Companies big and small need all the exposure they can get. At the end of the day, a business’s worth is determined by how much it sells. Sadly, in order to sell you need to spend money on marketing your products or services. Not all companies can always afford mass advertisement for many reasons. It’s difficult to risk spending so much overheads on an untested product, for example. Sometimes it’s a way to refurbish the brand, a way to remind the world of your product. Online marketing can be a good substitute for advertisement but sometimes it just isn’t enough. This is where guerrilla advertising comes in. Every now and then there’s a creative ad campaign that grabs everyone’s attention. What is different about these campaigns is how so out of the conventional box they are.
What Is Guerrilla Advertising?
The term guerrilla advertising pays homage to guerrilla fighters that are new, unorganized, and underfunded. It was first used in 1984 when Jay Conrad Levinson wrote the book Guerrilla Marketing. It refers to unconventional means of advertising, using as little resources as possible. It’s a very risky approach as there’s no data to predict the outcome, but when done correctly it’s very effective. Guerrilla advertising requires a great deal of creativity and imagination in order to send a clear message on whatever space available. Some companies started hiring artists to help boost and execute the creative process. There are many forms of guerrilla advertising.
This involves the use of the surrounding environment to advertise your products. Bags, bus handles, stairs, shopping carts, and many more have all been used to advertise something at some point. Ambient marketing is best executed when the surface used is related to your product in any way. It’s important for guerrilla advertising to seem as smooth and unforced as possible. You probably remember the kit-kat bench picture all over social media a couple of years ago.
Basically it’s when you associate your brand with something bigger: it could be an event, a cause, or another well-known product. This technique is used by larger companies every time there is a global event. Do you notice how during World Cups or Olympics the advertisements change to a more athletic or a “bringing people together” approach? On a small scale smaller companies can do the same with any event or cause, by word play and seemingly good will.
This is a controversial form of guerrilla advertising. You can’t walk down the street without being advertised one product or another. Sometimes however, you aren’t even aware of the ad, that’s where the controversy comes in. Almost all visible logos in every movie are strategically placed to trick you into buying them. The way actors dress in public is sometimes a planned marketing strategy. It even comes down to people passing you in the street doing everyday things. In 2002 Sony Ericsson hired 60 actors to pose as tourists and ask people to take their picture with their new camera, then proceeded to advertise the specs of the camera.
It’s a strategy that uses streets and public places as its canvas in order to convey their message. From street performers, to flyers, to walking billboards. This type of advertising is a favourite with the emerging or falling behind companies. Its low cost and direct human engagement are its main attributes. Have you ever been stopped by a product ambassador to review a product or try a product? That is the basic form of street marketing. Sometimes ambient environment based ads can be used as street marketing campaigns.
Companies take advantage of the fact that words, especially controversial ones, spread like a virus between people. Nowadays, that statement is more true than ever thanks to the Internet and social media. What a company does is hype up their products before launching it on the Internet by word of mouth from payed seemingly normal users. This method is controversial as well as it can be accused of tricking the consumers with biased, misleading opinions. The trick here is causing enough buzz that the machine keeps itself rolling, by rumors and gossip and sometimes media coverage.
How to Plan Your Guerrilla Campaign?
Every form of guerrilla advertising has its perks and risks. That’s why the most effective campaigns aren’t confined to one form, they cross-over where it’s best fit. Large companies go as far as merging guerrilla advertising with conventional marketing channels. They do that by creating the guerrilla campaign in several locations at the same time and then covering the campaigns and broadcasting them as normal ads to show their creativity on a massive scale. This doesn’t necessarily defeat the purpose, that is being cost effective, because every penny spent will be worth it. Most companies can’t afford this tactic and need to plan their funds and approach a little more surgically.
The first step is always having a plan. This may seem as anti-improvisation but even guerrilla fighters need a man with a plan. You need to list the available platforms that can be converted to canvases for your masterpiece. Is there a university nearby? Schools, Bus stops, malls… etc?
The next question to answer is where does your product fit with the consumer demographics? The answer to this question will help you determine where, when, and how to place your guerrilla advertising campaign. A fast food restaurant would benefit more by targeting universities during the semester, or beaches in the summer.
Choosing the right strategy for your business requires breaking down your brand to its elements. This requires a more objective eye which is sometimes difficult for someone on the inside. Some companies hire specialists to add an outside view to the creative process. Specialists can be expensive and that is not an option for start ups for example; that’s why you can hire an artist instead.
Online Marketing Is Your Friend
No matter what marketing strategy you adopt it’s important to use the Internet to capitalize on the hype. A flash mob at a mall can get you a lot of exposure because of all the leg traffic. But it’s not going to be enough to boost your sales the way you need it to. Relying on word of mouth is a thing of the past and won’t give much momentum to your campaign. You can however film your campaign and post it on YouTube for example. With a few SEO tricks your video can access virtually unlimited viewers. An effective online marketing plan working hand in hand with a good guerrilla advertising campaign can be the recipe for success.