Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is quickly becoming one of the biggest sports in the United States and around the world. In fact, while the NFL, MLB, and NBA have suffered losses is their fan base, the UFC – MMA’s largest promotion – has seen unprecedented growth. It is estimated that 65 million people across the globe consider themselves UFC fans.
Fans enjoy seeing fighters of all different backgrounds and specialties compete. Fighters are trained in grappling sports like wrestling, jiu jitsu, and judo, as well as stand up sports, including boxing, muy thai, and kickboxing. And while each fighter certainly has his or her own fan base, one super star stands out among the rest: Ronda Rousey.
If you haven’t heard of Ronda Rousey until now, I’d like to welcome you out from under your rock. Rousey was the first female fighter allowed in the UFC and she has been dominating ever since. In the UFC, she has 12 wins and zero losses, and she clenched all but one of those wins in the first round. But her record isn’t the only reason she’s a superstar.
Rousey has managed to break through major barriers to become perhaps the most well known fighter in the world today. Hardcore fans, new fans, and people who have never watched a fight know her name. She’s done this through clever marketing, and I think we could all learn a few things from her success.
1. Be Your Own Biggest Advocate
We love brand influencers – the people who love your brand so much that they advocate for you without pay. They are key to gaining popularity and their importance cannot be overstated. However, at the end of the day, you must be your own biggest advocate. Because if you don’t believe in your brand, who will?
That’s what Rousey had to do, and it worked incredibly well. In January 2011, UFC President Dana White infamously said that women would “never” participate in the UFC. Less than two years later, in November 2012, the UFC announced the signing of their first female fighter.
Rousey didn’t cause this turnabout by sitting back and waiting for White to come around. She requested a meeting with him after she had proven herself in a smaller promotion. Here’s what White told Adweek about that meeting:
My first meeting with her was 15 minutes. As soon as I walked out of the room, I said, “She’s the one, and I’m doing this thing.”
Although I was not privy to that meeting, I would be willing to bet that Rousey advocated for herself pretty hard in that 15 minutes. It wouldn’t be hard to guess that she presented herself with complete confidence and total control.
Do the same for your brand. Be confident in your abilities. Know that you are the best. Advocate for yourself.
2. Be the First
Being a pioneer has been a good strategy for many brands. A certain fruit-themed computer company comes to mind. Rousey is no stranger to a pioneer’s success.
Of course, Rousey wasn’t the first female fighter ever, and your brand doesn’t have to be the first of its kind to be a barrier buster. You just have to be the first to do it a certain way. Find what makes your company innovative and focus on it.
3. Be Authentic
Up to this point, we’ve mostly talked about Rousey’s accomplishments. While those are certainly part of her success, her demeanor also plays an important role. Her take-no-stuff personality may rub some people the wrong way, but it is authentically her.
I’m not saying you should go around talking smack about your competitors. That may be a disastrous plan. However, you should find out what makes your brand unique. Is your brand fun and exciting? Then your marketing should be too.
Is your brand silly and outlandish? Be that. What about serious or empowering? Find the words that best describe what your brand naturally is, and then make your marketing fit those descriptions.
What do you think? Is there something valuable to learn from Ronda Rousey’s success? Let us know. For more informative and fun content, make sure to follow Duncan/Day on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.