Get viral exposure for your brand at a comparatively low cost but with higher levels of creativity and innovation with guerilla marketing!

The most common form of marketing is to create videos of your brand and run that frequently on mass media platforms like TV, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, and so on. But that is too costly and gets mixed results.

How about targeting a small group with unconventional marketing collaterals that attract the audience, and later, they spread your brand’s name through word-of-mouth marketing?

Sounds interesting? For that, you need to learn guerilla marketing and apply that in the right place and at the right time to see maximum return on investment (ROI).

Continue reading to learn guerilla marketing quickly so that you can apply it in your marketing projects on your terms.         

What Is Guerrilla Advertising?

YouTube video

Guerrilla marketing refers to a marketing tactic involving surprise or out-of-the-box interactions for product or service promotion. It is not another conventional marketing strategy. It usually has a smaller budget and emphasis personal interactions. 

Guerrilla advertising focuses on spreading words about products in a specific location instead of going through widespread media campaigns.

In 1984, Jay Conrad Levinson used the term “guerrilla marketing” in his book Guerrilla Advertising. This marketing strategy has similarities with guerrilla warfare, where one side takes the other by surprise. 

Likewise, this advertising method takes the audience by surprise and thus leaves a lasting impression on them. Since the objective is to create a memorable and novel campaign, it requires a lot of creativity from marketers.

As we live in the internet and social media era, this marketing has become popular among marketers due to its potential to become viral. 

As you know, customers nowadays skip traditional marketing approaches, such as the ads shown before a YouTube video or pop-ups during website browsing.

Here, guerrilla marketing plays a big role in reaching people and capturing their attention. Using unconventional strategies and surprise elements, it gets noticed easily.

Types of Guerrilla Marketing

Anything unique that attracts the audience and pushes the initial target audience to do word-of-mouth marketing can be guerilla marketing.

Hence, there is no thumb rule for the types from which you need to choose. Who knows, your way of guerilla marketing could become so much successful that brands like Google and Facebook try to copy you!

However, here are some popular guerilla marketing recipes that can inspire you: 

#1. Paid Endorsements or Astroturfing

You can reach out to a small group of consumers, say 100, and pay them to stand in a queue in front of your shop. Alternatively, you can ask them to leave flowery and good reviews about your product on eCommerce websites where you sell items.

This will influence genuine consumers to interact with your shop or eCommerce platform and buy products. 

According to Japan Today, McDonald’s paid 1,000 consumers to stand in a queue on the launch day of their new item Quarter Pounder in Osaka.

Though the tactic does not sound much ethical, it is okay as long as you are not selling substandard quality products/services.   

#2. Ambushing Events

Ambushing Events

You can enter public events and start canvassing or promoting your brands with etiquette and moderation. You also need to consider that you are not stalling the event. It is good if you create a group of two marketers, and they speak discretely with the attendees of an event.

In the end, you can arrange a micro event inside the grand event you are attending to promote your brand to the attendees. If you can discuss your plan with the event organizers before crashing the event, that would be much more convenient.

Google ran a field marketing campaign in Austin, Texas, to promote its Google Photos app. It was giving away cupcakes if you would take a photo using the app and share that with the cupcake vending truck. 

Zappos, a leading eCommerce platform, crashed the event with its hashtag #PayWithACupcake and a marketing booth. It asked the same audience to pay for better goodies with cupcakes they received from Google. MullenLowe Group was behind this highly viral guerilla marketing concept.     

#3. Experiential Marketing

You can organize small experiential marketing campaigns to influence a few groups of customers with your marketing strategy, like making them part of your business’s success. Later, this group will spread your brand awareness within their social networks.

According to BecauseXM, Coca-Cola did this during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The soft drink manufacturing giant arranged a one-day event at the Zurich railway stations in Switzerland.

It was an augmented reality (AR) game-play event where passers-by could play with the Swiss football star Xherdan Shaqiri. The Swiss player Xherdan Shaqiri’s virtual version was in the game, and people could interact with the player through mixed-reality technology. 

#4. Buzz Marketing

In this type of guerilla marketing, businesses enjoy a free brand promotion from celebrities and VIP influencers who tried a product from the brand and were happy.

The most famous example is Elon Musk posting on Twitter that the public can buy Tesla merch with Dogecoin— a type of cryptocurrency. Also, SpaceX merch will be available for sale against Dogecoin. After this tweet, Dogecoin’s price soared for a couple of hours.   

#5. Stealth Marketing

Nike Mag from Wikipedia

Your marketing can utilize this to market your brand in a subtle way so that the audience does not feel that you are promoting something.

Stealth marketing aims to generate excitement, interest, and awareness around a brand. It may not get you a huge revenue immediately, but it will positively impact the profit in the longer run.

In the movie Back To The Future II, Marty McFly wearing custom-made and futuristic self-lacing Nike shoes is a popular example of guerilla marketing.  

#6. Grassroots Marketing

Here, your brand connects with a small group of customers that can benefit greatly from your products/services.

For example, you sell basketball accessories to partner with local basketball clubs. You contribute a little to their sporting fund, and you get to showcase your brand during local sporting events.

