Guerilla Marketing Tactics, Examples and Tips

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Guerilla Marketing is an Inexpensive Way to Create a Lasting Advertising Impact

The purpose of using guerilla marketing tactics is to shift advertising spending from expensive mediums, like print, outdoor and online marketing channels, to the streets by taking high-impact, promotional activities to a public place, including marketplaces, social gatherings, parks or any other crowded place.

It involves a lot of creativity, imagination and a willingness to take risks. But one thing it actually doesn’t need is a big budget.

The Nivea flashmob above is a great example of guerilla marketing.

Unlike other forms of marketing campaigns, such as billboards and posters, guerilla marketing exploits several marketing techniques and practices to establish direct contact with potential customers. The main goal of the interactions and all the techniques employed is to generate an emotional reaction among potential clients, with the aim of making them remember a brand in a special way.

Flyers may be tailored to blend in with a major event or festival – without necessarily being part of the event – but as a matter of taking advantage of the opportunity at hand. A major challenge of guerilla marketing is that it requires the street marketing team to find the right place and time to carry out the operation without getting caught up in legal issues.

However, there are many benefits and – if planned well ahead of time – can be a low-budget way to get high-impact results.

Advantages of Using Guerilla Marketing Tactics

It can be extremely inexpensive.

You may be required to invest a few hundred dollars to prepare some of the promotional items or come up with a centralized piece that you can use to build your campaign around. But that’s just hard work and lots of thinking.

It creates face-to-face networking opportunities.

Besides growing your business, guerilla marketing can be a good networking tool, connecting you to potential customers and other businesses. As you go on with your campaigning, you’ll be making lots of new friends and associates, thus growing your network.

It’s perfect for small businesses.

Unlike traditional advertising avenues, guerilla marketing is simple and economical. Small businesses don’t need to take a huge share of their investment to facilitate their campaigns.

Guerilla marketing campaigns can also be a lot of fun. You can perform wacky stunts or any other unusual, fun activity to attract a crowd. With the right creativity, it won’t even feel like work.

When it works, it works REALLY well.

Guerilla marketing tactics can create one of those marketing campaigns that go viral. All you have to do is carry out some intensive research, and then come up with a good plan.

Make sure you’ve got recording devices ready to capture the action. If you get a good response, post it on YouTube or other channels. Even pitch it to the media to get it out there. With a little bit of luck, everyone will be talking about you in no time.

Use Mobile Guerilla Marketing to Reach Potential Customers

Everything is going mobile. Guerilla marketing has come a long way ever since Jay Conrad Levinson first coined the concept. From the use of low-cost, high-exposure experimental advertising to graffiti bombing and flyer distribution, guerilla marketing is now taking advantage of mobile technology. Here are a few mobile strategies you may find useful if you go down this road:

Bluetooth Proximity Marketing (BPM)

As Bluetooth popularity continues to rise, different companies are starting to use it to market their services directly to people that come within range of their devices.

Bluetooth Proximity Marketing (BPM) marketers can now allow potential customers to download different programs and applications that provide a wide range of promotional information. This is even more important if your business is located in an urban area with a high population density.

Free Wi-Fi

You’ve probably come across different companies that provide free Wi-Fi to people that come close to their location. That’s not accidental; it’s part of their guerilla marketing strategy.

The magic is in the splash page. After connecting to the Wi-Fi, the network forces anyone using the free service to first land onto a custom page. This page contains various promotional news and information about the company. Some even capture information like an email address or mobile number so the company can follow-up with emails and SMS texts.

SMS Texting

As texting has become one of the most popular and convenient ways to send information, businesses have begun to leverage the trend by sending text alerts with promotional information to potential customers.

For instance, Charlotte Russe Company recently created a video text that went viral. It was a simple video of a man promising to give his girlfriend the moon and a $5 dollar shopping voucher if only he won her heart.  The campaign was so successful that the company’s sales increased by 33% in one weekend.

