While your company likely can't afford to advertise during the Super Bowl -- a 30 second commercial cost nearly $4 million, small-business owners can learn some valuable marketing lessons from the game's most successful ads.
"Super Bowl commercials teach entrepreneurs two things: the art of getting your message down to 30 seconds and the art of creating an enticing narrative," says Matt Eventoff, founder of Princeton Public Speaking, a New Jersey-based firm that specializes in message development strategy. "Small-business owners should watch the ads again and take notes; the ideas might prompt new ways to think about their own marketing."
Here's a look at five memorable ads from Super Bowl XLVII and what small-business owners can learn from them:
1. Have a Call to Action: Budweiser's "Brotherhood"
One of the night's most effective ads was Budweiser's "Brotherhood," which featured a horse trainer raising one of Budweiser's famous Clydesdales, and then reuniting with him three years later. Eventoff says the moving commercial prompted viewers to do what business owners hope they'll do: remember, share and act.
"The commercial had a direct call to action, using its Twitter campaign with the hashtag #clydesdales to name a baby Clydesdale," he says. The ad aimed to connect with people emotionally and gave Budweiser a way to connect their customers.
2. Be Different: Dodge Ram's "Farmer"
If your competitors are all using the same marketing tactic, smart business owners take an opposite approach, says Gauri Sharma, CEO of Chicago market research firm Lab42.
"Because it's the Super Bowl, some brands push the envelope trying to be funny, maybe to the point of absurd," says Sharma. "As a result, poignant commercials come across in a better light. Not only that, but Dodge Ram's "Farmer," ad touched on core American values that resonate with viewers."
3. Highlight Your Unique Selling Proposition: Best Buy's "Asking Amy"
Eventoff says his favorite ad was the Best Buy commercial staring Amy Poehler; it was a good example of how to highlight your unique selling proposition in your marketing.
"The commercial effectively utilized humor to drive one constant point home: Best Buy's commitment to customer service," he says. "In a world where Best Buy has to compete with online competitors, the ad effectively reinforced the value of real people helping you."
4. Take Advantage of Every Opportunity: Oreo's Blackout Tweets
When the power went out during the Super Bowl, Oreo immediately reacted and proved you can get noticed in other mediums, says Sharma.
"Although Oreo did advertise during the Super Bowl and were already top of mind for consumers, they took it one step further with a social media push on Twitter that received over 15,000 retweets," she says. "This 'free' tactic generated more conversations for the brand than its $3.8 million spot. It was all possible because key decision makers were available and ready to turn on a dime when the opportunity arose to extend their brand presence beyond their commercial."
5. Use Timely Messaging: Tide's "Montana Stain"
With brands and agencies preparing for months leading up to the Super Bowl, incorporating timely messaging can be challenging.
"Tide's 'Montana Stain' was unexpected as it catered specifically to the teams playing," says Sharma, who named the spot as her favorite. "It was a smart way to grab the attention of both teams' fans. Most importantly, Tide made it easy to remember it was their ad."
Related: Simple Steps to Effective Marketing