Guerrilla Marketing

“Guerrilla Marketing” was coined by JC Levinson in 1982 to describe unconventional ways of promoting products using a very low budget. The subject deserves a book, not just a paragraph but let’s see if a grab-bag of examples can stir your imagination to the point where you jump out of your seat and yell, “We could do that!” So, to prime your mind ask, “Who else sells to the customers I want to reach?” Then you might ask, could you …

• Take the space no-one else wants? One client built a national business by noting that his airline used plain white barf bags. He negotiated to provide bags free of charge – but not free of his advertising – and his business took off. Has anyone taken space on your local pizza parlour boxes? On your local coffee shop’s mugs? Lunch bags into offices? Paper car floor mats for mechanics? The back wall of every hair dresser in town (you’re looking at it in the mirror for 20 minutes, right?)

• Use the space you already have? What could you do with the outside walls of your building? What’s on the back of your business card? In your windows? On the back of your Invoices? Your vehicles? In the envelope with your correspondence? On the bottom of your email address? Can you mount a sign on your premises? Could you add an amusing saying each day to make sure people look for it?

• Make it funny? One of my associates, fed up with negativity in hard times, printed a bumper sticker that read, “We hear we’re in a recession but we’re too bloody busy to participate!” followed by his business name and phone number. It caught a mood and went on to do a print run of 25,000! And it brought in work from far and wide so that he became too bloody busy.

• Make it viral? Fun is one of the secrets to having your message virally marketed via email. The other secrets are the taboo; the outrageous; the remarkable; the unusual.

• Astroturf market it? I love the term. Word-of-mouth marketing is often referred to as “grassroots marketing”. Astroturf marketing refers to “fake grass roots marketing” as when you might employ a young nerd to recruit 10 of his friends to fill every blog, bulletin board, forum and chat room they can find on the web, with rave reviews of your product. You’d be in good company if you did, as this is presently a favourite method of the Hollywood studios when they need to boost one of their box office flops onto the video hire circuit.

Take a high profile? Richard Brand-some has (literally) written the book on this approach. Is there some way you can become known in your chosen marketplace and have your fame (or notoriety – it’s the same thing in marketing) translate into new awareness of your business offerings?

• Use doorhangers? Here’s a direct marketing concept that’s relatively new to Australia: If your customers are reachable at home, you could try hanging your advertisement on their front door. Boost effectiveness with a tear off coupon. Looks good enough to stand out from the usual mailbox stuffers. Great for boosting a locally-based business to local prospective clients.

• Provide samples? Smart food vendors have always provided free samples of their wares. Gazoontite helped launch its allergy and asthma products business by handing out packets of tissues emblazoned with the Gazoontite name and URL. “People keep the tissue packs and use them for a few weeks. Every time they pull it out – especially when they’re sneezing – they see the brand and the logo,” says their CEO. So, what is your equivalent to a “free sample”?

• Enter business awards? Putting your business forward for industry or local business awards brings a host of benefits for very little direct cost. Besides the increased exposure that mere entry brings, you’ll usually find that you lift your entire game to gain a good assessment and that lift stays with you long after the awards have passed. If you win an award, it’s almost a bonus!

• More? Try ambient marketing, presence marketing, buzz marketing, undercover marketing, experiential marketing, look-at-me marketing (Paris Hilton?), forehead marketing, Bluejacking – you name it.