Did you think March Madness is the tournament of 68 college basketball teams battling it out for top champion in the National College Athletic Association? That may be one type of March Madness. The real March Madness is a tournament between marketing strategies! Below we discuss the opponents, matchups, and discover which marketing tactic will be the victor.

Sweet Sixteen

March Madness Marketing Bracket - Sweet 16

Cold Calls vs. Soliciting

Cold Calls enters the game already behind. It’s truly the underdog here. Why? Because Cold Calls is trying to get what Soliciting already has—a list of potential interests. So even though Cold Calls has some strength of character—getting in there and making all those cold lead generating calls—it’s pretty difficult to get people interested. They’re resistant to the sales pitch.’ They suspect the caller is manipulating the call to force’ interest in whatever he or she is selling.

At the same time, Soliciting already has people interested. Relationships exist, because Soliciting asked questions instead of selling, selling, selling. Discovering customer needs comes first. Showing how Soliciting’s product or service meets those needs comes second. It’s a winning formula that Cold Calls cannot beat. Soliciting moves to the next bracket.

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Direct Mail vs. Email

Direct Mail and Email are more evenly matched. In fact, when play starts, some supporters say Direct Mail has “20 Advantages over email. However, those same supporters recognize Direct Mail has a major disadvantage—cost.

Direct Mail claims it gets a 10 to 30 times higher response rate over Email. It’s preferred over email for first interaction with a new business by 70% of potential customers and feels more personal to 67%. Direct Mail is 95% deliverable. Plus, there’s less competition in mail boxes, and Direct Mail is likely to stick around for longer. (It doesn’t go straight to the recycle bin?)

With so much going for Direct Mail, how is Email going to fair?

The two teams are neck and neck. Here’s the straight data. Looking at the response data alone, Direct Mail wins by 1%. However, when ROI factors in, Email wins. The costs associated with Direct Mail drag ROI down significantly. For example, even if Direct Mail’s sales results are $576,408, after the costs of $21,000 to print and mail are subtracted, the ROI is 27. Email only cost $210, so the ROI is 2,600. So even though the response rate may be 2% lower for Email, a business usually profits far more using email.

“Email beats the competition from a measurability stand point with direct mail, you cannot be sure that your mail has been delivered, or that anyone reads it when it gets there. With email, you know within 24 hours exactly which messages have been opened, by whom, what links the openers clicked on, and what part of your message was working.

Direct Mail plays a powerful game, but Email’s edged ahead.

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TV vs. Web Video

TV’s been around a long time and played a strong game. However, Web Video is going to win this game. Online video ads are just as effective—or more effective—say 72% of 120 US advertising agencies polled. It’s a case again for measurability. With Web Video, metrics like completed views, conversion, brand lift and click-thru-rate are easy to measure. Those same 120 agencies say their clients “view digital video’s targeting capabilities as the most valuable aspect of video advertising, far out-weighing other aspects like reach (20%) and ad unit format (7%).

Web Video has so many advantages over TV there’s no way TV has the power to move to the next bracket. It’s fixed to large formats and limited locations. Web video is comfortable playing the game in too many additional places. It’s our winner for this round.

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Unlike the TV vs. Web Video game, this isn’t going to be easy to call. Even though SEO with its organic results gets 8.5x the clicks, PPC with its paid ads still gets 1.5x the conversions. This could be because PPC is usually linked to custom optimized landing pages.

PPC looks like it’s going to edge ahead because it’s fast. It gets its advertiser in the public view the same day, while SEO takes time—often months. Getting a #1 Ranking with Google doesn’t happen overnight. If dollars spent are any indication, PPC should be able to buy the game. For every $10 billion spent on PPC, only $1 billion goes to SEO. How can SEO win, when it only receives 1/8 of the market spend?

That’s where SEO reveals its hidden strengths. First, it’s 5x more effective, because it depends on a team with stronger individual talents. PPC is like investing everything in the center player, while SEO recognizes the importance of all five players. PPC also starts strong, but only stays strong if money keeps pumping its way. And while SEO can play a great game against all the other teams contending for upward movement in the brackets, PPC requires artificial respiration to stay on the court. It’s SEO that’s got the ongoing energy to keep putting the dollars in the basket, so it’s the one that moves up.

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Blog vs. PR

PR doesn’t have a chance. Blog’s circling PR from the first toss. When PR sends out a press release, Blog’s covering. When PR organizes a public relations event, Blog’s hovering over the event. Those interested in the game don’t bother with PR’s outlets. They go straight to Blog. The game’s so uneven, it ends with a score of Blog 100, PR 10.

