Guerilla Marketing 101 – Tips & tricks for entrepreneurs

Guerrilla marketing is designed to stimulate curiosity and generate word-of-mouth. Compared to traditional media campaigns, the key to guerrilla marketing is about conveying a unique message regarding the company.

For a long time, guerrilla marketing tactics had been used only by startups and small businesses, but soon as they had achieved the desired results, success stories have been quickly followed by bigger companies and well-known brands worldwide.

Guerrilla marketing is associated with creativity. Creativity is valuable only if you earn from it. If your ad helps you reach your goals, such as increasing sales or visits to your site, you can call it a successful one. If the idea is based on repetition, it’s even better. Creativity does not come from inspiration or many attempts. Creativity is promoted by the only thing – knowledge. By monitoring the activities of competitors, advertising campaigns of the largest companies and collecting other information, you will become more creative not only ideally – you will already know what works and what is not.

Unconventional and non-traditional, different and alternative are characteristics often used in connection to guerrilla marketing.

5 rules every guerrilla marketing campaign should follow

The following framework implies being future-orientated and provides a sense of purpose and direction. Even if your company is just at the beginning, planning may help unify the entire team, as they are working for the same goal, but may also help in increasing the effective use of resources.

1. Do the analysis & the research

Every communication effort starts with a strategy and after understanding the business goals. Also, you should consider research: discover where your target audience goes, where they get information, where they work or play.

According to most of the specialists, one of the most important parts of preparing a marketing campaign is the process of segmenting and profiling the target audience properly. It is important that the target audience is not confused with the target customer: influencers are often targeted as opinion leaders, not for sales purposes, but with the intention that they will further distribute the messages to their followers.

2. Brainstorm.

A guerilla idea rarely pops up from one person sitting alone. Idea generation is teamwork and the ultimate objective of a marketing campaign is to increase profits. But this is only a piece of a larger puzzle. For example, the AIDA model suggests that an ideal message should achieve the following: gain Attention, hold Interest, arouse Desire and elicit Action. 

3. Know no boundaries

Don’t eliminate any idea too quickly for lack of budget, a short time frame or because it’s never been done before. When you think guerilla, traditional restrictions of space, time, format and budget (and, yes, sometimes even rules) go away. Decide what to say and how to say it! When it comes to content (“what to say”), you should take in consideration three factors: rational (relating to the audience’s self-interest), emotions (evoking negative or positive feelings) and moral (making sense of what is right).

4. Sweat the details.

In the end, rigorous attention to details determines event success. The surprise effect is necessary to trigger the desire and action to distribute the marketing message. Surprise implies that perceptions exceed expectation. Startups should try to seek influencers with similar relations to their product as long as they may have a similar target audience. Most of the times, the details are important because people talked about the campaigns through word-of-mouth (WOM) due to the unconventional aspects. It is known that most of the WOM happens face-to-face, and maybe only 20% happens online.

5. Show integrity & be legal

Ambush marketing is the practice where a company uses a competitor’s event to deflect attention towards themselves, building on the free-riding effect without having legal permission. Such actions may be effective in transferring the attention but they don’t always have the expected outcome.

And now… some guerrilla low-budget tactics you can include in your marketing strategy

1. Stickers

Stickers make for a cool, urban statement and can be used in a variety of ways. Maybe the most famous example is Reddit which, by the way, have only ever spent $500 on advertising, and that a great deal of that money was spent on stickers.

“I used to travel around the country a lot (thank you, Chinatown bus), and everywhere I went I took stickers with me. I put them on signs, poles, and even other advertisements.” (Alexis Ohanian)

2. Outdoor Installations

In September 2017, a number of red balloons appeared attached to drainage grates around Sydney CBD, accompanied by a stenciled chalk note saying, “It is closer than you think.” A clever guerrilla marketing campaign for horror movie It was met with both delight and horror on social media, with users saying it was “awesomely creepy.”

3. Business card as an advertising tool

Size leaflet cannot perform a promotional function? After all, the entire second side of the business card is dedicated to it. It can briefly describe the services provided, the benefits of the product, possibly describing the company’s history in a few words. Then, drop your business card everywhere—at restaurants, businesses, the library, events. Most importantly, put a compelling call to action on it.

In conclusion, it is obvious that guerrilla marketing is an unconventional, low-cost campaign that outsources distribution by causing an unexpected reaction. These elements are central in defining guerrilla marketing and are also referred to using various other terms.

Sources of inspiration:

Mari Bergan Hæreid & Solveig Indregård – Guerrilla Marketing: A low-cost strategy for startups

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