Guerrilla marketing is a marketing field that uses unconventional tactics to promote a product or brand. Brands can hold guerrilla marketing campaigns online, offline, or with a mix of both.

In the video below, marketing expert, coach, and blogger Adam Erhart explains what guerrilla marketing is and how it works.

This post will concentrate on the practical side of guerrilla marketing. We’ll unpack some strategies and examples and share a step-by-step guide on how to set up your guerrilla marketing campaign. Also, you'll learn a little something about the types and benefits of guerrilla marketing. First, let’s explore the main features of guerrilla marketing.

Features of guerrilla marketing

Because of its complexity, it’s hard to define the term guerrilla marketing. However, you can recognize a guerrilla marketing campaign when you see one. All you have to do is look for certain features.

  • The element of surprise. This type of marketing offers unusual interactions with potential customers. Often, guerrilla marketing tries to surprise or shock the audience.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Most guerrilla marketing campaigns have low budgets but drive great results. This trait makes guerrilla marketing resemble growth hacking.
  • Interactiveness. Guerrilla marketing relies on emotions and experiences and nudges the target audience to participate in a campaign.
  • Used in B2C. Emotions are a great sales driver for B2C. In B2B, decisions are made more thoughtfully and thoroughly, which makes guerrilla marketing less applicable in this sector.
  • Provocativeness. As guerrilla marketing relies on emotional interaction, campaigns are often provocative and risky.

Nowhere is the last point more palpable than in the question of the legitimacy of guerrilla marketing.

Is guerrilla marketing illegal?

The shocking character of most guerrilla marketing campaigns and recurring news about brands being punished for them make people think that guerrilla marketing is illegal. However, that’s not always the case.

Sometimes companies get into trouble with the law because of their guerrilla marketing. For instance, many years ago Coca Cola got fined for placing branded graffiti in New Orleans’s historic areas. It turned out that the brand didn’t get permission from local authorities to do so.

However, you can stay within the law and still be creative and provocative with your promotional campaigns. To avoid problems, consult a lawyer. They will help you check the restrictions, get permission, and so on.

Guerrilla marketing tactics surprise your audience, make them interact with your brand, and provoke emotions, sometimes to the point of being scandalous. The question is are these strategies effective? Let’s crunch some numbers and find the answer.

Guerrilla Marketing Statistics

Guerrilla marketing is not as holistic a phenomenon as, for example, email marketing or SMM. Thus, it’s hard to measure its efficiency in general. We’ve assembled statistics on using unconventional approaches to brand promotion to find out if it is effective.

  • 27% of decision-makers in Germany use unconventional marketing to promote their brand.
  • Guerrilla marketers spend 90% less on advertising because of using unconventional approaches.
  • Word-of-mouth accounts for 54% of purchasing decisions.

Guerrilla marketing can nudge your potential customers towards a purchase and help you save some of your marketing budget at the same time. Still, only a small percentage of marketers benefit from this approach. Read on to find out what positive effects guerrilla marketing can have on your business.

Guerrilla Marketing Benefits

We’ve learned that guerrilla marketing is a cost-effective and efficient way to promote a business. Let’s go through the other advantages of this approach.

  • Increased brand awareness. Guerrilla marketing is all about creating a buzz around a company. Provocative and unconventional campaigns are the perfect fuel for building brand awareness.
  • Standing out from competitors. Bold and memorable guerrilla marketing actions work as well as a unique value proposition does in terms of setting your business apart from competitors.
  • Emotional connection with a brand. Since guerrilla marketing is good at provoking emotions, a single campaign can create a strong connection between a brand and a customer. This connection is the be-all-and-end-all of strong long-lasting relationships with buyers.
  • Building partnerships. Most guerrilla marketing campaigns are complex undertakings, that require collaboration between several businesses or organizations. Hence, guerrilla marketing can be the perfect base for creating partnerships.

So, guerrilla marketing can be a game-changer for your business. It can make your brand famous worldwide off the bat without wasting a dime on promotion. Read on to learn about various types of guerrilla marketing you can employ.

Types of Guerrilla Marketing

  • Ambush marketing
  • Undercover marketing
  • Ambient marketing
  • Experiential marketing

As a complex subject, guerrilla marketing may come in different forms. Let’s discover the most popular of them and find the differences.

