What is guerrilla marketing?
Guerrilla marketing is a great alternative to traditional marketing. It thrives on original thinking and creativity, where imagination and ingenuity beat out big budgets. Guerilla marketing is a way to drive publicity and, as a result, brand awareness by promoting using unconventional methods designed to evoke surprise, wonder, or shock. Sometimes also referred to as ‘guerrilla advertising’ or even guerilla marketing (spelled with one ‘r’, but still correct), it came to the fore in 1984 when Jay Conrad Levinson, at the time the creative director of advertising agency Leo Burnett, published a book entitled Guerrilla Marketing. His thinking was that guerrilla marketing would be of particular benefit to small businesses, and so he gave his tome the secondary heading Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business.
Types of Guerrilla Marketing
As niche as it might seem, there are actually a few sub-categories of guerrilla marketing, as outlined by the firm ALT TERRAIN:
- Outdoor Guerrilla Marketing. Adds something to preexisting urban environments, like putting something removable onto a statue, or putting temporary artwork on sidewalks and streets.
- Indoor Guerilla Marketing. Similar to outdoor guerrilla marketing, only it takes place in indoor locations like train stations, shops, and university campus buildings.
- Event Ambush Guerilla Marketing. Leveraging the audience of an in-progress event — like a concert or a sporting game — to promote a product or service in a noticeable way, usually without permission from the event sponsors.
- Experiential Guerilla Marketing. All of the above, but executed in a way that requires the public to interact with the brand.
Some common features of a successful guerrilla marketing strategy
A marketer looking for a simple explanation of guerrilla marketing will likely be disappointed as there are a variety of opinions, even among guerrilla experts, as to what it is. But there are some common features of guerrilla marketing that most agree on:
- Guerrilla marketing is creative, quirky, and has the element of surprise. It’s not something the consumer expects as they go about their day-to-day lives.
- It is relatively inexpensive; if not purely in monetary terms then in terms of marketing ROI.
- It hasn’t been done before. Or, at worst, is ‘new’ to the target audience.
- It’s in-your-face and creates buzz.
- It has the potential to go viral on social media.
- It has the potential to create publicity.
- It lends itself to word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.
- Many will perceive it as a stunt.
- It’s edgy. Perhaps not downright illegal, but pushing boundaries in terms of what city officials, a conservative client or conformist parents will approve of.
- It stirs emotion. Good guerrilla advertising ideas may create happiness, excitement, surprise, nervousness (in the case of a stunt that’s perceived as ‘dangerous’), or even push people out of their comfort zone (something that many non-profits strive to achieve).
How is Guerrilla Marketing Different?
Guerrilla’s marketing strategy stands out from other marketing efforts. It is often more about direct interaction with the public or a profound impact on a small targeted group, rather than broad but superficial reach through traditional media outlets. It’s typically the result of a fresh, creative idea that’s given the freedom to build momentum and buzz without restrictions.
Guerrilla Marketing Examples to Inspire Your Brand
Office supply company that uses white lines with a can like Timex, to play with disappearing text on the road.
Following the same logic that the zebra crossings uses, the actions that guerilla marketing seeks in urban benches is to capture the client in his or her commonplace. KitKat has made famous its benches in the shape of chocolate bars. The brand of sweets takes advantage of the famous design of its products, in form of bars, incorporating the famous red paper.
Public transport is another place where the imagination of guerrilla marketing surprises you. It is not uncommon to find buses wrapped with movies, companies, restaurants, malls advertisements… but the ad for this zoo in the local buses of their city was original. A snake wrapped around the bus and squishing the vehicle, something striking and unique.
Continuing with the buses, do you imagine using the handles as an advertising element? Well, that is what the watch brand IWC thought, they incorporated a design customized on buses. The user of the bus that uses it will see how the watch fits in their wrist and get an idea of whether the product interests him or her or not. A plan with excellent creativity strength because it is very related to the product.