Name something else that brings together millions of Americans every year for more than three weeks – and I’m not talking about elections.

The phenomenon that is March Madness is nearly upon us. And for one month every year, the country is completely captivated by college basketball. Sixty-four teams compete for “One Shining Moment.” What supposedly began with 80 people in a bar in Staten Island, NY in 1977 has evolved into something larger than some entire industries. In 2017, an estimated 70 Million brackets were filled out, totaling $10.4 billion in bets. Television ad revenue alone surpassed the $1B mark in 2017.

But it isn’t the ad revenue that makes this such a compelling story for marketers. So, what is it about March Madness that attracts millions of people (who don’t ordinarily care about college basketball) to join pools with friends and colleagues, fill out brackets and become obsessed with players, teams, their stories and the entire tournament year after year? And what can we learn that can be applied to our own marketing strategies?

Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Should Be More Like March Madness

Is your content strategy mostly “pull” or “push”? That is, do you mostly rely on outbound communications (social posts, newsletters or notifications) to draw your audience in or does your content keep people coming back? It’s important to have a balanced plan that takes both into account. Here are a few key learnings from March Madness that will give your content marketing strategy a boost:

Know Your Audience

The NCAA knows their typical college basketball audience (full disclosure: that includes me), and while the devotees are certainly still watching in March, the vast majority of viewers are only along for this brief ride once a year. That’s why the marketing, advertising and communications around March Madness are designed to keep this tag-along audience engaged and coming back for more.

As you consider content strategy for your blog and other communications channels, consider the audience you want to attract, not necessarily the audience you may currently be attracting. Take the time to create buyer personas (fictional profiles) in order to better understand their needs, goals and challenges – and how your organization fits into the picture.

Make It Sticky

Your content strategy should act as a magnet that pulls your audience in proactively, without having to rely on push notifications and other outbound communications. We are bombarded with emails, texts, calls and app notifications – all competing for our attention. We are becoming desensitized and your content really needs to stand out if it’s going to get the attention it deserves.

Your content should act as a magnet that pulls your audience in proactively.Click To Tweet

Yes, the NCAA uses push notifications to alert you to close games, upsets and buzzer-beaters, but it’s the design of the tournament itself and the micro touchpoints it creates that keep people checking their brackets again and again throughout the tournament’s run. It’s important to weave these magnetic touchpoints into the fabric of your campaign/content so people want to come back on their own, rather than having to be pushed.

Keep It Simple

I’m just guessing, but you probably don’t need to attract 70M people to your website (although that would certainly be impressive!). Consider your organization’s business goals and brainstorm content and campaign ideas, appropriate for the scale and nature of your business, that will ultimately lead to your intended outcomes. “Hype” and “buzz” are great, but qualified leads and revenue are almost always better.

March Madness evolves with the times (online streaming, apps, etc.), but it’s still all about the games and the brackets. As you look to evolve your strategy, use your organization’s mission and values as a guide to keep you on track.

Cut Down the Nets

Take this opportunity to become the content marketing champion within your organization and create your own “One Shining Moment.” Putting your audience first, keeping it simple and giving them a good reason to keep coming back will amplify the impact of your campaigns and content for months, if not years, to come.

How to Launch a Content Marketing Strategy in Eight Easy Steps [Guide]
Justin is responsible for leading overall direction on all digital programs and projects as well as overseeing and advancing the agency's digital competency and teams. He works alongside our senior management team to provide strategic and tactical client counsel; help set client expectations; and collaborate with account teams on project implementation and competency training. Justin holds a Masters in Business Administration with a dual concentration in Marketing and Management Information Systems, and a Bachelor of Arts in English, General Literature and Rhetoric from Binghamton University.