Guerrilla marketing is not a new concept for achieving significant brand attention. It first came into use in the mid-eighties but in the last number of years it has become a much more widely used marketing ploy, for both small and global brands alike. Its attractiveness and increasingly effective use is largely due to the ease of online sharing.
According to Jay Conrad Levinson (the man who coined the phrase), Guerrilla marketing “works because it’s simple to understand, easy to implement and outrageously inexpensive. It is about achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money”.
This makes Guerrilla marketing a particularly attractive marketing tool for small and medium size businesses alike, which are typically working with more modest budgets that usually prohibit access to large scale campaigns such as national TV or radio advertising.
Why is guerrilla marketing so effective? If nothing else it breaks through the monotony of traditional advertising. Today’s customers are so over loaded by multiple media channels that it often takes a special kind of advertising campaign to actually get their attention, never mind hold it long enough to make an impact.
While an initial draw back of guerrilla marketing might have been the inability to aim directly at your target market, as is possible with traditional advertising channels, the popularity of sharing funny or interesting videos and images on the web has meant that even the smallest businesses are getting the attention of thousands, even millions, on the likes of Youtube. The numbers are then so high they are bound to hit some of their target customers among that mass audience!
While some larger companies use quite elaborate guerrilla marketing techniques to get attention such as this latest stunt from television network TNT.
Some of the most effective guerrilla marketing campaigns have been the most simplistic, with companies thinking outside the box and playing on humour in order to gain publicity.
It must be acknowledged though that not all guerrilla campaigns have a positive effect on a company’s brand. In 2005, Sony launched a graffiti ad campaign to promote the release of its new PlayStation Portable device.
The company hired local graffiti artists to spray-paint ads depicting animated kids playing with the new video game console. The ads were featured on the sides of buildings in seven cities across the U.S., including New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Sony came under fire for the campaign from city governments, many of which complained the ads violated their own anti-graffiti initiatives and encouraged vandalism.
In San Francisco, local residents and artists took matters into their own hands, defacing many of the designs with anti-Sony sentiments and tagging one such ad with “Fony.” Sony defended the campaign, stating the marketing was meant to target the “urban nomad.”
When deciding to engage in a guerrilla marketing campaign you need to consider it in the broader context of your company’s brand message. It is not just about getting attention. It’s about adding another layer to how your customer thinks about, and engages with your brand.
The campaign’s message must be congruent with your other marketing communications, all of which must be true to your core brand message. Maintaining consistency in your brand communications is critical and on no account should you risk confusing your customers or send them mixed messages.
If your business is in insurance and is strongly reliant on building customer trust than perhaps a guerrilla campaign is not the best tactic for you. If you think it fits with your company’s brand image then ask yourself:
- Would it fit within your current brand strategy?
- Would it appeal to your target market?
- How would it reinforce your other marketing activity?
- Could it offer a point of differentiation over your competitors?
- What call to action would you desire from your customers?
And most importantly, could you handle the potential additional business if the campaign went viral?