Guerrilla Marketing: 10 steps + 7 examples to do it on the Web

Guerrilla Marketing what is it

Guerrilla Marketing is one of the most interesting and engaging ways to get the customer’s attention. The unconventionality marries marketing for more intense communication effectiveness than ever.

History of Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla Marketing is a form of advertising born long before Digital. Precisely in the benches of the University of Berkeley, California, in 1984. The father of Guerrilla Marketing is Jay Conrad Levinson, the expert economist, and advertiser. Teacher of numerous students including prominent personalities such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

In an age of language saturation, when the advertising bombardment of the 80s had lost its effectiveness, it had become necessary to create a new type of communication.

In those years, communication was made up of big budgets, infinite advertising spaces, and captivating jingles. The larger companies thus always held the lead, and customers kept going to the same sources over and over again. At the end of the decade, however, the technique became less and less efficient and consumers began to ignore what they had previously listened to attentively.

This context was ideal for a revolution in the communication world and thus the situation led to the birth of Guerrilla Marketing. The birth of the movement can be attributed to 1984, the release date of Levinson’s book of the same name.

More precisely, it was the students of his course who asked Levinson how a start-up lacking economic power could have been competitive in such a saturated and difficult-to-approach market. The professor promised to find a solution and concluded that it was essential to find a way to differentiate. Therefore create a new weapon instead of fighting with the same weapons against many better-equipped “enemies”.

He began by thinking of new places and ways to place advertising slogans. And here the types of Guerrilla Marketing began to multiply and evolve to ever more innovative methods. Here the “guerrillas” of marketing should have found new ways to attract customers. Not using the more classic media channels, but using communication innovatively and surprisingly.

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Fundamentals of Guerrilla Marketing

The surprise effect is at the heart of Guerrilla Marketing. This effect attracts more attention and a much longer memorability of the message, also creating word of mouth at a negligible cost compared to traditional media. This communicative movement gives a much more effective intensity because the unusual situation acts as a Trojan horse for the message, being gladly welcomed within the client’s “walls”.

It follows that in Guerrilla Marketing the most important resources are the mental and creative ones, not those of the advertising budget. Guerrilla Marketing is especially suitable for companies that do not have a large budget compared to their competitors and can afford a friendly tone with their target.

Where does Guerrilla Marketing get its inspiration from?

Guerrilla Marketing takes its inspiration above all from contemporary art and the rhetorical figures of advertising. Installations and happenings (mobile situations) inspire this type of communication. A mode of communication that presents something new to the user, situations that he would not have the possibility of seeing in normality.

where does guerrilla marketing get its inspiration from

It could even have descendants also from Culture Jamming (literally cultural interference). An artistic movement that in the 80s used the language of advertising to go against the companies themselves. Many artists used brands and advertising languages to denounce social problems: an example above all is the great Banksy.

mcdonald is stealing our children

The languages used are usually those of advertising with rhetorical figures: changes of matter, changes of dimension, puns, allusions, quotations, parodies, and irony. Advertising agencies thus began to take inspiration from the new art forms and to replicate their expressive methods by using them for advertising purposes.

Guerrilla Marketing in the Digital Age

If Guerrilla Marketing was already one of the most effective methods of marketing since the 80s, let alone today. Where word of mouth is further facilitated and increased a hundredfold by the world of the web and social networks.

The companies that do Guerrilla Marketing nowadays shoot their operation with video and publish it in various online channels managing to have a much larger sounding board. Especially through social media where the news is always material of interest and sharing.

Guerrilla Marketing operations have increasingly become Cross Media communication. Thus combining multiple communication channels such as advertising videos and Social Media marketing.

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The Rules of Guerrilla Marketing

  • Guerrilla Marketing is recommended for entrepreneurs who do not have large budgets
  • The investment is centered on the time, energy, and quality of the creation, not on the advertising budget.
  • Results are calculated on profit, not sales
  • The judgment is measured on the relationships established each month
  • Guerrilla Marketing is optimal for a specific and not a general goal
  • It is necessary to increase the number of commercial agreements with existing buyers
  • Forget the competition to focus on how to cooperate with other types of business
  • Always combine different methods of Marketing – Cross Media Communication
  • Keep up to date and take advantage of new technologies and new ways of communicating
  • Guerrilla Marketing is optimal above all for a generalist target because being carried out in public places it is enjoyed in the same way by everyone

10 steps to Create a Form of Guerrilla Marketing

  • Be revolutionary: think of something new and unpredictable, so digital offers infinite solutions
  • Spend as little as possible: the budget of a Guerrilla Marketing campaign must always be much smaller than a “classic” campaign
  • Engage Users: Get them to interact with the campaign and possibly be a part of it
  • Trust agencies specialized in Guerrilla Marketing and internal ideas: large agencies used to “classic” communication have no interest in creating a more effective form of Guerrilla Marketing than their competitors, often they are not even equipped for this type of campaign
  • Create a provocation: make the viewer think more than just a vision
  • Never repeat your Guerrilla Marketing campaign: you would no longer have the surprise effect and disappoint your target who expects creativity and novelty from you
  • Always focus on giving a reason to generate buzz (word of mouth)
  • Make propaganda: associate Guerrilla communication with other types of communication in such a way as to help it spread the message even to those who have not directly benefited from it. One of the most striking examples is precisely viral videos.

