Small Business Marketing Blog

February 20, 2010

Marketing Lessons from a Roller Derby Playbook

San Diego Derby Doll, Lila Troncone, aka Lilamonster

San Diego Derby Doll, Lila Troncone, aka Lilamonster

I love stories about girls kicking some booty, so it was merely a matter of time before I brought home the roller derby movie Whip It. It’s a fun, coming-of-age story about a small town Texas girl who discovers herself when she joins a local roller derby team. The characters are warm and believable, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised how much you’ll like it.

I think you’ll also be surprised when I tell you that I was able to find some lessons and ideas that could apply to social media marketing!

A cool name is just the beginning.  Picking out a fierce derby name like Smashlee Simpson or Babe Ruthless is fun but it will not win you any bouts. This is one of the things the derby coach told the newly enlisted team members. If you want to win, you have to do the right actions. The same is true for social media marketing. New businesses can get caught up in picking out the color for the Twitter background, but then don’t take the time to find exciting content or keep up-to-date on conversations.  Social media marketing requires daily interaction with friends or followers and to be constantly on the look-out for content the client would find valuable and interesting.

You have to make contact. To be successful in roller derby, you have to eventually make contact. It wouldn’t really be roller derby if everyone just skated around without pushing, shoving, and the occasional hip-check.  It is the same with social media.  You have to be prepared to mix it up a bit.  You can’t expect to engage in an authentic conversation without getting your hair messed up.

Work the strategy. Early in the movie the featured roller derby team (The Hurl Scouts) never wins a game.  Why?  According to their coach, it’s because they’re not disciplined and they don’t follow the playbook. They thought if they just laced up and got on the rink, it would somehow happen all by itself. Guess what, the coach was right. Shooting from the hip rarely works, especially long-term. With social media marketing it is important to know what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to get there.  

For a fun experience, requiring minimal effort, you can’t go wrong with the movie Whip It.  Having a successful presence on the internet will require more effort and tenacity. The important thing is to keep going and not be afraid to take a few hits.

Photo courtesy of Lila Troncone, San Diego Derby Doll.


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