Last-Minute Ideas for March Madness Marketing

Learn how to capitalize on the excitement of March Madness with marketing strategies that engage customers and drive traffic.

By Dana Kilroy ・3 min read
Campaign & Contest Ideas

It’s almost March 1st. And you know what that means: Tip-off for the annual college basketball tournament is just around the corner. Are you interested in capturing some of the enthusiasm displayed by sports fans from coast to coast and doing some March Madness Marketing of your own? Have you figured out how your business might use the event to your advantage without running afoul of the NCAA?

The good news is, even if you’re not a sports-centric brand, you can still capitalize on the tournament that grabs the attention of 181 million viewers. We've seen examples from a book publisher that hosted a giveaway with books as prizes,  an accounting firm that used a bracket for brand awareness and engagement only, a retail app that incentivized people to enter by offering them discounts and a chance to win $500, a bath and body products company that courted women by giving away a collection of pampering products, and many more.

Then, of course, there's the granddaddy of them all: the Quicken Loans' Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge.In the three years that the giveaway has run, no one has won (to win, you'd have to choose the winner of all 67 games), but the giveaway gets a lot of attention.Here are a few ways you might get some extra traffic to your website, store or restaurant during March.

Send Brackets by Email

March Madness is all about brackets, and one easy way to get your customers to play along with you is to send them one to fill out.

  1. Email a fillable bracket to your "big" email list. Ask your customers to choose the teams they think will win each round and save the form as a PDF.
  2. Give them a reason email you their completed bracket. Award small prizes at the end of each round to people who have chosen the winning teams, or just award one big prize when the tournament ends.
  3. Drive repeat visits to your website by showcasing a leaderboard that's updated after each round. If you've decided to award prizes for people who choose winnings teams along the way, consider announcing their names on social media, encouraging people to check in with you throughout the tournament.

Host a Giveaway

The most engaging way to get in on the basketball tournament action is to host a giveaway. This year, for the first time, ShortStack's Custom Design Services team is building customized basketball bracket giveaways for businesses of all sizes. The concept is simple: To enter, all people have to do is fill out a short form with their name and email address, and then select their picks. To make the process even easier for you, the brackets and the leaderboard automatically update after each game. You can award prizes at the end of each round to whoever tops the leaderboard. (For details, just email's a look at our template, which our custom design services team will customize for you, using your logo, color palette, and other branding details.

Offer a March promotion

Whether you're a retailer, a restaurant or a realtor, there are plenty of clever ways to capitalize on all the energy that surrounds March Madness.

Even if your brand doesn't have anything to do with college basketball, you can still create promotions that are tied into the tournament.

If you're a retailer, your promotion could be as simple a "March Markdown Madness," during which you offer a selection of products at special prices.

If you're a restaurant, how about a "March Munchies Madness" during which you offer two-for-one appetizers?

By the way, before you launch your own March Madness giveaway or other promotion, take a look at this post from Law360.

It covers many of the legal issues surrounding the tournament and includes cautions about which tournament-related phrases you can use.

For example, you can't use the words "March Madness" in the titles of any of your promotions, but you could say something like "March _____  Madness," like we did with our examples above.

About the author

By Dana Kilroy ・3 min read

Dana Sullivan Kilroy is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience delivering compelling content. Her work has appeared in national, award-winning publications and sites, including: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Fast Company, Inc.

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