Do thoughts about which to create a Guerrilla Marketing campaign

  • Think now: run a campaign that reacts to news and current event
  • Think differently: modify an already existing situation by distorting the product or context
  • Excite: play on the target’s emotions until they reflect on personal things
  • Engage: create a situation that leads people in the audience to interact with each other as well
  • Provoke: play hard on the created emotion. Even criticism can be a way to attract news that will turn into free publicity
  • Exaggerate: emphasize already existing situations, use hyperbole to show plausible paradoxical situations based on product ownership
  • Show how you can solve a problem: Exemplify how the product can help the customer in a difficult situation
  • Innovatively show your product: Explain the properties of your product in an unusual way

Types of Guerrilla Marketing

  • Installation: motionless and three-dimensional physical structure independent of the surrounding space
  • Site Specific (ambient communication): modification of public space with a visual intervention designed to interact with the surrounding space
  • Performance: a mobile situation where an action is taking place
  • Happening: a mobile situation where something is happening that involves the audience
  • Media buzz (generate word of mouth and media reaction): secret generation of a movement that attracts the media towards a news story that gradually turns out to be an advertising ploy
  • Street Art: graffiti and painted two-dimensional works that do not interact with the surrounding space
  • Events: flash mobs and similar events in which customers are themselves participants in a performance

Examples of Guerrilla Marketing

  • INSTALLATIONS: Nivea has seen fit to attract the attention of women by creating an armchair half quilted with buttons and half smooth. With the wording goodbye cellulite, it can only create hilarity and above all attention. For example, Nike football has seen fit to show the impact of football on society by showing a giant ball that has destroyed cars and buildings.

nivea guerrilla marketing couch

Among other things, this situation recalls childhood, when balloons always ended up in the wrong places, creating small disasters and great anger from the neighbors. Star Wars on the occasion of the Blu-ray DVD release used the BT Tower building in London to create a giant lightsaber that sent off a vertical light on the roof of the structure. Thus simulating the famous lightsaber of the film.

example nike football car

  • SITE SPECIFIC: Nike has seen fit to remind people how important physical activity is for a healthy life by removing the comfort function in some benches. Remembering the importance of playing sports, Nike also remembers that it is the number one sports company and that it cares about people’s health.

site specific nike

The Brazilian radio Real Hip Hop to sponsor its attitude to black music has seen fit to “transform” the hair of passers-by waiting for the bus, into a thick afro. All with a simple paper poster and a lot of imagination.

bus stop ads blackpower

  • PERFORMANCE: on the occasion of the Walking Dead show, FOX saw fit to have zombies similar to those of the famous show run around New York, arousing attention and showing the realism of its characters. Philips has instead seen fit to dress a boy in “hair” to have him chased in the streets of Rio De Janeiro by another in the guise of the new electric razor of the house. In this way, they managed to attract the attention of the public amid general hilarity.

performance on occasion of the walking dead show

  • HAPPENING: One of the first campaigns of Guerrilla was the “girls buy me a Drink” which toured the American clubs in the 80s attracting the attention of boys. Once the boys started the conversation, the girls drifted over to drinks by talking about their preferences. Ending up fixating on one, in particular, explaining why it was their favorite. As soon as the boy went to buy her the drink, the girl disappeared and the poor boy stood there with the picture of the girl and the drink to try. Here the drink was associated with the girl and if the boy liked the drink she would have done nothing but talk about it.

girls buy me a drink

During the release of the 2013 film Carrie remake, a film about a possessed child with telekinetic abilities, advertisers have seen fit to terrorize a New York coffee shop. In front of the customers’ eyes, a little girl began to freak out, ending up turning the place upside down with telekinetic actions and lifting a man with only the laying of his hands. Once the joke was cleared up the emotional force of terror turned into smiles and memorability. The result of this campaign? 68 million views on YouTube.

film carrie remake

  • MEDIA BUZZ: The first form of Guerrilla Marketing is attributed to the site gmarketing.com. In the summer of 2001 built rumors and signs of UFO apparitions in the vicinity of Aquafan in Riccione. The water park and the municipality were soon inundated with curious tourists, only to discover that it was all a media hoax commissioned by the municipality. On the occasion of the release of the TV series Romanzo Criminale Sky saw fit to place the busts of the four of the Banda della Magliana in front of the EUR building (of civilization and work) in Rome, generating a lot of media attention and even criticism from Mayor Alemanno. As they say “just talk about it”.

media buzz just talk about it

  • STREET ART: Ikea has used the language of Banksy to stage graffiti that emphasizes the importance of design. Using it to grace anonymous spaces just like the design itself does.

street art banksy graffiti

Mcdonald’s has instead seen fit to use the pedestrian crossings near the Mcdonald’s in Zurich to give it the appearance of very tempting typical French fries.

street art mcdonalds

  • EVENTS: Coca-Cola has seen fit to create two interactive vending machines and to place one in India and one in Pakistan. A screen showed the other machine’s vision, and Cokes would be free if a customer interacted with the other machine’s customer with small games. In this way, Coca-Cola has created smiles and unity, the leitmotif of its advertising communication. T-Mobile organized Lifes sharing campaign three different social engagement campaigns.

events coca cola vending machine

A flash MOB of professional dancers posing as passersby staging a dance show at Liverpool station. A flash MOB of professional singers who staged an “a capella” singing performance at London airport in the arrivals area. And an event on the song Hey Jude in which thousands of aficionados of the song were invited to the square of Trafalgar Square only to find that they had to participate in a huge karaoke after some people in charge had distributed microphones to the crowd.

events acapella singing performance

In conclusion

Implementing a Guerrilla Marketing campaign can be a very engaging experience and always attracts considerable public attention. Just arm yourself with creativity and find the right way to maximize your message. Unfortunately, the obstacles of this type of operation are often bureaucratic: buying space for a Guerrilla Marketing campaign is much more complicated than classic advertising space.

However, every Guerrilla Marketing campaign, if implemented, always gives great success. It is recognized as a Marketing excellence and it can only give fun and interest to an audience that can’t wait to be surprised by something that goes beyond the more classic Marketing serials. Marriage between art and Marketing, Guerrilla Marketing is one of the flagships of advertising and communication.

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