What is guerrilla marketing and how it can help your brand?

September 11, 2021

Let’s be fair – advertising is all about getting the attention of people. At the end of the day, your goal as a business or a marketer is to get your target audience to do something – subscribe, watch a video, buy something, etc. As time goes by, brands have to find more ways to be creative in their efforts to impress audiences. A good way to do that can be by integrating guerrilla marketing in their strategy in some way. 

Gorilla* marketing? What is that?! 

If you have never heard of it, it is pretty normal to get confused. And the proper term is “guerrilla marketing”. However, a lot of people get confused and think it is “gorilla” at first. This is why you see it written in this way in the heading above. Well, there is no King-Kong hopping around, but this type of marketing can be quite impressive as well. 

Guerrilla marketing is often referred to as the most unusual way of marketing. And because of that, it has a lot of fans worldwide. Over the years brands have successfully used it in their strategies in various ways. It can be traced back to the ’80s. If it is done right, the equation “low budget = high effect” will be correct. The best campaigns go viral in a matter of hours. 

By definition, guerrilla marketing is:

an advertisement strategy in which a company uses surprise and/or unconventional interactions in order to promote a product or service.

What is not said by the authors is that it is meant to catch you off guard and surprise you when you least expect it. That is the whole charm of it. 

How does guerrilla marketing work?

There are several ways that you can influence people with this type of marketing. The most popular one is to get them to interact with your brand in a fun and creative way. The conventional types of guerrilla marketing (if there are such) are the ones that place the brand outside or indoors with some sort of ad in a place you won’t expect. 

Street art, art installations, interference in the urban landscape, interference with the crowd of an event are all different ways brands can use to send their messages McDonald’s painted a crosswalk to look like a box of french fries and Adidas put a 3-meter shoebox in a middle of a town square. 

There are some common rules that apply to all of the success stories: 

  1. The message has a clear relation to the brand, product, or service – in the case of Mr.Clean, the main ones are there – better results in cleaning with less effort;

    Source: wordstream.com

    Source: wordstream.com

  2. It has to be a driver of emotion – some organizations like the UN use guerrilla marketing to raise awareness about serious issues in other parts of the world.

  3. Adopt a segment and make it yours – Red Bull and everything they do is a perfect example for this. They have taken over the segment of extreme sports and often use that in guerrilla marketing. Sponsoring the jump from the stratosphere a while ago was probably their most famous one.

However, keep in mind that like everything, there are certain pros and cons of this type of advertising. 

Pros and cons of guerrilla marketing

Like everything in life, there are some downsides here too. Let’s start with them: 

  1. If your message is not clear enough people might misunderstand what you want to communicate to them; 
  2. In some cases, you will have to deal with a lot of permits and meet with institutions if you want to get something done. Especially if you want to interfere with the urban environment; 
  3. You don’t have control over everything. You can be dependent on the weather or some other condition that has the potential to ruin all of your efforts. 

Enough of the bad news. When you look at the other side of the coin, you might consider taking the time and effort to invest in guerrilla marketing because: 

  1. You can achieve high results with relatively low investments – it can go viral quickly and even attract media attention; 
  2. Creativity is essential if you want to be successful; 
  3. It can remain “alive” for a long time if you invest in street art in some form. Or improvement of the urban landscape.

Social media and its relation to guerrilla marketing

The whole point of guerrilla marketing today is to go viral – achieving maximum exposure online and in traditional media with a single action. The really good brand message presented with guerrilla marketing will spread online like a forest fire. And that is exactly what brands and marketers strive for. For that to happen, there are two things that you have to get right:

  1. Send a clear message to the people; 
  2. Be interesting and provocative enough to spark attention. 

Besides the viral postings, you should not do guerrilla marketing as a stand-alone type of effort. It has to be integrated into your marketing strategy. Once you execute it, you can put a video of how people react, some behind-the-scenes shots. You can tease it in advance or even make a case study about it. 

If you go online you will find hundreds of good ideas on how brands have used guerrilla marketing in the past. Some of them are complicated for execution, while others are quite simple and effective. How brands use guerrilla marketing constantly evolves as a practice and we for sure will be seeing even more impressive things in the future. 

How can guerrilla marketing be useful for your brand?

We want to say it loud and clear in the beginning – DON’T COPY WHAT OTHERS DO AND DON’T USE GUERRILLA MARKETING FOR THE SAKE OF USING IT. Like everything in marketing, this is a tool that can bring you benefits if you use it right and cause disaster when you don’t. 

If you want to have success, you have to be creative and think outside the box. Is there even a way that your brand can be positioned with guerrilla marketing? What are the main strengths or unique advantages of your business that you want to communicate? Or maybe there is something specific like the opening of a new store, or releasing of a new product that you want to bring awareness to? 

It is important to know the answers to these questions before you start planning. That will give you the basis for your campaign. After that make sure that you send a clear message, that won’t confuse people and won’t be controversial. One of the textbook cases for a campaign gone wrong is the good old Cartoon Network. They installed electronic devices around the city of Boston that were mistaken for bombs. There were police, bomb squads, and a large reimbursement for the city from the company. After all, you don’t want to be going in the news with headlines like: “A toothpaste company uses “White power” as a slogan for marketing”. 

Creativity is a knife that cuts both ways – if you have a good idea, deliver it in the proper way. And we remind you again – don’t do this as a stand-alone marketing effort. Integrate it into your overall marketing campaign. And make sure you know what you are doing – in this case, it is better to do nothing rather than do it poorly. 

Finally, we can say that guerrilla marketing is an outstanding way to promote your business and send a strong message to the people. Consult with professionals with these things and discuss what is the best way to implement them. However, if you decide to do it alone you are risking a lot. Guerrilla marketing is a knife that cuts both ways. Use it wisely for your advantage and it can turn into a game-changer for your business. 

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