Marketing 101 For Wrestling

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September 8, 2010 by David Gillaspie

(inspired by http://sethgodin.typepad.com/and Ashton Kutcher in Personal Effects)

Marketing types know how to flip the right switches.  They can take two similar products and make us think one is a horse biscuit and the other a chocolate chip cookie. 

They make choosing easy, even if the horse biscuit has chocolate chips.

How would a marketing wizard approach wrestling as a consumer product?

From a wrestler’s point of view: 

Q:  What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product, (going out for wrestling)?

A:  None of my friends do it. 

Q:  What did you find as a result of buying this product (wrestling)?

A:  I have new friends who are tougher than my old friends.   

Q:  What specific feature did you like most about this product (wrestling)?

A:  It’s harder than it looks, and I could do it.

Q:  What would be three other benefits about this product (wrestling)?

A:  Running and lifting weights.  Football players always say they’ll run and lift in the off-season, but…?  With wrestling you get direct results from the effort without waiting for another football season.  I didn’t think I’d be any good at wrestling, but I was.  Now I’m not afraid to try new things.

Q:  Would you recommend this product (wrestling)?  If so, why?

A:  It’s a sport with room for the best athletes and the worst athletes.  You don’t even have to be an athlete to wrestle.  All you need is enough will power to get through the learning curve of losing matches.  It happens.

Q:  Is there anything you’d like to add?

A:  It’s not a dying sport like you hear about.  Round up old friends and take them to the gym.  They’ll thank you later.

From a parent’s point of view:

Q:  What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product, (going out for wrestling)?

A:  My child has self-esteem issues.  I don’t want to make them worse.

Q:  What did you find as a result of buying this product (wrestling)?

A:  His self-esteem improved even when he lost matches.

Q:  What specific feature did you like most about this product (wrestling)?

A:  The rough and tumble.  Kids don’t spend enough time on the edge of deciding how much is too much.  Everything about wrestling is too much, but they keep going.

Q:  What would be three other benefits about this product (wrestling)?

A:  It’s exhausting.  My kids come home from practice and go to bed early.  It’s exacting.  The margin of victory might be one point or fifteen and either way there are areas to improve.  It’s inspirational.  I’ve had to get in shape to let the kids have a practice dummy at home.  No crossfacing on the carpet.

Q:  Would you recommend this product (wrestling)?  If so, why?

A:  I’d recommend wrestling to every high school student, college bound or not, male or female.  They could all use more information on how their bodies work and wrestling works it all. 

Q:  Is there anything you’d like to add?

A:  What other sport travels to as many places as wrestling.  From cultural exchanges to national tournaments, wrestling gives the wrestling family a better look at the rest of the world.  And it’s a relief thinking that a wrestling kid out in the big world can handle himself.

From a coach’s point of view:

Q:  What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product, (going out for wrestling)?

A:  A broken bone or life threatening disease. 

Q:  What did you find as a result of buying this product (wrestling)?

A:  You can look at another person and tell them ‘if you want it, go get it’ and they do.   

Q:  What specific feature did you like most about this product (wrestling)?

A:  The principles of wrestling apply to every part of a wrestler’s life their whole life.  The cycle of effort and rest, and making an effort when you feel like resting, sticks around. 

Q:  What would be three other benefits about this product (wrestling)?

A:  Kids learn to tell time (“TEN SECONDS, TEN SECONDS”).  They learn there’s no ‘extra life’ in a wrestling match.  They learn to expect more from themselves than they expect from others.

Q:  Would you recommend this product (wrestling)?  If so, why?

A:  Look, we all show up in basically the same packaging, arms, legs, you know.  But it’s all out of balance.  You see it at gyms all the time.  The guy with huge arms and skinny legs; the one with all legs and stick arms; the ones with the arms and legs and a boiler in the middle who look like Mr. Potato Head.  Wrestlers achieve proportion.

Q:  Is there anything you’d like to add?

A:  There is.  I’m a high school coach.  A teacher.  I’m coaching wrestling because kids need wrestling.  I coach football because kids play football, but they need wrestling.  There’s a difference.  Kids need wrestling because there’s not enough in their lives with such a direct impact.  If you get tackled in football you get a rest walking to the huddle for a play, walking back to the line of scrimmage, and going again. 

When you get taken down, tackled, in wrestling, the hard part is just beginning.  If you get bounced hard down on the mat you have to be quick and gather yourself.  Wrestlers grow up and face their own moments of crushing boredom broken up by those seconds of action.  They are better equipped to handle them both.  They’ve drilled the same move a thousand times.  They’ve run the same road hundreds of miles.  They have a few minutes a week to turn it all into something that makes a difference.

Q:  That’s it? 

A:  That’s enough.  You don’t have to be Dan Gable, but  “What I had I gave, what I saved is lost forever” means something.  Wrestling makes better difference makers when making a difference matters most.  Can you say that about any other sport? 

Everyone in sports carries a back-log of moments where they could’ve made a bigger difference.  Wrestlers have fewer.  We’re better off with more people like that around.

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