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You Can Do Super Bowl Marketing on a Shoestring Budget It's doesn't matter that you can't afford a Super Bowl ad when all your customers are within driving distance.

By Landon Ledford Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


We're two weeks out from Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, CA, which is the biggest day of the year in (American) sports and for TV commercials! These 31 brands paid CBS at least $5 million bucks to show their 30-second spot to at least 100 million viewers – and all 31 of them (well, their marketing teams) will claim those dollars are well spent.

Good for them! But, that's not you. A sports bar cannot afford these commercials, nor can your baby clothes boutique or tech startup, but you can still take advantage of the big game. You just have to get more creative, baby!

I'm here to help you "get more creative, baby!", but not by giving you big picture ideas that mean nothing to your business. You have two full weeks! (OK, actually 13 days, but still.) Here's what I recommend you do:

  1. Open a "notes" document on your computer machine.
  2. Read the rest of this article and jot down the tactics that resonate with your business.
  3. Rank them in order of "very doable" to "ain't nobody got time for that."
  4. Get started NOW!

These aren't perfect or finalized, but they're enough to take action now! You can easily find reasons not to do them, or you can stay up a couple extra hours and get it done. Your call, but what do you have to lose?!

Study commercials for marketing research

Rank: Very doable.

At the very least, learn from the commercials! These advertisers spent millions of dollars in research to understand current marketing practices and consumer trends – all to create a commercial that resonates with them. Take notes, observe others, read all the "best ads of the Super Bowl" blogs the next week, and incorporate these learnings into your own business.

Host or sponsor watch parties.

Rank: Doable or possible, depending on resources.

If you're a restaurant or have a retail presence, you can easily host watch parties at your location. It's great to come up with your own party and invite list, but start by reaching out to friends, family and business associates who have hosted parties in the past. Let them know what you're doing, offer to help them with everything and host it at your location -- everybody wins!

Another idea is to strategically "sponsor" these watch parties, whether you're a restaurant that offers catering or a local office supply company. Provide the refreshments (hell, make logo-shaped cookies in the team colors), sponsor (and brand) the betting squares and handle all the announcements with subtle mentions of your business.

Update your digital marketing for game day.

Rank: Doable or possible, depending on resources.

Keep it simple, but RELEVANT. Whether you're a women's clothing boutique or a startup tech company, this is a great reason to reach out to customers and update them on your business. Start by creatively updating your social media accounts to represent the game (Facebook cover photo updates, sponsored posts with "Super Bowl discounts", whatever). From there, you can launch Super Bowl-themed email marketing campaigns, combined with landing pages or micro sites, all showcasing your Super Bowl offers and offering timely deals (which can really just be Q1 or seasonal deals, renamed).

Related: 5 Lessons From Mostly Safe Super Bowl Ads

Local clothing boutique: Partner to promote safety on game day.

Rank: Very doable.

Provide every Uber or Lyft rider that stops by (between certain hours before and after) with different prizes. For simply checking-in on Facebook at your store with a photo saying X (insert a specific tagline/call-to-action here), give them a branded something (cheap/fun game day shirt, deflated football cozie, or maybe a discount for their next purchase) that gets them back in the door and is worth the cost of the ride there.

Promote this in the store a few weeks before, post about it on social media (Facebook promoted posts can go far with the right call-to-action), and get creative with ways to alert all the Uber drivers you know. Incorporate ways to encourage social sharing/tagging to get others to come by, and the person who has the most friends come by can be entered to win a larger prize.

I didn't do all the work, and there are some operational gaps to fill, but email me any questions and I'll help you out!

Related: Can't Afford a $4 Million Super Bowl Ad? Try These 3 Things Instead.

Restaurant or sports bar: Pick your poison.

Rank: Possible, if you get rolling now.

Drive sales before the game, build your email database and be the go-to spot in your area for Super Bowl 50! The ideas below can all be promoted through a combination of in-store signage, table tents, email marketing, text marketing and social media (again, paid Facebook posts can be great).

  • Build the buzz early by handing out tokens until the game for everyone that comes in and does X (ideas below) or spends a certain amount before game day. This could be spending a certain amount, downloading your app, signing-up for email list or pre-ordering Super Bowl catering. They are now spending more before the Super Bowl (we all know January can be slow…), and if done correctly, you get more value from them and incorporate a reason to come back.
  • Drive pre-paid dollars by promoting catering beforehand, encouraging the purchase by offering a discount and packaging fun (drinking?) games with the catering. By "fun games" I mean just print out five fun Super Bowl games (drinking games, squares for betting, something) and provide them to your patrons. You're now handling two game day issues for them. Don't forget to brand them and include any preferred customer discounts or upcoming event info!
  • Promote your Super Bowl party by getting them to commit early. If they spend a certain amount the weeks before, or reserve their spot and food package, they get free entry to the party. If they engage on social media by entering your contest (just create a simple Facebook contest using Wishpond, for example), they have a chance to be a co-host of the party with you or have their own VIP area (whatever makes sense for you).

Again, I know these aren't fully fleshed out for you, but they should have sparked some creativity! Get started right now, email me your marketing questions (Landon@DoubleLBrands.com), and let's freakin' do this! Seriously, email me! If I don't get back to you, I'll buy you a coffee.

Related: After a Decade of Headline-Grabbing Ads, GoDaddy Is Quitting the Super Bowl

Landon Ledford is a marketing executive specializing in proven, yet innovative, methods to drive revenue and grow brands. In addition to leading marketing for a large group of casual dining restaurants, he manages an agency that provides full-service marketing solutions to growth-oriented brands.

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