How to: use guerilla marketing tactics

Last checked and updated on November 25, 2020

The term Guerilla Marketing was first used in the 1980s to describe ways of marketing products or services through non-convention means. Sometimes referred to as ‘outside the box’ thinking, guerilla marketing focused on methods of marketing that strayed from traditional means at the time, such as print, television and radio.

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As the concept of guerrilla marketing took off, business found new and varied ways to get their message across. A big part of this evolution was the invention of new technologies such as the internet and smart phones.

There are now several different ‘forms’ of guerrilla marketing – each with its own unique style that has grown from the original concept;

  • Ambient – creating an atmosphere that your potential customers walk through without engaging directly. Example: Tube posters
  • Ambush – your brand/campaign is associated with an event or occasion and receives attention by proxy. Example: Branded merchandise
  • Stealth – launching a marketing campaign without any formal announcement. The trick is getting customers to engage without realising what you’re up to. Example: Products placed in movies
  • Viral – a campaign that is shared online or by word of mouth by customers of their own violation. Example: Funny videos/cute pictures
  • Street – engaging with people directly on the street. Can take the form of leaflets, costumed actors or art installations. Example: Costumed tour guides

In marketing

Marketing is all about getting your message across and guerrilla marketing is no different.

Guerilla marketing campaigns can be extremely powerful – if executed properly. You have to take into account a large amount of variables and not everything will always go to plan. The key is to try and account for all outcomes, or as many as you can, and adapt as you go.

It is also unpredictable when compared to other traditional forms of marketing. When successful, your campaign can go global in minutes and bring positive attention to your brand.

However, when it goes wrong, the effects equally viral but have the opposite, negative effect on your brand reputation.

What you need to remember

  1. Flexibility – Things might go wrong and when they do, you need to be able to adapt
  2. Purpose – You can subvert your message in guerilla marketing but you still need to remember to add a message
  3. Planning – Plan, plan and plan some more. Look at your campaign from all angles and ask yourself ‘is this working?’ If not, back to the drawing board

Great examples

GoodYear Blimp

The now world-famous blimp has been parodied in everything from The Simpsons to Grand Theft Auto, which is a testament to its marketing staying power. Synonymous with big sporting events, such as The Superbowl, the blimp is a great example of a campaign that passively ingrains itself into the psyche of customers.

 Carlsberg poster

The slogan ‘Probably the best …. in the world’ has taken on many forms since the start of the campaign but the poster that actually dispensed beer is probably the best example. Interactive and instantly memorable, this is a great example of a successful strategy.

 Curse of Chucky bus stop

Coinciding with the release of the new Child’s Play film in the series, a well-known Brazilian prankster joined forces with the movie promoters to scare the life out of unsuspecting passers by in a viral video campaign. It could have gone terribly wrong very quickly but instead became a must-see video.

 Nail Biter shopping bags

A great example of a simple yet effective campaign. Guerilla marketing doesn’t have to include stunts or special effects. These shopping bags were memorable, easy to make and, because of the usefulness of the item, they continued promoting the message long after the campaign officially ended.

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Important – The information provided in our articles is intended to be for general purpose use only, and not advice for you or your business. We strive to publish accurate information, but encourage you to fact-check and seek expert guidance. You should always speak to a qualified professional to get tailored advice about how to operate your business under your specific requirements and circumstances.