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Mastering Growth Strategies

Daphne Tideman is a renowned growth expert and a leading consultant for startups. With a diverse background in agencies, and brands, and as a Head of Growth for a start-up, she brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table. In this interview, we delve into her career journey, common growth challenges faced by founders and growth teams, effective growth experiments, messaging strategies, and emerging trends that will shape growth strategies in the future. Check them out:

Can you tell us about your journey from working in agencies and brands to becoming a Head of Growth for a start-up and eventually transitioning into coaching? What motivated these career changes?

I started at an agency by chance; it was never my original intention. I was rounding off my Finance & Investments Master, not keen to enter the banking industry, but also not sure my other passion, marketing, had enough data for me. That was when I met RockBoost at an event and learnt about growth hacking (what we called it back then). I fell in love with it and liked the idea of working with multiple brands. I kept bugging the founder for an interview for an internship and eventually became the first full-time hire. Fast forward five years, and as RockBoost had grown, as had the clients. I wanted to work with a brand that aligned more with my passions around health and wellness. That was when I met Heights. I loved being Head of Growth for a brand, making a positive impact, and seeing the team grow. However, I missed the diversity of different brands, being able to spot patterns across different companies. Also, I have ADHD, so focusing on one thing has always been a challenge for me ?. So for me becoming a freelance growth coach/advisor, as well as working hands-on with D2C wellness and eco-friendly startups, was the best of both worlds.

As a coach, what are some common growth challenges you have observed among founders and growth teams? How do you help them overcome these challenges?

So there are definitely patterns in what I see, especially regarding why growth slows down (I summarised the top ten reasons here). 

The main challenge always comes to being too close to your product to be able to zoom out and see the challenges in certain behaviours/approaches/flows. 

As a growth advisor, my job is to zoom out and understand the growth system, from how they approach growth to their growth model, to spot the biggest opportunities. 

monthly growth

From there, it’s about getting on one page and working step by step to improve. A crucial part is to say no to many potential lower-impact pact opportunities and ensure we drive long-term change vs short-term wins.

Experimentation is a crucial aspect of growth. How do you guide companies in setting up effective growth experiments? Are there any key principles or frameworks you recommend?

Experimentation is crucial, and the key principle is to build up your process step by step and have it work for you instead of the other way around. 

Going straight from no experiments run to full documentation with backlog scoring, experimentation across the organisation, and new tools more often gets messy. 

I would say if you can only focus on one part to start experimenting or experiment more is to build a clearer hypothesis:

  • Why do we believe this will have an impact
  • What is the success metric
  • When are we right
  • Lotto 4d

Consider what you want to learn upfront and how you can best test that. Once you start doing that for just a single area and documenting the results, you can start building out the rest.

experimentation

As someone who has worked on both the agency and brand side, what are the key differences you’ve observed in approaching growth and experimentation?

Agencies benefit from seeing multiple companies and spotting trends across them as well as a broader range of skillsets to tackle the challenge they are hired for. 

However, they are juggling clients meaning often the loudest one gets the most attention. They also won’t be as close to the brand and know all the ins and outs, but they can get blind to issues/areas for improvement. 

That is why I like being freelance; I have more time per client than I did agency side, I still learn from a wide range of clients and fellow growth professionals, and I feel very close to my clients.

Messaging plays a significant role in attracting and retaining customers. What advice do you have for companies looking to improve their messaging strategy? How can they effectively communicate their value proposition to their target audience?

Messaging is so underappreciated; my main advice is to start with understanding the main Jobs to be Done vs angles: what is your audience trying to achieve? How can you help them achieve it better than direct and indirect competitors? 

Then gather data: customer reviews, surveys, interviews, customer care logs, etc. Once you’ve done that and mapped out your positioning vs competitors, use the raw data to formulate value propositions and run a/b tests. 

I’ve created a whole online programme on how to do this step by step and a shorter version for those who just want to understand the high-level steps. 

Managing resources efficiently is crucial, especially for startups with limited budgets and staff. How do you guide companies in optimizing their resource allocation for maximum growth impact? Are there any specific tools or techniques you find helpful in this regard?

With startups, there will always be more ideas and opportunities than you have time/resources to execute.

The first may seem obvious, but I don’t see it happening enough: don’t focus on the full journey at the same time. 

Narrow it down to 2-3 bottlenecks (I call these your growth levers), work hard on just that for a month or quarter, then move on. Too many startups try to improve 7-8 areas simultaneously and get 4-5 new channels working too.

north star metric

Matt Lerner (a previous speaker at How to Web) taught me the second thing that has always stuck: don’t get caught up on the 7s. There are a lot of opportunities that are 7s vs 9 or 10. Ask yourself the impact of an area and ensure you plan in the 9s / 10s first.

Finally, block time to zoom out regularly, it’s easy to get caught up in the weeds, but the easiest way to say no is to know where you need to improve and where you don’t. I analyse the full performance on a regular basis and calculate the impact of improving different areas before committing to them.

Can you share any notable examples of successful growth initiatives or campaigns you have been involved in? What were the key factors that contributed to their success?

One of my most recent successes for a client was a new campaign that helped them be on track to grow 159% this month compared to previous (we even had to slow it down because of stock issues ?). The key factors were:

  • We worked hard to narrow down the target audience and optimise the messaging for them 
  • Used a landing page optimised to match the ad 
  • Created a clear irresistible offer to reduce choice stress 
  • Strong social proof in the ad and page to gain trust

Creating an irresistible landing page that converted 5x better than the website for ads was a major part of that:

landing page structure

Now we are expanding it with other ads to reduce reliance on that ad, improving the page based on feedback, using the principles for other channels to drive further growth, and finally, improving the post-purchase flow to ensure we onboard them successfully and keep retention strong.

Your book, ‘Growing Happy Clients,’ captures your consulting experiences. Could you highlight a key lesson or takeaway from the book that you believe is particularly valuable for founders and growth professionals?

So funnily, it’s actually been more growth professionals who ended up buying the book, I think, because sometimes, as a growth person in a business, you almost need to take an outside perspective on the whole business to identify the most significant opportunities. 

growing happy clients

In terms of key takeaways, understand those around you to drive better impact. A lot of the book looks at how to see things from the perspectives of others in the organisation and how to ask them the right questions to identify opportunities. Growth is a team sport and won’t come from you alone.

With the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and marketing, what emerging trends do you think will have a significant impact on growth strategies in the near future? How can companies prepare themselves to leverage these trends effectively?

So I won’t talk about AI and increasing challenges in attribution as that is already talked about enough. 

Instead, a crucial trend for D2C is a bigger responsibility to the environment with what we produce, which will become a non-negotiable for customers. The number of B Corp organisations and eco-friendly products is growing fast, but what is just starting to grow is affordable and easy-to-use sustainable brands. 

Whilst I don’t believe customers buy just for sustainability (especially when it comes at 2-3x the cost or a high inconvenience), it is becoming an increasingly important consideration that we need to consider in how we design and market our products.

As a speaker at How to Web Conference 2023, what key takeaways or insights do you hope the audience will gain from your session? What are you most excited to share with them?

I’m excited to share a brand new talk at How to Web and change the audience’s perspective on ‘failed’ experiments that they are actually crucial for our growth. 

They will be equipped to analyse better fails, turn those into wins, and get better buy-in to keep testing areas of potential. Never let the dreaded phrase “we tried that it doesn’t work” or the shame of a failure holds you back.

daphne tideman

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