Guerrilla marketing is a great strategy for startups with a low (or nonexistent) marketing budget.
One of the best things about guerrilla marketing is the creative freedom it gives small business owners to create amazing ways to engage with their target audience. It should not come as a surprise that startups find guerrilla marketing very popular nowadays. In fact, people crave unique communications.
Guerrilla marketing ideas can range from the mysterious (i.e., making people wonder and yearn to discover what you are all about), to fun (i.e., making people want to try and experience your product or service). It can also be sophisticated, which makes people feel privileged to be a part of something exclusive.
Unlike conventional marketing, where there are a lot of rules to follow, guerrilla marketing maximizes your team’s creativity and resourcefulness, leaving more room for new ideas. In return, small businesses and marketers, alike, usually come up with inexpensive ideas with the potential to catch the interest of lots of prospective customers.
Guerrilla Marketing in Action
The term “guerrilla” is not negative when it comes to marketing. There is nothing to fear about it. It is simply an unconventional, improvised marketing strategy wherein existing resources are used. Therefore, the cost-effectiveness of guerrilla marketing tactics makes it popular for small business owners. With minimal advertising and marketing budgets that are ill-equipped to compete with corporations and international companies, a little money spent on guerrilla marketing can go a long way.
One of my favorite examples of a startup that marketed themselves with creative guerrilla tactics is Unidesk — a virtual desktop management software. Instead of hiring a PR firm, Unidesk decided to target key bloggers and talk to them about their products. They didn’t invest heavily in sending press releases to big name publishers. Even when they decided to secure their first customers they didn’t use conventional customer acquisition strategies.
Instead they hosted webinars, and allowed existing customers to talk and create engagement for them. Here is a Youtube video of Unidesk’s CEO Michael Skok as he talks about how they were able to launch their product successfully.
Not Only for Startups
You might be asking yourself if larger small businesses, and corporations, are using guerrilla marketing, the simple answer is yes. Companies large and small have started to discover the benefits of guerrilla marketing. Corporate guerrilla marketing makes use of customized strategies, that tells people a lot about the company through its marketing efforts.
For example McDonald’s, which already spends millions in advertising and marketing, had the pedestrian lane in a particular street painted to look like McDonald’s french fries. It turned out to be a very affordable and eye-catching strategy which a lot of bystanders appreciated. While the ROI on such a strategy my not be tangible, it does gain a lot of attention considering the small investment they made.
Meanwhile Coca Cola’s guerrilla marketing strategies took a different approach — with advertisements that stick to people’s clothes. When it was time to remove their outerwear such as coats, jackets, or scarves, they were surprised to see the advertisements and it elicited admiring and amused reactions from people. In that way, they knew and remembered that Coca-Cola cans and bottles are now easy to grip. Although they are not a startup, their methods are far from conventional.
Personal Experiences with Guerrilla Marketing
In the past I utilized guerrilla marketing to advance my career. When I was looking for a job a couple of years ago, I created a Google AdWords campaign to target HR managers with specific demographics. Every HR manager that would search their name on Google found an advertisement; personalized teaser ads with an invitation to hire me and a link to my personal LinkedIn profile. If you are wondering how well that went for me, I am happy tell you that I learned a lot, and it benefited my professional branding.
Another example of my encounters with guerrilla marketing is actually happening right now at imonomy. While running a Pet Photo Contest on the imonomy Facebook page we have created a lot of buzz around imonomy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. The co-founders at imonomy have made their marketing strategy clear from the start: “We will invest in unconventional, creative marketing as much as possible.” Is this a good marketing strategy? I think the results speak for themselves.
As you can see from the examples mentioned above, and from my personal experience, guerrilla marketing is surely an effective way to tell people about your company or products in an unconventional, creative and surprising way.
How to Start ‘Guerrilla’ Marketing
Some may find it difficult to create guerrilla marketing ideas from scratch that would make people remember their products in a pleasant way. This is why it is very important for business owners to conduct target audience research ahead of time. As a founder, you should also know your business from top to bottom. Then the first thing to do is this: identify the unique characteristics that set you apart from competitors.
Keep in mind that if you do decide to choose guerrilla marketing for your startup, you must forget all the rules of conventional marketing. There are no rules when it comes to guerrilla marketing for startups, and in order to really hit a marketing home run, you should crank up your creativity levels.
Remember, mainstream traditional marketing can only get you so far, so go with your instincts and enjoy the journey that only guerrilla marketing can deliver.
Avishai Sam Bitton is the Founder of Go Social Israel and Marketing Manager at imonomy. He loves Internet startups, PC gaming, Star Wars, blogging, photography, LinkedIn and Linda. Connect with imonomy on Twitter. This post has been edited and condensed; it originally appeared here.