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Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is the term used to describe unconventional promotional activities, usually performed on a low budget. Guerrilla marketing doesn’t rely on large budgets but instead on time, energy, creativity and initiative.

Small businesses are ideally positioned to take advantage of this type of marketing.

Guerrilla marketers must be flexible and able to make quick decisions – traits that all small businesses should have. The media also responds much more favourably to stories based around small businesses, and it is the extent of this subsequent publicity that often determines the success of guerilla marketing.

The Value of Creativity

People are bombarded with over 3,000 product messages every single day. Companies are increasingly resorting to guerrilla marketing to overcome this, but to be a resounding success real creativity is required.

One tactic is to think of what attracts attention and then use that as the basis of your marketing idea.

Consider the case on Sonic Driveln Restaurants. They placed branded magnetic cups on the top of cars, giving the impression that the driver forgot to pick up his drink when driving off. This stunt received widespread publicity, created word of mouth, and dramatically raised peoples’ awareness of the restaurant.

Retailers can hold contests or competitions to get people talking. Unusual competitions such as guess the number of flowers or what time will the thousandth visitor enter the store can work well. To capitalise on the success of a campaign retailers should capture the contact details of visitors, possibly through the use of a guest book. This also applies to web retailers.

Why not send your customers a card wishing them a happy August 12th for example. The day doesn’t mean anything but people love to receive a gift whatever the reason and you can be sure they’ll mention it to their friends.

You could even take it one step further and send out a greetings card for the wrong day, following it up with a PR campaign mentioning how your company committed a PR blunder by getting the dates wrong.

Darren Paul, managing director of Night Agency, does have a few words of warning:

“The field of guerrilla marketing is similar to advertising. There’s good and bad marketing. There’s good and bad execution. And there are negative case studies of companies crossing the line.”

One high profile example occurred in 2001 when IBM spray-painted “Peace, Love and Linux” on San Francisco streets. The result? A fine of $120,000 imposed by the local government.

To avoid the risk of going too far you could always just announce your intentions but never follow them through.

Acclaim Entertainment, a video game maker, announced its intention to promote its new game release by installing billboard ads at bus shelters which had fake blood seeping out of them. They never went ahead with the promotion and it’s questionable whether they ever intended to, not that it mattered. The publicity generated was more than enough to effectively launch the new game.

And it’s worth considering that if it’s ever true then it’s true when applied to guerrilla marketing – ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity.’

Subsets of Guerrilla Marketing

  • Ambient Advertising – unusual out-of-the-home advertising, utilising mediums such as sandwich bags, pizza boxes and car park tickets.
  • Astroturfing – creating what appears to be a large movement of people towards the support of a particular cause or viewpoint.
  • Experiential Marketing – providing an experience where consumers can interact directly with products.
  • Graffiti Marketing – pavement drawings or graffiti on walls which contains your company logo or message.
  • Stealth Marketing – marketing where consumers don’t realise that they are being marketed to.
  • Viral Marketing – encouraging consumers to spread a message or offer, often through social networks.