Guerilla Marketing Ideas
A brand’s ability to stand out from the competition is key to its success. But, with all the advertising clutter out there, it’s tough to come up with fresh, innovative ideas that bring the level of exposure your brand deserves.
Enter guerilla marketing.
First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book “Guerrilla Marketing”, guerilla marketing takes the traditional advertising strategies and turns them on their head. It uses unconventional methods to get the word out about a brand without blowing out a team’s marketing budget.
So how do you put a marketing campaign like this together?
Let’s take a look.
10 Guerilla Marketing Ideas
If you’re looking to give your marketing strategy a boost, look no further than these 10 guerrilla marketing ideas (with examples from both small and big business).
1. Grassroots Marketing: Somedays’ Period Pain Simulator
Grassroots marketing is the use of tactics that focus on building relationships with potential customers through community involvement. Grassroots strategies typically rely on word-of-mouth to promote products or services, rather than traditional advertising methods.
Grassroots marketing can take many forms, such as hosting community gatherings, participating in charity work, or attending local events.
A great example of a grassroots marketing strategy is Somedays’ period pain simulator that was exhibited at the Stampede Rodeo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
A great number of convention-goers put their bodies on the line to experience what many people feel during menstruation. Volunteers included a good handful of “tough” cowboys who took up the challenge.
You can see how they fared below…
The guerrilla marketing campaign was a huge success, creating quite a stir online. Publishers, far and wide, including the New York Post and Insider, shared the video and reported on the volunteers’ reactions.
Social media was buzzing over it, too.
The above video received just shy of 1M views on YouTube and a very impressive 20M on TikTok.
How can your business create this kind of hype around its products and services?
Just like Somedays, it’s all about connecting with your customers on a personal level.
Here are some tips for using grassroots marketing tactics:
- Concise messaging. Keep your messaging consistent across all channels. This will help create a cohesive brand identity that customers can easily recognize and remember.
- Target the right audience. Identify the demographics, interests, and needs of your target customers and craft your marketing messages accordingly.
- Get involved in your community. Attend local events, join community groups, and volunteer your time. This will help you get to know potential customers and build relationships with them.
- Use influencers. Find local influencers who align with your brand values and who have a large following within your target demographic. These individuals can help spread awareness of your brand to a wider audience.
By following these tips and creating a positive association with the brand, businesses can encourage potential customers to become loyal fans and followers.
2. Street Marketing: DHL’s Stair Art
Street marketing is a form of marketing that involves interacting with consumers in public places such as on the street, in parks, or at events.
It attempts to reach consumers who may not be exposed to traditional marketing channels, such as television, radio, or print ads. Street marketing can take many forms, including street art/art displays, product demonstrations, or the handing out of coupons or flyers.
DHL has perfected the art of street marketing. In the past, using custom billboards, street art, or other creative marketing strategies to reach their audiences.
In this example, DHL used a busy subway stairway and adjacent escalator to cleverly position their delivery service as superior to other postal services through the use of visual irony.
By placing the advertisement in a high traffic area, they are able to subliminally communicate to potential customers that their service is not only fast but also reliable. More so than its greatest competitor, FedEx.
Notice the colors used to spell the phrase “Other Services”.
How can your marketing team match the ingeniousness of these types of guerrilla marketing tactics?
Here are a few tips on how businesses can use street marketing to advertise their brand:
- Plan ahead. Have a plan for how you’re going to execute your street marketing campaign. This includes everything from logistics to timing to budgeting.
- Be strategic about where you advertise. Make sure you pick a spot that will get high foot traffic and is appropriate for your target audience.
- Get creative with your advertising. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to street marketing. Be eye-catching and memorable, and make sure your branding is front and center.
By taking your marketing to the streets, you can get up close and personal with your potential customers, and make a lasting impression.
3. Ambient Marketing: FedEx’s Van Wrap
Ambient marketing is a form of marketing that seeks to engage consumers in a non-intrusive way through the use of subtle advertisement.
This type of marketing often uses elements of surprise and humor to capture the attention of consumers to foster an emotional connection with the brand.
Ambient marketing campaigns are often designed to generate word-of-mouth buzz and create a sense of exclusivity around the products or services being promoted.
A great example of this type of guerrilla marketing is FedEx’s van wraps.
Not to be outdone by DHL’s stairs, FedEx once used van wraps to cleverly (and perhaps not so subtly) position themselves as the superior delivery service. The van wraps feature images and messages that highlight the many advantages that FedEx offers over DHL, such as faster delivery times and more reliable service.
Touché, FedEx, touché.
So how can you use this type of guerrilla marketing to position your business as superior to the competition?
There are many ways businesses can use ambient marketing to advertise their brand. They can use billboards, bus stop ads, in-store displays, and even QR codes (created using a QR code maker) consumers can scan with their smartphones. Ambient marketing is all about being creative and thinking outside the traditional advertising box.
