is where you can apply the SWOT framework to your professional life. Here are a few ways you can proactively take steps to improving yourself and keep moving your career forward.
Start With Learning – breakdown what you want to improve, and where you need to improve. There is a huge endless bank of very good free resources, podcasts, YouTube videos, free presentations, websites with free courses, these are all great and free resources to self learn.
Identify Blind Spots – There is always one area we are somewhat blind to, identify where you believe you are strong where others disagree. This can come from colleagues, teammates, managers, or from data. Challenge yourself to find one area you have to re-strengthen in and proactively make this an area you upskill in.
Teach Others – Recent times have slowed down promotions, businesses cannot match promotions with pay rises and this has made people feel promotion is off the table (or unfortunately you might be out of work). This is often not actually the case. You can step up and keep moving forward by helping to teaching and coaching others, it can be formal it can be informal. You will receive huge amounts of feedback and confidence by teaching (coaching or mentoring).
Take On Big Projects – Something that is a given, most jobs for the next year will need people to step up and take on projects. One of the biggest leaps in careers can be managing larger projects and delivering on it. There is so much resource out there about taking on projects and using frameworks to help. RACI is one of my preferred frameworks that helps with structure and keeping colleagues updated of progress.
Growth Area – Growth areas are bets you can make in where the industry is going and how you become a part of it. Almost all fields have growth areas, these are more than trends, these are themes that are bubbling along and need some training but someone to help drive it forward. Whether this is a browser extension, whether it is audio, or potentially where competitors are looking to use subscription pricing or bundling products together, look at how you can lead that growth area.
Side Project / Side Hustle – The beauty of side hustle and projects is you are the master of your own destiny, depending on your work agreement most side hustles are encouraged. If you want to start selling art on a marketplace, sell your famous cupcakes online, or develop a blog, these are all ways you can apply your skills and develop out your skillset.
Some good news, there are a number of companies who are looking to hire, there are a number of hyper-growth companies who are looking for experience to help mature out teams, and smart earlier stage people to come in and help them grow in 2021 and beyond.
Take some control back, drive your career forward and no risk no reward…
Time management and getting everything done has always been difficult if we had the secret sauce we probably wouldn’t share it.
Working agency side and looking after larger teams really did help to shape my priortisation, you often learn from mistakes but when you try and juggle numerous demands from mundane tasks, challenging people issues and delivering important large projects, you often need to list and order by priority.
When I started out in my career in a mature business, I was a Project Manager and learned from other PM’s, forums, and working with a very impressive more experienced PM that documenting your time and being extremely detailed in your way of winning. As I evolved with my role and the jobs to be done, I got into lean and six sigma, these teachings also helped prioritise my time and understand time is critical at tasks level, time-based actions taken can be a revolution to businesses.
I am often asked how do I prioritise my workload and how do I manage this. I do not have a perfect formula nor do I pretend to have it completely right, however, I have found there are two methods that help me and have helped my team members over the years.
Daily Prioritisation Framework
I am organised, I like to have structure, I like to start early, in my case the early bird has got the worm more often than not and has allowed me to structure and to organise my time and prioritise my day or week ahead.
I often jump between written schedules (the dopamine kick for crossing off and completing tasks by hand still outperforms the ticking of a to-do on the Mac or notes app for me) and to do via Apple Notes or Notion.
If you work agency side or have multiple ongoing projects I typically would add the client (or large project name) into the table and identity if its repeatable work or unique work.
Every day I go in and reprioritise, often you can re-review your to-do list and add the Einshower Matrix framework, do (urgent & important), decide (important but not urgent), delegate (urgent but not important to you), delete (not urgent or important).
You can take two approaches, look at your task list separate from your calendar or you can then incorporate the tasks into a calendar outlook. I have found that Outlook beats Google calendar but with tasks incorporated into both and in calendar mode both are becoming equal with tasks by calendar view, this doesn’t suggest how important or what needs to get done first.
We all have a certain number of hours per day and time is always of the essence, so incorporating in your calendar will help block out time for important tasks or projects or understand how possible your tasks are.
Be ruthless with your calendar, remember your time is your time, therefore truly understand what meetings are essential or are ones you can read the follow-up notes and catch up with when you have finished your tasks or projects.
Block out time for your tasks, if you are a morning person try and block out time to deep work and concentrate on your tasks, or if you know meetings tend to start at 9.30 and finish in and around lunch block out time slots where you can concentrate. It’s more than ok to review your calendar and understand patterns and plan accordingly, we are more predictable than we would ever think.
If you are an afternoon or early evening person, typically meetings finish mid-afternoon so you can block out time a week or days ahead and block out time to complete.
I repeat the process daily, often each night and then fresh every morning, why?
Depending on your schedule, business, or company culture, you can receive emails and instant messengers overnight and re-prioritising is often really important. The process of re-analysing is important and by delegating or deleting you will get more dopamine kicks and feel like you are making process and give you a natural high.
If you are just adding tasks and not deleting or completing you have to go back to your tasks or calendar and be more ruthless.
Weekly Prioritisation Framework
Weekly prioritisation might sound overkill, on Monday it could feel like you are planning for planning sake however knowing important deadlines and projects are coming up or your team is away or doing x or y is essential.
Personally, I look at time slots as energy sources and if you are low on energy and need to get into the zone of delivering mundane tasks or low priority tasks can be completed in low energy or if like me you are at low energy levels after 15.00 plan in low important meetings or get into completion mode or plan a stroll or walk if you can to refresh and readdress your energy.
Managing your weekly view is important, I personally use the same framework as above but add in the one to ones, recurring meetings and add important points I would like to discuss or actions we promised we would pick up. I personally like the GROW framework (Goals – how are we doing, what are we moving towards? Reality – where are we really at, Options and Obstacles – challenges we are facing, and what are we doing about them? Way forward).
I also offer internal (informal and formal) mentoring and champions (developing internal champions to own a specific theme or channel and coach their peers) so when these are being utilised I include in my weekly plan and document these and prioritise around this accordingly.
There is something that many people do not plan for and I have learned this is important, personal development or “reflections and actions”, personal development is something we rarely plan for or block out time for, however, it is important we create the time and space for this, obviously, prioritise these accordingly but you need time to learn and develop and very rarely will someone put in the time to prioritise this if you do not.
Reflections and actions are something I have been working with for around a year and has helped me clear my mind and often tasks that always seem to be harder than they should, reflections are a time we should look through our notes, review what actions we had and reflect on these and consider potentially a smarter way to act or take action or even plan out the tactics we are going to use. Often we become so bogged down by these requests we do not plan or put yourselves into places to win.
If you prefer to type (or centralise your thoughts online) and use a time or calendar view, many smart people I have worked with actually do print out their day ahead or schedule in a calendar view and cross off throughout the day.