It’s time to go Dancing! I once again find myself on the Best Rank publishing schedule at the same time as one of my favorite (unofficial) holidays, March Madness. I have previously drawn parallels between Internet marketing strategies and the holidays (Christmas and Valentine’s Day) but the NCAA College Basketball Tournament is just too good to pass up. For the uninitiated, March Madness is a 64-team tournament comprised of the best NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball teams from across the country. They play in a bracketed, single-elimination tournament for the chance to be crowned the #1 team in the country and earn the coveted NCAA Title. The tournament has earned notoriety for producing countless nail-biting finishes and “David vs. Goliath” type upsets on the regular. The video below highlights some of the best finishes from the 2012 season; March Madness delivers 60+ finishes like this in a matter of 3 weeks:

Awesome. The similarities between Internet marketing and this tournament are numerous but I have broken them down into 4 main points. Here we go…

1. Every Team Has a Shot to Win

Whether your team is a defending champion in a powerful conference or an upstart program from a tiny school in the middle of nowhere, everyone has the same opportunity to be the champ. The Dance (as it’s called in the sporting world) guarantees one thing: show up and win and you get to move on. No matter your ranking or the odds, there is always a chance to win if you prepare the right way.

For many businesses (including ours years ago), there will always be the market leader to contend with. These businesses have the reputation and the track record but if they fail to prepare and come out flat, you always have an opportunity to run the floor. Marketing strategies like pay per click, when prepared right, allow you immediate results that can push out the competition and get you some wins (conversions) right away.

2. Not all Schools are Created Equal

My degree is from a wonderful university of less than 3,000 (GO TIGERS!) that honestly didn’t have the athletic resources of schools like Duke or Kentucky. No real booster program, no apparel sponsorships, and certainly no issue with getting tickets to a game at Pacific; this was our athletic reality. When matched up against schools that promise recruits national television exposure, access to state-of-the-art training facilities, and a history of developing future professional careers, we just couldn’t draw the same kind of talent.

While your monthly budget of $500 makes up a large portion of your overall marketing expenditures, this amount may account for a drop in the bucket to your competitors. Don’t be discouraged by this as we will soon discover that there are ways to focus your limited resources.

3. Playing the Odds to Predict Success

One of the more popular activities associated with March Madness is the creation of “Brackets” and the art of “Bracketology” which pits your predictions against those in an office pool or online. Essentially, you complete the bracket by selecting winners in each matchup until you have ultimately picked a tournament champion. The fun is in watching lowly 16th seeds take out 1st place seeds that defy the odds. As mentioned, resources limit teams’ abilities to match up evenly with the competition but that does not mean that defeat is assured and creates the “Madness” surrounding the tournament.

At Pacific, as our longtime coach was able to do in several upsets I witnessed, we found ways to play our strengths against our opponents’ weaknesses. Your website ( may have no chance of competing with industry leaders on some broad-match, top-tier terms (“health tips”) simply because they have been there for years and have done nothing to compromise their standing. However, by looking for long-tail keywords (“health tips for new parents”) that the competition has neglected, you can win numerous small battles in your efforts to win the war of search engine optimization.

4. Investing in the Right Teams Can Pay Off Huge!

The art of identifying potential upsets has led to careers for sports analysts and sports gamblers alike. As the odds of a “David” upsetting a “Goliath” increase, the opportunity arises to cash-in on a huge pay day. When #16 UNC Asheville takes on #1 Syracuse this weekend, the odds are stacked (150/1 for a UNC win) in the Orange Men’s favor as this is clearly a one-sided affair. But by seeking out the matchups with favorable odds and a sizeable but not unbeatable advantage (100/1 for #10 Montana upset of #4 Wisconsin), you can make a small investment with a mammoth payout.

Identifying market segments and keyword sets that are without competition or are related to emerging products/services, you can begin to stack the odds in your favor. By making calculated and usually smaller investments (of time and money), typically the chance of success will increase.

I will readily admit that I am not much of a college basketball fan and rarely watch the regular season, but the excitement and energy surrounding March Madness is undeniable. Each year we see upsets of historic proportions and future NBA stars emerge on center stage. The opportunity for glory inspires teams out of nowhere to become water cooler topics for months. As the next few weeks unfold, let’s not forget that your opportunities are out there just waiting to be challenged. Good luck and let the madness begin!


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