College hoops craziness is tipping off soon, and The Big Tournament is your ticket to win over new customers, attract a loyal fanbase, and shoot for more sales. Get in on the action with these marketing tips and fast break ahead of the competition.

Bar Bite Bracket Challenge

Besides cheering on their favorite teams, bracket competitions are the other part of what makes The Big Tournament so exciting. Sports fans love to compete with their friends to make predictions on the winners, and it’s a low-cost/high-impact marketing strategy for restaurants. It can be as simple as having customers vote on the teams or putting your all-star dishes up against each other.

Chicken wings, BBQ, and pizza reign supreme on game days and people are fiercely loyal to their sauce and topping choices. Have guests vote and share brackets on social media for their favorite wing flavors, BBQ sauces, or pizza toppings. Will champs like Honey BBQ or Frank’s RedHot® Buffalo Wings Sauce sweep the tourney, or will adventurous flavors like Spicy Maple and McCormick Culinary® Vietnamese X Cajun Style Seasoning be your restaurant’s Cinderella story? Offer one big prize for the overall winner, or prizes for winners of each round. Encourage customers to return for another round with free app or drink incentives if they participate in your bracket challenge.

Munchie Madness

Hungry, raucous sports fans want something to nosh on while they cheer on their team and eye their bracket picks. And with 45 percent of people eating three or more snacks per day¹, go all in with fun LTOs to score higher ticket averages and keep fans lingering longer. Basketball-themed snacks are sure to win big or pull classics off the bench like piled-high nachos, your best-selling fried foods to create a platter, wings, or even a popular fried chicken sandwich with pickles, hot honey, and mayo, all perfectly spiced with Frank’s® Nashville Hot Seasoning. Create party combos and give clever names to your LTOs to create excitement around your offerings.

Team Spirit

Local university in the tournament? Position your business as the central spot for fans to cheer on the home team. Deck out your restaurant in the team’s colors, have staff wear the school’s t-shirts, and set up a merch booth for fans to snag your swag. Offer discounts and specials for customers who wear a team jersey or shirt. Partner with the college to help you spread the word and get flyers for deals on campus. Encourage repeat business by offering loyalty points in your app for in-store and delivery/takeout purchases during the tournament. With One Source partner, FanCONNECT, you can create a successful loyalty and VIP Club while increasing repeat business and cash flow.

Slam Dunk Social

A well-executed social strategy is the key play to attract sports fans. Most restaurants will be showing the game, so take time to plan how you will market yourself on your social channels to stand out from the pack. Contests are an easy way to engage followers. Host a dunk contest by having them post pictures or videos dipping wings or fries in their favorite sauces. Special hashtags, trivia, a “guess the score” campaign, or tournament pools are all great ways to get people engaged. Of course, don’t forget to advertise deals, high-quality food photos, and watch party details.

¹IRI Snacking Report

Content provided in collaboration with McCormick®.

Stay Fresh And Informed

Sign up for our newsletters for information on food trends, promotions, industry tips, and so much more.

Sign Up Today