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Defined as “innovative, unconventional, and low-cost marketing techniques aimed at obtaining maximum exposure for a product,” guerrilla marketing was coined in 1984 by Jay Conrad Levinson, a business writer. The concept revolves around the idea of disturbing everyday life and making the world take notice of your brand. It goes against the traditional (and expensive) ad placements and instead focuses on memorable (and sometimes risky!) campaigns. While the name guerrilla marketing may be foreboding, it is actually a strategic, cost-effective way for both large and small businesses to make the most out of their marketing budget, thanks to bold, stand-out tactics.
The idea of getting your brand in front of a lot of people for a low cost seems like a no-brainer, but how are real companies using guerrilla marketing? Here are four examples:
Who doesn’t love Shark Week? Discovery Channel, the popular television network who started the phenomenon, took the hype to a new level when they distributed surfboards at various beaches to promote the upcoming program. And, to celebrate Shark Week’s 10th anniversary, the surfboards even featured large bites out of the body of the board (resembling shark bites), giving their audience a witty way to remember to tune in.
IKEA, the famous Swedish seller of ready-to-assemble home furniture, appliances, and accessories, is no stranger to guerrilla marketing. In one of their many campaigns, they decided to showcase how important proper home storage is, and how achievable it can be, by transforming their store’s main staircase into a set of drawers. Each time a customer climbed those stairs, IKEA had a chance to convey their passion, and skill, for space-saving techniques.
One place guaranteed to see a lot of foot traffic — and in turn, a lot of potential customers — is a city crosswalk. Mr. Clean took advantage of this opportunity by painting one paint stripe of a crosswalk bright white to make it stand out against the darker, “dirtier” stripes. Complete with the famous portrait of Mr. Clean himself, this ad demonstrated the power of their product.
To help raise awareness of the importance of clean drinking water, the nonprofit UNICEF placed a vending machine selling dirty water on a highly-visited street in New York City. The bottles of dirty water were labeled with common diseases caused by consuming unclean water, raising a huge buzz and even some money for their cause.
For more examples of guerrilla marketing campaigns, read our blog post on cost-effective guerrilla marketing strategies for small businesses.
From small, one-time projects to bigger ventures that last weeks or even months, the more creative you are with your guerrilla marketing tactics, the better.
Need inspiration? Here are six guerrilla marketing ideas for your business:
Sticker takeovers:Everyone, from children to adults, loves stickers. People put them on their laptops, in notebooks, on their backpacks, or on a million other places. Take advantage of this craze by creating stickers that feature your company name and logo. Hand them out at conferences or events, or simply distribute them yourself downtown. They are an easy, scalable way to get your brand in front of a large number of people, quickly.
Flash mobs:While this requires a bit of planning and organization, flash mobs are a fun, upbeat way to generate excitement. Just make sure your business is prominently featured on t-shirts or posters at the event, so your brand doesn’t get lost in all the action.
Urban installments: Think about how you can manipulate your customers’ everyday environment or the area around your business. For example, can you create out-of-the-box subway signs, bus stop ads, window displays, or sidewalk chalk designs to capture their attention?
Street art:While you need to be careful about how and where you place it, graffiti is an effective way to get noticed. Some of the best guerrilla graffiti tactics include using temporary spray paint or chalk on sidewalks throughout popular downtown sidewalks, directing people either to your website or physical address.
Treasure hunts:If your company has a storefront, consider hosting a treasure hunt that takes people through your city and ends up at your business. Treasure hunts are inherently effective as a guerrilla marketing tactic because they are a group activity, bringing more foot traffic and hopefully more sales.
Walking billboards:Designing attention-grabbing t-shirts and having your friends, family, or employees wear them around town is a classic guerrilla marketing technique. The key here is to think about how to break through the noise and get your message across in a creative, unique way.
Thanks to guerrilla marketing, you no longer need to spend countless advertising dollars to get your brand noticed. Best done when executed in high-traffic areas that attract your target audience, this strategy is perfect for establishing your voice as a company, as well as helping you gain traction in the market. It’s full of risks and even greater rewards, but when done correctly, your customers will remember you and keep coming back for more.