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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The anti-hero, effective?  You bet.  As I think about some of the most influential marketing strategies on some of the world's biggest stages, I can't help but focus on the success of the WWE thanks to larger than life personalities like Stone Cold Steve Austin.

If you don't follow wrestling, the character of Stone Cold hit during a time when the WWE was fighting against the WCW for the top spot in the sport of professional wrestling.  With the rise and success of Austin, the WWE (previously WWF) eventually beat out the other wrestling franchise and has grown into a multi-billion dollar enterprise.  So why did the "anti-hero" take the WWE to new heights?

The character of Austin did what no other wrestler had done - build on the emotions of the audience. Stone Cold was considered anti-establishment and was in synch with the hearts and minds of individuals who wanted to stand up to "the man" (a.k.a. the boss, the leaders, politicians, and anyone brandishing their authority).  Austin was direct, larger than life, and he continued to push the envelope. Each week, people would tune in to see what he would do next.  This is true marketing at it's finest.

What Does Your Marketing Do Differently?
If you're marketing is the same as everyone else, then you're going to have a difficult time getting noticed.  In fact, you'll never get noticed.  As consumers we're hit with hundreds if not thousands of different messages each and every day.  The question is whether or not your message is going to be different enough to be remembered and acted upon.

Wrestling does a great job of creating something different for the viewers - each week, each month, and throughout the year.  With evolving story lines, new characters, and continuous change, audiences are captivated and keep coming back for more.  Is your marketing doing the same?  Once someone becomes a customer, how are you keeping them engaged?

Something New, Something Different.
To get ahead, your business needs to focus on doing a few things well.  In Stone Cold's world it was entertainment.  But entertainment takes many different forms.  The WWE was effective in determining what would remain the same each week.  For example, Stone Cold's anti-establishment persona, and what things would change (his competitors, the storyline, etc.).

Making the most of your marketing means thinking about what should remain the same and what needs to change and evolve over time.  Experiment, think of new ideas and evolve your company's storyline.  It will not only improve your results but create prospects and customers who are more engaged.

...and that's the bottom line because Stone Cold Said So!


Kent said...

Your blog post is quite unique, so far seldom people related marketing to WWE. Anyway, thanks for the blog post.

You are right, he is once a legend of WWE. When I was young, I did what you said, follow him to see what he would do next.

I bought a book called Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon. That's a great book for marketers to think how to do marketing in the crowded world.

Anyway, thanks for the reminder.

Unknown said...

It's important for marketers to continue to push the edge of marketing. If you watch many commercials, they are essentially the same thing. GoDaddy was one of the first companies to really push the boundaries and they have been widely successful doing it. From their first Super Bowl ad when nobody knew what they were, to today, they have seen tremendous growth from their new breed of advertising.

Daniel Lacey said...

I watched the WWE when Austin was huge, looking back now I can see it was an absolutely inspired piece of marketing, which was either timed beautifully on purpose or everything just fell right at the right time.

Also he had a huge neck injury which kept him out of wrestling for a few months, which is why they invented the Austin vs McMahon out of ring skits. Just shows another example of triumph out of adversity.

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