We’d like to congratulate McMahon and the WWE team for their outstanding fourth-quarter performance.
WWE recently reported a 30% increase in revenue to $310 million. Operating income increased a whopping 131% to $83.6 million.
That kind of success doesn’t happen by accident. It’s because of great marketing.
And much of the great marketing within WWE comes from Stephanie McMahon.
McMahon started off with WWE back when it was still WWF (World Wrestling Federation). She served as an account executive for the company’s New York office.
She did TV production, administrative work, and creative design.
Oh, yeah. She also wrestled.
A spoiler alert, though: WWE wrestling isn’t real. It’s staged.
I’ll understand if you need to take a moment to recover from that earth-shattering revelation.
But because WWE wrestling is staged, that means it’s scripted. And that means somebody needs to write the script.
McMahon did that, too.
You might say she was a jack of all trades. However, most folks in business who wear many hats don’t include professional wrestling in their resumes.
That’s where she stands apart.
She also succeeded in the office. By 2002, McMahon got promoted to Senior Vice President of Creative Writing.
Executive Vice President
In 2007, McMahon got promoted to Executive Vice President of Creative. That’s when she managed the storylines of all TV and pay-per-view (PPV) events.
In fact, it was under her watch that the company launched the WWE app. It’s been downloaded more than 20 million times.
McMahon also spearheaded a partnership with USO metropolitan Washington. And she formed partnerships with Internet companies Yahoo and Tout.
On the social responsibility side, McMahon led the company’s anti-bullying crusade.
Chief Brand Officer
In 2013, WWE promoted McMahon to the position of Chief Brand Officer. It’s the position she still holds to this day.
McMahon’s role now is to enhance the company’s position among advertisers, investors, and business partners.
She’s also the lead ambassador for WWE and heads up the company’s growth strategies.
McMahon also oversees the company’s partnership with General Mills Totino’s brand.
Her efforts clearly paid off. McMahon earned several recognitions, including:
- One of Adweek’s “Most Powerful Women in Sports” for the past five years
- 2019 Brand Genius Honoree (also from Adweek)
- One of Forbes’ Most Influential CMOs for the last two years
Brand management for WWE stands apart from most traditional marketing strategies.
It involves storytelling that makes pretend violence look fun. WWE marketers push testosterone-fueled personality promotion designed to create hardcore fandoms.
Think beer commercials with adrenaline.
So that’s why it’s good that McMahon wrestled while also promoting the company brand. She became part of the product.
McMahon made her wrestling debut in the late 1990s. Another wrestler, called The Undertaker, abducted her. He almost married her in the middle of the ring but then she was rescued by Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Remember: this is all a scripted story. None of it is real.
Later, McMahon claimed she purchased a company called Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). She said she planned to use the company to bankrupt WWF.
That challenge led to a five-on-five elimination match in the ring. Participants included McMahon’s brother Shane, Van Dam, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and some guy called The Rock.
McMahon’s team was defeated and she was banned from WWF. But she bounced back in 2002 and later married another wrestler named Triple H.
As it turns out, that wasn’t entirely fiction. McMahon really did marry that wrestler.
Wrapping It Up
Bottom line: she lives it.
McMahon doesn’t just promote WWE. She gets in the trenches and participates in the program herself.
And that’s what makes her such an effective marketer. She knows how to get crowds at live events engaged with the storyline.
That helps her to create even better storylines in the future.
Although few of us as marketers will ever be called upon to market something like WWE, there’s still quite a bit we can learn from McMahon’s work.
Consider, for starters, becoming a customer of the products you’re promoting. Maybe then you’ll understand a little bit more about the pain points felt by people who use those products.
Follow McMahon’s lead. Don’t just market in a cubicle or in your own safe space away from the action.
Get your hands dirty.