Blog | Marketing Madness

What Is Guerilla Marketing?

09/04/2015

Thinking ‘outside of the box’ is the inspiration behind many guerilla marketing campaigns. But what is it, and how can you effectively use it for your own business?

Guerilla Marketing (also sometimes spelled as guerrilla marketing) was a phrase coined in 1984 by Jay Conard Levinson in his book Guerilla Advertising.

Levinson’s book detailed how businesses could market their products in unconventional ways and dubbed the practice ‘guerilla’ after the fighting technique.

Back then, with the internet still in development, the term guerilla was applied to marketing techniques that occurred outside of a boardroom, newspaper, television set or radio.

Distributing fliers by hand was the most popular form of guerilla marketing at the time and companies would strive to come up with more and more unique ways of getting them into the hands of their customers.

Actors dressed up as mascots, special offers or coupons, and using street theatre all became recognised methods of marketing in an unconventional way.

What is guerilla marketing?

With the advent of the internet and mobile technology, guerilla marketing has developed into a number of different forms;

  • Ambient – involves creating an ‘atmosphere’ around your customer that includes your brand. Posters, banners, wall art and paintings all fall under this category
  • Ambush – also known as Associated Marketing. This is where your brand is associated with an event or occurrence without directly connecting itself to it
  • Stealth – one of the most tricky forms of marketing, this means you create and launch a marketing campaign but without anyone catching on to you actually doing anything
  • Viral – this is about creating a message that people are compelled the share with others. If done successfully, this can go global in a matter of minutes.
  • Street Marketing – a sub-set of guerilla marketing and involves distributing fliers and engaging with people on the street, literally.

Guerilla marketing is now all about getting your brand remembered – and some companies will take it to dizzying new heights in order to get their message across.

Location

Depending on who you are targeting will govern where you launch your campaign. Street marketing isn’t just standing out on the pavement and grabbing passers-by – it’s about strategy and understanding your audience.

If your product or service is aimed at young professionals then a city centre may be your best choice of location. If you’re after students, then a park in summer, a beach or a popular coffee shop might be better for you.

You should also take into consideration the age group that you are targeting. Different age groups have different ways of interacting with channels such as social media or online advertising.

Guerilla Graph

For example, this graph shows the statistics for online activity for adults, comparing habits in 2007 with 2014 (statistics courtesy of www.ons.gov.uk)

Before you start planning your campaign, you must understand who you are targeting and why.

Purpose

All marketing campaigns need a purpose, whether they are guerilla or not. Having a content strategy in place before you start is step one. The problem with many guerilla marketing campaigns is that the creators often get swept up in how ‘out there’ they can be that they lose sight of the message they are trying to get across.

Plan your campaign carefully and think about what you are trying to say and what end result you are looking for. Do you want your customers to visit your website, buy an item, sign up to an account?

Not all guerilla marketing campaigns are about getting people to buy something. Some are aimed at raising awareness, while others are designed to simply make us smile. An image or video that people find amusing is more likely to be shared which in turn raises your brand awareness.

Whatever your ultimate goal is, your message needs to be clear from the start.

Execution

Guerilla marketing campaigns can be extremely powerful – if executed properly. You have to take into account a large amount of variables and not everything will always go to plan. The key is to try and account for all outcomes, or as many as you can, and adapt as you go.

You should always keep in mind that guerilla marketing is not a ‘safe’ option when it comes to marketing. There is a chance that, depending on your type of campaign, a few feathers may get ruffled. When Sony Ericsson launched a stealth marketing campaign in 2002 featuring actors as fake tourists to promote their new phone, there were many complaints from other businesses who claimed Sony was being ‘deceitful’.

When planning your own guerilla marketing campaign, you need to remember three key things;

  • Flexibility – Things can and will go wrong so you will have to adapt quickly and have a contingency plan in place
  • Authority – People will ask questions, make comments and voice their own opinions on your campaign so you need to be able to explain exactly why you did what you did
  • Positivity – Your campaign may not work out exactly as planned but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Regroup, learn from your mistakes and try again

So, have you been inspired to try out your own Guerilla Marketing techniques? If so, let us know in the comments below!