Professional wresting has been an interest of mine for over 40 years. From the days of Lord Athol Layton, The Sheik and Abdullah the Butcher to most recently, the baby faces and heels of the 90’s including Hulk Hogan, Brett Hart and Macho Man Randy Savage. I have witnessed the sport grow from headlocks and spinning toe holds to the flying acrobatics and high-speed action that you witness today. What is the difference between the 60’s and the 90’s? Marketing!
I have 5 rules for effective marketing that I use to build campaigns and programs for clients.
- Create a recognized brand
- Stay in touch with the consumer
- Deliver what your customers want and expect
- Outthink your competitors
- Support your product using your strengths.
Macho Man Randy Savage, who passed away recently in a car accident embodied the marketing strategy to a tee, and helped to build the WWE (formerly WWF) to astounding heights of popularity. His deep gravelly voice, his ornate studded capes, cowboy hats, the sunglasses, and the phrases, “Ohh Yeahhh!, and “Freak Out” were his trademarks. He created the Macho Man brand and maintained it for over a decade. Even in his ads for Slim Jims, he re-enforces his own brand while promoting someone else’s.
Known as one of the best interviews in wrestling, he would often adlib, turn his back to the camera, shake his hand as if he was ridding himself of excess energy and talk about the type of beating he was going to administer to opponents. He was quoted in a “real” interview when asked what his best match was, that it was the one that the fans loved the most. He truly had his finger on the wrestling consumer’s pulse. As far as delivering what the customers want, Savage was absolutely electric when he entered the ring. Jumping from turnbuckle to turnbuckle spreading his capes like wings encouraging either cheers or jeers from the throng. I remember a match that he started wearing his sunglasses, and won without ever taking them off! WWE fans wanted action, Savage delivered in spades.
Many before him donned gowns and capes, but never had the expansive wardrobe Savage owned. In the ring, Savage was a high flyer, delivering flying elbows from the top rope getting more height than anyone before, and landing with precision choreographed perfection. He wasn’t the biggest, or the strongest but I don’t think his athleticism was matched by any competitor, and he used that to rise to the top of the wrestling world. In an interview after Savage left the WWE, he makes a comment which epitomizes his dedication to being the best and marketing the organization for which he worked. “It’s not just winning the belt, it’s how you wear it”
Randy Savage recognized the potential he had to manufacture an image in an industry where gimmicks were manufactured by the thousands. It never changed for Savage. He worked hard every night, every interview was a sales pitch and win or lose he always vowed to come back, and did. The wrestling world lost a true competitor