Updated: Nov 29, 2021
Guerrilla marketing might be the piece missing from your advertising strategy. While this is certainly not guerrilla warfare, like its namesake, guerrilla marketing is about surprising audiences and finding ways to reach audiences outside of your normal marketing channels.
What is Guerrilla Marketing?
Guerrilla marketing is an unconventional advertising method that can raise brand awareness amongst large audiences by utilizing techniques outside of traditional marketing ideas. While often simple in execution, and also budget-friendly, guerrilla marketing is doable for businesses of all scales.
The key is to find guerrilla marketing ideas that fit with your brand and speak to your desired audience. Effective guerrilla marketing invites people to participate, rather than forcing them to interact with your brand. Brands use guerilla tactics to meet people where they are.
The Keys to Guerrilla Marketing Success
Here are some elements of successful guerrilla marketing approaches to get the creativity flowing:
Timing is key. You need to catch your audience’s attention when they least expect it.
It needs to be unique and authentic. Don’t copy ideas that have worked for other national or local brands, find novel ways to approach your audience.
Location, location, location. Guerrilla marketing is most effective when the location of the marketing is highly targeted. Research where your potential customers might also visit, or areas where you know the marketing will be highly visible.
Examples of Guerrilla Marketing in Action
Many brands have used graffiti as a way to add beauty to a neighborhood while promoting their brand. A small coffee shop in Austin, Texas, Jo’s, has become a tourist attraction because people from across the country flock to take photos of the simple “I love you so much” mural painted on the exterior of the building.
Some guerrilla marketing strategies play off of existing symbols, like Axe Body Spray’s riff on the emergency exit sign. Adding another panel to these easily recognized signs, Axe implied the man was running away from women, not danger, in their ad.
Stickers can be an unobtrusive way to conduct guerrilla marketing. These Tyskie beer stickers are a perfect example, turning door handles into beer mugs.
A local brewery and pub, Greene King, feared it and other local businesses would be pushed out of their neighborhood by corporate entities. So they took matters into their own hands, creating this ad campaign where people were invited to share their fond memories of experiences they have had in these establishments. Pulling at the heartstrings, it successfully raised awareness not only of their brand, but also their values.
Guerrilla marketing can be most effective when it utilizes unexpected spaces, like this IKEA advertisement that turned stairs into drawers, successfully marketing their storage solutions.
In an effort to help locals picture themselves in new outfits available for sale at their location, Arkaden Mall transformed ad shells into mirrors with images of these outfits so people walking by could literally see themselves in an outfit.
Pros & Cons of Guerrilla Marketing
Viral potential. Successful guerrilla marketing will have the potential to go viral, further spreading brand awareness.
Cost Effective. Guerrilla Marketing can be cost effective, as many of these advertising approaches do not require great investments to be successful.
Brand Creativity. Guerrilla marketing is the perfect opportunity to show off a brand’s creative spirit, letting customers see another side of your business.
Roadblocks. Some guerrilla tactics might run into roadblocks with execution, as city, event and other officials may not approve of the tactic.
Perceived as a Stunt. Potential customers could perceive the action as a stunt, and thus find it unappealing.
Deploying Guerrilla Tactics
Guerrilla marketing does not have to break the bank. It can be small-scale affordable advertising that is meant to boost your brand’s visibility. To that end, guerrilla marketing is not meant to replace your more traditional marketing plans or advertisements. Guerrilla marketing is about creating a buzz. It is also only to be used sparingly, and must be executed perfectly from the outset - otherwise it will be less effective.
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