While we now associate “guerrilla marketing” with the internet, entrepreneurs have long been trying different low-cost ways to bring attention to their businesses without spending the cash. Even before Conrad Jay Levinson popularized the term in 1984 with his seminal book Guerrilla Marketing, business owners and managers have long struggled with making limited marketing budgets go further.
Novel ideas ranging from viral videos and one-off pop culture events to cheap custom wristbands and sidewalk ads drawn with chalk have managed to score big marketing wins without the multimillion-dollar expenses associated with television and other mass marketing techniques.
Here are just a few guerrilla marketing methods that have been successfully tried that can still be a potent tool for your small business.
1. Clever email signatures and calls to action
Simply adding a witty line at the end of your marketing emails can go a long way into making you and your business more memorable. Try this some time and compare your response rates with emails with no signatures to see what works and what doesn’t.
2. Using photo sharing apps and sites to build your brand
The great thing about social media is that it has a way of leveling the playing field between larger and smaller brands. This is especially true when it comes to visual posts. You can use visually-centered apps and social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest to share pictures of your products, reaching a much wider audience.
3. Purposefully creating a humorous social media presence
Remember — people are on social media to have a good time. Try not to make your social media posts too serious. People remember funny brands and you don’t need a big budget to have a sense of humor. Even big names such as Wendy’s and the BBC occasionally inject humor in their posts and social media responses in order to help them better connect with their audience.
4. Eye-catching promotional items
Real-world items such as enamel pins and cheap custom wristbands pack a lot of power compared to online or mass-market advertisements. People are far more likely to have their emotions stirred by things they can see and touch in the real world — which is why those silicone rubber wristbands are still making a huge dent in our consciousness.
5. SEO and content marketing
A social media presence is a must for any guerrilla marketer — but having a website might be more important. People tend to use search engines like Google rather than social media sites when they look for something they want to buy. This means getting found on search engines is important for any small business that wants to be competitive.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to have a solid brand presence online. All you need is time. Make sure to have a website or a blog where you can share content so that search engines have something to show when someone looks for your brand.
6. Sticker marketing
Stickers aren’t just cheap — they’re one of the most persistent types of marketing materials there are. A sticker in the right place has the potential to make thousands of impressions over its lifetime. Whether you hand them out as gifts or use them in the “traditional” way by tagging different public locations (don’t do this where it’s not allowed!), stickers carry a much stronger emotional punch than most other marketing materials.
7. Pop-up stores
Setting up pop-up stores in high traffic areas is a great way for people to see what you have to offer up close. Not only can this raise your brand’s profile, but it can also help you gather valuable information about market demand and behavior.
Guerrilla marketing is all about guts and creativity. There are many more things you could try that aren’t on this list. New guerrilla marketing opportunities open with every new development in culture and technology. Older methods are likewise waiting to be rediscovered and repurposed.
What other guerrilla marketing methods can you suggest? We’d love to know!