No matter if you run a small, medium-sized business, or a massive corporation, the global business environment is changing as we speak to welcome more entrepreneurs and competitors to the game. In the light of this incredible growth seen all over the world, making your own brand known, remembered, and loved in the crowd of other, potentially equally worthy brands, is becoming an increasingly difficult task for businesses of all sizes.
Of course, the best and by far the most effective way of achieving this differentiation is by using various marketing techniques and keeping up with the times when it comes to picking the right strategies to get your name out there. However, among so many new and old methods, certain old but gold still stand strong, and one such method is certainly guerrilla marketing!
Understanding guerrilla marketing
First introduced by Jay Conrad Levinson in his still prominent work Guerrilla Marketing: Secrets for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business, the name stems from the military tactic used to introduce an element of surprise to overpower the otherwise superior enemy. The key lies in using surprise to your advantage, to draw attention, immediately evoke an emotional reaction (preferably a positive one associated with your brand), and make a lasting impression on your audience.
It can come in various shapes and forms, and it doesn’t necessarily have to have a hefty price tag, which is precisely why it’s so loved by many smaller businesses looking to expand their clientele. However, in order for your guerrilla efforts to succeed, you’ll need to put your imagination into overdrive and use all your creative power to make something that stands out.
Why it’s so powerful
Unlike the traditional methods of marketing such as those annoying advertisements, popups, and radio commercials, guerrilla marketing aims to “ambush” your audience at the precisely the right moment, the perfect place, and in the perfect manner. While the former is often perceived as a rude interruption of their day, the latter becomes a pivotal, memorable moment that steals the spotlight. Imagine your average rush to work being interrupted by a flash mob of people singing and playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – that level of surprise, thrill, and engagement is precisely what guerrilla tactics strive to achieve.
First of all, the sheer fact that it’s unexpected makes it a memorable event, while your focus on the enjoyment of your audience increases their engagement and puts them in the driver’s seat. You give them something they want, even if they might not yet be aware of it, and you deliver it in a manner worth remembering, and you’ll have their attention much longer than you would if you stuck to your traditional ads.
Pitfalls to avoid
The previous descriptions make it sound all perfect and rosy, so why aren’t our lives filled with random efforts by various brands to impress and dazzle us all every day? Because these tactics are also very sensitive, and they take an immense level of imagination to take effect. Taking them for granted or not thinking through your plan can lead to catastrophic consequences for your reputation as well as your financial investment, no matter how small it may be.
This is particularly important for fast-developing markets, such as those found in Hong Kong or Singapore, where every choice you make can affect your reputation in the long-run. If you are planning on tackling the Asian market, it’s best to find marketing professionals that can help you keep your guerrilla efforts in line with your new audience’s cultural preferences, which may differ from the ones you’ve used in your native country.
Making it work for your business
You need a thorough analysis of your audience and in-depth knowledge of their preferences in order to design your own guerrilla strategy. Is the majority of your clientele found online or offline? Do they use social media monitoring? Do they prefer visuals such as images and videos? What are their age ranges, will they appreciate a more urban approach such as using street art in your strategy?
You also need to consider your budget and the expected ROI of this strategy. A wise brand will also consider what could happen in case of a failed guerrilla attempt, and what would be the cost of such a failure – it may be as low as simply remaining under the radar, or as high as being fined, and ruining your reputation. A perfect example would be the famous Boston stunt meant to publicize the Cartoon Network show Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which went south incredibly fast. No brand wants that sort of publicity on their hands, so you’ll want to make sure all the elements of your strategy are in order.
Finally, remember that it’s almost impossible to repeat the same stunt twice, as this will often backfire simply because you’ll lose the key element, and that is the element of surprise. The purpose of guerrilla marketing is to showcase your authentic power of innovation, so use your imagination to stay original in the sea of mediocrity.