The biggest advertising day of the year is upon us, and few Super Bowl advertisers are waiting until Sunday to launch. Most have been preparing for months, and many launched their pre-event campaigns days or weeks ago. But despite the fact that the vast majority of this weekend’s big ad spenders are marketing directly to consumers, there’s a lot B2B marketers can learn from their strategies and tactics. Here are a few:
Use the whole event (before, during and after)
It’s not just about your 30-second ad or pre-game show sponsorship. The best Super Bowl campaigns use the game as a centering point for a wide variety of related events, campaigns and more for weeks before and after Sunday. This year alone, advertisers such as Honda and Volkswagen have generated tens of millions of impressions (not to mention invaluable PR and social buzz) for their Super Bowl ad teasers. And for many other brands, the Super Bowl is the kick-off of a new, ongoing campaign using the ad’s concept or theme as a starting point. The smartest Super Bowl advertisers have rallied marketing groups in their organization well beyond the advertising unit to take full advantage of the opportunity. This isn’t always easy, but the results are well worth it.
Don’t forget the tease
For many viewers, the ads are as important if not more important than the game itself. The anticipation of who will advertise, what they’ll show, what surprises are in store – all create buzz well before the game. And every year, advertisers get smarter and smarter at building that pre-event anticipation to drive awareness. Ten million people viewing a YouTube-hosted video teaser, a week before the actual game? When these brands do the math on whether the 30-second ad is worth it, you can guarantee they’re counting these out-of-game impressions as well. As you prepare for the big event (your product launch, trade show, whatever), don’t forget to take advantage of the tease.
Speak to the consumer, not just the business
Most Super Bowl ads, of course, are selling products to consumers. But many B2B marketers forget that they’re selling to consumers as well. The company may write the check, but the individual decision-maker signs the contract. Appeal to them directly, specifically, and you may unlock the opportunity to sell to the business. It’s subtle, but important.
Old-school tactics still work
Humor, sex, celebrities. They will always be a part of Super Bowl advertising. I guarantee there will be blog posts and commentaries after the game criticizing Bud Light ads, GoDaddy’s innuendos, and so forth. But they work. Know your brand, and what it can and cannot get away with. But following the time-tested rules can still generate predictable results.
Get your customers directly engaged
User-generated content isn’t just for Doritos ads. Why can’t B2B companies ask their customers, partners, employees and prospects to contribute creative ideas and other content to the cause? Some of the best B2B blogs I read publish a majority of their content from best practices among their customer community. Long gone are the days when marketers did all the marketing. Your entire organization, not to mention your entire user base, is now your marketing organization. Put them to work. They often work cheap!
Use the event, but don’t pay the tax
Of course, your other option is to draft off of the main event, but not pay to be a part of it directly. Plenty of brands this week are leveraging “The Big Game” (they’re not allowed to call it the Super Bowl unless they’re an approved advertiser or partner) to do their own game-day promotions. It’s not exactly the same, and it can sometimes reflect poorly on your brand and/or make you look a little cheap, but it can deliver results at a much lower cost. May B2B companies do this actively and successfully at trade shows, when their competitors have their own big launches, and so forth.