How To Create and Optimize a Great Guerrilla Marketing Strategy

Experiential Marketing

If you’re a brand or marketer with lofty goals but a small budget, guerrilla marketing is enticing. Why? Because it’s a low investment, high impact strategy. The best guerrilla marketing strategy is big on ideas and low on expenses. But that requires sticking the landing, and that’s no easy feat. You want consumers to notice you but for the right reasons. Thankfully, that’s easy. All it takes is thinking like your audience— something you spend a lot of time doing already— and captivating them in a way aligning with what excites them.  

Still interested? Let’s look at tips that’ll help you create and optimize a guerrilla marketing strategy that’ll launch an epic campaign.

The Art of Guerrilla Marketing

In 1984, advertising executive Jay Conrad Levinson penned the first edition of his pioneering book, “Guerrilla Marketing.”

The essence of Levinson’s book is simple: “guerrilla marketing is the art of getting consumers to pay attention through brute force of a vivid imagination.”

It’s crucial to remember that consumers are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands, of media messages on a given day. The best kind of guerrilla marketing strategy is rooted firmly in resourcefulness and ingenuity that goes further than just throwing money at an idea.

Tip #1: Go Against The Grain

When developing a guerrilla marketing strategy, the simplest way to separate your business from its competitors is sometimes going in the opposite direction of what they’re doing. So, when they “go left,” you “go right.” 

What does that mean? Here’s an example: In the feel-good era of body positivity, Dutch fitness company Fitness First launched a direct— albeit risky— guerrilla marketing campaign that flew in its face. The campaign saw commuters sitting on a bus stop bench showing their weight. 

Was it confrontational? Perhaps. Would it cause a backlash if executed elsewhere, say in the U.S.? Most likely. But did it make an impact that made headlines worldwide? Yes. 

When your brand takes a strong, contrarian stance, people are going to take notice. But before you commit, make sure you understand there’s a high probability some will be turned off. Alternatively, others will be drawn into your campaign’s boldness. If nothing else, it’s a surefire way to turn heads.

Tip #2: Hit the Streets

In the guerrilla marketing playbook, street team marketing is as old as marketing itself. With the outside world at your disposal, you have an outlet for— near— unlimited creativity. Plus, compared to other guerrilla marketing strategies, this one tends to generate immediate impact and a high chance of going viral on social media. Here’s one strategy that paid dividends:

Bounty Cleans Up Life-Sized Messes

Bounty paper towels wanted to show consumers that its products can “make small work of big messes.” Really big messes. In New York City, Bounty erected life-sized “messes,” like a giant coffee cup knocked over and a melting popsicle. Not only did these visuals grab attention, but they were also photo-ops that had Bounty’s logo and slogan front-and-center. And that guerrilla marketing strategy helped the brand be the background for social media selfies shared by millions.

Bounty Life Sized Messes

Tip #3: Disrupt the Space You’re In

Guerrilla marketing gets a bad rap for being too aggressive and shocking people that can be jarring and— frankly— off-putting. But your brand can be the disruptor without disrupting people’s lives. This is commonly referred to as “ambient marketing” and is about using physical space, opposed to who’s in it. 

In other words, you are altering the atmosphere by inserting yourself in it. 

Take a look at this ad from Bic. A giant razor cutting through thick grass? Not something you’d expect to see. But this is a unique take for a well-known product that showcases its effectiveness in an unconventional space.

Bonus Tip: Leverage Your Loyal Fans

Marketing— any form of marketing really— requires polish and finesse. It takes a team of creative minds a lot of time and energy to execute successful campaigns. But did you know you aren’t the only one who can generate content for your brand? Take a look at your customers because they’re built-in marketers keenly aware of who you are, what you do, and why you’re so great at it! Oh, and they’re probably on social media, creating free PR for you with user-generated content. 

When you have fans active on social media and/or who can create visual content like images, videos, and designs, you have a marketing team that’s at your fingertips. It just takes engaging and encouraging them to post and share. It’s a guerrilla marketing strategy that’s low risk and high-reward.

Fashion and beauty brands have leveraged content created by their loyal fan bases for years. By getting customers to post pictures in their clothes or wearing their makeup, companies make an echo chamber that’s 1. Free and 2. Highly-effective.

The Best Guerrilla Marketing Strategy Is an Extension of Your Brand

Guerrilla marketing is both scrappy and strategic. But before you get started, you need to know what makes you stand out. The campaign is one component of your overall guerrilla marketing strategy that ultimately captures your core message. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes my brand different?
  • What do I do that my competition doesn’t?
  • Are there misconceptions about my business?
  • How is my brand “breaking the rules”?
  • What does my target audience want, and how can I give it to them?

Guerrilla marketing surprises and delights. But make sure you give your audience something they crave that’s beyond your brand, whether it’s an experience using a food truck serving delicious eats or an experiential vehicle that’s an eye-catching billboard to get your message seen and heard.   

Understanding yourself, knowing your audience, and the kind of impact you want to make (and why) are at the heart of achieving the results you want. With these handy tips, guerrilla marketing will help you experience marketing in the most fun and creative way possible and drive your brand’s success.

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Guerrilla Marketing Stunts That Still Work in 2021

Experiential Marketing

Guerrilla marketing means reaching your audience through experimental and unexpected campaigns, like pop-up shops. They surprise and delight audiences in exciting ways to promote a brand, product, or service. Guerrilla marketing stunts help your brand go viral on social media, fit any budget, and leverage partnerships so you can target your ideal audience more easily. And these advantages translate into increased awareness.   