Ambush marketing

This is a high-risk strategy, which occurs when a company interrupts an event held or sponsored by another brand. For instance, if your competitor sponsors a local sports event, you can offer winners or attendees valuable prizes. This move lets you get all of the profit from a rival's activity.

This tactic creates a memorable occurrence and gives a brand access to the opponent's audience. However, it may cause problems with the law, as event sponsors often have regulated agreements with event organizers.

Undercover marketing

This tactic implies making a hidden sale pitch to a prospective customer without them knowing it. The tactic aims at creating buzz and a community around the product.

The most well-known example of such an approach is product placement in movies or TV shows. You might have seen your favorite characters drinking a beverage from a specific brand or prone to wear shoes by a famous fashion house.

Sometimes marketers get more creative with undercover marketing and come up with an unusual campaign, as Sony Ericsson did. The company hired actors, who played tourists. They asked regular people on the street to take their photos with Sony Ericsson mobile phones.

Ambient marketing

Perhaps, the most popular form of guerrilla marketing is ambient marketing. The term stands for placing a gripping message or imagery in an unexpected place. Hence, ambient marketing takes place fully offline.

However, this type of guerrilla marketing doesn’t boil down to placing an ad somewhere unexpected. The message itself should be shocking, surprising, and creative. Fashion brand, Louis Vuitton, showed a perfect example of ambient marketing. It placed a giant installation of a suitcase in Red Square.

An example of ambient marketing

Ambient marketing example from Louis Vuitton. Source: The Irish Times

Experiential marketing

The core of experiential marketing is creating a situation where the target audience gets into a memorable situation and connects with something that symbolizes your brand. Experiential marketing campaigns aim at building a close bond between your company and its prospective customers.

The most obvious tactic is to hold or sponsor an event, such as a convention, fair, and so on. Nevertheless, you can employ a more creative approach, like the cartoon series, Rick & Morty did. Creators of the show sent a car shaped like Rick around US cities. They also organized social media support for the campaign. The action went viral. People followed the vehicle across the country to take a picture with it and buy merchandise.

The types of campaigns listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot more ways to do guerrilla marketing; we’ll discuss more strategies further. Now, let’s find out how to launch a guerrilla marketing campaign.

How to Set Up a Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

  1. Get to know your audience
  2. Set goals
  3. Analyze your environment
  4. Come up with a technique
  5. Execute your plan
  6. Measure results

Guerrilla marketing not only requires a lot of creativity but also an action plan. Here are six steps you need to take to engrain guerrilla marketing into your marketing strategy.

1. Get to know your audience

Knowing your audience is a cornerstone of your guerrilla marketing success. To trigger emotions with your marketing campaigns, you need to know your audience's desires, fears, and pain points.

To learn more about your target audience, explore your current customers. Probably, your sales and customer service teams can tell you who your customers are, why they value your product or service, and what makes them tick. You can also find forums and Facebook groups where your potential customers discuss their problems.

To keep the information at hand, craft a customer profile. Our instructive guide on the data to include and the sources of information will help you out.

Apply a jobs-to-be-done approach as well. It will help you understand how customers interact with your brand, where you can target them, and what activities or messages you can provide to them.

2. Set goals

Although guerrilla marketing is a lot of fun, remember that its main task is to meet your goals. Thus, you need to set specific, measurable, accurate, reliable, and timely objectives for your campaign.

Guerrilla marketing often aims at creating buzz and increasing brand awareness. However, you may want to use your campaigns to drive sales as well. Make sure your campaign’s goal resonates with your global business objectives.

The best way to set KPIs for your guerrilla marketing campaign is to lean on the previous results. If you’re starting from scratch, benchmark your goals with your competitors’ results – it will give you a clear starting point.

3. Analyze your environment

Your task with guerrilla marketing is to catch potential customers off guard in a familiar environment. Moreover, you need to surprise and delight them. Thus, you can’t go without an analysis of thriving trends.

Start by learning what people are talking about at the moment. This is where social listening tools will come in handy. Another magic wand for you is Google Trends – a service to analyze the popularity of top search queries.

