Real Marketing Ideas from a Fake Sport

April 7, 2015
Marketing ideas from the WWE and WrestleMania

A few weeks ago I was snookered into watching WrestleMania, the WWE’s yearly wrestle-palooza. It’s ridiculous and clearly fake, but I couldn’t stop watching because it was packed with amazing stories. If only there was a way to bring this storytelling energy into the marketing world!

Oh wait

You’re probably not selling wrestling tickets or promoting guys in spandex singlets, but you are selling something, and you do have stories. The fun part is finding those stories and figuring out how to tell them.

The WWE has the same challenge. Just like NBC during the Olympics, WrestleMania creators must find a way to draw viewers quickly into the wrestlers’ stories.

But unlike the Olympics — where everyone really only needs to care about the athletes for a few weeks every couple of years — the WWE must tell stories interesting enough to keep people coming back week after week for decades.

How do they do this, and how can their strategies be valuable to your business?

Tell lots of stories

Some WWE characters have been around for more than 20 years. That’s a lot of stories, and a lot of effort spent evolving them to keep people interested.

Takeaway: Don’t let your stories languish. Update your case studies and post new blog articles; dive into video and other new storytelling forms. Always be on the lookout for new tales you can share with your audience.

Make them larger than life

The stories WrestleMania tells are so over the top, I can’t even describe them. For a quick example, check out this video (language/content warning):

This is crackers, right? But I bet you chose a side.

Takeaway: Go big or go home. Give your audience something to love or hate, and make them pick a side: Mac or Windows, Chevy or Ford, your product or your competitor’s.

Want to sell? Tell stories

The first WrestleMania took place in 1985 in front of 19,000 people; in 2015 there were over 76,000 — plus millions of television viewers around the globe.

All because of storytelling.

These strategies do not belong to the WWE. They are yours to leverage to grow your business. Use them well and you will tell great stories. 

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