Of Brackets, Basketballs and Business


Your content marketing strategy or your bracket? Which do you have more competitive intelligence about?

Your content marketing strategy or your bracket? Which do you have more competitive intelligence about?

It’s that time of year again, when the country is consumed by March Madness, that annual rite of Spring in which Cinderellas, Dark Horses and Number 1 seeds all hope the months of hard work, planning and strategy sessions pay off. It’s a time when coaching staffs and scouting departments are working overtime, trying to find that bit of knowledge, that key piece of competitive intelligence, that will propel them to victory and the admiration of their peers – just like you trying to fill out your bracket for the annual office pool.

Perhaps that’s what makes the NCAA tournament unique on the American sports landscape (that and the associated drop-off in workplace productivity) – it gives everyone an opportunity to participate.

The brackets are the great democratizer of sports fandom. It doesn’t matter whether you went to Duke or a #16 seed no-hoper, everybody has a chance to win their office pool or impress their friends by picking the winners. This year a perfect bracket might also make you a billionaire. Spoiler Alert: The odds of a perfect bracket are one in 9.2 quintillion (you have a better chance of successfully navigating an asteroid field). It’s also a great opportunity for anybody who’s ever watched Dickie V, Clark Kellogg, Jay Bilas or Bill Raftery and thought, “I know more than those guys,” to put their brackets where there mouth is.

The truth is, many fans do know more than the so-called experts because access to information has never been greater than it is today. Now, anybody – and everybody – has access to player highlights, detailed statistical breakdowns, games summaries and recaps, and the latest news regarding injuries. In fact, if anything, there’s too much information available.

What separates the best pundits, and bracketologists, from everybody else is the ability to not just collect information, but to interpret it. Understanding what’s valuable data and what’s noise is the key to picking the right #12 over #5 upset and accurately predicting which number 1 seeds will make it to the Final Four (and which ones won’t).

College Basketball’s Growing Analytics Trend

Much like how data has changed professional baseball (see Moneyball), college basketball is increasingly being driven by statistical analysis. When evaluating players, stats like points scored, rebounds and assists are now mere vanity metrics, similar to likes and follows in social media. Progressive coaches like these (ESPN Insider subscription required) realize that information has never been more critical. A pre-season article from this past November in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette outlines the changes:

“Athletic departments are spending thousands of dollars on computer programs to help better analyze data. Jobs once held by basketball experts are now being offered to graduates with finance, statistics and economics degrees, all in an effort to succeed in a crowded college basketball industry that generates $1.1 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Education.”

Competitive advantage can be a matter of knowing which matchups you can leverage or which defensive scheme to employ against your next opponent. It’s why coaches and fans alike have been rushing to KenPom.com these last few days, scouring the site that breaks down hoops analytics like no other. Knowing how to analyze real-time data, and more importantly how to act upon it in the form of critical half-time adjustments, is often a deciding factor.

Maybe this is why so many great college coaches have gone on to write business books. Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Bob Knight, Dean Smith & Pat Summit all know the value of competitive intelligence and the advantages it brings on the court and in business.  Today, business resembles the frantic pace of a basketball game in the final two minutes as Social Media has created an ‘always-on,’ 24/7 business environment. For marketers this brings with it great challenges and equally great opportunities. Never before have brands had so many issues to deal with: increased competition, new and dynamic media channels, a participatory consumer with the means to speak loudly in the public forum; all these factors can make a CMO feel like an undersized point guard facing a full court press.

Utilizing Competitive Intelligence in Business

Yet at the same time marketers have access to tools that let them make sense of all this. We’ve seen the advent of Command Centers that help brands and their agencies take advantage of Real Time Marketing opportunities like the Super Bowl.  But of course not every brand can invest in a Command Center like Gatorade, or mobilize a strike force of writers, graphic designers, ad execs and legal teams to send out the perfect tweet to capitalize on a power failure like Oreo did last year. What most brand marketers need is an everyday tool that allows them to make sound decisions based on data, just like a good basketball coach does.

So, this year when you’re filling out your bracket, ask yourself this question: Do I have more information about the starting center for Wichita State than I do about my content marketing strategy? If the answer is yes, we’d love to talk with you. We’re Unmetric and we believe that when you connect people with information great things can happen.

March Marketing/Social Media Madness Sweet 16

Here’s an updated bracket catching us up to the Sweet Sixteen. I’ll be doing previews on Tuesday and Wednesday.


