The Marketing Magic Behind NCAA’s March Madness

March Madness has become a category 5 seasonal spring storm thanks to the awesome marketing surrounding it. This month-long sporting spectacle is perhaps the second most hyped-up sporting event in the U.S., right behind the Super Bowl.

We think the marketing strategy behind this 68-team sports tournament is something every organization should learn from. Here is our stab at how and WHY March Madness’ marketing strategy is so effective:

Strategic Branding

Perhaps the most common symbols associated with the month of March are the four-leaf Irish clover for St. Patrick’s Day and the March Madness bracket. The success behind the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) branding strategy is how consistent and strategic they are with pushing out the tournament, to the media and public. And this goes on for an entire month!

March Madness is not just a catchy phrase – it is its own brand. A brand identity has even been given to each level of this competition. Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four are all signature slogans that fans and non-fans easily relate to the NCAA’s March Madness. Branded parties, advertised products and promoted contests, such as “office pool brackets”, are all parts of the strategy to make everyone across the country engaged and advertisers excited about the prospect of reaching a large audience.

Media Hype

People love sports tournaments because they’re suspenseful. In every March Madness game, the stakes are high. One team will advance and the other will be sent home, creating nail-biting suspense and drama. Not only will you find great March Madness content across multiple TV and radio channels, but online as well.  The NCAA brand experts is doing a great job promoting March Madness on social media. Heck, you can even watch the game unfold live on Snapchat.

Fans all over the nation love to share how hyped up they are for March Madness. Just take a look at this one college classroom:

Personal Connection

Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tactic. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and fans are all rooting for their school to advance on to the finals. Just having your team compete in March Madness is not only exciting but a school honor. Even if your school didn’t make it into March Madness, chances are, someone you know will be talking about THEIR School making it.

Businesses should copy a play from the NCAA engagement marketing playbook because they have masterfully given people a reason to care. Here’s how: people want their bracket to be as accurate as possible, so the stakes are high when people watch the game. March Madness brackets keep people engaged because they feel a personal connection with the game. Add a play like this into your engagement marketing playbook, and your business is bound to win.

If it hasn’t been clear already, March Madness has taken over the spring season and we are all perfectly okay with it.



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