Guerrilla marketing is a kind of marketing strategy that takes us all by surprise with its uniqueness and ‘guerrilla’ tactics. It helps promote a brand or an idea by employing offbeat means, and is evidently distinctfrom traditional marketing strategies. ‘Guerrilla’ can be traced back to the war tactics adopted by the Viet Cong against American soldiers in the Vietnam War. Its methods are epitomized in the film “First Blood” where Vietnam veteran Sylvester Stallone uses guerrilla tactics to beat the heavy odds stacked against him. Surprise, speed, non-conventional tactics and terror are some of the elements adopted in this kind of warfare, whose basic elements are adapted in guerilla marketing.
In this post I’ll take a broad look at guerrilla marketing, its concept, techniques, effects, characteristics and more.
Guerrilla Marketing: Concept, Techniques
Imaginative, energetic concepts and not huge budgets were typically what guerrilla marketing was all about, though big-budget companies too have used this marketing to great success. Guerrilla marketing was created as a unique technique that had to initially generate a thrill in the audience before turning viral. The term was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in 1984 in the book of the same name.
The entire concept of guerrilla marketing revolves round an extreme and highly imaginative idea. Its unconventional approach helps in building a tremendous brand experience for its customers. Guerrilla marketing campaigns are revealed with unique timing and intense energy to target customers at unpredicted locations. This helps in securing instant reactions among viewers, and therefore ensures maximum results. This marketing strategy uses uncommon and at times bizarre approaches like ‘ambushing’ people in public places, staging PR stunts in the streets, offering giveaways unexpectedly and adopting any irregular marketing that aims to get best results using minimal resources. More innovative methods now make use of mobile and digital technologies, the objective being the creation of an unforgettable brand experience.
Some definitive features of Guerilla marketing are:
- It is a completely unique (out-of-the-box) and innovative approach.
- It involves a lot of energy and creative imagination.
- The unconventional methods in this kind of marketing include graffiti & reverse graffiti, window displays, street tactics, urban art, sticker bombing, flash mobs, etc.
- It affects consumer behavior in a great way.
Effects of Guerrilla Marketing
The effects of guerrilla marketing are both positive and negative and are much greater than those of traditional marketing campaigns.
Positive effects can be divided into three kinds: Sensation, diffusion and low cost.
- Sensation: At a relatively low cost, a successful guerrilla ad campaign will generate great amount of interest.
- Diffusion: This kind of marketing diffuses or increases the number of people who are exposed to it – without any increase in cost.
- Low cost: Guerrilla marketing can be done at a low cost when it takes advantage of major public events like the Super Bowl, for example. Every year at this prime American sports event, advertising’s creative brains think out-of-the-box to spring surprises on their target audience, with great effect.
Negative effects: Guerrilla marketing can have negative effects too. It can create emotions of anger, fear, sadness, mental disturbance and maybe produce a long lasting dislike for the brand. This can happen when the campaign goes out of bounds in terms of morality and/or generally accepted ethics or is politically wrong. Ad campaigns which spring up in the middle of the road and cause accidents by distracting drivers are another example of negative effects of such marketing. The negative effects can of course be avoided by steering clear of controversies and unnecessary risks.
Some Classic Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns
In Germany, the Jung von Matt AG agency installed 114 statues of a child affected by AIDS. The statues were placed in the main square of the city and so they were hard to ignore and were never missed. Though not in the strictest sense a marketing strategy, it generated tremendous publicity for its effectiveness and marketers can learn much from it.
In another instance which was pure marketing, a farming company publicized marketing apples in cold weather by setting up dozens of leafless trees on a street on which hung hundreds of apples with the company’s brand name pasted on the fruits! You can call it apple appeal!
Another way to use this kind of marketing is to ‘disguise’ your product as an everyday fixture on walls and other places. For example, if it’s a deodorant, you place it in a fire extinguisher-like compartment or on a billboard that resembles a regular city civic announcement like a warning sign.
Sex sells and D&G Company made sure that it did with this superb guerrilla marketing campaign. On a giant-sized billboard it pasted a picture of a girl wearing a brassiere that the company manufactured. When looked at closely, onlookers could discern that actually hundreds of assorted women were on display on what was really a mosaic of various faces, figures and bra styles. The ad agency then designed a website where interested people could see, up and close, all the women who were in that mosaic! Truly up, close and personal!
Remember These Guerilla Marketing Fundamentals
Guerrilla marketing affects consumers’ emotions, leaving indelible imprints of joy, liveliness, get-up-and-go result, etc. on their minds. So remember these basics when creating such a campaign for your product.
- Focus on activity: If a highly imaginative promotional activity is devised at the right location, the guerrilla marketing campaign is expected to become an eye catching affair. It is not necessary to plan several activities; instead, focus on a single activity and achieve great results.
- Set definite goals: Guerrilla marketing must be directly associated to your goals, or it will lead to a whole lot of waste of energy, time and money. You should clearly define your goals to achieve higher productivity.
- Time it perfectly: If your timing goes wrong, it will have a disastrous effect on your campaign. You should ensure that the timing is perfect before you start your campaign.
There are various ways to tune up your digital marketing strategies, but a terrific guerrilla marketing strategy can catch the attention and stay glued in the audience’ minds for a long time as few other advertising techniques can.
This marketing strategy can greatly help your business remain ahead of the competition by using techniques which few would even dream of adopting a couple of decades back. It pays to be innovative and think out of the box in today’s fiercely competitive world of business. Indeed, in some ways that’s the only way to stay above water and be a profitable business. Risk-taking has become a trendy way of doing business and there’s a lot of risk involved in guerrilla marketing. But the rewards for a successful campaign are big. Above all, it gives a relatively small entity the chance to make a name in the big league using a relatively small budget.
(Lead image: Depositphotos)