The world has been changed by a petite lady with a serious look.
Maybe you’re not a mixed martial arts fan.
But even if you aren’t you should know about this athlete who has made even the most die-hard macho women-are-only-pretty believers change their minds. She’s twisted their arms and made them see the light with her inescapable arm bar.
(The arm bar is a powerful jiu jitsu move where you use your legs, pelvis and hands to position your opponents arm and put stress on the elbow joint.)
Ronda “Rowdy” Rousey brings so much skill to the table, she even got the reluctant Dana White, owner of the biggest venue in mixed martial arts – Ultimate Fighting Championship – to concede to bring women into the competitions. White conceded, “She’s a rock star, man.I just hope that we can get some really good fights for her”
But let me be clear, no one made allowances for her. She got in there by dint of win after win. Nor did she discard her femininity to break into the UFC. She wears dresses and makeup when she’s not fighting.
Ronda Rousey has become one of the most beloved and admired mixed martial arts fighters because she is skilled, tough, and determined. And she is wholly herself.
I’ve been watching her with growing respect for the last few years, drawn in because I study kickboxing and jiu jitsu.
But the lessons Ronda has to teach the world go well beyond the octagon (the ring mixed martial arts competitions take place in). If there’s someone who has something to teach about breaking through the noise and capturing people’s respect and attention, Ronda is it.
So today, I’m sharing with you a few marketing and business-building lessons from the ruling Queen of the octagon.
Ronda Rousey Rule #1: Succeed by proving you’re the best
Men who used to scoff at female fighters now are lining up to get coaching from Ronda. And it’s because she’s got the knowledge and skills. But she didn’t just show up and announce herself. She is the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo and she has several World Championship medals under her belt. When she turned to MMA, she’s gone through fight after fight and came out victorious.
Ronda knew – like any good marketer should – that you have to prove your the best. Not just say it.
Too often marketing becomes full of empty phrases “the best”, “the only”, etc. Why should someone believe that you are the best choice for them? I know this sounds basic, but too many marketers neglect to back these statements up.
Take a cue from Ronda – prove it.
Use proof elements to show your prospect you’re the best. These include: track record, published studies, expert quotes, testimonials, case studies, data, explanations of how things work and more. And don’t just use one kind of proof element. Use a mix so your prospect has no room to doubt you.
Ronda Rousey Rule #2: Challenge assumptions
Ronda keeps you guessing. Yes, she’s a tough fighter, able to toss many a male fighter on the mat. But she doesn’t sacrifice her womanly wiles to do so. She clearly enjoys being beautiful too. She’s redefined what being a woman and being a fighter is.
And when it comes to dealing with the media, she can seem truly frightening. She speaks from the heart and doesn’t offer pat soundbites. To her opponents she offers no olive branch and yet she’s genuinely respectful when someone earns it. And yet, when advising or coaching fighters, she’s warm and supportive. Rhonda gets people excited about her because she doesn’t fit into a cliche.
Your marketing can do the same thing and win ardent fans by doing so. Wake people up. Shake people up. Pull people into your marketing materials because you promise more than a solution – you promise a whole new way of looking at a problem.
Go after the core frustrations your market is feeling and become a rallying cry for challenging the status quo they hate being stuck in.
Some of the most powerful marketing pieces are the ones that create a sense of being part of something larger that’s groundbreaking, unusual or defiant.
Ronda Rousey Rule #3: Perfect your special killer move
Every single fight Ronda’s won has been with her powerful arm bar. As Ronda explains, she perfected this when she was a child. Every morning, her mom(also a judo champion) would pounce on her and put her in an arm bar. Ronda had to learn to fight back or suffer.
Based on this training, Ronda can do this move just about in her sleep.
When it comes to marketing, I yield to the expert advice of Michael Masterson in his book Ready Fire Aim. Masterson advises, focus on one product for customer acquisition. Master how you bring customers in with this one focus. It’s invaluable advice since getting prospects over that first hump is the hardest. By focusing your expensive and challenging customer acquisition on one offer you can perfect your technique and build your house list and ultimately gain more success as a result.
