7 Guerrilla Marketing Tips to Stand Out Without Breaking the Bank

Use your imagination to get noticed in a crowded marketplace


There are so many businesses out there trying to grab consumers’ attention that you may be struggling to get your message across on yours – especially if you’re on a budget. So how do you set yourself apart from the rest?

Guerrilla marketing may be the answer. If you take an unconventional approach to getting noticed by potential customers, it could be both cheaper and more effective than using traditional means

Guerrilla marketing is about reaching out to prospects when they’re not expecting it and interacting with them on an emotional level, says Rony Israel, senior business consultant at BDC.

How does it work? Here are some tips and examples

1. Guerrilla marketing is powerful
Rony Israel says he came home one day to find the usual flyers in the mailbox – with the destination being the recycling bin. But there was also a little sticky note on his door that advertised a new restaurant in the neighborhood and offered a discount if you brought the note.

“I was immediately intrigued,” he explains. It was a very simple tactic, but it thwarted my personal filters when it came to advertising.”

Rather than throwing or losing the note in a pile of mail, he taped it to the refrigerator as a reminder to try the restaurant.

2. Guerrilla marketing can be practiced on any scale
Several large companies with big budgets have developed impressive – and memorable – guerrilla marketing campaigns. For example, Red Bull has organized a Nascar pit stop in New York’s Times Square. Folgers Coffee Roasters created the optical illusion of a boiling cup of coffee embedded in the sidewalk.

But guerrilla marketing doesn’t need a large investment to be effective. As Rony Israel discovered, a pack of sticky notes and some markers can do the trick. Plus, you can amplify the impact of your low-budget guerrilla marketing campaign by filming it and sharing the video on social media.

3. Use your imagination to stand out
Guerrilla marketing is often innovative, but it can also build on a proven method by adding something different. Israel gives the example of a shoe store offering a discount coupon.

“That’s a classic tactic,” he says. But if they make that offer while you’re using an interactive kiosk at the mall – where you don’t expect it – that’s guerrilla marketing.”

4. You must first know your target audience
Since the goal of guerrilla marketing is to reach people when they are not stressed and are receptive, you need to know the habits of your target audience so you can act at the right time.

Rony Israel recalls that in some Italian tourist towns, restaurants and clubs that wanted to attract customers would rent small planes that would fly over the beach during the day, shooting banners with the company’s name. Tourists relaxing in the sun were curious and remembered the names. Business owners knew where and when to target their customers at a time when they were not on guard.

Guerrilla marketing is about three things: being personal, appealing to emotions and seizing the right moment.

5. As always in marketing, objective matter
To choose the right tactic, you need to define your objective. When companies hold blitzes or chalk their logo on the sidewalk, they’re not primarily looking to make sales conversions, but rather to build their brand image. In contrast, the restaurant that left a sticky note on Rony Israel’s door was looking to generate immediate revenue.

Clearly establishing your goals also helps you measure the effectiveness of your guerrilla tactics.

According to Israel, there are generally three metrics to look at:

social media activity in response to your campaign
campaign spends versus what you would have spent on advertising
Improved return on your marketing investment

6. Use creativity, but protect your reputation
When designing your guerrilla marketing campaign, be careful not to get into trouble with your ideas.

You want to entertain people, not offend or hurt them. And you must not break any laws. You can imagine, for example, all the planning that went into making sure that a race car could enter and exit Times Square safely.

7. Never get discouraged
By its nature, guerrilla marketing is experimental. According to Rony Israel, this is where small businesses have an advantage over large organizations.

That’s because experimenting requires taking risks, and for more well-known brands, the risks are greater. In the case of a small company, he says, don’t worry if a tactic doesn’t work; just try something else.

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