On Thursday, March 19th, practically every sports fan in the country will be turning on their TV to watch college basketball. The annual NCAA Basketball Championship, also known as March Madness, begins and it is considered something of a national holiday to sports fans.
If you are unfamiliar with it, 68 college basketball teams from across the country are selected to play each other in a single elimination championship tournament. The teams are seeded and placed into a bracket that is divided into four regions. As the games are played, the selected teams are reduced from 68 to 64, then to 32, 16, 8, 4, and then finally to the championship game between the two remaining teams.
This bracket style tournament makes it easy for fan involvement. Every year, thousands of fans and experts print out or use a digital bracket to predict who will win each game and eventually the national title.
The tournament has increased in popularity over time, thanks to fans engaging with the game through filling out brackets. Predicting a winner has become a game that has started conversations and fueled debates. Bracket engagement has helped the event crossover into pop culture. It’s not uncommon to see websites and businesses ask their fans to vote on bracket-based tournaments to discover a favorite movie, song or celebrity. The bracket has become a cultural symbol for engaging users to find a champion.
This popularity means that if you were to create a “(Insert Store Name) Madness!” bracket for your business, customers would understand what you are doing and would expect to be included to help pick the winning item. This game can be your key to build relationships with customers and encourage product engagement.
You own an ice cream parlor. “Ice Cream Madness” could be the search for a favorite ice cream flavor. Create a bracket of flavors you have in your store and ask your patrons to pick a winner everytime they buy a cone. Maybe offer a discounted price if they taste one of the featured flavors.
You can also offer a voting solution online. Post a picture of two flavors on social media and ask your fans to vote for their favorite. Shoot a quick video of someone eating a particular flavor and post that online and ask for comments to help decide the winner.
At the end of the promotion, name the champion and thank the voters. The truth is, the winning flavor of the ice cream tournament isn’t important. What matters is the engagement you just built with your customers in the store and on social media with your campaign. The goal is to create as much conversation about your store and brand as possible.
Your bracket doesn’t have to necessarily be products you sell. If you own a restaurant, have your audience vote for what music you should play for diners during a meal. If you run a clothing store, find a certain look or scarf and find two celebrities who have worn it (or something like it) and ask who wore it better.
Creating your own tournament bracket offers your business two opportunities. First, it allows you to show off what your store has. Not just products and services, but also the personality of your business. It is also a great opportunity for you to directly interact with your audience.
You can make consumers feel like they are a part of your community. To create conversation and entice customers to experience your business for themselves. Your goal should be to make your bracket challenge an annual event, and slowly build its popularity. So every March when people see that March Madness is about to begin, they’ll also know that your contest is about to start too.
Nick Pizzolato is the Marketing Content Manager at Wicked Local Media Solutions. For questions, topics for future blogs, or to share your favorite moment from the film “Back to the Future,” email him at email@example.com.