Top 3 Small Business Marketing Lessons from Super Bowl XLIX

Marketing lessons for small businesses learned from Super Bowl XLIX / 2015. #WebsiteMarketingPlan

Here it is 2015, and it has been a few years since I have written Super Bowl marketing lessons. Since the last writing in 2010, we’ve moved past an era when the Internet was a new frontier to a time when social media is so richly engrained in our culture it has always existed for the youngest generations. This year, BMW even spoofed an iconic 1994 Today show clip featuring Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel seriously puzzled over email addresses and virtual technology. The duo asks “What is Internet anyway?” and “Allison, can you explain Internet to me?”

All the commercial and media hoopla surrounding the Super Bowl is entertaining, but are the methods relevant for small- and medium-sized businesses? Absolutely.  The basic strategies and techniques used by even the most behemoth organizations can be implemented at all levels, even down to one-woman enterprises like mine. In fact, the lessons even hold up over time. Just as the basic tenets of marketing remain constant, so do underlying strategies. What changes are the technologies and options for execution.

“Make new friends and keep the old” applies to marketing strategy as well as relationships. Tom Brady led the Patriots to victory in 2002 the year I wrote the first Super Bowl Marketing installment. Thirteen years later, he made his sixth appearance as starting quarterback, won his fourth world championship, and earned a third MVP award. New England has chosen the best means for the task at hand. You should do the same—whether that is an “old school” method or contemporary technique.

Here are lessons from this year’s game as well as ideas to help you implement each strategy within your own business. Also, because I have been immersed in my wedding-industry website the last few years, I’ve included a few ideas for wedding professionals and vendors as well.

1. Take a repetitive, multi-pronged approach.

An historic rule of thumb is people need to be exposed to your message an average of seven times before they buy. While, with today’s technology, the exact number may be different, the basic principal remains intact: “one and done” doesn’t cut it. Folks have to run across your brand in several ways before awareness and action kick in. This means, to be most successful, you must incorporate both recurrence of your message and integration across different platforms your customers use.

Old School: Postal campaigns, with several mailings spaced a week apart, together with print ads, radio spots, and/or billboards in the same market provide multiple opportunities for the same audience to see your message.

Contemporary: Nationwide insurance went all out with their “You don’t have to be invisible” campaign. Not only did they release several teaser videos on YouTube leading up to the game, they also:

In general, ask yourself: Where do my customers “hang out,” both locally and digitally, and find several points of contact and ways to spread your message.

Wedding professionals and vendors, ask yourselves: What types of social media and websites do my couples use to research their weddings? Then create active business accounts on and/or advertise through the top contenders. If you provide services to a small geography, find local social media groups or online marketplaces and help out.

2. Relate to your audience.

One of the best ways to help people relate to you or your products is to pivot around a common reference point—an inside joke of sorts that everyone “gets.”

Commercials are the ultimate traditional example when it comes to the Super Bowl, but your execution can be in whatever form you use to raise your brand’s visibility and communicate with your customers:

Old School Reference: The Snickers Brady Bunch commercial, along with the making of it hinges on a memory from our collective past.

Contemporary References: Twerking in Mountain Dew’s Kickstart commercial as well as:

In general, ask yourself: What past or current events are prevalent in my customers’ culture? Then integrate references to one or more in your own campaigns.

Wedding professionals and vendors, ask yourselves: What or who are my couples interests or heritages and how can I provide related services? Examples: home-cooked favorites menu or themed photo booths.

3. Use an event to sell product.

Events, whether your own or others, represent a variety of opportunities to raise awareness or sell directly—back of room sales and sponsorships, to name only two. There are other methods as well.

Old School: Once again, commercials are the obvious, perennial example. These are so popular and (apparently) successful the Super Bowl price tag has risen from $3 million for a 30-second ad in 2009 to as much as $4.5 million for the same spot in 2015.

Contemporary: Enter merchandising on steroids. This year, Katy Perry sold self-licensed items during her half-time show. No, she didn’t buy a commercial or hawk her wares in between songs. Instead, she partnered with Pepsi to allow fans to purchase via social and other virtual technology. According to the Boston Herald, the merchandise was “promoted — and available to purchase — via Twitter, YouTube, Shazam and Internet-connected TV devices from Roku, Samsung and LG Electronics.”

Also, “using Twitter’s ‘Buy Now’ feature, tweets sent from @katyperry — which has 64.1 million followers — and other accounts including @pepsi and @Visa” allowed people to buy the products via Twitter.

In general, ask yourself: What existing holidays, seminars, or other events may my customers be interested in? Then think of a related promotion. Papa John’s, for examples, asked people to use the coupon code “SuperBowl” before the game in order to receive a free pizza later.

Wedding professionals and vendors, ask yourselves: What major wedding-planning events will my potential customers be going to or watching? Then find ways to sell through those channels, or do a “Papa John” and offer participants a discount or freebie.

If you like these ideas and are looking for others, take a look at the entire Super Bowl Marketing section here.



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