What Can A Business Owner Learn From Studying the WWE (yep, wrestling!)
Did you know I'm a huge wrestling fan? I have been since a kid and I watch just as much wrestling now as I did back then. I still remember my first wrestling match - Rowdy Roddy Piper vs Adrian Adonis at Wrestlemania 3. The whole experience blew my mind and it still does to this day.
As a business owner and coach I have noticed there are massive similarities between running a business and the wrestling industry (specifically the WWE). I know some of you are reading this and thinking I'm crazy so allow me to enlighten you. Whether you are a fan of wrestling or not this will hopefully give you food for thought. Right, here we go
1.) The wrestling industry adapts and changes all the time.
I remember years ago there was something called Kayfabe. This basically means not letting people know that wrestling isn't real. Back in the day everyone thought wrestling was real and wrestlers and promoters had to go to great lengths to ensure that people didn't find out it was predetermined. This including heels (bad guys) not being seen in public with faces (good guys). These days however everyone basically knows wrestling is predetermined. Fans watch because they respect the storylines and the athleticism. Even though people know wrestling is 'fake' it's more popular than ever before.
The reason this change happened is because it was difficult to keep fans in the dark. With the arrival of the Internet, discussion forums popped up everywhere showcasing 'industry secrets'. Rather than trying to deny this the WWE embraced it. The whole product changed to accommodate this attitude change and WWE became more popular than ever. The wrestling industry continues to change and adapt based on what's happening in the world.
Do you do the same in your business? Do you carry on regardless or change things based on what your customers are saying? A good business will constantly change and adapt everything they do. That's why split testing is so important. You should be always looking for a better way to do things. It's great to have goals but you must be prepared to deviate away from those goals when necessary.
2.) You need to master marketing and social media.
There are no two ways about it, the WWE have mastered social media and marketing in general . They are the number one worldwide trend on twitter when they have a live television broadcast. They have mastered live video. Back when periscope was a thing they were broadcasting constantly. Now they are all over Facebook Live and YouTube Live Streams. They have even tried creating their own social media platforms (anyone remember Tout?). The bottom line is they have mastered social media and use it not only to create interest in their product but to build interest to a fever pitch.
So the question is are you doing the same in your business? How effectively are you marketing what you do to the world at large? Obviously you don't have the same marketing budget as the WWE but you can still implement a marketing and social media strategy. This is something a lot of businesses fail to do. They simply 'have a go!' I'll have a go at twitter and have a go at emailing without actually committing to anything.
You should set a marketing budget and then decide which marketing activities are best for your business. Look at what you do and decide what would work for you. For example if your customer base are the older generation you wouldn't want to use snap chat! Once you know what you want to do (because you can't do everything) and his much you want to spend you can ascertain how much time you want to spend on each activity. You don't want to spend your whole life doing this stuff after all. Then finally you can work out how you are going to monitor your marketing activities to see what's working and what's not. You don't want to be doing this stuff if it's not working and without monitoring it you won't know.
The WWE became massive by making sure everyone knew who they were and what they do. You need to do the same for your business.
3.) Always remember to put on a show.
First and foremost wrestlers are storytellers. The best wrestling moments are where a story is told that people care about. One individual match can be exciting however the thing that most fans talk about are the storylines that take place over several months that depict good triumphing over evil. I'll never forget how I felt back as a teenager when Bret Hart finally defeated his evil brother Owen Hart. It's enticing and compelling storylines that really can turn someone into a wrestling fan for life.
Are you telling stories in your business? This can be done in a number of different ways. Firstly get your customers to care about you and your company. Share personal stories on social media, do live videos explaining who you are and your values as a business owner.
Storytelling can also mean painting pictures during your sales process. It's a fact that every business has to sell. Whatever your product or service at some point you have to sell it to the end user. Rather than taking a traditional sales approach paint pictures. Use stories to help your potential customer imagine what it is they are buying. Help them understand that what you offer they cannot live without. With one of my companies, Non Stop Kids Entertainment, we could just tell the customers we offer kids parties. Instead we get them to imagine how happy their child will be when they are thrown the absolute perfect party. Storytelling in business is important.
4.) Don't Be Afraid To Take Risks
It's a fact that business owners that are prepared to take risks will ultimately hit their goals a lot quicker people who want to 'play it safe'. I have taken many risks over my career. Have all of them paid off? Not a chance! However would I be where I am now if I had never taken a single risk? Not a chance. I would be working for someone else in a job that I hated. Business owners have to take risks. Just the simple act of becoming self employed and starting your own business is a massive risk.
WWE takes massive risks all the time. There is the obvious example that every time a wrestler steps into a ring they are risking their health. Even though wrestling is predetermined the moves are real and wrestlers can and do get hurt. However there is an even better example of how the WWE have taken massive risks which have paid off and that's how they generate their income . Allow me to explain.
