Marketing the Madness

Invested in college basketball or not - you still have to deal with the madness of March. (You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.) People all over the nation have been participating in bracket challenges since 1851 for a chess tournament in London, in 1877 for the Wimbledon tennis championship, and finally, bracket pools appeared in the 1970s when 32 teams competed in the American basketball NCAA tournament. 

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Whether you're a student, a professional, or even former President Obama - chances are you're filling out a bracket this year. There have been competitions, pools, and even celebrity grand-prizes in a competition to whoever gets their bracket the perfect bracket. The concept, popularity, and attraction to brackets come from the accelerating interactive experiences that engage gamblers, sports fans, and social communities all over the country. 

The concept and immense popularity of brackets are also proving to become a useful tool to marketers everywhere with these simple characteristics:

Multiple Touchpoints

Brackets can be used as a multi-touch content campaign that engages customers, attracts new leads, and gains awareness for brands. Not all customers need to be die-hard college basketball fans either - extending to other target markets with different content can produce new access points for them. 

 Source: Jezebel / Buzzfeed

Source: Jezebel / Buzzfeed

There have been multiple examples of brackets being made that have absolutely nothing to do with college basketball, giving those that aren't into the sport an opportunity to be (debatably) just as engaged as those keeping up with the games live. Brackets like Hair Brands or 80's vs 90's or even Breakfast cereals can be made into traffic driving brackets.

A piece of content that has progressive steps to it, such as a bracket, has other opportunities to connect other content to it as well. This specific form of content marketing is such an asset that it has a great potential for engagement in addition to content views on top and below the bracket.


If they're interested in the subject matter, they will most likely engage in the competition. Matt Beardmore from Psychology Today deciphered the different motivators for participating in such activity like March Madness brackets or Fantasy Football; the gambling motive, the social interaction, the competition, and the entertainment/escape. 

The better you understand the target market, the more successful your brackets will be when using it as content. The content you arrive at will become a narrative that requires episodic steps that keep participants coming back to the host site. 

New Leads

Adding a short-lead submission form before the results page, after the bracket acceptance step, or before the standings page - you'll be able to gain valuable lead-generation data. You can even include interests and professional information for additional data on your new leads.

Brand Awareness

Promoting your bracket on all channels allows for your content to be easily shared and gain participants rapidly with the ease of advancing technology. Brackets that are tailored to a specific target market that do not include third-party events like live sports, but instead a voting system, can generate shares and gain awareness.

With the great opportunity that March Madness grants marketers - our office is competing against each other as we follow the NCAA tournament that starts Thursday, March 15th. We even have an office rivalry with a game on Friday, so things will definitely be getting heated. Keep up with our antics on our social media pages: