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Last-Minute March Madness Marketing Tips

Last-Minute March Madness Marketing Tips
Image credit: Shutterstock

We're in the midst of March Madness -- one of the biggest social events of the season. It's all about the brackets in March: speculating, strategizing, debating and of course, sharing – socially. It's impossible to avoid the conversation and energy. That's why March Madness presents a tremendous opportunity for marketers to make a connection with customers.

The big brands are doing it and so can you. UPS has a seven-city tour showcasing the basketball court being used in The Final Four. Infiniti has a "bracket challenge" that pits coaches against cancer to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Gold's Gym is repeating its annual "March Music Madness," a bracket-style contest that focuses on their customers' workout music picks rather than basketball.

But how do you, as a small business owner, jump into March Madness and use it to your advantage?

Related: Why Startups Should Take a Big-Brand Approach to Marketing

With the digital world at your fingertips, it's not too late to apply March Madness to your marketing strategy even though the event is already underway. With email lists, you can blast out promotional messages daily and update your Facebook page to announce bracket activity and related promotions. You can quickly create a display ad to run on social media platforms or a local community site. You can also get your employees -- who are probably already playing -- involved, which will score points with them because you are right by their side.

Contrary to popular belief, this doesn't have to be planned far in advance. Try a few quick things now to see if they resonate with your customers, then apply the thinking to other pop culture moments throughout the year. This is a great time to experiment.

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Once you start talking about March Madness with your customers, you will quickly find that it's a way to engage with them. Ask to see their brackets. Run promotions with the brackets as an incentive. If you operate a brick-and-mortar store, hang signage that says "March Madness Lives Here." Show that you are a part of the event and the community.

For example, if you run a restaurant, consider offering patrons a free appetizer if they still hold winning brackets. If you own a retail shop, you can offer special discounts to customers when teams on their brackets win. If you have a hometown team, capitalize on the local fever. Tie your product to local success by offering special discounts with every win or every time there's a three-point shot, for example.

Use March Madness momentum to show you "get it" and you're a "player" by connecting with customers about something that's important to them. The point is to get into the game.

When it's important to them, it should be important to you too.

Related: What Your Business Can Learn From March Madness

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Jim Joseph is the North American president of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe, part of the media company WPP Group PLC. He is the author of three books, including the latest, The Personal Experience Effect (Happy About 2013). Joseph also teaches marketing at New York University and blogs at JimJosephExp.com.

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