James Bachini

Guerilla Marketing | 12 Captivating Ideas To Bootstrap Your Brand

Guerilla Marketing

What Is Guerilla Marketing?

Guerilla marketing is a creative, unconventional and often unauthorized marketing effort to create memorable long term brand associations.

If it isn’t newsworthy then it isn’t guerilla marketing. The campaigns draw attention to a brand through surprise or shocking imagery and experiences to create a viral effect.

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News Hacking & Publicity Stunts

News hacking involves creating a story or working with a reporter to create a story with an associated link to your brand. This is different to a “About Us” press release. The story needs to be something of interest that readers will find intriguing.

Often news hacking is practiced around current events. If there is an issue that’s being talked about in the local, national or global press a lot, is there an angle your company can take on it to create a story. When there’s a topic of interest reporters will often be much more responsive.

One of my favorite examples of news hacking was clash between British Airways and Virgin Airways in the late 90’s. British Airways owned 1/3 of the London Eye, a giant ferris wheel that was being constructed in central London.

This thing was constructed horizontally and then the plan was to lift in to place using a crane. The first time they did this either the crane wasn’t strong enough or it didn’t work for whatever reason.

In a very short space of time Richard Branson of rival Virgin Airways scrambled a blimp with the text “BA CANT GET IT UP” on it and hovered it over the site in central London creating a media frenzy.

It was fun, original, relevant and got people talking

BA Guerilla Marketing Publicity Stunt
To rub salt in the wound Virgin went on to win marketing awards for this publicity stunt

Treasure Hunts

Treasure hunts can be coordinated via social media to engage fans with a brand.

In the past companies like Nike and Samsung have gamified treasure hunts using riddles and clues leading to new products hidden in plain sight.

Geocaching is another method where a latitude/longitude or map is provided to a destination where prize(s) are located.

From a guerilla marketing perspective it can be difficult to cost effectively make the treasure hunt work for small businesses and startups. Apple giving away the latest iPhone around New York is newsworthy. A startup giving away free memberships to their SaaS platform probably isn’t.

Works Of Artistic License

Works of art might be a bit much but there’s a lot you can do with a little creativity and some artistic license.

Adidas Guerilla Marketing Street Art
Adidas Guerilla Marketing Street Art

Agreeable art work has a positive effect on the viewer which can in turn create a positive association with a brand.

I think we are likely to see more of this in the coming decade.

World Record Attempts

Could your company take on a world record attempt? The most hair cuts in a day, the worlds largest pizza, jumping off a balloon on the edge of space perhaps.

Red Bull Guerilla Marketing

In 2012 Felix Baumgartner strapped on a Red Bull jump suit and threw himself off a weather balloon hovering at 39k meters.

The video got millions of views and was show on news channels across the world.

Redbull in this and other campaigns has planted the association that drinking their high caffeine drinks is linked to the most extreme sports. If you go to a local skate park on a busy day you’ll always be able to spot someone drinking red bull. “people like us do things like this” – Seth Goddin

Poster Plastering

This is one of those where it can be really cringe when not done well. I’m not suggesting for a second you go around your local street or a tradeshow pinning up an A4 leaflet you printed at home.

Air guitar guerilla marketing
I wonder how many people posed for selfies playing air guitar on social media…

When done well however posters and billboards can work. It provides a medium rather than a method in itself.

Guerilla Marketing Mcdonalds
Creative crossing. I’m loving it

Event Ambushing

This is straight out of the startup play book. If you’ve been to a tech event in the last few years you’ve probably noticed people stood outside the event giving out leaflets.

This is most likely because they simply can’t afford a stand at the event and wouldn’t be allowed to hand them out inside so there only option to connect with that ideal target audience is to engage them outside the door.

Questionably effective and certainly not newsworthy.

A more effective form of event ambushing I once saw was at a conference on the docks in London. The conference center literally looked out over the River Thames. A company hired a barge for the week and put a massive sign on it and moored it up next to the conference center in full view of all the attendees. They had meetings and parties on the barge and it got people talking about it.

