What Marketing Can Learn from Roller Derby

rollerderbyRoller derby, a fast-paced, aggressive sport with origins in the 1930s, has been making a comeback in recent years, with grassroots teams springing up across the United States, Canada, and abroad. Because of its homegrown nature, roller derby has had little use for traditional marketing, but the sport has more than a few characteristics that make it a model for great marketing and business practices.

Focus On Women

Roller derby is a sport played almost exclusively by women. While there are a few established men’s leagues, both on the professional and grassroots levels women dominate derby. The same can be said about the economy – women are responsible for 85% of consumer purchases, from vacations to cars to food. Marketers looking for success should place an emphasis on marketing towards women because they are the financial decision makers in most households. Derby would never have made a comeback without its focus on women, and marketers who overlook this demographic would be similarly doomed to failure.

Pay Attention to Professional Organizations

For any roller derby team looking to get recognized on a national level, becoming a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) is critical. The WFTDA regulates roller derby, setting the rules for safety gear, bout rules, and generally ensuring that roller derby players are ready to present the sport as legitimate to a skeptical world. Professional organizations play a similar role for businesses and marketers – except rather than regulating safety equipment, professional organizations are more likely to offer networking opportunities and workshops on growing and succeeding in the marketplace. Just like in derby, however, being a member of the professional organization for your industry marks you as a legitimate and respectable member of the professional community.

Speed Matters

In roller derby, the players move fast. Flying around the track on eight wheels, the scoring players who are known as jammers aim to outpace the opposing players. In business, the same rules apply. Speed matters in marketing. Aim to be the first company to seek out new markets and demonstrate that you are up to date and relevant. The most successful marketers are those who are able to put together composed campaigns at lightning speeds. Speed can make the difference between being a thought leader and being a follower.

Be Twice As Good

Once the jammers in a roller derby bout get free of the pack (who have a head start) and escape the competition of the opposing jammer, only then can they begin scoring by passing opposing players in the pack. This means that successful jammers not only need to be faster than the pack, but they have to be twice as fast if they want to score. As marketing professionals in a competitive industry, your campaigns need to be twice as good as your opponents, especially in entrenched markets. But – surprise! – you are probably already better than you think. Being twice, or even ten times, as good as you think you are is often just a matter of setting bigger goals. Roller derby players leave it all on the track, and you can too.
What can you do to stay relevant? Tell us how your company is reaching new markets in the comments.

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Bird

Bird Pilatsky is a PhD student in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. A graduate of Smith College, with a B.A. in English and the Study of Women and Gender. She works as an archivist and research assistant with particular interests in LGBT issues, disability studies, and literature. Bird also works as a summer camp counselor. She has worked as an art & layout editor, runs an active blog, and enjoys reading, running, and rollerskating.

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