March Madness has officially begun and the brackets have been completed! March Madness is the nickname for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships that occurs every March. 68 College teams compete in a single elimination tournament in hopes to be crowned champion. Why should you as a marketer care about this tournament? The event is second only to the NFL playoffs in terms of ad spending and attracts close to 70 million overall viewers. 40 million of those viewers are engaged and fill out March Madness brackets attempting to predict the winners correctly. Marketers can capitalize on this event in many ways. Of course they can spend upwards of $1.6 million for an ad during the championship game; but it is probably more realistic that your company runs a social media campaign instead.
This is where brackets come into the picture. Using brackets as a marketing tool isn’t necessarily a new idea as this event has millions of people searching ‘brackets.’ Companies can be playful with their bracket like ‘SoGoodBlog’, a food blog that created the “Snack Madness” bracket in which 64 different cookies, chips, crackers, and candies competed in the event. The event featured favorites like Oreos, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and underdogs like Airheads, and Saltine Crackers. The voting took place on their website and social handles. Whichever snack got the most votes in a head to head battle would advance in the bracket. This not only created engagement but voters would come back to vote for their favorite snack. The event averages around 30,000 voters each year. Brands can do this with their array of products or related categories. ‘Best movie’, ‘Best villain’, ‘Best book’ or ‘Best Meme’ are all categories that could be used. It’s important to think about your audience and what would be relevant and engaging to them.
Marketers are also encouraged to keep up with the madness as it unfolds. Be prepared to live tweet buzzer-beaters, upsets, and of course rooting for the hometown favorites. Engaging with the local teams/schools that make the “big dance” and hopefully win games can increase overall engagement by your followers. Rooting for Alma Maters of current employees can also promote engagement from within the company. Regardless what your approach is, understand that March Madness continues to grow in popularity and it should be an event your company utilizes. Make sure your company is well equipped and prepared to cash in on the madness!