A strong marketing strategy is vital to a company’s growth and survival. Creating a persona of the target audience and communicating through various channels will help your brand reach the right people. However, some forms of communication are more effective and not necessarily very expensive. That brings us to Guerilla Marketing.
It may sound almost predatory to the uninitiated, but Guerilla marketing relies on shock and awe. But most of all, it depends on taking an approach that will resonate with your target audience, often on an emotional level getting them to recognize your brand or product.
What Is Guerilla Marketing?
As a marketing strategy, guerrilla marketing is effective because most people don’t realize that they’re being marketed to. This means that they don’t feel the usual “repelling” effect traditional advertising has on consumers. In addition, these “guerrilla” actions tend to stick in people’s minds and are highly likely to be shared, liked, and talked about on social media.
The primary benefit of Guerilla marketing methods is that it helps increase the reach of a business’s advertising campaigns without having to spend too much money. The campaigns work best when potential consumers are targeted in unusual locations, adding surprise and intrigue to the process. Unlike traditional marketing, guerilla marketing can take advantage of any opportunity to gain attention and create buzz.
The primary purpose of guerrilla marketing is to generate buzz by utilizing unconventional, surprise interactions with potential customers. It is a type of marketing that often involves personal interaction, small budgets, and as of late viral social media messaging. The use of these methods has made it popular with small businesses and has proven to be just as effective for established brands like Spotify, Tesla, and Samsung, to name a few.
A word of advice for those who are trying to establish their own guerilla marketing campaigns: is that this isn’t easy. Sure, it may look simple enough, but it takes skill and creativity to ensure the campaign’s effectiveness.
In this ultimate guide, we’ll explain and uncover some of the secrets behind running a successful guerilla marketing campaign.
Why Invest In Guerilla Marketing?
When done correctly, guerrilla marketing campaigns can be effective for big and small brands alike. All it takes is a small low investment and a creative eye. Guerrilla campaigns have proven to have the ability to go viral and create a significant impact on the target audience.
In recent years platforms like YouTube have helped evolve traditional guerilla marketing efforts. For instance, The Nun (movie) earned over $380 million at the U.S. box office, and the campaign consisted of putting a viral ad on YouTube. Many people were appalled by the campaign, and the controversy it stirred up made the campaign all the more effective. It made news headlines, and thus, people bought the movie. So, how can you make your business stand out from the crowd?
Guerrilla marketing mandates that you have a good understanding of your target audience. Each buyer segment has habits, preferences, and pain points that are conspicuous and hidden. You start by identifying their pain points and then create an action that addresses those needs. Dropbox’s strategy, for instance, addressed the primary need for storing files in the cloud but incentivized its user base to brag about it. This tactic also addressed a secondary need for additional space. Today Dropbox is a household name, thanks in a big part to the brand’s well-thought-of Guerrilla marketing campaigns.
Guerrilla Marketing Features
Owing to the complexity, nailing down a term that defines guerilla marketing is challenging. However, most people who know what guerilla marketing is about will know a campaign when they see one since they all bear a particular set of features.
Shock and awe – Customer interaction is highly unusual and unsuspected (by the target). Guerrilla marketers try to surprise the audience into noting a product or a particular service.
Budget campaigns – Unlike multi-million-dollar marketing campaigns, creative guerilla marketing campaigns can be run on a shoestring budget. That’s why to some, it resembles growth hacking.
Interactive – Guerilla marketing mainly relies on an emotional response and an experience that nudges the target audience, getting them to participate.
Mainly a B2C campaign – As marketers, we learn early on that emotions are sales triggers or drivers even, but only for B2C sales. B2B decisions, on the other hand, are a little more well thought through, which is why guerilla marketing is not as effective for these types of products or services.
Provoke a response – Since guerilla marketing relies on emotional interactions, the campaigns are risky but provocative. That leads some people to believe that guerilla marketing is illegal, but it isn’t provided that the campaign does not break any laws, a Segue to the next section.
Is Guerilla Marketing Illegal?
Many people assume that guerrilla marketing is illegal because of the shocking nature of most campaigns and the recurring stir in the news of brands being punished. As mentioned in the previous section, that’s not the case…allow us to explain.
