First of all, what is guerrilla marketing?
Guerilla marketing refers to marketing campaigns that use unconventional tactics to create awareness about your product.
It was originally conceived of by small business owners who didn’t have the means to produce expensive, conventional campaigns. By finding creative alternatives that created “buzz” and went “viral” they were able to leverage their small budget to gain significant reach and exposure.
Ironically, Guerilla marketing has since been adopted by the world’s biggest brands, who create elaborate stunts that still earn them many more viewers by dollar than a conventional ad campaign would.
To bring you up to speed, here are some of my favorite examples of great guerrilla marketing stunts, each with millions of views.
How-to execute a guerilla campaign
Guerilla marketing is a great way to market your small business or startup; I am currently spearheading a campaign on several Ivy-League campuses to promote Webbing, The Interest Network.
The following are some great tips to create an effective guerrilla marketing campaign, some of which I learned from the marketing director of WiShi. WiShi, short for “wear it, share it” is a website and soon to be mobile app that allows users to create outfits based on the clothing in their closet, and to get style advice from other community members.
1. Get lots of interns to help you out. To create buzz around your product, you need a tremendous amount of hands-on effort, people reaching out to other users, bloggers, and social media platforms; At its peak, WiShi was enlisting the help of 30 unpaid interns.
There are many people out there who believe in your idea and want to be part of the next big thing, the social GPS platform Waze supposedly has 70,000 volunteer map editors.
How do you find interns? A great place to start is interships.com; but don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn and personal networking.
2. Utilize social media sites. Since a key goal of guerrilla marketing is to grab attention and go viral, utilizing the right social media platforms is very important. Being visual and female-oriented, Pinterest was a natural fit for WiShi, who drove tens of thousands of people back to their site via a DIY Halloween costume pinboard they created.
Once you generate buzz, there is a chance that bigger sites like Buzzfeed and Mashable will take notice and feature your campaign (and don’t forget that Buzzfeed has a section that allows you to curate your own content).
3. Harness the power of influencers. To buy the endorsements of top celebrities starts at tens of thousands of dollars, but don’t underestimate the power of influencers – people who are not yet super-famous but still have thousands of loyal fans.
Twtrland and other tools allow you to identify community leaders, reaching out and involving them in your campaign usually involves a win-win scenario of increased exposure for both parties.
Here’s an example of WiShi a not-yet-pretentious MTV star. The video cost them a couple dollars to make, and got them over 15,000 views.
Similarly, we were lucky to be able to enlist the help of a Hollywood celebrity to judge a contest we created between different college campuses for best marketing campaign, this motivated our interns to join our campaign and try to be the winning campus.
4. Create great content. Guerilla marketing is all about compensating for a lack of resources with extra creativity. Don’t be afraid to be audacious and out of the box (but don’t get yourself killed either). If you are running a digital campaign, simple graphic art programs like picmonkey and canva LINKS can help you produce high quality images.
Fiverr is another great resource for all things marketing related, I have personally produced multiple creative promotional videos for literally pennies.
5. Empower your people. WiShi selected several high performing, charismatic interns from their pool had them blitz the subways during fashion week- wearing branded T-shirts and telling random passerby about their site. This campaign caught the eye of a top fashion reporter who featured them in her report, giving them a huge exposure boost.
It helps to divide them into groups led by a group leader, and to have weekly meetings with each group using Google hangouts or a similar program. Include them as much as possible in the overall success of your company and show appreciation for what they’ve accomplished so far.
Focus your attention on motivating your top performers; don’t run after your underperformers, let your reps drop out along the way and find better people to replace them.
6. Create a community. Like all marketing endeavors, at the end of the day you must be crystal clear on the benefit you are providing your users in the form of either pleasure or avoiding pain. Create a slogan that clearly states the benefit to the end-user and then have your people endlessly reiterate, share, and discuss this point with your consumers.
Allow each of your reps to track their progress by using Google’s URL builder. By creating a custom URL for each rep (and then shortening it with a link-shortener like bit.ly) you can track how many people an individual brought back to your site by simply checking your Google analytics.
Publicizing these stats brings respect to your best reps and motivates everyone to perform even better. One of WiShi’s reps brought in 3,000 people in one month, which led to other reps trying to replicate her techniques.
7. Document your campaign. This is really important. Even if your gimmick is only 20 minutes long and only gathers the interest of 15 people, posting your creative campaign to YouTube and other sites is what allows you to impact many thousands of additional people who were not there in person.
So be sure to document all your successes (and failures) through photos and videos (even just using an iPhone) and upload it to the right social networks. This leverages the power of the actual events you create.
Finally, it’s important to remember that there is no recipe for virality. No one can explain why Charlie biting a finger is a viral sensation. So even if your first endeavor does not succeed, keep trying, stay creative, and eventually your work will pay off.
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