“It’s real!”, I said with absolute passion.
“No, it’s not - it’s all staged.”, my dad replied with a very real eye roll.
This was the conversation in the late 1980s at many, many high school lunch tables. And it centered around what was then known as the WWF (World Wrestling Federation).
Whether you were a fan of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, or “Macho Man” Randy Savage... you were pretty much bound to have an opinion on whether this spectacle of spectacles was real or fake.
1985 to 1992 was the WWF’s golden era (in my humble but accurate opinion). Which was a pretty impressive run for men in spangly hot pants throwing each other around the ring. And the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment - what they are known as today) is still going strong.
A lot of the reason that that wrestling is so successful comes down to really good marketing principles. Reflecting back on my childhood, there seems to be many marketing strategies and tactics that I (and many successful businesses) use today that could have easily been drawn from professional wrestling’s playbook. Here are five of my favorites - which of these can you apply in your own business?
1. Good vs. Evil - Have a Common
The biggest rivalry at the height of the WWF had to be “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan. And whichever one you ended up loving or hating - you couldn’t love them both. You had to take sides.
Getting people to take sides WITH YOU against a common enemy is a fantastic marketing technique. A classic example of this is in the natural health market - the big enemy is “big pharma”.
The common enemy doesn’t even have to be REAL. It can be completely imagined or made up - similar to what Mucinex does. You wouldn’t think that breaking up mucus would be a big opportunity for this. But when you personify mucus and make it the green, slimy “bad-guy” then it works.
2. Tell Good Stories
Facts are great, but stories have far more power.
In the WWE the story was the main thing. There were epic rivalries and wrestlers fighting to win the hearts of women they loved. It was (and still is) like a soap opera for men.
Telling stories in your own business can be fairly straightforward and get you great results.
The formula that I normally use is to figure out what point I want to get across or what I want to sell and then pick a story and find a bridge between the two. Coca-cola is a company that is masterful at this. Their story-telling ads make you all fuzzy feeling inside. And then when you want that fuzzy feeling again, you reach for a Coke.
3. Leverage the Power of Celebrity
There is a reason that Hulk Hogan helped drive the WWF business in it’s hey-dey. And a big part of that reason was that people LOVED to see him. He was a super-start in his own right.
You don’t have to be as big as Hulk Hogan was (he was MY favorite BTW) in order to capitalize on this. But if you are a coach or an author especially - a little bit of name-recognition can go a long way.
In our modern world, one of my favorite ways to do this is through Facebook live. By getting your face and name in front of people on a regular basis you can greatly increase name recognition and more people will buy from you - especially if they like you.
4. Make Everything You Can a BIG EVENT
In professional wrestling everything leads up to a BIG EVENT (can you hear the echoing on the loud-speakers): WrestleMania, Survivor Series, SummerSlam, and more.
In your business it’s always good to give your customers something to look forward to. A salon that I know of uses raising money for cancer as their main event. They have a huge cut-a-thon every year and 100% of the profits go to charity.
In the online world you can do teleseminars, webinars, and use Facebook Live as an event you can build up to.
This is a fun one to get really creative with. Just make sure that everything LEADS UP TO a main event and that you keep the main events special.
5. Wear Spangly Tights
I don’t mean to REALLY wear spangly tights, unless you are a wrestler or circus performer that might be a bit weird.
But most of the BEST wrestlers make sure they stand out. Sometimes it’s their outfit and sometimes it’s their personality. Whichever it is - they make sure that they can’t be mistaken for anyone else.
In your business this is called your USP (unique selling proposition) and your USP makes it way, way easier to differentiate yourself from all the fierce competition that is out there.
Professional wrestling is a little bit crazy, a whole lot of fun, and some pretty great marketing. Which of these lessons from the world of professional wrestling can you apply into your own business to get more attention and increase sales?