Once a common phrase used by marketing agencies across the world, the term guerilla marketing may not appear much these days, but the ideas behind it are still going strong. The name Guerilla Marketing (also sometimes spelled as guerrilla marketing) was coined in 1984 by Jay Conard Levinson in his book Guerilla Advertising.
He got the term after comparing unconventional marketing techniques to the fighting technique of the same name – subverted and not always obvious.
When Levinson first wrote the book, guerilla marketing was mostly associated with any kind of promotion that occurred outside of conventional means; which was typically print, radio, or television. There was no internet like we have today, and so common forms of guerilla marketing were distributing fliers by hand on the street or having actors dressed up as mascots.
Times, They Are A’Changin’
As technology has rapidly grown since the 1980s, so has the scope of guerilla marketing techniques. It has reshaped itself to meet new goals that marketing agencies are trying to meet, and it is dealing with a whole new breed of audience; tech-savvy and with short attention spans.
The most common types of guerilla marketing are as follows;
This is a passive form of guerilla marketing and involves putting something within the ‘space’ of your audience. Common examples are posters, banners, wall art, and paintings. The most famous examples are the screens in Times Square in New York.
Sometimes referred to as Associated Marketing, this is when your brand becomes associated with an event or occasion, without directly referencing it. Usually it is done when a rival company is officially sponsoring the event. An example would be Pepsi sponsoring a stage at a Coca-Cola music event.
This is one of the hardest forms of guerilla marketing to do but it is also one of the most impressive if you pull it off. Essentially, you create and launch a marketing campaign but without anyone catching on to you actually doing anything. Film advertising is a good example when done delicately, if you can ensure your brand or product is visible in a memorable scene, without calling attention to it.
Often used in film and television marketing, Viral marketing is about creating a message that people are compelled to share with others. If done successfully, this can go global in a very short time frame.
A simple but effective choice – street guerilla marketing involves interacting with your audience directly out in public spaces. This might be via handing out free samples or hosting a free event for the public.
Rise of the Machines
Technology has taken guerilla marketing to impressive new levels and brands are getting on board quickly.
Instagram and Tik Tok are already being used by brands to create engaging and shareable videos to get their messages across, but some companies have taken it a step further.
One of the most popular forms is the Google adaptive logo, which is changed for significant dates and events. Another is the dinosaur game you can play whenever your internet goes down. Neither of these directly advertise Google, but they draw engagement from the audience regardless.
Some businesses are now looking into adapting AR technology, like the type used in Pokemon Go, to interact with customers directly when they are out and about.
Leading the Charge
Guerilla marketing can be extremely powerful and very rewarding, but you should never consider it a done deal.
You can plan and plan and prepare for every eventuality but with so many variables to consider, as well as outside factors, there is always a chance of failure.
But don’t let that discourage you. Start small and build your experience up before tackling something ambitious. Some companies go straight for something ‘out there’ and daring and, while in a few small cases, it goes well, for many it goes awry.
When Sony Ericsson launched a stealth marketing campaign in 2002 featuring actors as fake tourists to promote their new phone, there were many complaints from other businesses who claimed Sony was being ‘deceitful’.
The key is to try and account for all outcomes, or as many as you can, and adapt as you go.
You should always keep in mind that guerilla marketing is not a ‘safe’ option when it comes to marketing.
When planning your guerilla marketing, you need to keep three things in mind;
Things can and will go wrong – it’s a fact of life (and marketing) You will have to adapt quickly and it’s always a good idea to have a contingency plan as a backup.
Even if you get the results you were after, chances are that some people won’t like what you did. Take the criticism with professionalism and don’t get pulled into social media debates to defend your work.
Your campaign may not work out exactly as planned but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Regroup, learn from your mistakes, and try again.
If you are looking to try something different and want to give guerilla marketing a go, get in touch with the Laser Red Marketing team today.