I remember the first time I fell in love. I was 5-years old, going on 6. I heard this swell of music, the roar of a crowd, and watched as a man dressed in a sequined cape and Speedo sunglasses made his way to the ring. I watched as this man, The “Macho Man” Randy Savage wrestled the Honkytonk Man. He climbed to the top rope, raised both hand into the air, and jumped.
I was in love.
Not with the man, but with the wrestling.
Every Saturday morning I’d sit in front of the television and watch. I’d listen as Hulk Hogan told me to say my prayers and eat my vitamins. I reeled in shock when Shawn Michaels threw Martney Jannetty through the barbershop window. I cheered when Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth reunited. I was a loyal viewer, WWE magazine subscriber, and attended the events when they rolled into town.
I was a weird kid, but I loved it. I always imagined becoming apart of that energy. I dreamed of becoming a professional wrestler with the WWE
Fast-forward 28 years and I’m still in love. I still sit ringside and am a subscriber to the WWE Network. Last night I watched in surprise as Brock Lessner ended The Undertaker’s 21-match Wrestlemania streak. Yes, I KNOW IT’S FAKE! At 5 I knew it was fake. But I still love it. And I still dream of working with the WWE.
My love of wrestling has evolved from the excitement around the events, to a fascination with the business. I believe that the WWE has defined true business disruption. And the disruptor is Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO of the WWE.
He came from a family of wrestling entertainers. His Father was the promoter for the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Vince became apart of the organization with a goal of disrupting the business. See, back in “the day” these wrestling federations were made up of regional offices. There was an unspoken understanding that regions would not invade each others territories. Vince McMahon didn’t care. He saw opportunity and began promoting to all regions and recruiting wrestlers in those other regions.
He broke the rules. And then he broke the mold. He signed Hulk Hogan who, to this day, is THE brand of all professional wrestling.
Not only did Vince disrupt the industry, but he revolutionized sports entertainment. He uncovered a new revenue stream by promoting pay-per-view events, like Wrestlemania. He’s continued to expand his brand and media reach through print, promotional toys, a movie studio, an interactive mobile app, and now a network. He’s survived rising competition through ruthless business practices.
But what’s allowed the WWE to endure, is its story-telling.
Capitalizing on story-telling, the WWE has retained loyal fans, and acquired new ones through 4 decades of the Wrestling Boom, the Attitude Era, the McMahon-Helmsley Era, and the New WWE Era. Watching now, it’s certainly not the same “kid friendly” show that I remember as a child. In the 80s the WWE knew that to acquire new fans they had to appeal to a family audience. Over the years, as they recognized revenue potential, they adjusted their stories to meet the demands of their viewers and win the older crowd who would spend money. The fans of the WWE drove the direction of the brand.
It’s the stories that keep you coming back. And the fans still drive the direction of the show. With the WWE app, fans can vote on who competes in matches. Interactive television. It’s these stories that reaffirm the brand of the WWE and that keep fans loyal.
The WWE is an organization that’s fascinating to watch. I’m continually impressed with their risk-taking in business, and in the ring. Perhaps I’ll never climb to that top rope, arms raised high, like I always dreamed. But maybe I can disrupt business much like my first love.
You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.
Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.
She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.
Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
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