A well-known fact: The Super Bowl is the largest annual stage for television commercials. To many, the ads have overshadowed the game on the field. More than half of the audience tunes in to see the ads, judge them on the numerous online polls, then discuss at the proverbial water cooler the next day.

So are there marketing/advertising lessons for small business advertisers who can’t afford the multimillion dollar investment? Indeed, there are.

First, develop a strategy that plays from leverage-able elements, whether it’s an event, a time-sensitive promotion, a high reach media opportunity, or a relevant cultural opportunity. Build it out with web, social, word of mouth and channel layers.

Second, don’t shy away from being bold in the presentation of your company or service. In general, every business category has what appears to be a similarity to a consumer audience. Same is safe, but obviously won’t gain memorability or distinctiveness. And it won’t provide the level of results you are looking for.

Third, entertain and show before you tell and sell. Everyone wants to be engaged in a way that’s not a declarative “listen up,” but rather a manner that makes the message enjoyable and worth hearing more.

Fourth, keep it simple. One of my favorite spots was Google’s Parisian romance told from the progression of search terms a couple of years ago. It told a simple story in a way that was relevant and engaging, without high-priced production.

And finally, the one thing you likely won’t learn from watching the Super Bowl is that it takes an ongoing dialogue to build a relationship. So, don’t assume that a single hit will deliver results. It’s rare but possible. Think Apple 1984. That iconic spot is responsible for starting us talking today.

Update Feb. 5, 2013: Listen to my post-Super Bowl ad review on WHO radio/1040 AM with Van and Bonnie.

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