spartanThis year was the first time I ever filled out an NCAA bracket.

I like basketball, but I’m more of an NBA girl. To be perfectly honest, the only thing I knew about the tournament going in was that my team (Colorado) didn’t have much of a chance after losing its star player to an ACL injury earlier in the season.

So, not knowing anything about the teams in the tournament, I decided I would get creative with my bracket. I narrowed down my choices of how I would make my picks: base them off of school colors or team mascots. I couldn’t decide, so I flipped a coin.

Mascots won.

This meant that I had North Carolina Central (Eagles) beating Iowa State (Cyclones) in the first round. It meant that I had Saint Louis in my final four because I thought a Billiken, a good luck figure that represents, “things as they ought to be,” was way cooler than Michigan’s Wolverine. It also meant that I had the Orange (Syracuse) winning the whole thing, purely because of the novelty of having a fruit for a mascot.

As of today (after the 2nd round), my bracket is destroyed. I am now in last place in the office pool, and my co-workers are laughing at me.

What did I learn from my first Final Four failure?

You can’t replace a strategy backed by logic and data with guesswork and expect success.

My bracket picks—despite the creative enthusiasm that went into them—were not based on the realities of the world today.  As cool as I think the Billikens are, it does not change the fact that Saint Louis has never made it past the third round in tournament history, and the odds weren’t stacked in their favor to make it happen this year.

Picking my NCAA bracket based off of mascot preference is like executing sales and marketing campaigns without a strategy and data. Without conducting market research and leveraging analytics to discover your ideal customer profile and determine what tactics are most effective, your sales and marketing campaigns lack any sort of intelligent direction. You might as well pick who to target based off company logos.

So, while it is nice to think that you can succeed at something without having any real knowledge or skill, it’s not generally how things work.

Whether picking sports brackets or running content marketing campaigns, having a data-based strategy that supports your decisions is the clearest path to victory.

If you want to know more about the value of conducting market research and creating a go-to-market strategy prior to campaign launch, read 3 Things You Can Learn From Go-To-Market Strategy Consulting. Feel free to contact us with any questions.