March Madness is in full gear and everywhere there are examples of teams that do a little more to advance to the next round. This bracket mishmash reminds me of today’s competitive marketing landscape. Assuming each brand in a category spends the same percentage of their gross sales on marketing. How can new brands grow and larger brands lose share and fall to the bottom of the ladder? We have to look at some of the same elements that allow NCAA teams to advance and become champions in their space.
A Disciplined Approach
It’s funny how some marketing programs seem like they are haphazardly thrown into the fray. The website doesn’t look like the storefront or the social posts look like they came out of a catalog. Brands need to become disciplined about how they go to market. Process driven planning is a lot like college basketball teams preparing by reviewing tape before the game. A disciplined process creates a solid execution plan. This results in a deeper understanding of the competition, a more thoughtful plan addressing their strengths, and a dedicated strategy to commit resources in the strongest way possible.
Teams that advance do so by creating opportunity when they need it most. Every game is full of opportunities. In basketball, opportunities are created through fouls, officials, a hot hand, or coaches influence of what happens on the floor. Consumers are ever changing. Any brand marketing to an 18-39 year old female is losing ground. Today, brands must create opportunity by determining which 18-49 year old females are their customers. they must learn everything about who they are, what they like, and how they buy. Solid digital analytics provides an exact profile of the prospect and their behavior. A good creative agency will push you for data and build a fluid portrait of your consumer. Brands should live within their consumer’s world. When brands connect, the opportunity to influence decision making becomes reality. Find out the prospects interests, and make them a relevant part of your communication.
The tournament is a battle of near equals. The intangible factors that influence victory reveal themselves in phrases like “you gotta want it more” or “it was all about hustle”. These same intangibles will get you ahead in the marketing game. The little things make you stand out where others melt into the crowd. This is never more evident in the world of sponsorship management. As a mid-sized Atlanta ad agency, VWA’s national and regional clients are often up against global brands with deep pockets. That puts our full service agency up against network agency sports marketing divisions. It’s amazing how much these guys leave on the table. They are so caught up in the contract negotiation that the hustle never enters their minds. Smaller players realize more by squeeze every drop out of sponsorship opportunities. Hand out samples. Present a hospitality team at events. Bring unique and creative added value solutions to media buys. And the all time air ball by big agency networks. Set up a social media team to leverage your investment and produce content for the future.
In the next few weeks, you will observe how these primary factors dictate the wins from the loses. If you apply these same elements to your marketing plans, you will win at the game of marketing one bracket at a time. The biggest and the strongest will go down in the tournament. Pay attention to the underdogs and how they execute their game.