An estimated 62 million people will fill out a March Madness bracket this year. Last year 20 million watched the NCAA Basketball Championship game. Clearly, the audience for March Madness has grown way beyond the college basketball fan. When new words are created around an event [bracketology], you know you have reached the big dance.
March Madness draws people together around a common interest, and for a few short weeks in March, there is always something to talk about at the water cooler. With the popularity of mobile devices, March Madness has continued to grow, with people accessing games and scores from anywhere. And March Madness fans have also taken to social media channels. The NCAA Facebook page has more than 259,000 “Likes” and the official @marchmadness Twitter feed boasts more than 47,000 followers.
The opportunity to reach an audience through the NCAA Basketball Championship event hasn’t been lost on marketers. According to Kantar Media Intelligence, ad revenue in 2011 reached an all-time high of $738.0 million, up 20.2 percent from the prior year. But what about March Madness as an opportunity to build community among your B2B customers and prospects? Consider these examples:
- Northwestern Mutual used an email and publicity campaign to invite their customers and prospects an opportunity to participate in an NCAA® March Madness® Bracket Challenge.
- Law firm HRMA of Southwest Florida used the March Madness theme to launch an event about social media issues.
- Garden and Gun magazine used the opportunity to create “The Ultimate Southern Food Bracket.” In a first round match up, country fried steak beat out pecan pie.
I believe March Madness offers an opportunity for conversations and engagement with B2B customers and prospects online. Center a campaign around a local team, and ask customers to engage.
Nothing gets folks more engaged than competition. Host a bracket contest or find out which local team has more support. The water cooler is now virtual, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Are you ready to get in the game? Maybe you’re already there. Share how you take advantage of interest in March Madness.