Header image courtesy of: Andrius Petrucenia
If you don’t know who Conor ‘the Notorious’ McGregor is – a quick Google search can solve that.
The bold Irishman who rose to fame through dominating his opponents in the UFC has become one of the greatest marketers in sports entertainment.
He may know more about disassembling the human body than how tracking KPI’s can guide business decisions, but make no mistake, McGregor is responsible for the changing dynamic in sports marketing.
Without getting too in-depth, here are two ways McGregor changed the sports marketing landscape:
It may sound overly simple, but when you are able to deliver expectations consistently in sports, let alone the fight game – you are something special.
McGregor made a reputation for himself by predicting how he would win his matches and in which rounds.
Although he has not always been spot on, the fact that he has been correct more than a handful of times is astounding. This level of delivery has given him the nickname of ‘Mystic Mac’ as a result.
However, outside of the cage he continues his streak of predicting events, such as becoming the featherweight and lightweight champion, his Pay-Per-View numbers, his opponents pulling out of their contests and much more.
Through this repetitive delivery it’s easy to understand why brands and sponsors want their name attached to him. Being a consistent winner in sports is needed to sell, and with McGregor it is a no-brainer.
Also the confidence in his delivery has created the perfect marketing storm for McGregor, and he has been collecting the benefits as a result.
Even when he doesn’t have an upcoming fight, the media is always looking to McGregor for his analysis on other events in the fight game. His voice has the ability to cut through the noise that not many other athletes have, which allows him to always be within the news cycle.
Marketers should understand this crucial element and apply it to their own work. It may sound elementary, but when staying true to this basic value, the results can be rewarding.
Before the UFC, McGregor was dominating the CWFC which is based in the UK. After becoming the featherweight and lightweight champion there, he wanted to do the same overseas in the UFC – which he accomplished easily.
McGregor holds true to everything he sets out for, and understands the power of being honest and transparent with his brand. He knows that by feeding the public bits and pieces of his goals that he can accomplish – he wins.
This level of integrity creates an effect that’s comparable to Pavlovian conditioning, where dogs developed an association of being fed with the noise of a bell being rung. McGregor creates a similar experience when he’s preparing for his matches; the fight world hears of his upcoming bouts and they crave for it.
What if he doesn’t win? Well, it makes one hell of a redemption story – something that can be seen with his two bouts with Nate Diaz.
During his first match, he started his marketing machine and everything went as planned as usual except for the match itself. McGregor was choked out by a bloody Diaz in the second round, his first loss in the UFC.
This disappointing loss turned out to be a huge win for McGregor, vowing not to make any excuses for his loss and ‘come back’. This would set the stage for his second match with Diaz with an even bigger marketing campaign by both McGregor and the UFC itself.
Securing the win in the second fight became one of the best comeback stories the UFC has ever seen, and would solidify McGregor as a fighter who can fulfill his promises.
Being able to consistently carry out these promises to the public has proven to be a key tactic for his rise in star power and marketability.
Placing an emphasis on integrity at the ground level allowed McGregor to be raised to the top of the sports world, something that all marketers should take note of.
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