8 Guerrilla Marketing Strategies That Really Work

August 29th


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Guerrilla marketing is not your average bear.

In fact, Jay Conrad Levinson, who literally wrote the book on it, considers guerrilla marketing to be one the most versatile and powerful forms of marketing available – for certain industries, at least.

But what exactly is it? And, how can you use to help promote your design business or agency?

Guerrilla marketing can be highly effective when used properly, but it takes a certain level of understanding, bravery and finesse to get it right.

Here’s what you need to know…


Guerrilla Marketing Defined

Guerrilla marketing is an alternative to traditional marketing that thrives on creativity. Basically, when the normal strategies aren’t working, you go guerrilla.

Guerrilla strategies tend to focus on inexpensive but highly impactful moments that grab attention like graffiti on a brick wall, flash mobs, or out-of-the-box publicity stunts.

King Kong 3D, ironically enough, used guerrilla marketing to create a social media campaign by having people post photos next to Kong’s “footprints” at a local beach.

Guerrilla marketing can also be implemented for online marketing strategies, too. Things like viral videos, competitions or even certain landing pages or blog posts can get the job done.

A great example of this is Starbuck’s press release: “Betting the farm on the farm,” which discussed the company’s sustainability practices through an engaging story from its director of ethical sourcing.

The benefits of guerrilla marketing is that it’s less direct, often relying on word-of-mouth and community-style organic growth to reach new markets and generate leads. But that also means it’s a little unpredictable, which isn’t the right strategy for everyone.

So who is guerrilla marketing good for? Businesses that:

  • Want a inexpensive but creative marketing
  • Understand their audience and know what they want
  • Know their call to action and can clearly communicate it
  • Don’t mind thinking outside the box
  • Have less potential for offending their audience
  • Are a part of industries that won’t be chastised for creativity

Setting Clear Objectives

But before you set out to develop the world’s greatest guerrilla marketing campaign, you need to determine the end goal.

Sometimes guerrilla marketing does wonders for creating hype about a product or company, but a campaign causing an increase in engagement doesn’t mean there will be an increase in conversions. According to Ben Shwartz, VP of Marketing for Spot.IM, “If you want to increase your conversion rates, you have to know which metrics matter most.”

The first thing you want to do before you decide on a creative strategy is to figure out how to get people to convert.

That means creating a call to action and genuine positive emotions that people can associate with.

Take Ikea, for example, who celebrated 30 years of business by creating the world’s longest outdoor bookcase on Sydney’s Bondi Beach using its popular Billy bookcase. The bookcase was with literary classics and provided an option to donate to literary foundations while being sure to let customers know how to purchase the Billy bookcase.

But, you have to be careful that the craziness of the stunt itself doesn’t go against those objectives, like in the Snapple Popsicle incident of 2005 when Snapple tried to erect a 25-foot tall popsicle in Time’s Square that melted and flooded parts of downtown Manhattan.

The key to a successful guerrilla campaign is to do something daring enough to grab attention, but make sure you’re targeting the right audience and you understand what the call to action is supposed to be.

According to Adam Salacuse, Founder and President of ALT TERRAIN, “Never aim to upset, scare or provoke people in a negative way. The goal should be to implement something that people will embrace, enjoy and share with friends.”

Digital Guerrilla Marketing Strategies

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective digital marketing strategies you can implement to start promoting your business.

Use social media. The Weather Channel, for example, launched a campaign called #TornadoWeek as a take off of Shark Week to capitalize on its dedicated fan-base. Starting a social media campaign is a great way to get creative at no cost.

Pro tip: Mari Smith recommends organizing your Facebook timeline to make sure your campaigns stay highlighted.

Design infographics. Infographics and other visual images are a great way to grab attention. They’re also highly shareable and, if done right, gives you major bonus points for creativity and can help gain you expert status. HubSpot has some examples of great guerrilla-style infographics here.

Create videos. Animated videos in particular are a great way to market a specific message or brand while doing something completely original. Take Chipotle’s Back to the Start video as the perfect example.

Use unusual email signatures. A boring email signature is often overlooked, but you can also use that space to make someone laugh or promote some additional content.

Pro tip: Steli Efti from Close.io has three ways to make your emails stand out for a boost to your marketing.

Physical Guerrilla Marketing Strategies

Of course, sometimes you may want to get a little less digital and a little more physical. Consider a few effective and practical guerrilla marketing tactics without breaking the bank.

Sell swag. T-shirts, mugs… if you can put your name on it, consider selling it. While this is technically an online strategy, the physical aspect of your customers having a t-shirt in their closet makes it so much more tangible. Hustle and Grind Co is a great example of this: in addition to their blog they sell coffee and mugs with their slogan, “Death before Decaf.”

Get creative with print ads. Weight Watchers had a tear-away ad that revealed a slimmer woman once the flaps were gone. Printing flyers can be pretty cheap, so why not get a little creative?

Use your physical location. Paint a mural, put up a billboard, or just hang a few signs in the window (or use window paint like they do in restaurants). Little River Casino, for example, posted a QR code on the side of their building that linked back to their website.

Host an event. Try starting a book club for designers, or open a mini-coffee shop, or host a bingo night. The goal is to get people to come to you, as well as associate your building and presence as a positive thing for the community.

The key to great physical marketing is to foster a sense of community through physical items or by physical presence. And if you can’t go to them, you can always get them to come to you.

Final Thoughts

The best guerrilla marketing campaigns are the ones that don’t exist yet, so in a way, this is all up to you to come up with something creative. That being said, there are a few ways you can incorporate both digital and physical campaigns to improve your marketing efforts.

Utilize social media as much as possible, find creative ways to get your message across through ads and emails, and look for ways to reach out to your local community through visual elements in and around your building (where possible) and in your community.

Just make sure that your marketing campaign doesn’t melt.


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