As general rules of thumb, when implementing an ambient marketing campaign, be sure to:
- Be strategic. Place your ambient marketing material where it is most likely going to be seen by your target audience.
- Be noticeable. Make sure that your ambient marketing campaign stands out from the crowd. Use bright colors and eye-catching graphics to grab attention.
- Be creative. Ambient marketing campaigns can be very creative, so get your team together and brainstorm some ideas that will really stand out. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to try something new.
With ambient marketing, you can take your business to new heights and reach your target market like never before.
4. Ambush Marketing: Nike’s Olympic Takeover
Ambush marketing is a marketing technique whereby a company associates itself with a major event without having official sponsorship rights. This can be done in several ways.
Businesses may sponsor rival athletes, set up promotional activities near the event venue, or simply create ad campaigns that make reference to the event.
The goal of ambush marketing is to capitalize on the public’s association of the event with the sponsoring company, in order to increase brand awareness and sales.
A famous example of this is Nike’s masterstroke strategy of ambush marketing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. A hallmark year, the ’96 marked the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic games. The official sponsor of this event was Reebok. This banned non-sponsors from using the Olympics rings, the word “Olympics”, or the phrase “the Games” in their advertising.
This didn’t deter Nike, though.
Prior to the commencement of the Games, Nike purchased the available billboard space around the Olympic venues. They handed out branded merchandise, like flags that spectators would wave while watching their sport of choice. And they leveraged the athletes they had under contract, like Michael Johnson, who went on to not only claim gold in the 200m and 400m sprint but also break both the events world records.
He became known as “The Man With the Golden Shoes”, showcasing a pair of golden Nike racing spikes that made headlines around the world.
All of these marketing efforts created a sense that Nike was the unofficial sponsor of the Olympics, and Reebok was left scrambling to assert its own presence.
So how can small businesses leverage ambush marketing to get ahead?
Small businesses can implement an ambush marketing strategy by aligning their brand with a popular event and creating promotions that capitalize on the event’s buzz. For example, a small clothing company could release a line of t-shirts with clever sayings related to the event.
Or a local restaurant could offer discounts to customers who show their ticket stubs from the event.
To help out further, keep these ambush marketing tips in mind:
- Do your research. Make sure you understand the event or situation you’re trying to capitalize on. Otherwise, you risk coming across as insensitive or tone-deaf.
- Pick your battles carefully. Not every event or situation will be worth ambushing, so make sure you pick ones that will really resonate with your target audience.
- Execute with precision and creativity. When done well, ambush marketing can be very effective, but it takes a lot of planning and creativity to pull off successfully.
By piggybacking on the success of a major event, small businesses can gain visibility and exposure they might not otherwise be able to afford. Ambush marketing can be an effective way to connect with potential customers and build brand awareness.
Just be careful.
There are also risks associated with ambush marketing. If done poorly, it can backfire and damage a company’s reputation. And if carried out in a tactless or unlawful manner, businesses may face legal action from event organizers.
5. Stealth Marketing: McDonald’s Fifth Element Product Placement
What if we told you there was a way to sell without selling, to get people interested in your product without even trying?
That’s where stealth marketing comes in.
Stealth marketing is a type of guerilla marketing that employs little or no advertising and instead relies on word-of-mouth, personal relationships, and other indirect means to generate interest in a product or service.
In the 1997 movie the Fifth Element, McDonald’s product placement is a perfect example of an indirect stealth marketing tactic.
Throughout the movie, there are numerous references to McDonald’s, including an entire scene in which characters visit a McDonald’s restaurant drive-through. This blatant product placement for sure served to increase awareness of McDonald’s among moviegoers.
In addition to the Fifth Element, McDonald’s has placed its products in other very popular movies, such as Big Daddy, starring Adam Sandler, Coming to America, starring Eddie Murphy, and the brand even got a mention in Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic, Pulp Fiction.
By using product placement in movies, McDonald’s is able to reach a large audience with little effort.
But, of course, not every business has the budget to appear in blockbuster movies. These tactics are often too expensive for small businesses or are awash with a high-level of competition and may not be as effective.
Not all is lost, though. There are a number of affordable and effective stealth marketing tactics that small businesses can use to reach their target customers.
Some creative marketing strategies may include:
- Cultivate pre-launch hype. The process of creating pre-launch hype for a product or service is to generate excitement and anticipation among your target audience. This can be done by releasing teaser videos, images, or snippets of information about the product or service. Or you can reach out to influencers and bloggers in your industry to get them excited about the product or service and generate buzz.
- Subliminal messages. Small businesses can use subliminal messages to promote a product or service in a few ways. One way is to create stickers and street posters. These are small, easy to produce, and can be placed in highly visible locations. They are also relatively cheap, so small businesses can afford to place them in numerous locations throughout a city or town.
