The Super Bowl showcases the NFL's top teams--and, of course, many top companies vying to best promote their product, brand, or image in 30 seconds to a huge television audience.

Super bowls ads are often funny, controversial, or heart-warming. They are also pricey at $5.1 to $5.3 million per spot, according to a report from Bloomberg. The ones that stand out can teach you valuable lessons about business marketing. After all, if you're talking about them, they must work.

Many marketing experts consider these three commercials to be the most successful Super Bowl advertisements. Here's how you can use the methods that made those ads successful to promote your own business and services:

1. Apple: 1984

This ad introducing the company's MacIntosh computers was so powerful that it only aired once and people are still talking about it. Apple played off George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 to convey a simple message that prompted deep reflection (a prelude to the company's "Think Different" campaign, no doubt).

The ad didn't sell a product (the computer is never seen). It sold an idea. When you promote your business or specific services focus on why people need them.

In my businesses, we spend a good portion of time each year to make sure everything we do is aligned around our "why we do what we do" as a business. For example, in my yoga business, it's not just about offering yoga classes. It's about creating a sense of community, which we do by inviting people to come early and talk with each other and to the teachers. This helps to also empower our teachers to be more accessible to our clients' needs.

2. Snickers: Betty White

The ad has comedy legend Betty White struggling (and getting tackled) during a muddy pickup football game. When she eats a Snickers bar, "Betty White" turns back into the new energized, back-to-his-old-self "Mike." The ad is funny (both physical and verbal humor), but its marketing power comes from demonstrating an unusual application of a familiar product.

Your marketing can get stuck if your clients and potential customers only see your business in one way. Before this ad, you probably rarely considered a Snickers bar as a mental or physical pick-me-up. It was just candy.

When I started my accounting career, the perception of CPAs was that we only did taxes and audits. When I opened my own business, I wanted to convey a different image. Instead of saying "accounting services," I used terminology like cash-flow forecasting, yearly budget planning, and financial statement analysis.

When I changed my marketing to address customers' direct pain points--rather than a high-level, general overview of my services--they better understood how I could help them and saw CPAs in a different light. That's what you should always aim for.

3. Coca-Cola: Mean Joe Greene

The ultimate feel-good ad. When Pittsburgh Steelers legend Mean Joe Green gives his game-worn jersey to a kid as a thank-you for sharing his ice-cold bottle of Coke, it evokes emotion and tells a personal story: Heroes come in different shapes and sizes.

There's a common adage: The most important person in business is the customer. But you don't want them to just feel appreciated and important. You want them to be the hero.

That's how you build loyalty. The ad doesn't explain why Coke tastes great. It shows how the experience of drinking and sharing Coke makes people feel special.

I try to create emotional connections by collecting my customers' stories and publishing their testimonials with their pictures on my websites (with their permission, of course). These stories show potential customers that I work with real people just like them, who face the same problems and obstacles in their work and home lives, and with my help are able to overcome these challenges.

This helps present my services as something that can help change people's lives. You shouldn't force this feeling--that could easily come off as disingenuous. Find a story that feels natural.

Super Bowl ads can act as great teachable moments, especially with so much effort, creativity, and strategy put into conveying a specific message in a small amount of time. You may not be able to afford a Super Bowl ad, but you can still learn how to implement the same ideas in your businesses--without having to blow your marketing budget.

Published on: Jan 31, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.