Many companies get into trouble with local and federal laws because their campaigns breach them. For instance, Coca-Cola was fined for placing a large piece of branded graffiti in one of New Orleans’ historic locations. However, the brand somehow forgot to get the required permits from local authorities.
Your creativity does not have to break the law; you can stay well within it and still be provocative with your campaigns. The best way to avoid issues is to consult your lawyer. Lawyers can help to check restrictions and get the required permission.
Types Of Guerrilla Marketing
The most common types of guerrilla marketing include:
- Ambush marketing
- Undercover marketing
- Ambient marketing
- Experiential marketing
Guerrilla marketing can take on many forms. We’ll go into some of the most common forms below and how they differ from each other.
Generally, this is considered a high-risk strategy, which usually has the company interrupt an event or maybe an event sponsored by a competing brand. For instance, if a competitor sponsors a local baseball game, you can choose to award the attendees and the winner with prizes. Even though your rival may have sponsored the event, you get to steal the spotlight.
The tactic helps create a memorable experience, and it also gives the brand access to the competing brand’s audience. Though depending on how it is done, it can cause legal issues since many, if not all, event sponsors have agreements with the organizers.
The tactic implies that you need to make a hidden sales pitch to a prospect, but they shouldn’t know it is a pitch. The goal is to create buzz and eventually a community around the product.
These days, the most used technique is product placement in movies and TV shows. As of late, product placements are also in AAA video games. While you may have watched a character drinking maybe a beverage or talking on the phone, it is by a specific brand like Apple or Coca-Cola.
Often marketers will get more creative with this technique and develop a few other unusual campaigns. For instance, Sony Ericsson hired a few actors who played tourists and asked people on the street to take their photos, and the phones were Sony Ericsson phones!
The most popular guerrilla marketing technique is referred to as ambient marketing. The term literally means posting a gripping message or maybe even an image in an unexpected location. However, unlike other forms of guerrilla marketing, this one can only take place offline.
This does not mean that you need to place an ad in an unexpected location. The message needs to be surprising, shocking, and most of all, have a creative slant to it. For instance, Louis Vuitton placed a massive suitcase in Red Square.
Experiental marketing works by creating a situation where the target audience ends up in a memorable situation and then connects with an aspect of the brand. The goal is to build a bond with the prospective customer(s).
Most businesses will host an event or sponsor an event like a fair. However, you are free to take a more creative approach, like the cartoon series Rick & Morty did, by sending a car in the shape of Rick across the US. That was then backed up by a social media campaign that went viral. This led people to follow the vehicle across the country, take selfies with it and buy the merchandise they started selling.
Guerrilla marketing has a lot more potential than the campaigns we outlined above. There are dozens of other ways to do guerrilla marketing; the key is to be creative.
How to Setup Your Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns?
Creating a guerrilla marketing campaign requires that you go through the following steps:
- Gain an understanding of your target audience
- Set goals
- Analyze the environment
- Come up with a message or technique for the campaign
- Execute the plan
- Measure your results
While creativity is one of the keys to running a successful guerrilla marketing campaign, having an action plan is essential. Event management software is also useful for organizing your campaigns from the outset.
We’ll dive deeper into the six steps below.
Gain An Understanding of Your Target Audience
A lot hinges on you understanding the target audience. Triggering emotions quite obviously requires that you know the target’s desires, pain points, and fears.
One of the ways to learn about your target audience is to explore who your current customers are, which is something your customer service team should help you with. Find out why they value your product over others and what fears or desires they have that your product fulfills. Furthermore, there are Facebook groups and forums where your target audience engages with others and discusses their problems.
The best way to keep track of all the information is to draft a custom customer profile. There are many guides to doing this, but make sure it is as detailed as possible.
Find out how customers interact with your brand, what form of targeting is most effective, i.e., messages or activities, etc.
The next thing you’d want to do is set goals. Sure, we all have fun engaging in guerrilla marketing, brainstorming ideas, etc., but there needs to be a point to doing all of that. That’s why you need to set a goal, which should be specific, accurate, measurable, timely, objective, and reliable.
Guerrilla marketing does an excellent job of creating buzz and helping to increase brand awareness. However, many businesses will also want to drive sales, so make sure that one of the goals is more sales. To do that, your brand or campaign should resonate with current global business objectives.
The easiest way to set KPIs for your marketing campaign is to base them on previous results. If this is your first time, aka starting from scratch, try to use competitors’ results as a benchmark, which should give you a starting point.