The sports drink brand Nooma did this with the local athletes. The brand saw a huge success afterward.  

#7. Street Marketing

You can place brand awareness-generating objects in unconventional places in railway stations, bus stands, shopping malls, crossroads, etc. It will attract an inquisitive audience group.

This group is also tech-savvy and highly active on social media. You will get free word-of-mouth marketing if the marketing object is creative enough to touch the audience emotionally.

A Toblerone advert displaying its chocolate wrapper near bike racks is a good example of this type of guerilla marketing.   

#8. Indoor Guerilla Marketing

Here you need to utilize closed places like shopping malls, museums, university campuses, train stations, subway stations, subway racks, etc., to charm the audience creatively.

The FRONTLINE brand for fleas and tick protection products for pets placed a giant poster on the mall floor illustrating a golden retriever dog itching itself surrounded by fleas.    

Needless to say, guerrilla marketing techniques enjoy massive popularity in marketing. If you are wondering why, here are some reasons behind it.

First of all, if you can execute the tactics properly, it involves a low cost. Companies need time, creativity, and energy to make the marketing campaign successful. 

When done right, it can grab the audience’s attention so they can not help but share their experience with others. So you can understand why small companies with limited marketing budgets prefer this strategy.

With guerrilla marketing, businesses can establish a strong bond with their customers through an emotional pull. As this tactic stands out from the rest, it sticks to the audience’s mind. It also helps with brand recall and ultimately boosts sales and ROI. 

With guerilla marketing tactics, companies have the potential to go viral on social media. Thus, they will be able to reach people apart from their target audience. 

Pros of Guerrilla Marketing 👍

  • This marketing tactic is usually low-cost. Hence, companies with budget restrictions can pull this off without difficulties.
  • If the campaign is memorable, it can greatly impact the audience and reach more consumers than you might have anticipated.
  • Events with creative and novel ideas can go viral on social media. Even these can get featured in the mainstream media.
  • Companies can use these events to gain valuable insights, such as how customers feel about the brand or the features they might want in a product.
  • Sometimes, businesses can establish a mutually beneficial partnership with event locations or other brands.

Cons of Guerrilla Marketing 👎

  • Since these marketing events take place in a real-life location, there is always a risk of failure. If events can not occur due to political unrest or bad weather, it will cost you money without any benefit.
  • Choosing a controversial topic for guerrilla marketing can bring negative publicity and backlash from the audience.
  • If the messaging is too direct, local authorities might intervene in your campaign or end up fining you.
  • When marketing involves ambushing or filming people without their knowledge, it might embarrass or scare them. 

Is Guerrilla Marketing Right for Your Brand?

While guerrilla advertising has all the potential to leave a lasting impression on the users, you need to do it right. Also, like every other marketing technique, it is not suitable for every business. You need to consider the following criteria to see if your brand will be able to pull it properly:

  • Your team must have an unconventional but fun idea to surprise the audience.
  • The program should be able to make the audience participate.
  • The guerrilla marketing idea should coincide with your brand and the message you want to send.
  • You should have KPIs to measure the results coming from the advertising campaign.
  • Compare the potential risks and expected ROI from a guerrilla campaign.

Usually, you will find big companies using this technique to make the campaign popular at national and international levels through word of mouth. But, even if you are a small local brand, you can arrange such events for better brand familiarity and credibility. 

Real-Life Examples

FRONTLINE Dog Floor

Frontline ad from Ads of the World
Frontline ad from Ads of the World

A dog hygiene product manufacturer, FRONTLINE, ran a guerrilla campaign by putting the image of a dog itching its ear on the ground floor of a shopping mall. From the floors above, people will look like fleas on the dog.

This novel and emotionally attached advertising sent a strong message about how flees can affect your beloved pet, and you must do something about it. 

Kitkat Benches

Kitkat Benches from Wunderman Thompson

With creative inputs from Wunderman Thompson, KitKat painted some park benches so that those look like a half-opened KitKat bar pack.

While it was a low-budget campaign, there was no need to install something new. Only by painting benches with red and white to imitate KitKat wrappers, it turned brown benches into Kitkat bars.

IT Balloon Sewers Campaign

IT balloon from Lititz Borough Police Department Facebook page
IT balloon from Lititz Borough Police Department Facebook page

Before the release of the movie “IT” in Australia, its distributor ran a guerrilla campaign that involved tying red helium balloons to sewer grates. On the nearby sidewalks, the movie promotion caption is written. 

While the passer-by people can not read it from far, they can see the balloon, which makes them curious to come closer and check what this is about.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Seats

Samsung Guerilla Marketing from Reddit
Samsung Guerilla Marketing from Reddit

To promote Galaxy X Flip 4, Samsung added similar-looking seats at a bus stoppage in Belgium, found on Reddit.

While one seat was open, another needed people to open it, just like they could open a Flip 4 phone. The marketing inspired people to interact and left a lasting impression.

Final Words

Guerrilla marketing is an effective marketing tactic that you can implement to grab customer attention. Here, we discussed everything you need to know about the strategy and some successful examples.

You can take inspiration from these and blend them with your creativity to come up with your novel guerrilla advertising.

Next, you can check out viral marketing campaigns.