What You Can Learn About Marketing from Professional Wrestlers
I used to watch pro wrestling all the time as a kid. The colorful characters, the drama, and the action in the ring drew me to the TV and arenas with a smile on my face because I was being entertained. I loved wrestling so much one of my first novels was based in this crazy world.
Fast-forward a few years and my adult self has found the joy of watching wrestling again. But now while the drama and the action are still enthralling, I’m looking at the characters (or more accurately the people portraying them) in a different way. They are their own brand. Their gimmick is what they are trying to sell to the public and generate enough interest to get them over to a higher level of success.
The reason why some pro wrestlers become more popular than others is the same reason that some companies prosper and others flounder. It comes down to the work you’re putting in and the response you’re getting from that. If what you’re focusing on is working you continue building on it; if it’s not you tweak it until it does.
Let’s take The Rock for example. He started his career as a third-generation wrestler with a legacy on his back. They brought him in as “the blue chipper” and he was all smiles and high-fives with big hair and a big personality. The fans hated him for it. What they were initially putting out wasn’t working so he switched gears and started to portray what’s known as a “heel” or the “badguy.” In this transition Dwayne Johnson was able to start expressing his true personality more. He was funny and articulate and he KNEW HOW TO SELL A MATCH. The fans loved him for it. He became one of the biggest superstars of all time and now he’s one of the most well-known faces and names in the entire world.
Another example is Becky Lynch. Currently one of the most talked about superstars, not only in wrestling, but transcending into mainstream media. But when Becky first came to the WWE she was saddled with a gimmick that was a stereotype of her Irish roots (complete with lime green tights and a jig). She too reinvented herself to more closely reflect her truth and that, coupled with hard work, won fans over. But unlike The Rock, Becky’s rise to the stop seemed to get derailed. Instead of giving up she looked deep within herself to find the answer to the question: Why isn’t this working? And she reinvented herself again. This time she took a risk, she called herself “The Man” a term widely recognized as the “top dog” but which is usually reserved for the male gender. This risk, along with a dedication to her chosen profession, has endeared her to fans the world over and now she is in a prime position to become the face of the company.
What both The Rock and Becky Lynch do well is using their social media platforms to connect with fans which ultimately become buyers. They buy tickets to The Rock’s movies; they buy tickets to Becky’s matches. The fans are the audience they are trying to reach to attain a certain outcome. This can translate to every entrepreneur or business.
Take a look at the company WWE itself. Vince McMahon Jr. bought the company from his father with a vision in mind to make it a global empire. Like Rock, he reinvented the company over and over again. Like Lynch, he took risks and made bold moves that could’ve blown up in his face but wound up being the catalyst to bigger and better.
I was recently at a seminar with Tony Robbins where he proceeded to say “I invented this Tony Robbins character!” What he meant by that is he had a vision of who he needed to become in order to attain the level of success he wanted, so he became that person. It’s the same with pro wrestlers. The very best ones know who their character is and they know how to promote themselves in a way that gets attention.
As Dolly Parton once said: “Know who you are, and do it on purpose.”