Analyze The Environment
Your mission, which we are pretty sure you have willingly chosen as a guerilla marketer, is to catch customers off guard in a familiar environment. The objective is to surprise and, if possible, make them happy you did that to them. That’s why analyzing thriving trends is so important.
You will start with learning what people are talking about right now, aka what is trending. You can use a couple of tools like Google Trends, which helps analyze the right trends based on search queries.
In addition to that, you will also want to learn more about the competition. Try to sniff out their attempts at guerrilla marketing for analysis. Analyze both best and worst campaigns, as this will give you some insights into how best to shape your campaign.
Come Up with A Message or Technique For The Campaign
A good old brainstorming session should be of immense help if you cannot develop an idea. Gather the team together and encourage each person to contribute with an idea. Then set time limits for each session, and make sure that everyone has something to add. Rule no.1 should be don’t evaluate ideas on the go, as this impedes the creative process.
The next stage will have you assemble the ideas created and gauge them. You will want to consider your customers’ preferences and pains to see how they align with your business’s goals and present trends. More importantly, consider the resources you have at your disposal to bring the idea to fruition. You don’t want to get into creating a viral video if you don’t have the team, budget, or expertise.
Execute The Plan
A guerrilla marketing campaign may be fun, but it is also a complex undertaking. It will require that you and your partners pool resources. For instance, placing a poster in the subway will require that you have a pitch, design, print, and finally glue posters. So, you will want to ensure that each stage is handled correctly and in a timely fashion.
You will want to critically examine it before final execution to prevent a flop. Think about how potential customers may perceive the campaign and how they may react. Then try to list all possible drawbacks of the campaign and how they may adversely affect your efforts.
It is worth stating that there is always that chance that things may fall apart. Consider it, foresee this worst-case scenario, and generate a backup plan, Plan B.
Measure Your Results
The goal of guerrilla marketing campaigns is to create buzz; measuring results may appear impossible. While how results are tracked with vary for each business, here are a few helpful hints to get you started:
- Watch out for brand mentions in the media. If you’ve run a successful campaign, there should be a bunch of publications talking about it.
- Use social media tools like Mention and Agorapulse, which will help you track conversations about you and your campaign on social media platforms. This will tell you if they hit the goal.
- Undertake research. It is possible to survey your customers and random people to find out if they have heard about your brand, campaign, or something similar. If they have, then how do they perceive the brand?
- Before and after comparison, one of the best ways to evaluate if your guerrilla marketing campaign served its purpose, i.e., generated sales, is to measure the before and after-sales figures.
One of the drawbacks of guerrilla marketing is that businesses or brands can’t track how effective it was as accurately as they can follow a digital marketing campaign. However, the tactics above will help you measure the campaign’s overall effectiveness and determine if it merits a second round.
Guerrilla Marketing Strategies
Thinking through a guerrilla marketing technique(s) can be a taxing job. Fortunately, we’ve listed several strategies and have thrown in a few pro tips below to help get your creative juices flowing.
A Pop-up Shop
Pop-up shops are temporary stores businesses can set up and then take down when they need to. Often these shops aren’t meant to generate sales but instead drive customers’ attention to the brand. So, the key to success is choosing the correct location.
The best way to employ this tactic is to think outside the box (we know it’s a cliché) and choose a well-trodden yet unfamiliar spot. An instance of this is opening a shop on a boat in the center of a marina, in another shop, or at a significant event. The other thing you can do is rent a truck to create a mobile version of that same store.
Achieving your pop-up goals will require launching a promo campaign. This will help you embrace a larger audience. You will also want to brainstorm various marketing ideas to grab people’s attention. One way to do this is to use influencer marketing.
Posters and Stickers
One of the most cost-effective guerrilla marketing tactics is stickers and posters. You can offer branded stickers so that they proudly show your brands to others.
The strategy can be made even more effective by placing the posters in a public place, like sculptures, walls, pavements, etc.; you can also stick them on moving objects like cars and buses.
However, it is one of those tactics you need to be careful with depending on where you live. If there is a law against doing this or if you need a permit, make sure to do your homework before deciding to embark on the campaign.
