What Your Marketing Can Learn from Pro Wrestlers
Creating a Memorable Storyline and Brand
Professional wrestling is a strange spectacle. Many who partake are athletic, but the predetermined nature means they’re not (in the strictest sense) athletes. One thing that pro-wrestling does have in common with sports and arts is a need to make money. Promotions need to create revenue to support not just the performers but also the backstage staff. Just as the products and services your company offers make money for you to keep the lights on, pay the staff and arrange corporate Parkour sessions.
The Art of the Promo
What do wrestlers sell? They sell Pay-Per-Views for the promotion and merchandise (mostly T-shirts) for themselves. How do they do it? Through storytelling.
Some of the storytelling is wrestling matches, with narrative elements and outcomes that progress the plot. It should indicate who is the villain and who is the hero.
But wrestlers also use promos and backstage vignettes to add more to the narrative. A promo is a wrestler in the ring, on the mic, telling the audience why they should watch the match they’re in on the upcoming PPV, using points of interest to hook them in. A vignette is the same but might be shot in a different location, with different artistic elements, that add to the messaging.
If we consider that the conflict between two wrestlers is synonymous with problem vs. product solution, that buying the PPV is buying the product, then promos are a way to add emotion and create more compelling reasons to drive a purchase.
In place of the wrestler promo, consider the blog perhaps, or the webinar. Here you can explore themes like what sets your product ahead of the competition, what additional information educates your audience, how your product makes life easier for customers, how it promotes sustainability, etc.
Blogs, webinars and other marketing tactics can build upon your core message, giving the audience new ways to connect with what you offer, or give them additional appreciation for what your product does and how it fits their needs.
Getting Dressed for Branding Success
Wrestlers have uniforms, or rather they have branding. For some wrestlers, Bret Hart for example, they have a color scheme – pink, white and black – and iconography – skulls, wings and flames – that they don’t deviate from. At different points in his career, Bret used pink then black as the primary color in his ring attire. But in everything related to his appearances like, lighting, entrance footage and merchandise, he only really used these colors.
Stick to your branding to maintain consistency and drive awareness. That’s not just your colors, but the way you talk to your audience. As we previously discussed via this blog, content such as memes don’t work for everyone. Wrestlers, and your business, have a defined character. Audiences feel perplexed when you break from that character. If Bret Hart came out in a red and green singlet, people might be interested by the glaring change, but they’ll also suffer confusion. Similarly, if your brand ambassadors go off book during media engagements, your reputation may be put at risk.
Furthermore, the wrestler who comes out in different ring attire each week, isn’t going to connect with an audience. The repetition of branding across all materials reduces the time it takes for someone to recognize that brand and connect with it.
Make a Plan
A wrestler knows how each promo, match or vignette builds into the story and how it compels fans to want to see the thrilling conclusion. What can brands learn from this approach?
Plan your messaging in advance of your big event – whether it’s a product launch, an acquisition or a key corporate milestone.
Strategically plan when your press release will be distributed before a product launch. Be aware of when the CEO is being interviewed by an industry publication so it can be cross promoted via social media. Carefully time the release of a teaser video on YouTube with an e-blast or e-newsletter distribution to coincide with when your audiences are most active online. Anticipating the big drops, and allowing for a few weeks of build can make a bigger impact for your business.
It’s surprising how often planning is being overlooked. Last minute scrambling for images, copy and content with a deadline 85 minutes from now is so limiting, and so ad-hoc, that it limits results. Even if you ply more budget into it.
The marketing staff I meet are almost always passionate people who wish they could do more. You can do more by planning because the time efficiencies and enhanced results pay for themselves as well as allowing space to do more.
A Victory for Marketing
Like professional wrestlers, your marketing can make an impact. Having a cohesive narrative, being consistent with your branding from both visual and written perspectives, and planning out your messaging are all strategies that organizations can borrow from wrestling.
When it comes to getting coverage for your brand, finding the opportunities, developing the creative and scoring real victories, you have a much better chance when you team up to take on the challenges. At Mulberry Marketing Communications, we know what it takes to plan and execute successful campaigns for clients across the world.
If you want a tag team partner that makes business to business personal, get in touch, and we’ll work together to get you to the pinnacle.
Mike McConnell is a Creative Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications. An award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in London, Chicago and Melbourne. He has years of experience creating and editing written work alongside developing ideas for a diverse range of clients across multiple formats. He enjoys occasional episodes of AEW Dynamite and Rampage.