6 Marketing Lessons Learned from Powerball Mania

By vitamin
Powerball Mania

Let’s face it – it’s not mathematically rational to buy a Powerball ticket. The average expected payout per ticket for Wednesday’s $1.6 billion jackpot was a mere $1.12 per ticket – a ticket that costs $2 to play – and the chances of winning were 1 in 292 million. Yet millions of Americans got swept up in Powerball mania and purchased multiple tickets. Why?

It really comes down to psychology and understanding the desires of the average American, which is extremely valuable in marketing. 

In fact, for marketers, there’s a lot of value in the Powerball – even if you didn’t win. Here are six marketing lessons we learned from the Powerball mania:

1. Make customers’ lives easier

The ultimate prize of Powerball isn’t the money – it’s what the money does that makes it so appealing. The Powerball winners will likely never have a financial worry again. If your product or service makes the lives of your customer easier, you’re going to have demand.

2. Make customers feel special

The most magical part of the lottery is that anyone can win – rich, poor and anywhere in-between. And if you are lucky enough to win, you feel like the luckiest person in America. The one that deserves to win. The one that is destined to win. Since winning is so special, more people are encouraged to play. Make your client or customer feel special and you’ll be guaranteed to win them over.

3. Create demand with exclusivity

Not every state is eligible to play the lottery. But with jackpot constantly rising, residents of those seven states – Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming – were crossing state borders, willing wait in lines, sometimes for hours, for tickets despite the small odds of winning. Many brands have benefitted from making their products available for only a portion of the public to increase anticipation – remember when Facebook was only available to students at select colleges and universities? Now it has more than 1 billion active users and is worth $190B. For some brands, exclusivity may actually help to hype it up.

Powerball ticket line outside of casino on Nevada / California border. Image courtesy of abcnews.com

Powerball ticket line outside of casino on Nevada / California border. Image courtesy of abcnews.com

4. Create a low-risk CTA 

Powerball is the ultimate low-risk, high-reward situation: buy a cheap ticket for the chance to become a millionaire (or in this week’s case, a billionaire). In low-risk, high-reward situations people often have a “what do I have to lose?” mentality, which encourages more people to take action.  When developing marketing campaigns, make sure your calls-to-action pose as little risk to your customers / clients as possible. Smalltimore and local radio stations did a great job gaining social media followers by encouraging Facebook users to “like” their page for a chance to get in on the jackpot if the company won. What’s “liking” a Facebook page when it gives you another chance at winning $1.6B?

Smaltimore, a local Baltimore bar, gets more likes from Powerball mania. Image courtesy of Facebook.

Smaltimore, a local Baltimore bar, gets more likes from Powerball mania.
Image courtesy of Facebook.

5. Create a sense of urgency

When you bought your ticket, did you notice the electronic sign showing how long you had left to buy your ticket before the big drawing in HUGE CAPITAL LETTERS? Creating a sense of urgency is the best way to keep the public interest. Having the drawings twice a week is enough time to build up anticipation without losing interest. Finding the sweet spot of time for a customer to complete a call to action is key.  

6. Turn a Negative Experience into a Positive One

If you’re one of the millions of people who didn’t win anything from the Powerball, you can still get something out of your ticket. The Plaza Casino in Las Vegas offered up to $25 in free play for losing tickets. It reminds us Baltimoreans of all of the businesses that let people trade in their Ray Rice jerseys for free meals after his domestic violence charges – turning a loss into a win can attract new customers and even increase media attention.

What did you learn from Powerball mania? Leave your comments below!

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