With the right approach, marketers can launch a brand’s visibility into the stratosphere. But in a way, that isn’t a gimmick. So, let’s take a look at the world of guerrilla marketing and 5 stunts that still work wonders for brands in 2021.

What Is a Guerrilla Marketing Stunt?

Guerrilla marketing thrives on the element of surprise. High-energy and imaginative, these tactics rely less on big-budgets, and more on personal interactions to make an indelible impression. The best guerrilla marketing stunts cause a positive emotional reaction in audiences to create new customers. 

We can sum up guerrilla marketing with three key takeaways:

  • Guerrilla marketing uses unorthodox strategies to increase sales or entice consumers to a brand and its products or services. 
  • These stunts are low-cost and utilize personal communications. 
  • Guerrilla marketing stunts have risen in popularity thanks to social media that help amplify messaging specific to target audiences.

The Pros and Cons of Guerrilla Marketing

Before you read on, it’s essential to know guerrilla marketing stunts aren’t for everyone. There are advantages and disadvantages. Take these pros and cons into consideration before moving forward with a guerrilla marketing campaign:

Pros of Guerrilla Marketing

  • It’s budget-friendly versus traditional marketing and advertising.
  • It focuses on creative thinking and imagination rather than how much is spent.
  • It relies on word-of-mouth advertising, one of the most potent brand awareness tools in experiential marketing. 
  • The right guerrilla marketing stunts can boost publicity.

Cons of Guerrilla Marketing

  • Messages can be muddled and easily misunderstood without clarity.
  • Guerrilla marketing stunts are susceptible to unforeseen obstacles that may undermine a campaign, like bad weather. 
  • If a guerrilla marketing event falls flat, it may be subject to a potential backlash by savvy audiences.

5 Types of Guerrilla Marketing Stunts and Successful Examples

1. Event Ambush Marketing: Samsung vs. Apple.

There’s always a debate raging between fans of Apple’s iOS mobile devices and Samsung’s Android products. But, how did this heated competition start? In 2011, as Apple prepared to launch the anticipated iPhone S4, Samsung decided to crash the party. At Apple’s prestigious storefront in Sydney, Samsung erected a pop-up store of its next door. While Apple devotees stood in line, waiting patiently to get their hands on the new $700 iPhone, Samsung sold its Galaxy SII for $1.50. While many resisted Samsung’s offer, Samsung’s tactic paid off; many more walked away with a brand-new — and much cheaper — Galaxy SII.

Samsung Pop Up Sydney

2. Buzz Marketing: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Even if you were didn’t know the mega-viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was an example of buzz marketing, you undoubtedly heard of it. Why? Because it’s one of the famous word-of-mouth marketing campaigns ever. The ALS Foundation’s clever fundraising campaign challenged audiences to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads and post reactions on social media while nominating a friend to do the same. Celebrities like Dwane Johnson, Will Smith, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, and others participated in the challenge for free. The tactic was so successful; the ALS Foundation raised a staggering $115 million in the process. 

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

3. Sensory Marketing: Johnnie Walker’s ‘Whiskey-Infused’ Fashion Line

In 2014, Customers of the famous U.K. clothing manufacturer Harris Tweed Hebrides were in for a treat upon taking a whiff of its latest product line. With help from Scotch whiskey brand Johnnie Walker, Harris Tweed Hebrides created a whiskey-infused line of Harris Tweed fabric for sale. Guerrilla marketing stunts using the senses allowed both brands aimed to create subconscious and inherent brand recognition. Meaning, when consumers take a sip of Johnnie Walker, they’re reminded of Harris Tweed Hebrides. And vice versa. Research shows that brands attract more customers better when they connect with their senses.

Johnnie Walker Guerrilla Marketing Example

4. Stealth Marketing: FedEx’s Starring Role in ‘Cast Away’

Very few brands have the marketing budget to participate in a Hollywood blockbuster featuring one of the world’s most famous actors. But, FedEx’s starring role in the 2000 film “Cast Away” is one of the most recognizable stealth marketing examples. It involves guerrilla marketing stunts that are less about generating immediate revenue and more about creating awareness and interest. FedEx is heavily featured throughout the film as Hanks’ character (a FedEx executive) struggles to survive on a deserted island. Even the movie’s final scene, where Hanks delivers the letter that kept him going, subtly reminds audiences that through rain, sleet, snow, or even four years lost in the middle of the Pacific, FedEx still delivers.

FedEx Guerrilla Marketing Example

5. Street Team Marketing: Twitter Scores a Winning Goal

In 2019, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won its record-setting fourth World Cup. Twitter aimed to capitalize on the team’s monumental success by promoting women’s soccer in the U.S. The social media platform’s #StartWithThem campaign raised awareness for the brand and support for women’s sports. Launching a three-day street team marketing tour in New York City, Twitter turned a branded food truck into an interactive experience with free food and prizes. Guerrilla marketing stunts that use engaging ambassadors and offer complimentary gifts or branded swag are always a good rule of thumb when courting potential customers.

Guerilla Marketing Examples Twitter

Use Guerrilla Marketing Stunts to Your Advantage

Guerrilla marketing is a clever alternative to old-school marketing and advertising tactics. If executed well, they are a compelling method for attracting customers. Because of its ingenuity and creativity, guerrilla marketing stunts are low-cost yet can produce high rewards. So, if you’re looking for a strategy to win over audiences and get ahead of your competition, a well-executed guerrilla marketing campaign will help you get there.

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