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Trade Shows vs. Social Media

This match seems a bit more balanced. At least trade shows usually attract a specific crowd—one highly likely to be interested in the game. Trade shows creates lasting impressions. This team offers incredible face-to-face opportunities. It often generates highly qualified leads and some direct sales opportunities. For a small start-up, the trade shows team levels the marketing field. However, there is a price tag. Getting to the trade show, paying for the space, hotel and car rental are just some of the costs. There’s also the production of materials and booth design to pay for.

Social Media enters the court with one advantage over trade shows. It can leverage every play trade shows makes. Trade shows meets someone face-to-face? Social Media invites that person to continue the connection. Trade shows creates a lasting impression through excellent messaging and booth design; Social Media continues the messaging and designs the ongoing platform to fit the customer. Long after trade shows has gone home, Social Media is still in the game, keeping the leads trade shows captured interested in moving from being spectators to players. Trade shows played an important game, but when it comes to March Madness, it’s Social Media that’s moving on.

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Radio vs. Print Ads

Radio’s going to win against Print Ads. There’s one major reason. Even when people read, they scan. They focus on the headlines. In addition, reading while driving is illegal (for obvious reasons). Listening to Radio is not.

Radio offers another advantage. It’s segmented to specific audiences, while Print Ads usually cost more if they are segmented—that is if they appear in an industry specific magazine or newspaper. When Radio runs, people hear one message. When Print Ads run, they usually pay for the privilege of running alone.

Radio offers more options as well. Print Ads must focus on one message. Radio offers the opportunity to produce a regular program, not just ads. That program could include accepting caller’s questions. It’s a powerful way to engage those in the bleachers! Radio competes at the next level.

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Promotions vs. Sponsorships

Promotions and Sponsorships play a hard game. Promotions gets the business name out there. So does the Sponsorships team. So why would Promotions’ billboards and on-vehicle advertising lose the game against Sponsorships? Sponsorships adds the element of social responsibility. People feel good about Sponsorships because this team supports the community. It’s helping the local high school basketball team. It’s behind that 5K charity run. It’s doing GOOD, not just making money.

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Elite Eight

March Madness Marketing Bracket - Elite 8

Soliciting vs. Email

Email is going to win this round for one primary reason—once Soliciting establishes relationships, communication must continue to maintain them. Email maintains a lasting record—much like letters once did. When Email is welcomed, the recipient takes action and/or gives it an electronic shoebox.’ Welcome to the next bracket, Email.

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Web Video vs. SEO

SEO is a wonderful player. However, Web Video is going to win this round for one major reason. It’s the most effective SEO tool in the marketing space. It is SEO on caffeine.

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Blog vs. Social Media

This is a tough game to call. Social Media is such a strong team. However, Blog has one advantage. It can host all of Social Media’s team members. Twitter’s sound bites point to Blog. Facebook and LinkedIn may support longer sound bites, but only LinkedIn tries to entertain Blog. Let’s face it. Blog is designed to cooperate with Social Media and more. So regardless of how great a platform Facebook or LinkedIn can be, Blog is the winner.

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Radio vs. Sponsorships

Sponsorships loses, even though it plays a solid game. With its ability to send a specific message, Radio wins because it's not limited to advertisements. It can also leverage broadcasts and podcasts.

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Final Four

March Madness Marketing Bracket - Final 4

Final Four Matchups

Email vs. Web Video | Blog vs. Radio

Email vs. Web Video

Email loses to Web Video. Sure Email may invite Web Video to play in its game, however, Web Video doesn’t need Email to remain in the play. Web Video is more likely to be the compelling invitation that gets someone to sign up for Email’s game. So Web Video is heading to the final playoff!

Blog vs. Radio

This is one tight game. You might think Radio should win, but it’s Blog that’s going to come out on top—for two reasons. Without Blog’s help, Radio’s gone after the money’s spent—especially with advertising. If money went to Radio for a broadcast, Blog extends Radio’s life. The Blog becomes Radio’s home.


Web Video vs. Blog. Who will be the trophy winner? In our March Madness playoffs, Web Video and Blog both conquered the competition. Will Blog win this final round because it can host Web Video? It’s conquered many competitors with that strategy already.

Or will Web Video come out the victor?

Consider these facts:

“By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled.

“Forrester Research found that videos were 50 times more likely to receive an organic first page ranking than traditional text pages.

So Blog may host Web Video, but it’s Web Video that’s driving traffic to Blog (or Website, who didn’t make the playoffs). Click here to see who is our March Madness winner.

Don't drive yourself mad choosing which marketing strategy is best for your business. We recommend starting with this free eBook: Getting Started With Content Marketing.

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Sources: dmdatabases.com / dmnews.com / hubspot.com / hbr.org / marketingland.com / newmediacampaigns.com