March Madness Marketing

I sat down to write a post on the marketing that goes into March Madness by CBS and the NCAA. I thought about the commercials, their use of social media, online viewing options. The whole nine yards.

And I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter what you do to market March Madness. Millions of people will tune in and arenas will sell out.

Why? Because March Madness is a superior product. We can’t get enough of it. And the theory is: a good product markets itself.

If you have a good product, the real concern is getting that initial attention when you first launch it. You have to do enough marketing to generate that first batch of sales. But with the connectivity of social media and the likelihood of consumers to communicate about good products to one another, the rest should take care of itself.

People will tell their friends, they will tell their networks, and they will tell you about their good experience. This will generate testimonials, referrals, and word of mouth. That, in turn, will generate more sales. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that you want to be on as a marketer.

Think about the early days of Google. All of the sudden you were using a new search engine. Most of us probably don’t remember why or how we started using Google, but today we wouldn’t use anything else. It did not take a huge marketing push. All it took was a product that was simply the best there was. And it spread naturally, helping make Google one of the most successful companies in the world.

I’m not suggesting that the role of a marketer is less when there is a good product in place. Rather, I’m highlighting the fact that in today’s world, product is as much a function of marketing as anything else.

And sure, some marketers are skilled enough that they can continue to successfully market poor products. But their days are numbered.

On the other hand, maybe we owe all the marketing credit for March Madness to the guy who first made popular the practice of filling out a bracket. Each year more and more people do it, and by simply filling out a bracket, you are more likely to tune in and pay attention to the tournament as it unfolds.