in Events

T&C 2020: Ready For Anything: Three Pillars of “Anti-Fragile” Growth and Marketing

by Christina Hooper.
Last Updated on May 8, 2022

This article is part of a series breaking down the top takeaways from the key speakers at T&C 2020.

What Was This Session All About?

As the pandemic hit the business world hard, marketers had to pivot. Business leader Ryan Deiss dove into how marketers have survived and what they need to do to continue to survive. 

If you’re a marketer and had a hard hit on your business because of the pandemic, this presentation can help you. Even if you are looking for ways to advance your skills, this presentation can help you out as well. 

Get ready to have your mind blown, and learn some new strategies to get your company moving.

Who is Ryan Deiss?

  • Ryan is the CEO & Co-Founder of DigitalMarketer
  • Ryan is a badass marketer.
  • Entrepreneur
  • Author 
  • Investor
  • According to Daymond John from Shark Tank, “His companies practically own the internet.

What We Learned

Marketers need to pivot for the new world. The pandemic has changed the world of marketing, and those at T&C are not in the dark. Everyone’s plans went out the window. But the work we do as marketers is more critical now than it has ever been. 

Nobody is questioning whether they need digital marketing anymore because the pandemic has caused the need to be noticeable. All businesses are digital now. This event has caused the digital marketing world to have ten years’ worth of growth in just 30 days. 

In a digital-first world, marketing matters now more than ever, which means marketers matter more than ever. 

We have learned this year, as marketers, we need to be ready for anything. 

2021 needs to be “chill.”


Quote from Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: “Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”

In the book, Taleb compares three different types of marketing to analogies.

Fragility: Damocles sat on his throne and had the thinnest of threads dangling a sword over his head. If the threads broke, he would be dead. 

Robust: A phoenix grows, gets old, burns up, and rises again from the ashes. But it ultimately remains the same. 

Antifragility: The hydra, from ancient Greek mythology. Hercules would fight it, and every time you cut off one head, two more grow in its place. That is what marketing needs to be.

Three Pillars of Marketing


If you start from zero, it’s going to be tough. If you hit resistance and you’re already moving, it’s hard to get moving again. So, there needs to be “knowns” for when things get tough, and we hit the unknowns.

Antifragile marketers build systems that generate predictable flows of leads and customers. For his audience, Deiss aims to create a passive growth engine that generates customers from scratch, profitably and predictably. It’s not about the tactics. The tactics are essential, but they are not the end-all. 

Deiss wants you to be out there hoarding marketing knowledge, but you need a place to put them. 

Do you know how customers happen in your business? Have you set aside the time to figure out how they happen?

Value Journey Worksheet

The goal of marketing is simple: We want to take strangers who don’t know us and ultimately change their lives with your product. There are steps to doing this. 

  • Awareness: They have to know you exist. 
  • Engagement: You need to capture and hold their attention
  • Subscribe: You have to keep their attention.
  • Convert: You need to change the relationship from someone being a lead to them being a customer. 
  • Excite: Marketers forget about this. Getting someone to take action isn’t enough. They have to be happy about it. So, that first transaction needs to be successful. 
  • Ascend: We want to get them to buy again, so it needs to be a good experience.
  • Advocate: Saying nice things.
  • Promote: Actively promoting your brand to the people they know. 

For the following questions, make sure you document what is and not what should be. 

(Ascend) Question #1: What is our core flagship offer, and how will we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made?

(Excite) Question #2: What must the prospect experience, witness, or belief be true to make taking the next step a foregone conclusion?

(Convert) Question #3: How do we get our prospect to make a micro-commitment that allows us to deliver the Ah-Ha moment?

(Subscribe) Question #4: What valuable chunk of content can we offer in exchange for their contact information and permission to follow up?

(Engage) Question #5: What content can we leverage to turn a glance into a stare? 

(Awareness) Question #6: How do qualified prospects find out about our brand?

(Advocate) Question #7: How will we encourage our happy and successful customers to say nice things about our brand? 

(Promote) Question #8: How will you turn your best customers into your marketing partners?

Going through this worksheet and the questions will help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses and where you need to work on things. You can keep track of each journey with this process. 


We need the ability to remain connected with our audience, with our market, when everything traditional goes away.

Antifragile marketers own the communication channels with their prospects and customers. One of the deadliest things that can happen to a marketer is losing connectivity with the customers. Professionals, especially professionals on social media, lose the audience all the time and suddenly have no business anymore. 

Ryan is always asked: What's the next big thing in marketing in 2021?

He asks: What won’t change? 

What are the apps you open every day on your phone? The next big thing in marketing is email

Why Email?

Figure out an email first, and everything else comes second. It’s not dead. People have been predicting the death of email for a long time, and it isn’t going to happen. 

  • It’s not dead
  • Less distraction and more engagement than social (also more intimate)
  • Email is the only digital media we have left that has an ending
  • Push not pull (No login or app required)
  • It just works (everyone knows how to use it)

Write This Down

  • Optimize your email strategy, FIRST. (Content, Social, and pretty much everything else comes next. 


We need the ability to pivot. Antifragile marketers know when and how to pivot their offers and messaging. 

In 2020, we watched…

  • Liquor companies pivot to hand sanitizer.
  • Fashion brands pivot to masks. 
  • The NBA pivoted to virtual fans.
  • Toast, a restaurant POS platform, launched Toast Now. 
  • Lola, a business travel website, pivoted to expense reporting
  • Happily, Ever Laughter, a children’s entertainment company, pivoted from live events to online playdates to help keep children entertained at home. It saved the business and the jobs.

What do all of these companies have in common?

They defined their business by the people they served and not the product they sell or how they sell it. Their relationships with their customers helped get insight into the problems and what the customers want, even when they don’t. 


Traffic and Conversion will always be essential. 

What Do You Think?

If you watched his presentation at T&C or you’re familiar with his work, I want to know what you think.

Leave a comment below and share your story of using his techniques to grow your business.

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