WWE makes money from four main areas. Sales of merchandise, tickets to live events, TV rights and finally income from PPV's. Up until a few years ago WWE made most of its money from PPV's. Every month they would put on a three hour special and charge people $60 to watch it. Then a few years ago they scrapped this system and launched a streaming service, a little like Netflix but exclusively for wrestling. Rather than asking people to pay $60 a PPV they started asking $10 a month for complete access to this network.
Everyone thought that the WWE was going mad as people were now paying $50 less and getting a lot more. Industry experts thought the WWE would go out of business within the year. In reality more people than ever before subscribed and the WWE now has 1.5 million subscribers as apposed to the 250,000 that purchased PPV's using the previous model. Was this a massive risk? Absolutely however they have now taken their company to an entirely new level by taking that risk.
Do you take risks in your business? Be honest with yourself was there an opportunity that presented itself that you decided not to take? Where do you think you would be if you had taken that risk? Without risk there is no reward.
5.) Build up a rabid fan base
Back in University I remember being ridiculed for being a wrestling fan, people used to constantly say to me "You know it's not real, right!" However the wrestling industry continues to thrive. Stadiums and arenas sell out all over the world, there are multiple shows on TV channels all over the world and things continue to look bright. Sure there have been peeks and troughs over the years but for the most part Business continues to thrive. One of the reasons for this is that WWE fans are the most passionate group of people you will ever meet. The only place you would find a group of people that embrace what they love more is at Comicon!
Sure there are casual fans however a large part of the fan base are made up of people who eat, sleep and drink wrestling. WWE is aware of this and plays on it. They will frequently do things and create storylines specifically to keep these hardcore fans happy. They understand that this rabid fan base is a huge part of their success.
You need to do this in your business as well. You need to get your customer base to care about what you do and what your business does. Make your clients passionate about your business in much the same way that you are passionate about your business. These people will then become your biggest advocates. They will scream about you from the rooftops and tell everyone who will listen about how great you are. You can't buy word of mouth advertising! My biggest client is a person that has used my company Slightly Unusual over 30 times. They will literally book us at the drop of a hat, any excuse to have Slightly Unusual at their event. Now that's the sort of customer you want!
6.) Understand the customer journey.
One thing WWE gets right is they understand that the journey their customers go on is vitally important. They have seemingly mapped out everything so that people just have a fantastic experience of the product. Everything links together. You watch a match on TV and you are given a free month on the WWE Network. On the network there is an advert to buy some merchandise. When your merchandise is delivered there is a discount code to get tickets for their next event. When you are at the live event you see an advert for the text TV Show. It's up sell after up sell going around and around in one big loop. And during every stage of this you are made to feel special like you are the most important person that the WWE has ever known.
Business owners sometimes forget about the customer experience or the customer journey and it is so vitally important. What journey does your customer take. Are they going to be frustrated at any point or does everything run smoothly. In my kids entertainment company I make sure that every client that has a booking has a birthday card sent out to the birthday child the week before the party. It's small things like this that really put you on another level compared to your competition.
Also think about your upsells. Are you up selling? If you aren't you should. It's far easier to sell to someone that is already a customer that someone that has never heard of you before. What can you up sell you existing customer on? And more importantly how can you do this so that your customer case does not think they are being sold to? It's questions like this that you should be asking yourself and then implementing strategies into you business to make it happen.
7.) Surround yourself with experts
One of the reasons that the WWE have grown so huge is because of Vince MacMahon. Vince owns the WWE after buying it from his father (back then it was called the WWWE). When Vince purchased the company it was a smaller territorial based wrestling promotion and after a very short period of time he grew it into the national organisation we know today. However although Vince MacMahon is very intelligent he couldn't do it alone.
Over the years he has hired the best of the best for every single position in his company. He has
surrounded himself with experts to ensure that the product he is putting out is the best it can be. He even hires Hollywood script writers to create storylines as he understood that the stories that the company showcases are so important. No other company has gone to these lengths. The secret to the WWE's success is not Vince MacMahon it's the people he surrounds himself with.
Have a look at your business and be honest with yourself. Are you trying to do everything yourself and not outsourcing? This is a trap a lot of business owners fall into. They think that they have to do everything themselves because nobody else will be able to do it the same high quality. However this means that business owners end up doing tasks that realistically aren't that important compared to other things they could be doing.
You might not be in a position to hire a full time member of staff but there is no excise to not outsource. Rather than answer your phones hire a Virtual PA. Rather than manage your social media hire a social media manager. Rather than do your accounts hire an accountant and book keeper. You get my point. This will free you up so much and I promise you that you will look back and wonder why you didn't do it years ago.
In conclusion the WWE is a massive multinational company. You are probably thinking that your business could never grow to the same level as they are on. However back in the 70's when Vince MacMahon brought a small promotion in New York people probably thought the same thing. All it need is determination, vision, belief and desire and anything is possible. If they can do it you can as well.
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Thanks for reading. Have a great day.