March Madness Makes Its Mark

Believe it or not, the NCAA basketball tournament has been around for nearly 75 years.  There wasn’t much madness in the beginning – just 16 teams in a tiny gym at Northwestern University in 1939.  (Northwestern, by the way, has never played in the NCAA basketball tournament).  While just 15,000 people attended the first tournament, it’s certainly evolved into a societal phenomenon.   It turns book-worms into bracket-ologists and the non-sports loving employee into the office champ because he selected winners based on mascots and team colors.  While one part of March Madness is all fun & games, it’s also dollars & sense.  As a business there are some things to watch out for and other things you can capitalize on.

•  Nearly 60 million people are estimated to participate in March  Madness bracket challenges this year, including at least 8.4 million employees

•  Between employees watching games and filling out brackets, business are expected to lose a collective $1.8 billion in productivity

•  Employees are expected to watch a total of
8.4 million hours of online basketball during
work hours

•  CBS Sports and the NCAA saw a near 50% increase in site visitation during the first three rounds of the tournament last year.  That equals over 26 million visits and over 10 million hours of streaming video in just the first week of March Madness

What Does This Mean To You?

Yes, March Madness has become an American obsession.  A recent survey showed that over one-third of respondents said that they “Eat, breathe and sleep March Madness” and more than 60% followed it at least socially.  March Madness could have an effect on your business’s productivity, it also gives you a great way to connect with customers on a personal level.  Restaurants have many ways to capitalize on the tournaments.  Hosting office viewing parties (especially on the first Thursday & Friday), and printing brackets on takeout menus are a great way to get involved.  If you have a customer waiting room with a TV, think about showing the games.  Mobile is going to be a big part of this year’s tournament, think about a possible permission based SMS campaign that sends out score updates.  You could always host your own bracket challenge for customers as well.  The decision on whether you allow employees to participate in March Madness while on the job is strictly yours – office pools, such as bracket challenges are technically illegal.  As far as consumers are concerned, they are engaged in the NCAA tournament and whatever you can do to share in that engagement will help you bond with customers.  For more information on creating loyal patrons, please contact:
Al Fiala
amfiala@gmail.com

Source: Goldberg Segalla; Challenger, Grey & Christmas; Network World; Boston.com; Human Habits.com; Business Review Morning Call

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