Marketing Among the Madness
March Madness is right around the corner, and you don’t have to be a basketball enthusiast to get caught up in the excitement. According to Business Insider, March Madness advertising is now an $11 billion dollar industry, and numerous brands are using strategic marketing and branding techniques to capitalize on the enthusiasm and continued support of the fans by way of creative slogans, social media, and strategic planning.
Don’t let your company’s star potential take a seat on the bench this March. Here are a few techniques to incorporate into your own March Madness marketing campaign:
1. Think: Alliteration
Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four—believe it or not, each of these phrases was once foreign to the mouths of basketball fans everywhere. Today, they are part of a vocabulary that is second nature to basketball fans and non-basketball fans alike, so it’s no surprise that they are all NCAA trademarked phrases.
Using alliteration is a powerful recall technique because it can create imagery or stress a unique sound rhythm. While clever, alliteration also serves another important purpose: renewed interest. In the case of March Madness, it’s a renewed interest in each round of the tournament.
2. Tweet Often
The NCAA’s brand identity thrives in its social media strategy as well. The social team live-tweets basketball updates and interesting sports facts from their Twitter handle, @MarchMadness. Another brand taking on the social media mayhem is Verizon Wireless. In 2011 they capitalized on the fact that sports fans are competitive at their core, creating a March Madness Twitter campaign Tournament of Tweets. Its slogan was, “At this time of the year, every tweet counts. Join messaging mania #MM2011 and tweet your team’s hashtag to help them win the ultimate twitter battle.” #MM2011 was used over 3 million times during the 2011 tournament—even creating buzz for ESPN, the website the tournament is showcased on.
3. Gain Insight
Gain consumer insight by creating your own version of a March Madness bracket challenge. The prospect of winning anything is often enough to garner participants. A unique bracket challenge that pits ideas relevant to your company against each other is a great way to promote products. If your company sells a certain food product for instance, try assigning different flavors to a bracket and have consumers vote at each round. At the end of the tournament, hold a promotion for the winning flavor. Even if your bracket sticks to basketball, having consumers fill out contact information and personal data to join the challenge will educate you about who is drawn to your product.
The audience of the 2014 March Madness tournament will be a different audience than that of the 2000 tournament, and even of that of 2013 tournament. Technology and social media outlets evolve daily, affecting all those who utilize these outlets and often even those who do not.
The NCAA, its corporate sponsors and corporate partnerships have effortlessly transformed their marketing strategies to better serve a more tech-savvy and connected audience by focusing their efforts on their social media campaigns and capitalizing on the speed and ease that information is now transmitted. In order to be relevant and effective during this March Madness season, your company’s campaign must attempt the same.