Admittedly, the phrase “guerrilla marketing” carries the connotation of a marketing methodology that is negative, borderline illegal, or ethically questionable. This is probably related to the notoriety of the phrase “guerrilla warfare,” which refers to an underground military group of rebels that uses unconventional means to sabotage their enemies. Other phrases, such as “guerrilla tactics” and “guerrilla force,” reinforce this negative association.
However, just as guerrilla warfare has its advantages, there are many benefits to using guerrilla marketing – and yes, they are positive, legal, and ethical. Guerrilla marketing allows smaller companies to level the playing field by using unconventional marketing techniques to reach their target audience.
Understanding the benefits of guerrilla marketing allows companies to:
• Achieve maximum impact for minimum cost
• Attract free media coverage
• Incentivize customers
• Maximize public engagements
• Sharpen existing marketing tools
• Network to increase customer base
• Create value for the customer
Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of guerrilla marketing, defines the phrase as “achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money.”
Sponsor a Competition
Levinson uses the example of a professional organizing company that sponsored a “messy desk competition” in discussing guerrilla marketing. The public was encouraged to send in photos of their messy office areas, and the winning contestant received free organizing services. The company also sent out press releases, which piqued the interest of the local media. As a result, the organizing business received free media coverage promoting the contest, announcing the winner, and showing before and after footage. Without spending any advertising dollars, the company generated interest, increased exposure, and reaped the benefits of attracting new customers.
The use of coupons is another guerrilla marketing tactic. Consumers who would not otherwise come to an establishment might do so when a cost-savings coupon, such as a buy-one-get-one free deal, incentivizes them. Once there – whether in person or online – consumers may purchase additional products, and a satisfactory experience often leads to a repeat customer. Using specific codes to track the location of the redeemed coupons can provide an extra marketing bonus by helping businesses determine where their efforts are most effective.
Other forms of guerrilla marketing include conducting free seminars or providing free consultations. These events can be performed at minimal cost to the company. The authoritative advice provided by the company is a great way of promoting the organization while supplying valuable information to consumers. It also allows attendees to query the presenter and obtain more information about the company. Consider making presentations at trade shows, local colleges, homeowner association meetings, or wherever the target audience gathers.
Write to Inform
Maximize the company’s existing website to include articles that are beneficial to the reader. These articles should be information-based as opposed to selling-based. If the articles have a heavy sell angle, website visitors may be turned off, leaving the website.
However, it is okay to include a sentence or two about the company within the article. For example, an auto mechanic may have articles such as “10 Tips to Make Your Car Last Longer” or “8 Ways to Increase Your Gas Mileage.” The end of the article can contain a sentence that reads, “Bring your car into ABC Auto Repair for a complete diagnosis.”
Embrace the Team Concept
Contributing articles to other industry-related websites is another form of guerilla marketing. These guest posts or contributing articles provide another avenue for the company to promote itself. Consumers who are not familiar with the company’s website may read one of their articles on another site and follow the link out of curiosity.
This form of networking serves two purposes. It allows the company to be viewed as a team player that is committed to the good of the industry, and it also positions the company as an expert source that offers free information and guidance.
Share the Good News
Create an email newsletter that is published on a monthly basis. The newsletter can contain information about the company and also include tips and articles that provide useful information to the reader. For example, the monthly newsletter for an insurance company might contain statistics on house fires and fire prevention tips. The newsletter may also list safe driving tips for teenagers. At the same time, the newsletter can advertise new or seasonal products and services such as discounts for home security systems, fire alarm systems, or safe driving discounts.
Don’t Forget the Basics
According to Levinson, guerilla marketing also entails intangibles such as quality, service, selection, and price. Other important intangibles include sensitivity, flexibility, and attention to details. Even without a mega-marketing budget, one important way for companies to distinguish themselves from the pack is to exercise excellence and integrity. Both good and bad news travel fast, and consumers who have a pleasant customer-service experience will undoubtedly share their encounter with others.
The revolutionary manner of guerrilla marketing allows businesses to rebel against the high cost, predictability, and consumer-weary tactics that dominate the marketing landscape in lieu of direct mail marketing and other creative and resourceful methods that are proven to be both effective and cost-effective.
Terri Williams writes business book summaries for EBSCO Publishing. She is also a writer for the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.