How the Underdogs Can Bank off of March Madness Hype

Small business can reap the benefits of major event and seasonal marketing.

Event Marketing Strategies (EMS), proud to be a part of the Central Ohio community for more than 35 years, is pleased to share its expertise on marketing with The Metropreneur community. We help companies create unique and memorable connections with their audience and are excited to kick-off the Marketing Insights series with a sports marketing concept small business owners should consider.

The onset of spring is here, it’s March and for many, it’s madness. One of the most exciting and talked about sporting events of the year, the NCAA basketball tournament, attracts big advertising dollars because of its viewership—averaging just over 11 million during the entirety of the 2016 tournament (Nielsen). Although marketing during March Madness hasn’t quite reached a level of reputation as the Super Bowl, many businesses recognize the great potential of this opportunity.

March Madness isn’t just an arena for big players such as AT&T, Capital One and Buffalo Wild Wings, small businesses can leverage tournament hype to enhance its own marketing strategies, too.

Capitalizing off the excitement of a large event like the NCAA tournament makes for a light-hearted advertising approach that resonates with customers. Smaller companies are able to achieve this without the costly price tag of official sponsorship or licensing to obtain trademark usage rights. By creatively incorporating basketball phrases, tournament buzz words, and imagery like basketballs, nets, courts and jerseys, consumers are able to easily associate tournament excitement with a product or service.

Consider how messaging is communicated through all marketing channels presently used to reach your consumers. Traditional print and digital outlets can be used to geo-target specific audiences in local communities with imagery alluding to the sport. For example in a March email newsletter, Southwest Airlines utilized the headline “Book by the Buzzer” with ball and net imagery to promote its last-minute flight deals. Radio spots could include sounds of basketball fans cheering in the background and TV spots could feature your spokesperson in a company branded jersey.

For businesses in the restaurant industry, consider a March exclusive menu with specialized food names such as Rebound Ravioli and Free Throw French Toast. If you’re in the retail space, consider something more unique like an in-store experience. Perhaps a temporary concession stand offering complimentary popcorn, nachos and soda. Throw in some branded rally towels and you’ve just fully embraced the season.

Marketing that piggybacks on March Madness can be successful when it’s timely, relevant and genuinely connects with your audience.

If a popular sporting event doesn’t appeal to your consumers, look for more appropriate springtime connections such as upcoming holidays like Earth Day and Easter, or less promoted concepts like spring cleaning and warmer weather. By staying relevant, and on top of your game, you’ll be sure to bring home a win!

EMS300-2— Event Marketing Strategies (EMS) is an experiential engagement agency helping companies to create unique and memorable connections with their audience. If you’re looking for unique way to differentiate your product or service at an event, EMS can help you access your consumers face-to-face so you can build brand equity, gain product and service exposure, and most importantly, drive results. To learn more about our services and capabilities, visit —