“We don’t have enough money for a big marketing campaign, but we really want to get noticed”. This is the challenge that so many small businesses encounter every day so how can small businesses get noticed while keeping their marketing budgets modest? Small businesses have small marketing budgets and traditional campaigns like billboards and tv commercials can be too costly. Just because a bigger or more established company uses these doesn’t mean that you have to too. Instead of investing chunks of money in traditional marketing campaigns, small businesses are finding ways to invest their creativity and reap the benefits. It can be called guerilla marketing. This type of marketing sets you apart from your competition and can earn you a reputation for being creative and can rely heavily on inexpensive print media like posters, stickers, and flyers.
What is guerrilla marketing?
Guerilla marketing is tricky to define but is characterized by bringing your product to life. The most basic element of guerilla marketing is to surprise potential consumers. Your goal is to get media and public attention through means of not traditional media so this rules out traditional marketing like ads in newspapers, television, or radio. Consumers are bombarded with traditional advertising in every part of their lives and they expect it to a certain point. You’ve probably seen dozens of ads or commercials this week but do you remember each one of them? One of the goals of guerilla marketing is to be remembered and make authentic connections. The public will encounter guerilla marketing campaigns as they go on in their everyday lives like traditional media, but guerilla marketing stands out and makes consumers think twice about what they just saw.
Better brand awareness
Guerilla marketing connects with your customers ways that TV commercials or magazine ads simply can’t. A small business is now able to be part of a consumer’s everyday life. While social media and digital media can be great tools to connect with your audience, guerilla marketing is a physical and authentic way to connect with your customers. By using creativity, a business is able to communicate what sets it apart as well as brand personality and give customers something to connect with. If your ads are different and surprising, customers will remember your brand as creative.
Guerilla marketing ideas
All small businesses aren’t the same and the way that you market your company should be aligned with your business identity. When thinking of ideas for a guerilla marketing campaign, think about your brand identity and personality first. Your goal should be that consumers make the connection between your unconventional ad and your product. As an example, take Folgers. Folgers Coffee was able to use guerilla marketing on manhole covers in big cities so that when steam was coming up it looked like a hot cup of coffee and not a typical manhole cover. Think about what your product or what your brand identity is about and play to it. Not all types of companies will be successful in printing ads on manhole covers like Folgers, but not all companies will be able to do what you are able to either.
Stickers can have the highest potential power of all. Can you imagine Washington DC being covered in 1984 Stickers with Big Brother looking over? It would be a statement that everyone in the city would know was politically motivated. Not all companies have the identity that would align with this type of campaign but it’s an idea that consumers would immediately make a connection with. Can you think of something you can do with your business? Some skydiving companies are putting stickers of cityscapes from high up on the floors of elevators to give people the sensation that they are flying. When Pirates of the Caribbean launched in theatres, they were able to place wooden colored stickers on diving boards in public and private pools to give divers the feeling that they were walking the plank. Can you imagine yourself on that diving board and the immediate connection with the movie? These are all very small twists on regular advertising that become guerilla because they are able to connect with consumers instantly.
Have you ever gone back to your car and on your antenna was a small flyer promoting a business? This is pretty typical print marketing in our everyday lives. A small flyer announcing a sale or a new restaurant. How can this type of marketing surprise our consumers and become guerilla? Imagine you run a restaurant, instead of a typical five by seven flyer, announce your restaurant on a piece of paper that looks like food and when placed on the antenna looks like a shish kebab. A dentist’s office could hang up flyers with pull strips of paper at the bottom that look like teeth. The more paper snippets people take, the more that smile is broken. A toy store can hand out flyers that are actually made by kids and don’t rely on heavy sales pitches. Crude childish drawings with crayons and watercolors would give a different effect than a traditional sales pitch designed for the adults buying the toys. These are small twists to old marketing ideas that can resonate with customers better. Use your imagination; remember that guerilla marketing isn’t about investing a large budget, it’s about investing creativity.
A poster doesn’t always have to be a poster of an event or business with the information on it. A barber shop can hang up posters with wild haircuts where if someone were to stand in front of it give the impression that they had that hair. You’ve probably seen companies that use posters on elevators that when the doors open and close create different images. It’s a simple idea that companies are using to connect with consumers. The power isn’t that the elevator acts as another billboard, but that it’s advertising that is unexpected and that often resonates with potential customers.
Don’t force anything. One of the powers in guerilla marketing is that consumers will connect the creativity with your brand immediately. You don’t have to beat them over the head with a sales pitch. A great example is how Pringles showed up to Wimbledon a few years ago and handed out free cans of chips labeled “these are not tennis balls”. This idea needs a bigger marketing budget but the authenticity is what we can take away from it. Pringles and consumers know their packaging looks like tennis ball tubes and just that simple message is able to connect with a large group of people who got a laugh. When the Batman movies were revived as The Dark Knight, the movie studio rented search lights in cities across the US and projected the Batman symbol for the premiere. This type of marketing wasn’t about “come see the movie”, it was about making connections with consumers and giving them something memorable.
Guerilla marketing is about surprising consumers with your advertising and some companies have gone as far as to deface public property or to put ads where they shouldn’t be. Use common sense for where you are putting stickers or putting up posters. You can get in trouble if you aren’t cautious. Don’t deface property and please use your head when thinking of how you are going to execute a guerilla marketing campaign or you can end up in jail.
When a marketing campaign isn’t memorable, it hasn’t done its job. Traditional marketing is expected, repetitive, uneventful, and doesn’t connect with consumers as well as guerilla marketing. The strength of guerilla marketing is that it stands out no matter what and creates an instant connection with customers. Get creative, use your imagination. Stickers, posters and flyers can be your best friend with a low budget and even companies with big budgets are using it because they are more memorable.