Apart from exploring current situations and trends, learn more about your competitors. Try to find their examples of guerrilla marketing campaigns and analyze them. Both best and worst practices can provide you with valuable insights on how to shape your unique distinguishable action.

4. Come up with a technique

If you are floundering to find a technique for your guerrilla marketing campaign, good old brainstorming can help you get the ball rolling. Gather your colleagues together and encourage them to generate some ideas. Set the time limits for a session and make sure everyone enunciates their suggestions. The main rule here is to avoid evaluating the ideas on-the-go – it will impede the creative process.

In the following stage, you need to assemble the ideas created before and gauge them. Rely on your customers’ preferences and pains, your business goals, and current trends. Take into consideration the resources you have to bring the idea to life. There is no point in stopping at the viral video creation if you don’t have the team or budget for it.

5. Execute your plan

As we said before, a guerrilla marketing campaign is a complex undertaking. It requires you and your partners to consolidate a lot of efforts. For instance, to simply stick a poster in a public place, you need to form the pitch, create the design, print, and glue the poster. Make sure each stage of work is done properly and in a timely fashion.

To save your campaign from flopping, take one more critical look at it before executing it. Think of how customers may perceive your message and how they will react. Try to find the possible downfalls and predict how they will affect the campaign overall.

Finally, there is always the chance that everything will fall flat. You should consider it, foresee the worst possible scenario and generate a plan B in case it occurrs.

6. Measure results

As guerrilla marketing campaigns on average aim at creating buzz, it may seem hard to measure their results. If you are puzzled over how to track them, here are a couple of hints.

  • Keep an eye on your brand’s mentions in the media. A successful provocative campaign will always get a bunch of publications.
  • Use social listening tools. Services like Agorapulse or Mention will help you overhear conversations about your campaign on social media and find if it hit the goal.
  • Conduct research. You can survey your customers and random people to ask if they have heard about the campaign and how they perceive your brand after it.
  • Compare “before” and “after.” To evaluate the effect a guerrilla marketing campaign had on your sales, measure them before launching the action and sometime after it.

Of course, guerrilla marketing doesn’t allow you to reach the level of precision that digital marketing does. However, the tactics listed above will help you measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

With this action plan on hand, you can set up a guerrilla marketing campaign without missing any important part of it. Now it's time to get into details and learn some strategies you can adopt.

Guerrilla Marketing Strategies and Tips

  • Open a pop-up shop
  • Use posters and stickers
  • Give samples
  • Be concise and consistent
  • Focus on smaller groups

Thinking through guerrilla marketing techniques can get tough. We’ve picked several strategies and pro-tips to facilitate your creative process.

Open a pop-up shop

A pop-up shop is a temporary store, that businesses can easily set up and take down. Generally, these shops are not used to generate sales but to drive the customer’s attention to a brand. Hence, the key to success with a pop-up shop it’s choosing the best location.

If you want to employ this tactic, try to think outside the box and pick an unusual yet well-trodden spot. For instance, you may open a pop-up shop inside another shop or at a big event. Another option is to rent a van or truck and create a mobile version of the store.

To achieve your pop-up shop goals, remember to launch a promo campaign. It allows you to embrace a much bigger audience. Consider trying various types of marketing to grab audience attention. For instance, you may employ influencer marketing.

Use posters and stickers

Posters and stickers are a cost-effective guerrilla marketing tactic. You can offer your clients branded stickers so they can show off your brand to others.

An even more effective way to use this strategy is to place your posters in public places, such as walls, pavement, sculptures, and so on. You can also benefit by sticking them on moving objects, such as public transport.

Be careful with this tactic. Make sure you aren’t breaking the law or annoying the public by placing your posters and stickers here and there. So, try to be mindful of this tactic and avoid being intrusive.

Give samples

The effectiveness of samples is based on two principles. The first is people generally love receiving something good for free. The second is after receiving it, they feel obligated to buy something. It’s called reciprocity – a basic human psychology feature, that nudges a person to do someone a favor if they got a favor upfront.

If you decide to take advantage of the reciprocity principle, make sure you offer something valuable. People should feel pleased and even stunned after receiving your sample.

Offer you samples at events that gather the proper audience. Another option is to distribute your samples through business partners. Finally, you can employ social media marketing and launch giveaways.

