Alarm clock

What is Guerrilla Marketing and Is it Really Effective?

Are you looking for a creative way to beat down the competition? Learn about guerilla marketing and how it works for business.

Are you looking for a creative way to beat down the competition? Take a term that comes from a type of combat that ambushes the opponent, and then turn it on its face to shock and awe your audience. Today, we’re talking about guerrilla marketing, an older concept that’s tailor made for the digital age.

How Does Guerrilla Marketing Work?

Guerrilla marketing works by taking the familiar, whether it’s an image, a premise, or an idea, and adding an unexpected component that causes the audience to sit up and take notice. It’s not the same as being surrealist or intentionally vague, although those elements can be incorporated. This type of advertising creatively repurposes existing content in a way that targets a very specific audience segment and subverts their expectations.

By taking a subversive, innovative approach, smaller companies with meager budgets are able to compete with major players by making a visual impact. This is the kind of content that creates a buzz. When done right, it could make your marketing campaign go viral. In fact, it’s ideal for social media engagement.

Guerrilla marketing is also very budget friendly because you’re simply taking the known and adding the element of surprise. It’s the kind of creative, innovative, and unique advertising that gets you noticed. It changes the perception of your brand and elevates it.

Guerrilla marketing is:

  • The flash mob that puts a smile on your face
  • The clever play on familiar concepts
  • The unexpected photo-bomb
  • The unscripted surprise interview

Notable guerrilla marketing campaigns include the time GoldToe dressed famous New York statues like the Wall Street bull in their underwear or Chipotle transforming popular menu items into traditional baby shower fare. Burrito baby swaddle, anyone?

5 Low-Cost Guerrilla Marketing Tactics You Can Put Into Practice Today!

“Crash” an Event

Several notable viral campaigns have used this method. For example, Fiji water placed models with trays of their brand near the red carpet at the Oscars one year, offering the product to celebrities, and people lined up watching them arrive. They were also able to position one model in such a way that she photo-bombed celebrities as they were being interviewed.

Show up at an event – the bigger, the better – wearing your brand or offering samples. Try to appear in the background of any photos or video if there is press present.

Get the Public Involved

People love to be part of the action, especially if they think it will net them their 15 minutes of fame. There are unlimited ways that you can raise brand awareness through live events on public streets. The previously mentioned flash mobs always invite engagement, and it was used to great effect by a local dance school in one city to increase membership.

Another example of guerrilla marketing was dreamed up by Bounty. Bounty paper towels placed a 10-foot long popsicle in the middle of a well-trafficked area of a major city and invited passers by to use their product to soak it up as it melted. Even if you pull such a stunt in a smaller town, it’s probably going to make the news.

This can even be done online and turned into a viral event, such as creating an online treasure hunt and asking participants to post photos of themselves finding list items around their town. Offer prizes or freebies for the winners.

Give Your Audience Incentive

People also like to be helpful. Dominoes Pizza capitalized on this by creating an ad campaign called “Paving for Pizza” that addressed two things people hate: bad roads and messed up pizzas. The campaign was simple, involving a map of the US highlighting areas were roads were notoriously bad and blaming the existence of excessive potholes for sliding cheese syndrome. The headline stated that they wouldn’t cease until America’s roadways were fixed.

Infiltrate Social Media

What would you do if you were browsing Tinder and saw a profile of a celebrity? That’s just what 20th Century Fox did when they made a very funny profile for Deadpool to promote its release. People who swiped right were redirected to a link to purchase tickets.

This type of guerrilla marketing is a social media ambush. It’s a free, funny, and unexpected way to get noticed and promote your brand, and the uses are limited only by the amount of creativity and time you’re willing to invest.

Create an Air of Mystery

Back in the early eighties, I was asked by a friend for innovative ways to promote his new club. He was having a grand opening, and he really wanted it to be a success. I decided to leverage FOMO (fear of missing out) by making the opening seem like an underground event that was by invitation only for VIPs.

The whole thing was kept intentionally mysterious, with no signs or balloons outside, and no advertising. Instead, invitations were sent to thousands of people in his target demographic and worded in such a way that recipients felt important, special, like the evening wouldn’t be complete without their presence. By 10pm, it was standing room only with a large line of people waiting to get in. However, the people in line were mostly friends, and all of those who had their invite were pulled out of the line and ushered in ahead of them with great fanfare.

How can you out this into play? Tag your logo in strategic places all over targeted cities or neighborhoods. Put up fliers or post a billboard with wording like “Do you know [product name or person]?” or insinuating that they should know your brand if they were cool. You can further leverage this concept by posting the photos all over social media and making it seem like the brand is a mystery to be solved.

Pro tip: Don’t be a try hard. Authenticity still matters. You’ll never succeed if you go into this with the intent to go viral. Such things happen organically. This is an opportunity to flex your creative muscle and truly engage your audience by engaging in outside-the-box thinking. Dare to be different, clever, and unique.

Final Thoughts

In a world where everyone and their mother is engaged in digital marketing, you have to stand out. Guerrilla marketing is an advertising style that raises brand awareness by taking an unconventional approach.

Are you looking for new ways to subvert audience expectations while promoting your branding? Talk to a branding specialist from Level343. We’ll work with you to take your digital marketing game to a whole new level.

Today's Author


Interested in Guest Posting?
Read our guest posting guidelines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

As Seen In

Hello there! Please read to understand how we handle your privacy.

This website uses tracking cookies to help us understand how you use the site and improve upon your experience. We do not share any information collected – either personal or anonymous – with any other parties, with the exception of the reporting programs we use in conjunction with those cookies. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of these cookies. If you do not agree, please close the site.