QR Codes

A lot of marketers are on the fence about QR codes, due to a lack of native support on iOS devices. But QR Codes help bridge the gap between physical and digital promotions. By scanning a QR code, smartphone users gain access to promotional information, website links and more.

QR codes also can be used to collect information. For example, New York City Central Park was able to collect contact information from about 1,800 people who scanned and used their QR codes within the park to get directions.

Examples of Guerilla Marketing

The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project, a 1999 movie that featured film students and was shot on a low budget in the point-of-view style, is an example of one of the most popular and successful guerilla marketing campaigns in history.

The documentary-style thriller could have ended up as a comical B-movie were it not for the well thought out marketing strategy. By coming up with an internet campaign spreading rumors about a fictitious legend by the name “Blair Witch,” the film creators set the whole internet on fire. The strategy helped the movie gross $250 million, despite the fact they had only used $50,000 to promote the movie, according to CNN.

Medecins du Monde’s emergency shelters for homeless people

When Medecins du Monde wanted to direct attention to the homelessness problem in Paris, they didn’t use billboards and ads. Instead, they distributed simple tents to homeless people all around the city. The strategy drove the government to allocate emergency shelters to millions of people in Paris, according to CNN,


In 2002, Vodafone hired two men wearing Vodafone logos across their backs to streak across a rugby field during an Australian rugby match. Vodafone was the main sponsor of the match at the time. Though the campaign somewhat backfired, as the streakers were fined and many fans freaked out, the stunt succeeded in earning Vodafone a reputation that’s still fresh in people’s mind more than a decade later.

What to Avoid While Launching Your Guerilla Marketing Campaign

Never use your campaign to provoke or scare people.

Instead, choose something that people will embrace, and – at the same time – be willing to share with their family and friends.

Don’t be too contrived and cheesy.

If you’re not comfortable with taking a stand, then it’s better off left alone. Trying to be something you’re not will never do your business any good.

Don’t break any laws.

This is very important as you do not want anyone within your team to end up in jail after the campaign. If it gets to a place where the campaign is too hostile or provoking, and you’re on the verge of getting an assault charge, back off.

Disadvantages of Guerilla Marketing Campaigns

There’s no doubt that guerilla marketing can work; the only problem is that it’s not 100 percent guaranteed. After all, it’s just advertising; it has nothing to do with the effectiveness of your product. In other words, using an effective campaign to market a substandard product won’t do your business any good in the long run.

Guerilla marketing requires higher levels of commitment and dedication when compared to traditional avenues, which mostly involve throwing a hefty amount at other people to do all the work for you. Those looking for a quick fix will not be very happy with guerilla marketing, as it doesn’t guarantee overnight results. If anything, you’ll be sweating it out, patiently waiting for your effort to pay off, all while avoiding legal issues and possibly bad publicity.

If you’re faint-hearted or thin-skinned, guerilla marketing is not for you. Best case scenario, you’ll likely still get some Internet trolls finding faults in some of the methods you employ in your campaign. Worst case scenario, someone threatens you with legal actions.

To make sure you’re in the clear, look through your local laws to wrap your head around potential legal issues before proceeding with the campaign.

Know What You Want to Accomplish With Your Campaign

Before you even think about integrating any marketing strategy into your campaign, it’s important to ask yourself, “what’s the goal of the campaign?”

You know the whole elevator pitch thing? Apply that concept specifically to your campaign. What exactly would you say that will drive people to buy whatever you’re selling?

Start by doing a little homework and setting clear objectives; take the time to think through categories, brands and consumers as you determine the best way to connect everything.

And try to imagine all the ways your idea can grow. The best way to do that is to think about the headlines you’d like to see, the tweets you’d like to read and the YouTube videos you’d like to watch after your guerilla marketing campaign takes off.

Your ultimate goal should be to get media attention and establish a positive connection with potential customers. Find a way to make that happen.

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