Samples are effective for two primary reasons. The first is that most people don’t mind free stuff because it does not cost them anything. The second is that after they have received something for free, they feel obligated to maybe buy something from you. This is reciprocity; it is engrained in basic human psychology and often nudges people to return the favor.
If you have decided to take advantage of this principle, you need to find something of value to offer. The person receiving your sample should feel stunned to have the desired effect.
You can offer samples at various events where there are a sizable number of people. The alternative is to distribute your samples via business partners. You can also use social media marketing to launch giveaways.
Consistency Is Important
Consistency in messaging and being succinct is one of the keys to running a successful marketing campaign. Guerrilla marketing requires that you be able to catch your audience off guard and then provoke an instant response. That’s why your campaign’s messaging needs to be so fine-tuned. Work on the messaging until it is as sharp as it can be.
You can further improve the effect with a follow-up communication plan. Take, for instance, adding a hashtag to the offline campaign that can be monitored on social media.
Focus Your Attention On Smaller Groups
Your target audience will generally consist of several smaller distinct groups. So, instead of targeting them all, focus your guerrilla marketing campaigns on smaller market segments.
The result can often be a more effective campaign with excellent results. In addition, this will allow you to build a sustained relationship with customers, and that will help to raise brand advocates.
Advantages of Using Guerrilla Marketing
Now, before we go ahead and conclude this section, let’s recap all the benefits of guerilla Marketing, even at the risk of sounding repetitious.
- Guerilla marketing is far less expensive than traditional forms of advertising. Some marketers claim that they spend less than 90% compared to if they used traditional marketing.
- The other point worth mentioning is that despite guerilla marketing coming across as a technique that would benefit a small business on a shoestring budget, it dramatically helps large companies. Large companies can hire a team of experienced guerilla marketers or an agency that will do a better job than a four-person business.
- Many businesses turn to guerilla marketing because traditional marketing strategies are already saturated, making it challenging to stand out. Guerilla marketing can help businesses in often saturated markets stand out provided they implement a creative campaign.
- Guerilla marketing allows businesses to present their brand in a unique and often innovative way.
- It allows businesses to attain medium-term and short-term objectives without spending much.
- Guerilla marketing mainly relies on word-of-mouth advertising, whereby your users are willing influencers.
- The right set of guerilla marketing campaigns can have a lasting effect on a brand’s customers.
Examples Of Successful Guerilla Marketing Campaigns
Before embarking on your first guerilla marketing campaign, it is worth examining a couple of successful campaigns over the years.
While we are sure there is a pretty long list of highly successful guerilla marketing campaigns, the ones in this section aren’t just successful because they were run by established brands but also because of the creativity involved.
Many guerilla marketing campaigns are focused on zebra crossings. Many people wonder why, and the answer is that the brand has a lot to work with, provided they have the right vision.
McDonald’s guerilla marketing team used the lines to make it look like French fries rolling out of their hamburger.
In addition to being a zebra crossing, it also represented one of their more iconic food products. Now consider that the zebra crossing is used by millions of people each day; having your French fries painted across it reminds people you exist.
When it comes to using innovative marketing campaigns, we think Coca-Cola is right up there with brands willing to risk it all to experiment. The giant is known for producing large eye-catching ads. The “Happiness Machine” back in 2010 was a guerilla marketing film that starred a Coca-Cola vending machine dispensing more than just soft drinks.
The hidden cameras in various locations in the room recorded people’s reactions. Thanks to this strategy, the video went viral, with over 4 million views.
Back in 2012, the brand teamed up with Felix Baumgartner to achieve the world record for the highest skydiving jump. This became the start of a brilliant campaign that featured a death-defying leap into the abyss at high speeds, breaking the speed of sound during the 4-minute freefall to earth.
Unsurprisingly they also set a social media record, recording 23 million views on YouTube.
So, which businesses are best suited for guerrilla marketing? At the beginning of this article, we stated it wasn’t for everyone. While it can be used by companies of all sizes, it isn’t the best choice for a B2B business. For instance, if your business sells industrial manufacturing equipment, guerilla marketing may probably not be the right approach.
The best thing about guerrilla marketing is that anyone can do it. Even if you run a small YouTube channel reviewing, let’s say, the latest tech, guerrilla marketing can help take it to the next level. However, you’ll need to use the right technique paired with a good idea that does not put you on the wrong side of the law.