Guerrilla marketing strategies are, by definition, unconventional and innovative techniques aimed at attracting maximum exposure for minimum cost. It’s a broad category, but, even still, it’s seen as unusual and uncommon. Because these strategies often take a lot of creativity to pull off effectively, many business shy away from guerrilla marketing tactics.
It’s a shame because guerrilla marketing provides some of the best examples of advertisements that make people stop and pay attention.
Large recognizable brands often produce some of the most visible guerrilla marketing campaigns. While these advertising strategies are cheap compared to television and online advertising, these companies have a great deal of resources and access to great creative minds.
However, small businesses and start-ups can also take advantage of guerrilla marketing due to its low-cost nature. Many have embraced the strategy because, since it relies on creative stunts and organic word-of-mouth, it can produce a good bang for their buck.
In 1993, an indie movie with a paltry $60,000 budget embarked on one such ambitious viral marketing campaign. The filmmakers had a low cost, high potential idea to promote this horror movie: create ambiguity surrounding the movie’s events and their authenticity. With that idea in mind, they created a simple website with some additional lore and “found footage.” One of their best ideas, however, was a missing poster for the movie’s protagonists who, presumably, go missing after the events of the movie.
The Blair Witch Project grossed $428 million at the box office, and it has the third highest ROI in film history. The film stands as a classic and a trailblazer, and the website is still up today (albeit with updated graphics).
Although I do not recommend telling your customers to call the sheriff’s department (I will not bail you out of jail), it’s an inspiring example of what can be done with a creative idea and a shoestring budget.
Because it is such a broad term, there are so many more examples of successful guerrilla marketing, but I wanted to touch on some examples that show the power of creativity in marketing. For lots of small business owners, it’s discouraging to see how expensive advertising through more conventional channels can be.
I, however, am a proponent of finding a marketing strategy that works for any budget. After all, sometimes you just have get creative.
Here a few of the top performing methods that you can implement into your strategy, or I can help, either way, they work great!
Guerrilla Marketing might be limited, but it makes up for it by being LOUD.
- Open a pop up shop: Bring the point of sale to customers
- Give away samples: “Free” is everyone’s favorite word
- Sticker marketing: Make it stick
- Geo-fencing & Geo-targeting: Own a location on Google, Facebook,Snapchat, & Instagram.
- Graffiti, posters, and more: The world is your canvas
Do things that don’t scale
While guerrilla marketing has a limited, local reach, it has the potential to pick up speed with the right idea and strategy in place, and expand its reach as the experience is brought online.
If you’ve got plenty of ideas to make up for a lack of money to invest in marketing, guerrilla tactics are a cost-effective way to get exposure.
Here’s a few more things to think about…
1. Create drama with the push of a button (it doesn’t have to be an ACTUAL button)
The “Push to Add Drama” button was a series of elaborate setups created by TNT in the quiet corners of towns in different countries. It concerned a big red button, and a sign (in different languages) that said “Push to add drama.”
Unsuspecting pedestrians and drivers witnessed fights, accidents, and bikini babes on bikes in a carefully orchestrated event, culminating in a drop down banner ad for the TV channel.
Lesson learned: Everybody needs a little drama in life. Buttons can be virtual or metaphoric triggers.
2. Make it bigger
This poster ad by Staedtler features a pencil where the tip is a cathedral, implying that all big things built start with a pencil sketch.
It creates a compelling visual image for its target market. This series ad ran with Church, chair, and car as a print campaign in 2012 and won the gold and silver award for illustration in the 2013 Andy Awards.
Lesson learned: Scale creates different effects in design advertising. Use it in any clever way you can.
3. Make it smaller
IKEA pushed the envelope in space-saving ideas by creating an ad banner about their smallest IKEA store:
It featured a visual representation of ALL their merchandise in a particular store. You could browse by department, choose an item, and click to buy. It was space saving to the extreme!
Lesson learned: Novelty can come in small packages.
4. Post content about obscure but interesting facts
When Science World teamed up with Rethink Canada, an independent creative agency, the intention was to develop a campaign that would spark people’s interest in science. The team achieved through eye-catching billboards, such as the one saying “Bees can recognize faces.”
It’s not easy to find obscure and interesting facts that would get people’s interest. Research can be tedious, but it’s well worth the efforts.
If you’re having a hard time to find surprising facts, you can always rely on the researchers from Scholar Advisor, so that you can focus on script writing and video production.
Lesson learned: Tell something that people don’t know. Be informative.
It might be hard to track the ROI on a few of these techniques and these tactics don’t scale, but that’s kind of the point. Low cost with above average results.
It conjures an image of the classic lemonade stand: Getting out there and hustling to grow your business by putting your brand and your product in front of whoever you can. Okay, now that you understand, ask me about my skills and let’s make some money.