Impacting and unconventional – Is guerrilla marketing for your small business?

| October 19, 2015

Impacting and unconventional – Is guerrilla marketing for your small business?

Have you ever come across impacting street art with a message like this one?

That’s an example of Guerrilla Marketing.

The Canadian Red Cross is a master at it. Take their “Preventable” campaign, a shocking but certainly effective strategy to remind people to exercise preventative measures at all times. Because, if you nearly walk over a man lying unconscious on the floor, you are sure to remember the intended message.

But, is Guerrilla marketing only achievable by big players? Can the ordinary small business owner use guerrilla marketing to their benefit?

Most certainly so. In fact, for small businesses struggling to survive in these difficult economic times, and with the added burden of tight marketing budgets, guerrilla marketing can be an inexpensive way to get people talking about your business.

What is guerrilla marketing? 

Unexpected, unusual, unauthorised, disruptive, sticky, newsworthy – some of the adjectives that have been used to describe this form of marketing developed by Jay Conrad Levinson as early as 1983.

Reminiscent of the unconventional combat methods by which small groups of combatants attempt to use mobile and surprise tactics to defeat an opponent in guerrilla warfare, GM ambushes consumers’ attention in a very calculated, intentional way.

GM uses the landscape, the street, the environment, the people, to capture attention and cause a lasting impression, like so:

Why GM?

Because GM has been proven to work for small businesses around the world. It works because it’s simple to understand, easy to implement, fairly inexpensive and particularly useful in local and regional markets. You just need to be able and willing to step outside your comfort zone and act and think edgy. If that worries you, GM might not be right for you and your business. If it doesn’t, start by drawing your plan of attack. Do some serious research to ensure that your idea hasn’t been done before and if possible, talk to a PR person to get their feedback. Determine the core of your campaign, your call to action and be prepare to ruffle some feathers and generate some short-term buzz and curiosity.

Donts of GM

In 2002, Vodafone caused quite a stir when it hired two men to streak across the field during a major Australian rugby match. Their gear? Nothing but the Vodafone logo painted across their backs. To rub salt to the wound the match was being played in a stadium sponsored by Vodafone’s main competitor, Telstra. That’s not going to work and it’s bound to backfire. Your aim should be to implement something that people will embrace, enjoy and share with others, not to  upset, scare or provoke people in a negative way.

You don’t want your GM to go as far as to be considered an invasion of privacy or unethical, as Superette’s thigh messaging. Fastened to the community benches where people are able to sit in the public were embossed metal with the company’s logo and tagline. When people wearing short shorts sat on the bench, it left an imprint into their bare skin.

Your campaign should cause a lasting impact but it should never denigrate, scare or shock anyone or it should not end up costing tax payers’ money, like the Zynga “Mafia wars” campaign which consisted in posting dozens of fake $25,000 bills on sidewalks in San Francisco, taking a steam cleaner about 45 minutes each time to remove.

So, stick to the these simple rules and you’ll be a GM winner:

1. Be funny, not offensive

2. Be economical, not cheap

3. Be bold, not stupid

4. Don’t try too hard

5. Stay on your intended message.
And remember, you can take advantage of today’s technology and run your GM campaigns online by using coupons, videos and your social media channels.