March Madness bracket strategy and digital marketing have something in common: Differentiation matters for your chance of winning

You’ve crunched the numbers. Or chosen your preferred colors. Or team mascot. Heck, maybe you just clicked randomly.

But no matter how you did it, chances are, you’ve filled out a March Madness NCAA Tournament bracket at least once. (And if you’re like us, you might also occasionally fill out a women’s tournament bracket).

With the 2019 edition of college basketball’s championship, many casual fans knew one name and one team: Zion Williamson, and the Duke Blue Devils. The former: the most exciting player in college basketball with every-night highlights. The latter: his team and undisputed favorite to win the national championship.

And the masses knew it.

Which is why, if you put on your marketing hat while filling out a bracket, you would’ve picked anyone BUT Duke to win. (Post-tournament update: It worked out well for one of us!)

The reason? Differentiation.

The March Madness bracket proves a marketing truth: Being different makes it easier to win

The 2019 bracket’s Sweet 16. From

Think to a typical bracket pool, with 20-25 friends or coworkers. If 17 of them pick Duke to win, you’ll have to eke out a victory at the margins with a bevy of early-round picks or nailing your Final Four selections.

But if you selected another team – say, a Gonzaga, Virginia, Michigan, or Kentucky – then chances are, you’re the only one who did.

Meaning if your strategy hits, the rewards are far greater: Almost guaranteed victory.

The problem is far too many small businesses take the 2019 Duke mindset. They want to follow with the “safe” choice, or at least the option that feels safest. Because their competition may also take the road more traveled, it becomes tougher to stand out to potential customers and woo them with how you’re different.

Effective marketing is about calculated risk

Think about it:

  • If your gamble hits, you have a major step ahead of the competition
  • If it misses, you’re still just as good as those who took the “safe” route but can’t really be picked out of a crowd of contenders except for the smallest of differences

That Facebook campaign idea that’s a little outside the box, or heavy investment in a channel like local SEO your competition hasn’t really discovered … it’s a risk being different.

And for a small business with tight budgets, we understand you have to be careful with every dollar.

March Madness brackets and marketing have a few things in common

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

But the beauty of digital marketing is it’s not random chance, and the outcome isn’t dictated by players on a screen outside your control. With real-time data guiding decisions, and coupling best practices with industry knowledge, it’s a lot easier to hone in on a winning strategy from the outset.

And with the right know-how in Analytics and proper setup with tagging, you can tell what worked and what didn’t – and have a clear path to determining why certain tactics work vs. others.

So go ahead: Try being excited instead of stoic in your ads. Explore a new channel or two. Try writing a meaningful blog with content no one else can produce. Swap those photos on your homepage for something fresh.

Being different has its rewards.

With odds much better than hoping to be that 1 in billion(s) chance that stands out.

Cover photo from Pixabay.

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