Ronda Rousey Rule #4: Don’t be a one-trick pony
You should have seen the look Ronda shot a reporter when she asked if she was really only a “one trick pony” and if she had nothing beyond her arm bar. If looks could kill . . . !
However, what the reporter and many who want to box Ronda in with this pattern of wins ignore is this: She may end up winning each competition with this move. But her range of skills is what keeps her from being beaten and helps her maneuver into the position to launch an arm bar. If she only had an arm bar she would have lost a long time ago.
The same goes for your business. Certainly master your customer acquisition by focusing on one product. Perfect your “killer move”.
But don’t get stuck as a one-trick pony. Use multiple channels for better conversion and growth. As Mary Ellen Tribby points out in her book Changing The Channel (coauthored with Michael Masterson), multiple channel marketing boosts your credibility and your response rate.
Furthermore, be ready with the upsell after you’ve acquired a new customer. After you’ve got a strong customer acquisition process going, develop multiple upsells to keep your customers coming back for more and raising the lifetime value of each customer.
Ronda Rousey Rule #5: Don’t smile too much
While I didn’t really like her photo shoot au natural for ESPN’s Body issue, I still recommend Ronda as a role model in many ways for my 16-year-old daughter – and for women like me in my 40’s. Why? Because she doesn’t smile too much.
For years I covered up my discomfort or doubts about my abilities with a smile. It became my way of fooling myself while I tried to win over the other person.
I’ve since ditched this crutch and it makes me grimace when I hear business advisers telling people to smile when working with new clients.
There’s a reason used car salesmen get a bad rap. They lay the charm on so thick. They act friendly when you barely know them.
As marketers, warmth and friendliness can be helpful if it really comes from a point of sympathy and interest in your prospect. But don’t rely on this to win your prospects over.
Respect your prospects enough to persuade them seriously – not with charm. Business and spending money is a serious decision. Focus on communicating that you’re trustworthy and you offer a solution they can’t ignore. Don’t try to win them over with a smile.
Ronda Rousey Rule #6: Smile when you mean it – be genuine
In contrast to her deadly serious looks when she’s not feeling friendly, Ronda has one of the warmest smiles in the business. Because she means it.
When she smiles when talking to some aspiring fighters, you know she means it. Especially when you’ve seen her glowering at a reporter a few days before.
The first thing I do when I work on a project is to spend some time thinking about who I’m writing to. I spend time on forums, reading product reviews, looking over testimonials. I watch people around me. And then I simply just sit and think about what my prospect is going through. When I’m sick or in discomfort, I take note of how it feels so I can translate this into deeper sympathy for other people suffering with a health problem.
And when I take a client, I must believe in the product they’re selling.
When all this comes together, the marketing materials I produce is not just an abstract bit of copy. It’s a genuinely concerned offer to help solve someone’s problem. And your prospects will know this when they see it.
Ronda Rousey Rule #7: Tell yourself “No one deserves to beat you.”
When Ronda dishes out some philosophical advice to up and coming fighters, she taps into something her mom told her: “No one deserves to beat you.”
She says she respects her opponents – but ultimately she also doesn’t. She tells herself no one on this planet should be beating her in competition. This fires her up and keeps her going through grueling practices and tough battles. It’s the perspective that helps her forge through self-doubt and fear.
Any good marketer knows failure is a part of the parcel. However, the good ones make sure that failures are really lessons – or stepping stones – to figuring out what works. Business is built on determination and persistence. A million and one people have brilliant ideas and breakthrough products. It’s those who don’t give up in figuring out how to reach their market that make it.
If you have a product that is worthwhile, no one – no one – deserves to beat you. It’s up to you to make sure that that perspective is lived up to.
Do Ronda’s rules ring true to you? Please share your perspective – we’d all love to hear what you have to add.
This post has also appeared as part of Make A Living Writing’s link party