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What is Guerrilla Marketing?

Press release April 24, 2013 Business

Finding innovative ways of getting the most out of your marketing budget


By Dean Williams (

Guerrilla marketing, like guerrilla warfare, is the weapon of the small opponent. In guerrilla warfare, the outnumbered force uses surprise tactics and increased mobility to badger a larger enemy. Guerrilla marketing uses low cost or free promotional tactics to reach a highly targeted and responsive audience, making the most of a limited budget.

The term guerrilla marketing was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same name. The idea is to use imagination, to intercept the consumer in a memorable and personal way, investing time and energy rather than money. This makes guerrilla marketing ideal for small businesses who can respond to changes in the marketplace quickly and without having to seek permission for every activity from a centralised head office.

Guerrilla marketing methods

Almost any unconventional marketing method with little or no cost attached can be described as guerrilla marketing. It’s also sometimes called stealth marketing, or extreme marketing. The image above of an orange bicycle was an example of this for the clothes brand DKNY. Several were scattered around downtown Manhattan in New York, not chained up as you would expect but just lent against trees - a unique and very effective way of street branding, they probably expected them to be taken and ridden through the streets, which would have meant that the brand would be mobile giving it further exposure.

Other examples include:

- PR stunts, flash mobs
- Handing out printed leaflets or product giveaways in the high street
- Pop-up stores in town and city centres
- Mobile apps that generate two-way interaction with consumers
- Direct mail and telephone or email follow ups

The aim of guerrilla marketing is to generate free publicity, either through conventional media interest or through viral sharing on social networks and through word of mouth. That’s why imagination is the most important aspect; a guerrilla campaign needs to take the consumer by surprise and create a lasting impression, tied to brand awareness.

The success of a guerrilla campaign is measured in profits. Since the cost of acquiring a new customer is generally accepted as six to seven times the cost of keeping an existing one, it’s not surprising the focus is usually on creating more or larger sales from existing customers or generating referrals rather than on converting prospects to customers.

Jeep off road potentialThe street advert (left) for Jeep 4×4 is an incredibly effective way of getting a message across, the cost would have been very minimal, unless they used real paint which could have landed them in trouble with the local authorities.

But as you can see with a very creative concept its really drives home the marketing message with little or no budget.

Creating a guerrilla campaign

To create a successful guerrilla campaign, you need to know your customers intimately. Look at how they contact you, the questions they ask, and the problems they face.

Talk to your contacts and reach out to your network for ideas. Look beyond the everyday roles of work colleagues for human interest stories. Could you raise money for charity and generate media interest at the same time? Can your business get behind a cause or campaign of social interest in the local community? Could you support, encourage or entertain your customers in an unusual way?

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do, think about where and when you can achieve the highest exposure. Would a flash mob in a shopping centre make more sense, say, than sending an amusing video ‘news’ bulletin at lunchtime?

Also, consider the outcome you want from your activity. Do you want customers to visit a physical store, to call orders in, or to visit your website? Can you rely on them to post your footage to social networks, or will you need to start it off yourself?

Think about how you’re going to get your customers to act. You can’t rely on the feel good factor lasting for long. Build a way to follow up into your activity, whether it’s email, text or phone calls. In the follow-up, remind your customers about the campaign and give them an incentive. Remember, it’s about stretching your budget as far as you can.