From 64 to 16

From 64 to 16

March Marketing/Social Media Madness Sun. Round 2 results

Let me just state up front that all these results were determined fair and square. You can quibble with the percentages in terms of chances of winning in a particular match, but the results were legit. I didn’t do a ‘best two out of three’ if the outcome wasn’t what I was hoping for. In fact, I don’t even know the the names attached to the seeds when I am rolling the 10-sided D&D dice (and I didn’t roll at all when the game I was in came up – that was done by someone else).  Why the big preface? Well, of the eight Sunday games, six were upsets:

#9 Peter Shankman defeats #1 Seth Godin

#13 Bud Caddell defeats #12 Johnny Vulkan

#11 Rick Liebling defeats #3 Gary Vaynerchuk

*Note this match was administered by Jack Liebling

#10 Russell Davies defeats #2 Tom Peters

#3 Heather Armstrong defeats #11 Victoria Fishel

#8 Shoemoney defeats #1 iJustine

#13 Hugh MacLeod defeats #5 Joseph Jaffe

#6 Sarah Evans defeats #14 Darren Rowse

We’ll resume on Thursday with the start of the Sweet Sixteen.

March Marketing/SocMed Madness Friday First Rd. Results

Yesterday we saw some big upsets, but today, the big guns all marched on. That’s not to say there weren’t any upsets. 

As a reminder, here is the statistical breakdown I devised:

  • 1 (73%) v 16 (27%)
  • 2 (70%) v 15 (30%)
  • 3 (67%) v 14 (33%)
  • 4 (64%) v 13 (36%)
  • 5 (61%) v 12 (39%)
  • 6 (58%) v 11 (42%)
  • 7 (55%) v 10 (45%)
  • 8 (52%) v 9 (48%)
  • As you can see, it’s pretty tight. So, it’s understandable that some 3-6 seeds went down today. Here are your Round One, Friday winners:


    #1 Seth Godin defeats #16 Lisa Hoffman

    #1 iJustine defeats #16 Alan Wolk

    #2 Tom Peters defeats #15 Amanda Gravel

    #3 Gary Vaynerchuk defeats #14 Steve Rubel

    #3 Heather Armstrong defeats #14 DJ Francis

    #14 Darren Rowse defeats #3 Todd Defren 

    #13 Hugh MacLeod defeats #4 Geoff Livingston

    #13 Bud Caddell defeats #4 Laura Fitton

    #5 Joseph Jaffe defeats #12 Gavin Heaton

    #12 Johnnie Vulkan defeats #5 Greg Verdino

    #6 Sarah Evans defeats #11 Geno Church

    #11 Victoria Fishel defeats #6 Piers Fawkes

    #11 Rick Liebling defeats #6 John Moore

    Note – the results of this match were not determined by me. An independent third party oversaw that game.

    #10 Russell Davies defeats #7 Amber Naslund

    #9 Peter Shankman defeats #8 Adam Broitman

    #8 Shoemoney defeats #9 Katja Presnal

    So, how did the ‘Power Conferences’ do?

    I’ll post the Saturday and Sunday results over the weekend. Today’s results were witnessed/administered by Rich Gallagher.

    March Marketing / Social Media Madness Preview #3

    We conclude our pre-tournament previews with a look at the remaining eight Friday games. Check out previews 1 and 2 as well.

    #1 iJustine v. #16 Alan Wolk: I think iJustine is going to mozy into the next round.

    #3 Todd Defren v. #14 Darren Rowse: I’ve got a funny feeling about this one. I smell an upset.

    #3 Heather Armstrong v. #14 DJ Francis: DJ will have to hit the threes to beat the Dooce.

    #4 Geoff Livingston v. #13 Hugh MacLeod: If Hugh goes out early, it will leave a Gaping Void in the tourney. No wait, actually it would remove a Gaping Void.

    #5 Joseph Jaffe v. #12 Gavin Heaton: Will Jaffe become a Servant of Chaos? 

    #6 Sarah Evans v. #11 Geno Church: Another one of those deceiving matchups. I like Church in an upset.

    #6 Piers Fawkes v. #11 Victoria Fishel: The point guard from The Advance Guard will need some luck to beat the man from PSFK.

    #8 Shoemoney v. #9 Katja Presnal: My money is on the shoe.

    Be sure to check in later today for early game results.