Big-name advertisers are spending millions of dollars—more than $5 million—to get a 30-second ad in this year’s Super Bowl. But just because small businesses can’t fork over that kind of money doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of the big game’s huge popularity and hype when Super Bowl rolls around each year in late January/early February.

Here are three ideas for how to use the Super Bowl to kick up your company’s marketing:

Offer Super Bowl-related promotions

Many restaurants and bars want to draw in crowds on Super Bowl Sunday, so they offer deals—whether two-for-one specials or special Game Day packages. But other types of businesses can also come up with intriguing promotions tied to the big event.  The trick is to make your promotion stand out from the pack.

In 2013, when the Baltimore Ravens faced off against the San Francisco 49ers, Gardiners Furniture in Baltimore hosted a special promotion: It promised to refund every customer’s purchase in the few days leading up to the Super Bowl if the Ravens returned a kick for a touchdown during the game. The Ravens did, and Gardiners ended up giving away $600,000 in free furniture.

Though it was a risky (and expensive) bet, Gardiners owner Gary Mullaney—who had purchased a $12,000 insurance policy to cover the losses—told the Baltimore Sun that the free publicity the promotion generated was worth the price tag. “People are hearing about this all over the country,” he said.

Your business doesn’t have to make such a high-priced bet, but it can come up with something unique to get your customers talking—and buying.

Use social media to engage Super Bowl fans

Social media, from Twitter to Facebook to Pinterest, offer nearly limitless ways for companies to gain exposure from the already huge hype around the game. Many football fans will be talking about the game online and using hashtags like “#SuperBowl2015.” Why not be part of that conversation?

Some businesses have found unique ways to tie the Super Bowl into their social media efforts. CopyKat Recipes, a Web site that dissects popular restaurant foods for home cooks, has hosted a Super Bowl recipe contest in past years, asking people to submit unpublished recipes for their favorite Game Day meal.

Companies can promote football-themed products on Pinterest and Facebook to generate more traffic in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

Create your own Super Bowl commercial

Even if you don’t have $4.5 million to spend on a 30-second Super Bowl ad, you can still create creative, amusing, eye-catching ads and run them on social media and your Web site around Game Day to drum up attention. For inspiration, check out the “Will it Blend?” YouTube commercials from Blendtec—which have generated more than 5 million views as Blendtec owner Tom Dickson blends everything from golf balls to smartphones.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re spending your time and money on promotions that offer the best bang for the buck for your business. Even if you’re not a Super Bowl advertiser, you can still use the year’s biggest marketing extravaganza to your benefit.

 

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