Be concise and consistent

Succinct and consistent messaging is the key to success with marketing tactics. In guerrilla marketing, it is even more important as campaigns catch your audience off guard and provoke an immediate response. So, fine-tune your campaign’s message until it is razor-sharp and unambiguous.

To multiply the effect, come up with a follow-up communications plan. For instance, you can add a hashtag to your offline campaign, monitor it on social media, and get user-generated content.

Focus on smaller groups

A target audience usually consists of several distinct groups of customers. Instead of trying to embrace them all with your guerrilla marketing campaign, focus on smaller segments.

This approach will help you create more effective campaigns that drive palpable results. Better yet, it allows you to build sustained relationships with customers easily and raise brand advocates.

These tactics and tips have proven their effectiveness. To follow them and keep your campaigns offbeat, you need practice. Let’s move on and unpack some examples of great guerrilla marketing campaigns.

Guerrilla Marketing Examples

Learning by practice is the best way to hone your skills. To help you master guerrilla marketing, we’ve picked several campaigns that have not only created a buzz but also delivered awesome results.

Lidl

The German retailer Lidl decided to play Grinch with its competitors and stole their Christmas billboards. Speaking more accurately, the grocery store chain placed its posters above Waitrose and Marks & Spencer’s billboards.

The idea behind the campaign was to assure potential customers that Lidl’s groceries have the same quality but at a lower price. To drive the point home, the brand placed on its posters the same products as competitors did, and added that they’re much cheaper.

This campaign got straight to the customers’ pain point – high prices on holiday products. It allowed Lidl to provoke additional interest in its stores and attract more buyers.

An example of guerrilla marketing

Lidl’s bold billboard marketing campaign. Source: The Drum

PETA

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) went harsh on the clothing brand Canada Goose. The non-profit used guerrilla marketing, or as they call it, anti-marketing, to drive attention to the animal abuse problem.

To provoke outrage toward the brand, PETA covered Toronto with posters reading “Canada Douche” and portraying a trapped arctic fox. The posters were placed everywhere around the city, including the area near Canada Goose’s headquarters.

Foul language and heart-wrenching imagery made a great emotional effect on the public. The campaign went viral online and provoked long-lasting outrage against Canada Goose.

An example of guerrilla marketing

PETA’s guerrilla marketing campaign against Canada Goose. Source: PETA

Deadpool

guerrilla marketing is not always about harsh messaging and outdoor advertising. Deadpool’s team shows that guerrilla marketing can be 1) hilarious 2) made online.

To attract public attention to the new Deadpool movie, the marketing team created a Tinder profile for the superhero. Marketers filled the profile with flirty images of Deadpool and witty descriptions, that reflect the film’s mood.

Combined with other guerrilla marketing actions, such as turning local bars into the main character’s favorite ones from the movie, this Tinder profile hit its goal. Deadpool has become one of the most successful hero franchises in recent years.

An example of guerrilla marketing

Deadpool’s Tinder profile for an online promotional campaign. Source: Imgur

Durex

The condom manufacturer, Durex, crafted a creative campaign that reached audiences both on and offline. The offline part took place on Berlin's streets. A company representative had a walk around several neighborhoods and covered graffiti with stickers. The stickers were portraying condoms of different sizes and shapes with “Protect your local d***s” titles on them.

To deliver the message online, Durex used a video about the action – you can watch it below. Employing digital marketing mechanics allowed a brand to increase campaign outreach.

Guerrilla marketing works better when it’s coupled with other strategies. You can use email marketing, chatbots, web push notifications, and SMS as a part of your campaign. To add these tactics to your marketing strategy in a couple of clicks, sign up with SendPulse.

References

  1. The article “What is guerrilla marketing? Examples, advantages & strategies” by Workzone will help you understand how to apply guerrilla marketing to your business.
  2. Want to discover guerrilla marketing types we haven’t mentioned in the article? Consider reading the listing “9 types of guerrilla marketing your company can adopt” by Starting Business.
  3. If you’re eager for more examples, the post “35 bold examples of guerrilla marketing” by Bizzaboo has just what you need.
  4. In the article “Eight tips for creating a successful guerrilla marketing campaign,” Forbes offers you hacks from its Agency Council members.
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