Michael Guerra believed a better way exists to get downhill. He tested his theory, learning what needed to be strengthened organically (muscles), acquired (a cup), and tested (maneuvers – timing, transition, and implementation), how to set the stage for optimal impact, and exactly when to strike. And he left all others working twice as hard to compete for second place.

Denver Digital Agency Webolutions on Denver Digital Summit

Seth Godin spoke about “our revolution” in the primary keynote address for the 2017 Denver Digital Marketing Summit. Session presenters implored marketers to introduce their companies and organizations to, “a new way of thinking about marketing.” A very regular-sized Morgan Spurlock and The Economist’s Mina Seetharaman, among others, spoke to the importance of authenticity in messaging and media.

The message found welcoming ears. Among the furious and constant finger taps on laptop keyboards as screens switched from MS Word to Slack and back, a community of new thinkers absorbed and processed information, striving to break through.

Juxtaposing Data Points

Those looking upon a convention in tech-Mecca Denver focused on marketing and called Digital Summit, and believing content purveyed therein includes deep analytical dives into social media, mind maps, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), content development & marketing and “big data,” will have every assumption validated. Indeed, the four-hour pre-conference workshop Make Email Great Again – With an Actual Plan on How to Do That, provided enough red meat to satiate the data hounds—down to best practices for font pixels and how contextual emojis impact open rates.

My own Pavlovian salivation at such discussion points notwithstanding, the Denver Digital Marketing Summit also provided higher-level information to help decision makers rethink assumptions. For example, those who turn away from email marketing are about to make it much easier for the rest of us to produce better results therein:

  • In 2017, email remains, by far, the most cost-effective marketing channel.
  • Likelihood of desired action increases significantly when an email subscriber also sees a targeted social media display advertisement.

Getting There Faster

Godin’s presentation included this video:

His point: There is always a better way to do what has always been done. You just have to be able to see the way, and have the courage and the ability to commit to it. (And then, at the end of the video, the motorcycle rider immediately imitates the success of the outlier, signaling the new way is about to become the norm. So continuous trend identification, long-term planning, and innovation are fundamental to the success of…everything.)

I am a gym rat with a competitiveness problem. Last weekend, at the annual parent relay for the neighborhood summer youth swim team, I stood on a platform and excoriated my randomly- and self-selected teammates that, “Tomorrow is not promised,” and so, “Today, we do whatever is necessary so that tonight, we can call ourselves champions.” I pretty much yelled this. And only in small part to embarrass my teenage daughter. In the moment, I think I actually believed this. I might still. So, when I look at this innovative and effective cycling tactic, I don’t see spur-of-the-moment, see-if-it-sticks. I see:

  • Formulate. Test. Measure. Reformulate. Retest. Measure. Repeat. – The cyclist, Michael Guerra, moves into his “Superman” pose with a practiced move. Odds are, before Guerra tried this in a competitive race, he tested theories, noted causes of failure, and continued to hone and evolve the maneuver until he found the most efficient and effective way to transition into it.
  • Core Muscle Development – Workout junkies will note that in order to make that transition and hold the pose for any length of time, strength and rigidity is required in abdominals, obliques, quads, and other stuff I can’t spell. Guerra had to focus on developing these muscles.
  • The Right Tools – I have to believe this guy is wearing a cup. At minimum, he had to have tried it out on a test run.
  • The Right Time – Guerra lets the pack pass him, and picks a moment to transition and strike. This, too, is a product of testing, practicing, and implementing a strategy to achieve a specific goal. By the time his competitors realize he’s found a better way, it’s too late.
  • Getting Your Message Heard – I find multiple videos online of this same cyclist doing this same thing in different races, which means multiple video producers know to look for and expect it. So, one way and/or another, Guerra got the word out to watch for it.
  • Damn the Torpedoes. – I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the first 10 people to whom Guerra mentioned this idea responded that it, “can’t happen,” “will never work,” or “can’t do it that way.” And yet it does.
  • The Right Team. – I’ll double down on that bet with this one: He found a coach and a trainer to help him find, test, and implement the best solution.

Using This Information

The world’s best idea is worth exactly zero if you lack the wherewithal to turn it into reality.

Michael Guerra believed a better way exists to get downhill. He tested his theory, learning what needed to be strengthened organically (muscles), acquired (a cup), and tested (maneuvers – timing, transition, and implementation), how to set the stage for optimal impact, and exactly when to strike. And he left all others working twice as hard to compete for second place.

Do you see a new path to achieve your goals? Do you believe a better way exists? Have you determined what needs to be strengthened? Acquired? Tested? Are you prepared to do the hard work necessary to see if the naysayers are wrong?

Guerra’s innovation is easily copied, so it will likely become the new norm in cycling. Should you succeed in changing the game in your business, all game players will either evolve or die. Companies like Google and Amazon succeed because they innovate constantly. How can you inspire a culture of innovation in your organization? How will you stay ahead?

So before you decide up or down on email marketing, or social media, or any tactical mix, make sure you have the right data, are working the right muscles, have the right tools, tested your theories, and processed critical feedback constructively. To implement his solution, Guerra did not need a new bike; he just needed to use the one he had a bit differently for a short time.

Denver Digital Marketing Summit attendees are back home now, asking themselves and each other this question: How do we get downhill faster?

Seth Godin’s answer is “revolution.” What’s yours?