The Super Bowl is one of those rare occurrences that captivates a large cross-section of the nation. With over 100 million people focused on the big game, it affords marketers a tremendous opportunity to raise brand awareness and generate new customers. It’s also no secret that the cost of buying advertising inventory during the Super Bowl is astronomical – reportedly $5 million for a 30 second spot – with no shortage of giant brands like Budweiser, Pepsi and countless auto companies lining up to shell out the money.

Most of us don’t have the advertising budget afford the space. Let alone the production costs to craft the quality of commercial viewers expect. Thankfully, there are alternatives. Here are some ideas on how you can reach customers without breaking the budget.

Leading up to the game

Regional Advertising

The Super Bowl is a time for get-togethers and parties. It takes a lot to organize these and many hosts are looking for something new or exciting to set their party apart from the rest.

Retailers can place local advertisements or send mailers and emails reminding customers to get stocked up for the game. Couple this with sales on essentials like chips, refreshments or even couches, TVs and sound systems to drive traffic to the stores.

For restaurants, a good Super Bowl special can be the difference between customers choosing you over the competition. Discounts on orders placed in advanced will both secure business early and alleviate some of the chaos in the kitchen.

For companies without products directly linked to game-time usage, now is still a good time to increase the flight of advertising. Particularly if you have some targeted for an audience interested in sports.

Content marketing

Publishing a killer dip recipe, grilling hacks or tips on buying a new TV will drive traffic from those looking for some last minute help on their party planning. Producing a video is even better.

Here’s how Buzzfeed Does it:

During the game

Be Social

During Super Bowl XLVII the Superdome experienced a blackout during the third quarter. With play suspended for 30 minutes, many diverted their attention to social media while they waited for the game to restart. It was then that Oreo decided to spring into action with their now legendary dunk in the dark tweet.

While it’s a unique situation, it highlights the power of social media to provide improvised messaging that is relevant and shareable. It also shows the importance of being ready to capitalize when an opportunity presents itself.

The lessons are simple: pay attention to what’s trending and see if there’s a way it’s relevant to your business. Don’t force it and make it shareable. Now is not the time for the hard sell.

Remember #leftshark from Katy Perry’s halftime performance? Here’s how PETA was able to leverage that:

Notice there’s no sales pitch in either of these examples, not even any real call to action, just a genuine tweet that’s a relatable conversation starter.

One word of caution, while creating organic engagement is a good idea, there is an argument against running ads that require click-throughs. Most people are too interested in the game and the chatter surrounding it to want to view a website. The goal should be to reinforce brand identity and create awareness, not to drive conversions or sales.

Host or Sponsor Watch Parties

For restaurants or bars with TVs, this is a no-brainer. Make sure you make the most out of it by having giveaways with branded swag like t-shirts, mugs, etc.

If your company doesn’t have the space to host, you can run promotions that give winners food for their party. While the host may already be a loyal patron, some attendees will be trying your food for the first time.

Or an Anti-Super Bowl promotion

Believe it or not, about two-thirds of America doesn’t watch the game and are looking for something else to do.

For retailers or entertainment businesses, offer discounts for people coming during the game.

Bars and restaurants with no TVs can advertise a quiet environment to eat and escape the madness.