Super Bowl marketing genius, savvy small business owner or fun loving football fan?

So the going rate for a Super Bowl ad is around $133,000 per second, way outside the realm of the small business owner.  But is it possible to parlay into this mega event at a steeply discounted price?  Perhaps we can learn a lot from Jeff Dennis, owner of Jeff Dennis Jewelry in Gardendale, Alabama.

But first, let’s take a step back – so how many of you football fans, stuck with miserable numbers in your office pool, were praying for a safety to mix things up and make the game a little more bearable?  Having been on the receiving end of many 2’s and 5’s in the past, a safety seemed like my only way out.

Now in Alabama, a group of recent jewelry buyers were also willing either team to score a safety, not for a pool but for a refund.  Jeff’s promotion was to offer cash refunds to customers making purchases in the two weeks leading up to the big game.  If a safety was scored, they get to keep their purchases and receive a full refund.  When the first snap of the game led to a safety, 401 of Jeff’s lucky customers were very happy, to the tune of some $70,000.  Interestingly enough Jeff was also one of the happy ones.

“This is a GREAT thing for my business! Thanks again and CONGRATS to the 401 lucky customers! Due to the safety occurring, We will be OPEN Monday! I will set a date for the refund party soon!”

So why was Jeff so happy with a $70,000 refund looming?  For one thing he had done his homework.  A safety occurred in the prior two Super Bowls and three in the last 5 years, facts that Jeff shared with his customers on his Facebook page promoting the event.  As such, a safety was hardly a long shot, so Jeff bought insurance to cover his risk.  Providing his marketing promotion boosted sales sufficiently to cover his insurance premium, it was a win/win, safety or not he would be adding to his bottom line profitability.

Now this was not the first time Jeff had run similar promotions where payouts were made, in 2012 refunds of $55,000 were paid out when Alabama shut out Auburn in the Iron Bowl; and last year $90,000 in refunds were given when it rained more than an inch on Labor day at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

These promotions gained both local and national media attention (including an NBC interview following the Super Bowl), delivering excellent publicity for his business, at the low cost of an insurance policy.  There is no doubt he has developed some happy customers who are very likely to return to spend more with his business.

Coming back to the original question, by promoting his business effectively, by managing his risk carefully and by building a solid base of happy customers, there is no doubt that Jeff is a savvy businessman and marketer.  By thinking innovatively and leveraging tools that are readily available, Jeff has shown that small businesses can punch significantly above their weight.

So how are you innovating your business?  We’d love to hear.


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