Marketing Lessons from Dennis Rodman


Chicago Bulls Dennis Rodman 1995 - 1996 Season

Image via Wikipedia

I can’t believe I am actually going to write this, since I really could not stand the guy when he played, but the announcement today that he is a finalist for the basketball hall of fame inspired me.

Dennis Rodman – The NBA model of one Bad Man – is a marketing engine. He is in that rarefied air in athletics where the name becomes a brand and industry of its own.  One o the original BAd Boys of the Detroit Pistons, Dennis Rodman did not start of as anything special in marketing. He was a rather bland product if we keep this in marketing terms. He was incredible defender and rebounded for a team with many larger personalities and brand.  He played in a time where the world was being transformed by a rival in Micheal Jordan and legendary figures in Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were still fresh in everyone’s minds. Dennis Rodmans Brand had some serious competition for the limelight.  (Sounds a little like small business vs. Wal-Mart)  Most professional athletes in this position would be ok just being that role player of a brand, serving just their smaller marketplace and being happy about the little niche of customers they would receive as fans. But that does not seem to be what Dennis Rodman was all about. First came a romance with a Supermodel porn star, then a few Tattoos and Body Piercings. Soon to follow colored hair, hair slogans and a very public party and bash profile on all the networks. Dennis Rodman became the tabloid equivalent of Aliens are landing and the government is covering it. The world all of a sudden could not get enough of this Bad Boy, Turned Rock Star Turned Weird character, which by the way was killing it in the NBA as a Rebounder.

A Rebounder… thank about that for a minute, here is a guy that could possibly go into the Hall of Fame as one of the best in his profession, and he was a Rebounder.  Not the guy making the winning shot, or pouring in 50 points, a rebounder, a very skilled and awesome rebounder.  This just does not happen however in Hall of Fame history.  No what I believe has happened is that Dennis Rodman, master marketing genius, decided long ago that he was not good enough to compete with the  Wal-Mart of celebrity Basketball players (Jordan, Magic, Bird , Isiah, etc..) and instead became the brand nobody was trying to become, and he not only filled that void he took it to levels never thought of and transformed an image of culture and popular thought.  Ok, I don’t know he is that smart but what can small business glean from this example in today’s business world?

Marketing Tips learned from Dennis Rodman:

  1. If you can’t own the traditional normal markets, change and own your own market Dennis Rodman would never fit in with the clean-cut image of NBA legends he was playing with, so he choose to explore a different path and found a very profitable audience.
  2. Be the best at something and huge rewards will follow Dennis Rodman became the prolific rebounder of a generation. In a time where rebounding just was not the sexy of a topic on ESPN or talk radio.
  3. Let your hair down and live Stop taking yourself so serious, Dennis Rodman, was like the class clown that knew getting the laughs from all the jocks was actually attractive to 80% who were not jocks in the world. In your business, when was the last time you just let the staff have some fun and be creative.
  4. Creative.. CReative…Creative – Want to change your stars?  Get creative. Colored Hair, Body Jewelery, A flair for the dramatic was a pretty inexpensive stunt that gave Dennis Rodman a powerful brand. What can your business do to stand out.
  5. Ok I can’t finish this without the one mistake you don’t want to do…Dennis Rodman failed to put on the brakes and he has paid a price. In business and Marketing you have to know when to get off the bike and start walking again, keep the glory nad exit quietly, not with a huge crash.

Tell me what you think?  What lessons from Dennis Rodman did I miss?

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6 thoughts on “Marketing Lessons from Dennis Rodman

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