The Bodyslamming Guide to Great Copy
For some reason, my wife and I have spent a lot of the summer since the World Cup finished watching wrestling. Not wrestling, the actual sport that they have at the Olympic games. No, the kind of cartoon wrestling where giant sweaty men spend as much time yelling into microphones as they do not actually punching each other in the head.
And you know what? It’s great.
By any measure, it’s actually terrible, overblown nonsense. But when you take it on its own merits, professional wrestling is fantastic entertainment. And because everything in my life ends up being tied back to my career, it’s also full of great lessons for creating brilliant content for your business.
Wait. Scratch that. Not brilliant content.
Bodyslammingly awesome content.
Keep It Simple
Ten minutes on Google shows you that a hell of a lot’s happened in wrestling since I last watched it in 1994. Hulk Hogan isn’t a thing any more, for starters. So you’d expect that someone coming into an established storyline wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what’s going on.
Well, turns out it’s dead simple.
The good guy (who everyone cheers) and the bad guy (who everyone boos) are upset with each other, and this interpersonal conflict will be settled using the time-honoured conflict resolution method of sweatily manhandling each other. The good guy will manhandle in an honourable, law-abiding way, while the bad man will cheat and get his mates to help, or cheat and hit the good guy with a chair, or cheat by getting the good guy arrested and then smashing his face into a stolen police car.
Sure, the specifics might change, but that’s professional wrestling at its simplest. Once you understand that central premise, the layers and layers of information make more sense.
The same’s true for your business content. You might have the most in-depth, game-changing, agile-blockchain-AR-VR-crypto-buzzword-buzzword-buzzword product on the market, but leading with that insanely convoluted concept is going to turn your readers off.
Instead, take it back to basics. Give them a hero (ideally them), and a villain (their problem). Lay out the general rules of the match (a simple outline of your product). Then you can start going into the details and the intricacies. As long as the reader understands the story you’re trying to tell, they’ll follow you into the fine details.
Don’t Be Afraid to Repeat What Works
I’ll say one thing for whoever writes wrestling shows. They’re not afraid of doubling down on something that works.
It doesn’t matter where a show is. You can guarantee that at some point, an exchange like this will happen. Some sauntering, preening grappler will strut down to the ring and pick up a microphone before delivering a speech like this:
“Hello current location! I’ll tell you something, current location is not good! In fact, current location is… (and the crowd hold their breath) … QUITE BAD!”
Cue raucous booing. Every night they do the same speech, every night the crowd get fired up, every night the crowd cheers madly when someone who is quite possibly from the current location comes out and punches the air an eigth of an inch in front of the naysayer’s face.
Is it new and exciting? No.
Is it game-changing and forward thinking? No.
Does it work? Yes. Yes it very much does.
If parts of your content are working for you, whether it’s a style of writing, a call to action, or a formula for social updates, keep using them. It doesn’t matter that you’re bored, or that nobody on LinkedIn is amazed that you’re changing the dynamic. If it’s getting the job done, keep on doing it.
Don’t Miss an Opportunity for a Cross-Sell
As I mentioned, we don’t have a clue who any of these sweaty grapplers are. There’s one that looks like the guy who plays Aquaman, another who has tiny speedos and a beard, and one who appears to be a big strong man called Big Strongman.
But we most definitely know that these people will be fighting at the Hell in a Cell pay per view. And that the women who aren’t involved in the purgatory in a conservatory event will be headlining the all-woman Evolution PPV event. Because pro-wrestling never misses an opportunity for a cross-sell.
“If you’re enjoying seeing Big Strongman hit Aquaman with a green lunchbox, we’ll you’ll really enjoy it at Hell in a Cell.”
If someone’s engaged with your content, there’s nothing to fear about trying to increase the amount that they’ll spend with you. It’s true in wrestling. It’s true in those late night infomercials where a man spends twenty minutes saying ‘but wait, there’s more!’ so that the £19.99 knife you thought he was selling is actually a £19.99 kitchen set including 16 knives, 14 forks, 12 mops and an ice-cream scoop designed to work in outer space.
And it’s definitely true online, where every ecommerce site worth its salt lets you know that people who bought this thing you’re looking at also bought this trolley full of other products.
As long as people are listening, keep selling. That’s how great sales content works.
If You Need to Hire Talent, Hire the Best
One final point.
The wrestling we’re talking about here is obviously the big glitzy American pro-wrestling. The ones with toned meaty men who eventually end up starring in naff Hollywood blockbusters.
The kind of wrestling that make millions of dollars from pay per view orders multiple times a year.
I’m not talking about the kind of wrestling that’s currently airing on ITV on a Saturday evening, and getting less viewers than Only Fools and Horses repeats on UK Gold.
But even though I’m not talking about the naff British wrestling, there’s a lesson to be learned here.
The American company pays the top talent hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The British company has a giant fat, hairy man they found at Butlins who they pay a tenner a week.
The American company made millions and millions of dollars this quarter.
The British company is going to be dropped by ITV in a fortnight.
If you’re going to hire someone to create your content for you, do what the American company does. Make sure you invest in the top talent who can deliver the best possible product. Otherwise, you’re going to have people pointing and laughing when they should be cheering and gasping.
And just like that British company, nobody will be tuning in next week to hear what you have to say next.
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