There is traditional marketing strategy… and then there’s the dark horse, guerrilla marketing. The one is for rule-followers, and the other for rebels. Joking aside, guerrilla marketing may contain unorthodox methods (and some people do break the law) but they can also be extremely effective in capturing masses of people’s attention for very little cost.
The goal of guerrilla marketing is to create buzz. Be aware, however, that any time your aim is to be sensational, you’re setting yourself up (potentially) for a massive fail. But enough with the blather. Get ready for your own imagination and creativity to be sparked.
Best Guerrilla Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
- Fix an everyday problem in your own unique way. Showcase your special solution to scuffed baseboards or way to mow the lawn without spewing chestnuts like grenades in the fall.
- Find a way to align your brand (create a product) with a major event. Cutting grass with a local team’s emblem proudly displayed.
- Don’t be afraid to be funny — playfully changing the perception of community icons and images. “Dress up” your lawn mower as a monster or placing your trademark item in your neighborhood mascot’s hand.
- It comes down to creative positioning — whether it’s a person or an item. Prepare an obvious sampling or illustration of your product/service on display at an event or public gathering.
- Guerrilla marketing doesn’t have to be limited to a solo event. Institute a series of creative tactics and become known as a consistent guerrilla marketing brand.
- Find a clever way to leverage your business competition to your advantage. Provide a small (local) community with free product/service and gain a loyal following.
- Turning your ideal customer’s worst nightmare into a fun experiential marketing campaign. Show/experience a flooded basement serving as an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course proving your product/service is the solution to their worst case scenario.
- Leveraging your rivals’ branding can generate lots of attention for your company. Place your advertisement directly opposing your competitor’s and share the notable differences between you.
- Make your seasonal products/services help those looking for relief from the elements in winter or summer. Offer free ice cream or lemonade while you power wash their deck.
- Be funny, be bold and don’t be afraid to lean into your humor. Create large bugs to display around your community with your tagline about how you can remove them.
- Be unconventional by using an “old” popular method. Use “outdated” advertisements in the realm of the roaring 20s to generate extra buzz.
- Legal Graffiti. Leave your artful mark around town, but get permission first.
- Stencil Graffiti. Leave a planned/repeated mark in multiple places around your area for recognition.
- Reverse Graffiti. Add your logo to the scenery naturally by removing dirt and grime from the street or a wall.
- Stickers. Stick your brand or other recognizable element to cleverly point people in your direction.
- Stealth Marketing. Disguise your team to blend in the crowd with your target audience so they can “rave” about your product or service with whom they interact.
- Treasure Hunt. Create a custom, high-quality stakes treasure hunt. Post clues online and have rewards scattered around your target area or even several zip codes.
- Urban Environment. Utilize digital space by capitalizing on a viral video, content competitions, and creative landing pages.
- Solving the BIG problem. Set up a huge leaky faucet… or the biggest issue in your industry… in a public area to demonstrate an everyday problem and announce yourself as the solution.
- Unexpected and Interactive. Turn an everyday item, like a brick wall, into a living advertisement by having something materialize or come to life.
- Involuntary interaction. Place a large image on the ground. From a balcony, the people walking over top look like bugs.
- Sentimental/Emotional. Invite the whole community to take part in a compilation video in which they share their feelings about your brand as a fixture in their neighborhood.
- Landing Pages. Target your prime audience with a creative landing page.
- Environment Staging. Design posts very particularly on visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to energize your followers as they admire your creativity.
- Posters. Design unique hanging flyers: a piano and each of the keys is the tear-off portion with your contact info or a flyer that looks like a mouth with the teeth as the tear-off portion.
- Sidewalk Chalk. A stencil and chalk rubbings can be professional and catchy.
- Outdoor Video. Project a video at night to garner attention for your ad.. Think the sentimental, community-based one (check out #22).
- Sandwich Boards. Designed with a shot of humor, a sandwich board could get your business noticed.
- Games/competitions. Plant multiple trademark items around your community with the instructions that the item should be returned “home” for a prize.
- Flash Mob. Borrow your local high school drama club and involve them in creating an exciting dramatic or coordinated musical presentation.
- Audience Participation. Create a space that invites people to willingly (knowingly) take part and generate more excitement and enthusiasm for your brand.
- Choose/design unique business cards that will make a lasting impression. Check these out https://mashable.com/2013/05/16/crazy-business-cards/.
Business is about risk. The risks involved with guerrilla marketing are what make them so appealing to the crowds and take notice. If your marketing campaign isn’t memorable, it hasn’t done its job.
Things to Consider
- Think about your audience demographic. A friendly gesture could go sadly awry if misinterpreted.
- Don’t overthink it. Sometimes your silliest idea transforms to brilliant results!
- Don’t ever forget: Any negative perception of your campaign will reflect directly on your brand.
- Risk is involved. This is considered an edgy marketing tactic.
- Don’t skip permits. Check with your borough office before attempting anything.
- Think through possible ramifications before getting started. Some guerrilla marketing ideas seem super exciting and attention-grabbing but have a high risk of someone getting hurt.
- Be thoughtful and safe. Don’t set up any of your ads in places that could disrupt safety workers, construction crews or anyone else from doing their jobs or keeping people safe (blocking exits, etc.).
- Take responsibility for your actions, whether you intended the outcome or not.
As much as these guerrilla marketing ideas can be a raging success, there is also a decent chance that it will totally flop. Sometimes the flop equates to minimal loss; BUT if you’re not careful, that loss could include a damaged reputation or even legal issues. So, please, be wise in how you conduct your marketing campaigns.
Sources & Inspiration