I was very glad to catch up with Declan Dunn, who I’ve heard speak at multiple performance and affiliate marketing events in the past and with whom I’ve been a co-panelist. Declan is a fascinating guy who, like myself, entered the digital marketing space back in the 1990s. Some have called him “the Godfather of Affiliate Marketing (probably the same people who’ve call me “The Godfather of Search).” Beyond his day-to-day roles helping businesses grow, Declan also runs remember.org, a site dedicated to the memories of Holocaust survivors.
My conversation with Declan was free-ranging and we touched on many subjects — from the latest trends in performance marketing to Declan’s career as a playwright. We begin our discussion by talking about the extraordinary rate of change in the digital marketing ecosystem today, and how performance marketing has evolved from its early coupon-centric days into influencer marketing and content-centric publisher partnerships, and how CPCs may be making a comeback. We chat about something I’ve observed independently over the years, that material business decisions today are often not made by a single decisionmaker who can say “yes,” but by committees, where any single “No” vote can torpedo a deal.
We delve deep into the kind of partnership deals that Declan feels strongly about, talk about why he thinks that brands need a multi-skilled “Chief Partnership Officer” to drive effective partnerships, and discuss the importance of effective leads and hooks in messaging. Then our discussion turns to the importance of brands revising their traditional “command and control” attitudes toward 3rd party influencers when it comes to the kind of content they produce, and the value of machine learning.
Declan and I trade notes about effective business meetings and about why listening is such a valuable (and often scarce) skill in these meetings. We close by talking about what he’s excited about for 2023 and beyond.