10 Things The NCAA Tournament Can Teach Us About A Launch



ncaa tournament can teach usThe NCAA Tournament is in full swing. Bracketology, March Madness, The Big Dance all terms associated with the tournament. It is a culmination of a hard fought season where one team survives and stands above the rest when the final second ticks in the final game and the champion is crowned. The rest were eliminated one by one and as some graduate and move on, others are come back the next year to fight again and see if their hard work has paid off and they are selected to the tournament once again.

When we are launching a new product, service, book or even a new company, we spend countless hours preparing, writing, creating and strategically planning how we are going to introduce this to the marketplace. We get one chance to introduce for the first time. Once chance at the big dance, as if we have prepared correctly we can stand high above the crowd, and if not, we are eliminated. Is our target market ready, do they need us, do we know them well enough that they can see what we say, that we can talk with them and not at them?

10 Things the NCAA Tournament Can Teach us about a Launch

1. Study Films/Research. Coaches and players study films to see the talent of the other team. The coaching staff is responsible for matching the players on offense and defense to ensure that they are able to create plays that will give the players and the team as a whole the best chance to win. Researching when we are getting ready to launch plays a very big role as if we do not research the target market and understand how we will market to them and why they will want to buy we are ignored.

2. Practice the Game Plan. Practicing the game plan in the tournament is putting into action the plays, the man on man and zone defense from watching the films. In the tournament, not a lot of time is afforded to the teams as you win one day and are playing the next. In launching a new product, there is more time to practice and test your new website, the contact form, the e-commerce, to proofread and test your emails to ensure that everything is working at the day of the launch. Nothing is worse for your credibility than an email with multiple typos, a shopping cart or contact page that does not work.

3. The Tip Off. The players are on the court, the refs throw up the ball and both centers are jockeying to tip the ball to their team member so they get the first possession. First always first. The first day of the launch is a very big day. In each basketball game the tip off is the start of being on equal playing ground. It can be anybody’s game as we have seen with the dynamic finishes in the tournament. In a launch you are in that moment where are making the site live and hoping that the target market is receptive and are not only there to buy but to also refer. You have to be first in their minds.

4. Offensive Domination. In basketball if the offense is dominating, the ball is rolling off the fingertips and all we see is net. Rhythm, being in-synch and momentum is how the announcers describe it and sometimes this true but really isn’t it a team that is prepared and has studied the other team prepared for the defense? In a launch, some may not term it or see it as offensive domination but at same time the preparation does have to include a marketing strategy that is set and ready to dominate the target market. Does anyone set out to only want a fifth of the target to buy? No, we set out to saturate and ultimately dominate. When is the last time that an author marketed to only want to be #100 on the NYT best sellers list?

5. Defensive Domination. Dominating on offense in the tourney is only one half of the game. To dominate on defense is the other part of the game. A team can score and score but they are being scored upon then there is the chance that they can lose. In a launch this is not saying that you have to be on the defensive but you have to stay on top of what your competitors are doing so that they are not hitting your target market at the same time or if they are in a manner that is more appealing. Too often we get wrapped up in the launch and forget that we have to stay on top of the competition to watch what they are doing.

6. Full Court Press. In the game full court press is necessary to sometimes slow the game down, stop the momentum, and allow your defense to reset or even to show that you are on top of your game by not letting up. When launching it is full steam ahead and after the high of the first few days it is imperative to continue to go full steam ahead. The first few days is under your belt and the expectation is that you will back down so you are not overexposed when the reality is that the days after the launch is time to continue on with your strategy and press on. Your audience needs to hear from you and know that your launch was just not a means of an announcement but a commitment.

7. Foul Trouble. The coaches never expect that their star player will have 3 fouls in the first few minutes of the game. The adrenaline is pumping and they trying to make the big play of the steal or push hard to the basket that ends up in a charge is sometimes unavoidable but lands him on the bench. As a business owner you are going to possibly get into some foul trouble. The critics are trying to bate you, the competitors are ready to pounce and get to you with their incessant criticism and sometimes we react not realizing their impact of criticism has done exactly what it was set out to do – get us to react. Our reactions are what sets us apart. They want us to dive in and defend but when we choose to not go off course we do not only avoid foul trouble and have to back track, we succeed.

8. Depth of Bench. The depth of the bench is crucial for a team in the tourney to continue. The five starters are the ones that are in the forefront but an entire team wins the game. The depth of the bench is not always talked about, generally we are not always sure of their names. How many people can name more than even three players on BYU? Sure we know Jimmer but he is not the entire defense or the guys on the bench that go in when he needs a rest. In marketing, the depth of your bench is your community, supporters and the people that you empower to be a part of the team. When a book is launched, there are advanced copies sent out that will get reviews to get their audience interested. The depth of the bench (your community) is a part of the strategy as without them, you will not gain the momentum that you need to succeed.

9. Clock Management. Oh the clock, the tenths of a second that we never think about in every day life. In the tournament, it means stepping back and setting for a shot, a foul that caused the game to end with foul shots instead of going into overtime. Managing the clock matters. In a launch we do not necessarily have to manage the clock in the tenths of seconds but we have to calculate when we are sending out our messages. In a global economy, we are on the clock 24 hrs a day. Overseas our Sunday is their Monday. Is our message being missed by the global target? Managing the clock in a launch is not only about scheduling your message but more managing to be sure that it will be seen and shared.

10. Endurance. Endurance is how we win. If a team can endure the pressure of the defense, endure the pressure of not making mistakes, they win. Endurance is not always lung capacity, the lack of lactic acid filling up or the cramps that develop. Endurance encompasses how prepared we are mentally and physically. As a runner in HS, I was never the fastest but I was always able to last the longest. I suppose I could have pushed harder on the 6  or so mile “jog” days but I always knew I had a mile walk home, homework and then a hour or so of exercise bike and sprints between the telephone poles in front of the house. I never was the speed demon that I aspired to be but each second off my time of every race added more minutes to the time I put in to train outside of team practice.  The endurance is what sets us apart and makes the launch a continuance. It is no secret that Trust Agents (affiliate link) is still read and talked about … that is endurance.

The tournament is what many follow, we talk about our wins vs losses, we anger when the team we picked (which may times we have no alliance to) loses, but we champion those that win. All for the thrill of getting the win and not the loss. In launching the thrill is the win when we are accepted and we are championed. The tournament teaches us a lot as when we are giving what people want, we are on top of our game but when we are not, we are simply eliminated.


photo credit: Erik Charlton

  • Both of us prepares for the battle ahead of us, and by preparing we have a better chance for success.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Always but there is the part of being prepared for what we are doing and any little glitches that may come our way. We have to be ready for anything that comes our way or if we are not ready have people around us to help guide us. Launching is more than throwing it out there and waiting for success, it is staying on top of and never quitting.

      • You are right, launching for the sake of it, or just to “try things out”, wow, that’s something I did at least once full-scale (ok ok spare me the mocking 😀 ) and it was a total waste of time.
        Without at least some planning, you really can’t go far, glad to say I have full evidence of it in my pockets.