It is the single biggest event of the year for sports fans in America, The Super Bowl, which will feature a matchup of the NFL’s New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.
In 2016, the Super Bowl attracted 111.9 million viewers and was the third-most watched television program ever, according to Nielsen, trailing only the previous contest (114.4 million viewers) and 2014, which saw 112.2 million people tune in. For advertisers, it is the gold standard of television air time.
Big brands, such as Budweiser, McDonald’s, Ford, and Turbo Tax are among this year’s Super Bowl sponsors at a reported cost of $5 million per 30-second commercial spot. For corporations, it is a way to reach a mass audience in a fractionalized media landscape. And the viewership is not limited to sports fans; millions of people tune in to the Super Bowl to watch the commercials. According to a study conducted last year by YouGov, an Internet-based research firm, more Millennials (between 18-30 years old) felt the best part of the Super Bowl is the commercials than the game itself.
In all likelihood, the estimated 28 million small businesses in America cannot afford to run a Super Bowl ad. This does not mean that businesses can’t leverage the opportunity to attract new business. But some businesses figure out a way to take advantage.
Foley’s Pub & Restaurant (18 W. 33rd St. in New York City) fits that bill. The popular Midtown sports bar created “Irish Burgers” named after quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Ryan to take advantage of the athletes’ heritage. The story was picked up by the Irish Echo newspaper and in sports blogs.
“We always like to put a fun twist on our big game menus, so we have named burger to recognize the Irish American quarterbacks of each remaining playoff team,” said Shaun Clancy, owner of Foley’s.
The Super Bowl may not even be the right platform for entrepreneurs to focus their marketing efforts. Consider “What’s the Super Bowl for my business? ” In other words, what is your biggest day of the year for your company and how do you prepare for it? For smaller businesses, it is often different days and different seasons.
Here are some examples of businesses leveraging the calendar to market events:
St. Patrick’s Day
It is the holiday where everyone who celebrates is Irish, regardless of their ethnic background. Naturally, bars and restaurants are popular destinations on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s their “Super Bowl.”
Sometimes a business’ biggest selling point is the season. Ice cream parlors are among those businesses, and Memorial Day Weekend often is the “kick off” for them. Later in the summer comes National Ice Cream Day (July 17), a “food holiday” that President Ronald Reagan made official in 1984. It’s a natural for ice cream parlors across the country to promote. For example, Rocko’s Ice Cream in Fanwood, NJ, estimated sales doubled from an average Sunday because of the extra promotion the store did to hype the day.
Small Business Saturday
To encourage more American shoppers to support local businesses during the holiday season, American Express launched an initiative in 2010 to counter Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The promotion has gradually grown in popularity, and while its success is showing signs of peaking, small businesses are doing what they can to harness its popularity with shoppers by providing discounts, special offers and other incentives to shoppers hunting for a deal.
While the technology goliath Uber may not strike you as likely candidate to capitalize on Small Business Saturday, they made a big splash by offering free UberPOOL rides (up to $20) for American Express Card members in New York City on the small business holiday. They leveraged a convenience factor to promote their service with the hopes of securing future rides from customers.
Whether you are a football fan or not, this Super Bowl Sunday will generate an unprecedented amount of attention that entrepreneurs could only dream of getting. However, you don’t have to be a big corporate company to celebrate your own Super Bowl Sunday. Think of what drives your business and explore ways to capitalize on your idea.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.