The term for Guerilla Marketing was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerilla Advertising (1984). The idea is inspired by Guerilla warfare, which describes small groups of armed civilians using unconventional and radical strategies to achieve their military goals. Guerilla warfare often includes maneuvers like ambushes, skirmishes, sabotage, and raids.
When it comes to marketing, advertisers might also feel like they’re up against a formidable foe. They have to make their products stand out in a saturated market with little means available to them. Especially for small businesses that can’t afford to break the bank with advertisements but still need to reach a broad audience. This is where guerilla marketing comes into its own.
It’s all about using creative, unconventional, and radical strategies to get a product seen by the masses. The aim is to get potential customers to engage with your brand in more personal ways. Guerilla marketing is a skill to be mastered by entrepreneurs who can back up their ideas with genius ploys. You have to be able to take the consumer by surprise by rattling or delighting them into paying attention.
Guerilla marketing works because the average consumer is bombarded by advertisements each and every day so they’ve learned how to tune out promotional materials that follow familiar structures. By familiar structures, we mean banners, TV ads, posters, and other less-effective methods of advertising. Consumers tend to pass on by or click away, seeing them as background noise or a blip in the corner of their vision.
Guerilla Marketing and Larger Businesses
Large, well-established businesses will occasionally use guerilla marketing strategies to complement their current ad campaigns. It can be argued either way whether guerilla marketing at a grand scale can still be described as such because its very nature describes the fight of a small group against a better-armed force. There’s also a higher risk involved with well-renown companies as radical marketing methods could backfire and tarnish a well-earned reputation.
Types of Guerilla Marketing
There are really no rules when it comes to guerilla marketing or clear guidelines to inspire what’s possible. By nature, it should be unconventional and new. However, some trends have emerged that could influence what your own guerilla marketing strategies might look like.
For instance, there’s Experiential Guerilla Marketing that encourages the public to interact with the brand. For example, city-wide games played via apps, treasure hunts, or the Coca-Cola machine that allowed users to submit films of themselves.
Alternatively, there’s Event Ambush Guerilla Marketing. This was used by Vodafone during a game hosted in their competitor stadium. Here, people from the audience ran out into the field wearing nothing but the Vodafone logo!
Or, there’s Outdoor Guerilla Marketing. This often involves companies altering statues or public scenes to reflect their product. This empowers them to make a town-wide statement. In contrast, indoor guerilla marketing changes the face of buildings from the inside.
Advantages of Guerilla Marketing
There are some definite advantages to using guerilla marketing, especially for small businesses:
- Establishing your brand identity
- Presenting a low-budget marketing solution which generates a high impact
- Media coverage
- Increased customer engagement
- The chance to be creative, fun and unconventional
Just be careful, as the risks associated with controversial campaigns need to be carefully considered before implementing any guerilla marketing strategy.
Ask yourself all of the following questions before committing to a guerilla marketing campaign
- Would you be offended/hurt/frightened to see this sort of campaign in public? Would other people be? Is it safe for children if it’s somewhere they’ll likely see it?
- Does it make a strong political or social statement that could be misconstrued or argued? If so, be sure you stand behind this statement and that you’re willing to continue supporting this point.
- Does it make sense? Can consumers understand which product you’re promoting and that they’re actually engaging with your brand?
- Does your campaign put anyone in danger? Are the necessary authorities informed? With daring guerilla marketing strategies, it’s vital to avoid suspicious activity.
So long as you can avoid any major pitfalls, guerilla marketing is all about taking risks and daring to be different. So be creative, try and fail, and see if unconventional marketing can raise your business to everyone’s attention.