Villing & Company

March Marketing: When it comes to the four Ps of marketing, March Madness is the ultimate slam dunk.

Unless you’re a fan of Saint Mary’s University, Creighton or Memphis, it’s hard to second guess the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament selections announced yesterday. The same can be said about the marketing of this event that has become known as March Madness. But just for the heck of it, let’s apply the classic four Ps to a marketing analysis of this unique event.

The four Ps of marketing, of course, refer to product, place (distribution), promotion and price.

The quality of the product is beyond dispute. What other event commands so much public attention for three full weeks? And that doesn’t even include the weeks and months of speculation leading up to the actual tournament. From a sports perspective, this is my favorite time of the year and I know many, many people share this view. Even the most casual sports fans take time to fill out their brackets and participate in office and online pools. CBS Sports has gone so far as to create a “boss button” for its streaming video of games in progress. If the boss walks by, you just click on the link and up pops a dummy spreadsheet. March Madness may not do much for office productivity, but you can’t deny its impact on consumer spending (legal or otherwise) or internal communications (water cooler conversation).

That brings us to place. Here the operative word is ubiquitous. Frankly, there’s no escaping the madness. Even if you are not one of the lucky ones who have tickets to a regional site or, better, yet, the Final Four, access to game coverage is literally at your fingertips on the keyboard or remote. Broadcast TV and radio. Cable. Satellite. Online. On game days, it’s all basketball all the time.

Promotion? See all of the above.

Finally, price. I just did a quick online search for Final Four tickets. One Web site was showing availability of 300 some tickets ranging from $150 to $2500 for the Championship Game at Ford Field in Detroit. Putting aside issues of sympathy for the tough times Detroit has had to endure lately, this pricing is probably pretty salty for most Americans. But if you can tolerate a few hundred lame commercials and/or the rantings of Dick Vitale hyping Hooters (among other things), you can experience all of March Madness for free on TV and the Internet. In other words, the NCAA has a price point for every budget.

There you have it. Product. Place. Promotion. And Price. Anyway you spell it, NCAA basketball adds up to the ultimate case study for marketing success. So, let the games begin (but not before I get my brackets filled out).

Note: Villing & Company has its own version of interactive bracketology. Just click here to fill out your brackets and you could win a great (OK, modest) prize… not to mention bragging rights among your co-workers, friends and family.

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