Social Trolls

Social trolling is an art form in itself. I hate it but respect the effectiveness of the method.

Social trolls get attention by attacking another person, brand or concept to provoke or trigger a response.

Peter Schiff is an expert at this. The guy literally winds up the whole of crypto twitter and has made himself a niche celebrity in the process. In every industry there is someone that everyone loves to hate, they make a name for themselves in the process.

It’s hard to get this right and pushing it too far can negatively affect the perception of your brand. If you go down this route then keep it impersonal and funny. Which leads me on to…

Competitor Competition

Healthy banter between competitors is fun. An internal feud between competitors creates tension, a key component of a good story which news reporters love almost as much as social media sites.

BMW and Audi Guerilla Marketing Battle
Guessing BMW and Audi have male marketing execs

In the example above I assume Audi had that first billboard which BMW then got a bigger one. Audi responded which pushed BMW to getting a blimp in. It’s funny, competitive and it gets attention for both brands.

Swag Giveaways

Swag are branded items such as clothing and mugs with the company logo printed on them. There’s a double win because someone walking around wearing a hoody with your logo on is indirectly promoting your brand.

Again we need to come back to the point about guerilla marketing being newsworthy. Standing outside a train station giving away key rings probably isn’t going to achieve much.

Make it fun, engaging and relevant. If it’s coming up to Xmas can you do something with a Santa theme? People like free stuff but they are used to seeing corporate giveaways. How can you add a new fresh angle?

Flash Mobs

*The first flash mobs were social experiments in New York department stores in 2003

Flash mobs are the impromptu dances that are organized on social media and then everyone gets together in a public place and starts dancing to spectators surprise.

This was an excellent example of guerilla marketing when the trend first started*. It was fun, surprising and it perfectly captured attention in a positive way.

The difficult aspect of using a flash mob or related group event is partly the organization and partly aligning it with brand image to create positive connections.

Codes, Secrets & Easter Eggs

An easter egg is a quirky, undocumented bit of code that a developer hides in a game to delight the most curious players. This might be a mini game hidden inside the main game or a secret message from the creator.

Whether it be something like this or simply a riddle, code or secret shared across social media, mystery creates intrigue. This can be compelling for both loyal fans and newcomers to a brand.

Product Placements/Demos

3M security glass

My favorite example of great product demonstration was the 3M security glass campaign.

Anyone who saw this or the social media photos of people trying to kick it down will forever have a link between 3M and strength. The product demo displayed strength and confidence but that carried across to the brand which was more important.

Guerilla Marketing campaign by Guinness

Another exceptional product placement was the Guinness pool que tips. Pool is considered a pub sport in the UK and Ireland so with this marketing campaign they were able to get their promotion right at the point of sale.

It’s low cost, interesting and it generates a talking point when people are socializing in the exact place where they would go to consume the product being promoted.

How To Create Your Guerilla Marketing Campaign

Guerilla marketing campaigns are generally low cost relative to the value of the media attention. Creativity, originality and authenticity wins over big budgets.

Campaigns need to be focused around an event or image that will get people talking about it. If it isn’t newsworthy it isn’t guerilla marketing.

Start by brainstorming ideas along the lines of “what induce you to whip out your phone and take a photo to share on social media”.

From here we can reduce the list of ideas down by which are most likely to draw attention, which are inline with the desired brand image and which are least likely to get you sued.

Ideally you want something that is surprising and interesting. Something that wow’s the spectator so much they want to share it with their social group.

From there it’s also worth getting some good quality pictures and sending a press release out instantly or even beforehand to relevant media agencies and news groups.

If you are interested in learning more about online marketing then check out the free digital marketing course.

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Thank you.

James Bachini

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Thank you.

James Bachini

Disclaimer: Not a financial advisor, not financial advice. The content I create is to document my journey and for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not under any circumstances investment advice. I am not an investment or trading professional and am learning myself while still making plenty of mistakes along the way. Any code published is experimental and not production ready to be used for financial transactions. Do your own research and do not play with funds you do not want to lose.