We are bombarded by marketing messages almost every place we turn. TV, tweets, billboards, people on street corners waving banners. There are even ads in bathrooms! If we are going to subject consumers to our own brand’s message, let’s make sure it is unique. Let’s make it exciting—something people will talk about at the dinner table. Let’s get unconventional. Let’s get into guerrilla marketing!
What is Guerrilla Marketing?
Guerrilla marketing (a.k.a. guerrilla advertising) is about executing exceptionally creative concepts in unexpected ways. It requires “out-of-the-box” thinking and delivers a company’s message in an unconventional and very personal way.
Take, for example, Natan Jewelers. They wanted to advertise an exquisite necklace. But they wanted to provide a more intimate experience than a print ad could offer. So they placed a decal of their necklace on the mirror—in the women’s bathroom of a fancy restaurant. Patrons could “try on” the necklace simply by repositioning themselves. It was surprising, unique, and highly engaging. That’s guerrilla marketing!
Other unique ad placements include golf holes, billiard cue sticks, building ledges, toilet seats, and even car doors. Watch this:
Where does Guerrilla Marketing Come From?
The name comes from guerrilla warfare, where soldiers use unconventional means to fight their enemies. In 1984, Jay Conrad Levinson adapted and coined the term in his book, Guerrilla Marketing. His goal was to help small businesses with limited marketing budgets battle the big boys. Levinson’s advice? To use unconventional marketing methods. The effect was amazing. Guerrilla advertising caused crowds, stopped crowds, and dazzled crowds all over.
It didn’t take long for big brands to jump onboard. Now, 30+ years later, there are hundreds of examples of guerrilla marketing and guerrilla ads targeting specific audiences with perfectly-suited messages delivered in unexpected ways.
Great Guerrilla Marketing Ideas
Procter & Gamble demonstrated just how strong their all-purpose Mr. Clean is by taking to the streets. Look what they did! So simple. So unconventional. So effective! Who’s not going to remember this next time they’re shopping for a cleaner?
How about a giant steaming cup of coffee to get your attention? McDonald’s put larger-than-life branded coffee cups on steaming manhole covers. The rising steam made it appear it was coming from the coffee. Unique. Unexpected. And delicious! (Even if it is only manhole steam.)
Of course, using guerrilla marketing does not have to rely on props or stickers. Anything you can do (within the law, please) that can deliver your unique selling proposition —or just a message —in an unconventional, engaging way is guerrilla marketing.
Take Apple computer’s advice: “Think different.”
Even digital brands are into guerrilla marketing. When the Foursquare app was just getting started, they kinda participated in the 2010 South-By-Southwest interactive festival by setting up shop outside the convention hall. No exhibiting fee. And No “distracting” vendor booths. With just chalk and balls, they began playing the school-yard game Four Square. They played all day and drew thousands of walk-up participants. All the while, team members handed out promotional items pushing the app. Within a few days, Foursquare increased their user-base by 100,000! Today, it boasts over 10 million downloads.
Guerrilla Marketing: Execution Breakdown
The beauty of this marketing tactic is that it’s not limited. There are so many ways you can achieve guerrilla advertising, and it’s not even limited to this list!
- Environment: Capitalize on the existing infrastructure or equipment. Also known as ambient guerrilla marketing. Examples: McDonald’s coffee cup on the manhole, Mr. Clean at the crosswalk
- Placement: Transform a mundane spot into a brilliant vehicle for your message. Examples: Natan Jewelers sticking their necklace to a mirror in an upscale restaurant.
- Event: Create an event to convey your message. Example: Karl Lagerfeld’s dance flashmob
- Ambush: Associating with an event without actually participating. Example: Foursquare app playing four square outside the South-By-Southwest interactive festival.
- Viral: Also known as buzz marketing, this strategy gets others to pass on the marketing message to others. Example: Using social media to spread a message, video, etc.
Guerrilla Marketing and Your Brand
Guerrilla advertising rescues us from the monotony of messages bombarding our brains every day. They’re different and they demand attention.
As a business owner or marketing manager, you need your message to stand out and convert customers. Guerrilla marketing could be just the tactic to try. Write your unique selling proposition. Narrow it down into a simple message. Then brainstorm ways you can deliver that message to your specific target in unexpected, unconventional, exciting ways.
Or revisit our blog. An upcoming article will show amazing examples of guerrilla marketing that can inspire your own advertising efforts.