- “Stuck on the brain” slogans. Small businesses can create slogans or logos that subconsciously suggest the product or service. Nike’s slogan “Just do it” is the perfect example of this.
With Stealth Marketing, you can learn the secrets to successful marketing without anyone knowing you’re doing it. It’s the perfect way to get ahead without making a scene.
6. Pop-Up Retail Marketing: Financial advice
In the last decade, pop-up retail has become an increasingly popular marketing strategy for brands and businesses of all sizes. A pop-up shop is a temporary retail space that is typically open for a few days or weeks.
This type of marketing allows businesses to test out new products or ideas in a real-world setting without making a long-term commitment.
Pop-up shops are often used to generate buzz and excitement around a new product launch.
They can also be used to target specific demographics or markets that may be difficult to reach with traditional advertising methods. Pop-up retail provides a unique and immersive experience that can help brands stand out in today’s competitive marketplace.
The Minneapolis-based creative agency, Solve, has found success with pop-up retail stores on University campuses.
The stores are designed to be temporary, offering a unique experience that speaks to college students. Solve gave students the opportunity to participate in a 5-minute challenge based on their interests. Those students that performed best were invited to interviews.
This guerilla marketing campaign was very successful for the agency, the pop-up events tripling Solve’s internship applications.
Like Solve, if you’re considering using pop-up retail as part of your marketing strategy, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Consider the location. It is important to choose a location that is high-traffic and visible to potential customers, like a university campus.
- Plan ahead. The space should be large enough to accommodate your products and displays.
- Leverage the right staff. Make sure to staff your pop-up shop with friendly and knowledgeable employees who can assist customers with purchases.
With pop-up retail, you can take your business to new places and reach new customers. This new form of marketing is flexible, exciting, and can help you take your business to the next level.
7. Wild Posting: YMCA’s Yoga Mat Posters
Wild posting is a type of outdoor advertising that involves putting up posters in public places.
This includes attaching them to buildings, street furniture, public transportation vehicles, or areas with high-foot traffic. The phrase “wild posting” is derived from the fact that these postings are often done without the permission of the property owner, making them illegal in some jurisdictions.
Although wild posting can come with a certain level of risk, this guerilla marketing strategy has a range of benefits.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that it is a relatively low-cost form of marketing. When compared to other marketing channels, such as paid advertising, wild posting can be a very cost-effective way to reach potential customers.
A great example of this guerrilla marketing strategy is the services offered by Grassroots Advertising Inc.
Grassroots specialize in wild posting. In the past, having worked with companies like the UFC, Red Bull, and Coca-Cola.
A particularly attention-grabbing service they offer is something they’ve coined the “off the wall” range. This guerrilla marketing tactic involves your typical posters, but with a twist. These posters have products or other objects that can be taken “off the wall” by pedestrians.
In the past, Grassroots have teamed up with brands like Sprite, Ikea, and the YMCA to employ this guerilla marketing tactic.
Pretty cool, right?
So how can you use the power of wild posting to raise customer awareness and boost the hype around your brand?
Here are a few tips to get started:
- First, make sure your posters are high quality and eye-catching – you want people to stop and take notice.
- Second, be strategic about where you place them – target areas with high foot traffic and make sure they’re visible from a distance.
- Finally, don’t overdo it – too many posters in one area will just end up looking cluttered and will likely be removed by authorities.
Wild posting can be an effective way to reach a large number of people. Just be sure to check in with your local jurisdiction if you wish to avoid stepping on any toes.
8. Viral Marketing: Bitcoin’s “Bitcoin Bull”
Viral marketing is a technique that uses pre-existing social networks to produce exponential increases in brand awareness or product sales.
The idea is that a message is spread from person to person, or “virus-like,” until it reaches a large number of people. Unlike traditional marketing techniques, which rely on advertising and paid media, viral marketing relies on users to voluntarily spread the word about a product or service.
A great example of viral marketing is the Bitcoin Bull.
As reported by Bloomberg, the Bitcoin Bull was a very impressive and prominent feature at the Bitcoin conference that kicked off in Miami on April 6th, 2022, at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The Bitcoin Bull or Miami Bull is a symbol of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. He is said to represent a “bullish” sign for the future of Bitcoin.
Some people believe that he is a sign of good luck, while others see him as a warning that the cryptocurrency market is overheated.
And perhaps they were right. The entire cryptocurrency market has recently seen a drastic price dip right across the board.
Regardless of what you believe if the crypto market is over-hyped or not, it’s hard to deny that this Bitcoin Bull is one of the most visible symbols of Bitcoin and has made a huge splash online.
The Miami bull blew up so much, (love him or hate him) the statue even got a mention on Joe Rogan’s podcast, the Joe Rogan Experience. Khalil Rountree, a UFC fighter, sharing his opinion of the cryptocurrency market with Joe.
