It’s March, and that means television screens everywhere are filled with the sweat, pain, glory, and disappointment of college basketball. It also means everyone’s favorite word these days is brackets. Brackets, brackets, brackets. At Verve Concepts, the tournament has us thinking about the commonalities between marketing and sports. In March Madness, one bad free-throw can mean the difference between a championship title and first-round elimination. In marketing, it’s a game of beating the competition and winning new customers. The challenge is making it through to the finals.
Sticking with the sports metaphor, customers engage in a purchasing process, not unlike the single elimination process of the March Madness tournament. Consider the last time you went to the grocery store to buy a snack. Your buying options most likely included several choices that, at first glance, appeared relatively the same to you. They all accomplished the same thing – satisfied your cravings – just like every basketball team in the tournament can dribble and shoot and is driven to win. So what gives a brand the edge they need to make through to the final round of a customer’s purchasing decision? In branding, the edge is connection. Brands that connect in a human way are always more interesting to their customers. As much as we like to tell ourselves that we’re rational beings who make rational decisions, we’re not. More than anything else, we base our purchasing decisions on emotion. For every purchasing decision, customers ask themselves:
Whether we’re aware of it or not, even buying a protein bar is an emotional experience.
Creating an emotional connection with customers is what makes branding so critical for business. It requires guidance, perseverance, and expertise. Working with the right branding partner is like having the best coach in the league.