So, like Bitcoin, how can you cultivate this level of hype around your brand?
All it takes is a viral idea, and the right tools to help it spread. Here are a few tips for getting started:
- Come up with a great idea. This is the most important step, so take your time and come up with something truly original.
- Use social media to spread the word. Share your content on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to get it in front of as many people as possible.
- Use hashtags to help it go viral. Add relevant hashtags to your posts so that people who are looking for that kind of content can find it easily.
- Get creative with your marketing tactics. Try using videos, infographics, or even memes to help promote your content.
For a last touch of inspiration to help you conjure up a viral idea, try using humor, creating an element of suspense, or play on people’s emotions. This type of content is most successful when it comes to achieving the marketing results your next campaign deserves.
9. Projection Marketing (Advertising): Nike’s Shinjuku Station 3D Billboard
Projection advertising is a type of out-of-home advertising that uses projection technology to display images, videos, or other content on surfaces in public spaces.
Remember this scene from Back to the Future?
Sure. We don’t have hoverboards yet, but the scriptwriters weren’t wrong in their prediction of projection marketing. Projection marketing is now a big deal and used by many companies to advertise their brand.
This can be done using either traditional projection equipment or newer, more advanced LED projection systems. Projection advertising can be used to reach large audiences in high-traffic areas, and offers a unique way to grab attention and create a memorable experience.
Businesses can use a projection advertising strategy to target potential customers in a specific geographic area with custom messages and visuals.
Here are some tips on how you can implement projection advertising for your business:
- Choose the right location. When choosing a location for your projection advertisement, make sure to pick a spot that gets a lot of foot traffic. This will help ensure that more people see your ad.
- Use eye-catching visuals. Your visuals should be attractive and attention-grabbing in order to capture people’s imaginations (and business).
- Make it interactive. Interactive ads are more likely to engage viewers and get them interested in what you’re selling.
With projection advertising, you can take your marketing to the next level by captivating your audience with dynamic, attention-grabbing visuals.
10. Astroturf Marketing: Ask.com’s Anti-Google Marketing Campaign
And for the most guerrilla-ish of all guerrilla marketing tactics, I give you astroturf marketing.
What is astroturf marketing?
The name “astroturf marketing” comes from the fact that it is often used to create false or artificial support for something, in the same way that artificial turf is used to create an artificial lawn.
In a sense, astroturf marketing is the antithesis of grassroots marketing. Unlike grassroots marketing that aims to build genuine customer trust and community support, astroturf marketing is a top-down approach that relies on paid professionals to create the appearance of widespread support for a product, person, or idea.
Astroturf marketing can take many forms, but some common examples include creating fake online reviews, paying people to promote a product on social media, and using bots to generate positive comments on websites and blogs.
Back in 2007, Ask.com, the question-answering search engine, was on the warpath against Google. The pinnacle of the company’s anti-Google marketing campaign came as the company embarked on an astroturf marketing campaign in the London Underground. Ask blanketed the Tube stations with ads that encourage commuters to “ask a different question.”
The campaign is a direct shot at Google, which, at the time, had come under fire for its dominant position in the search market. Ask.com was hoping to capitalize on consumer discontent with Google’s monopoly power by positioning itself as a more user-friendly alternative.
Originally, the campaign seemed to be resonating with Londoners. Commuters had been stopping to take photos of the ads and posting them on social media.
However, the real reason behind the ad campaign was eventually exposed.
It turned out that instead of some good samaritan spreading the “good word”, Ask had enlisted the services of a marketing agency, Profero, to design and make the subway ads, as well as put together a website that was used to display Google in a negative light.
While these tactics used by Ask may be effective in the short-term, they can ultimately damage a company’s reputation and credibility.
If you’d like to try your hand at astroturfing – a risky endeavor – be sure to keep in mind:
- Use astroturfing sparingly. If you use astroturfing tactics too often, consumers will catch on and it will backfire.
- Be honest. Don’t create fake reviews that are misleading. This will only anger consumers and damage your reputation.
- Implement other marketing techniques. Don’t rely solely on astroturfing, as this will make your marketing efforts seem inauthentic.
Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about astroturf marketing techniques, and many are now aware of how to spot fake reviews and endorsements. If you wish to use astroturfing, be tactful in your approach to minimize the risk of damaging your business’ reputation.
Guerilla marketing can be a very effective way to reach your target market. But it is important to plan your campaign carefully and use creative and original ideas to achieve the desired results. By following these guidelines, you can create a successful guerrilla marketing campaign that will get your business the attention it deserves.
Another great way to expose your business to more customers than ever before?
With help from us, Loganix.
Here at Loganix, we offer a range of digital marketing services. Anything from SEO, PPC, digital, and content marketing, we’ve got you covered.
Contact our team today for more information.