What is Guerrilla Marketing? Tactics, Advantages, and Pitfalls

What is Guerrilla Marketing? Tactics, Advantages, and Pitfalls | Sales and Marketing | Emeritus

Let’s begin with a simple question: What is guerrilla marketing? Well, imagine this: You’re walking on a city street, caught up in your thoughts. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you spot something cool and unusual. It’s an advertisement campaign but it is nothing like you have ever seen before. It’s different and interesting and makes you look at a brand in a whole new way. That unexpected moment? That is what guerrilla marketing is. It’s all about surprising the audience and making an impression—and we are going to learn more about it here.

In this blog, you will learn:

  • What is Guerrilla Marketing and How Does It Differ From Traditional Marketing?
  • How Can Guerrilla Marketing Create Buzz and Increase Brand Awareness?
  • What are Some Key Principles to Remember When Implementing Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns?
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Guerrilla Marketing
  • Explore Our Courses to Take Your Marketing Skills to the Next Level
Brand and Content Marketing: Creating Strategies for Business Success | Emeritus India
Brand and Content Marketing: Creating Strategies for Business Success | Marketing & Sales | Emeritus India

What is Guerrilla Marketing and How Does It Differ From Traditional Marketing?

First things first, the term “guerrilla” evokes images of rebels and unconventional warfare. Traditionally, the terminology has always been used to define small groups using surprise tactics to overcome larger enemies. In much the same way, guerrilla marketing employs unconventional methods, aiming for maximum impact on a minimal budget. Interestingly, renowned American business writer Jay Conrad Levinson is credited with coining the term in his 1984 book titled “Guerrilla Marketing”. His idea of guerrilla marketing comprises creating a buzz about a product, making it irresistible for consumers to talk about or, better yet, buy. So, how does this differ from traditional marketing? Well, here are some of the key differences:

1. Budgeting

Traditional marketing often requires hefty budgets while guerrilla marketing thrives on creativity over cash.

2. Approach

Whereas traditional marketing often tends to convey a general message to a large audience, guerrilla marketing tactics target select groups in unconventional ways.

3. Risk Factor

Guerrilla marketing can be risky. Its unexpected nature can sometimes backfire but when it works, the returns are undeniably substantial.

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How Can Guerrilla Marketing Create Buzz and Increase Brand Awareness?

Over the years, the guerrilla marketing strategy has proven that thinking unconventionally can contribute toward creating a sensation like no other. To know how it works, though, we need to know its tactics and how it works in practice. Let’s therefore look at some examples of this out-of-the-box marketing strategy.

1. Flash Mobs

Visualize yourself in the heart of a bustling square. Without warning, a random group appears from nowhere and breaks into a choreographed performance. This is the essence of a flash mob. By transforming ordinary moments into extraordinary spectacles, flash mobs capture immediate attention and often go viral, amplifying brand visibility. The T-Mobline dance in Liverpool is a classic example of this.

2. Unexpected Billboards

IKEA isn’t just about flat-pack furniture. Demonstrating their aptitude for innovation, they once turned a regular billboard into a climbable apartment in France. This daring move, thus, not only showcased their products in action but also turned a simple advertisement into an interactive and memorable experience.

3. Interactive Installations

If you have ever walked past a 3D street art piece, then you know the irresistible pull they have. These installations are more than just works of art; they’re photo opportunities as well. People interact with them, take pictures, and talk about the installations. This ripple effect across social media channels offers brands unprecedented levels of engagement and organic reach. Sony’s Affinity is Autonomy provides a classic example of using interactive installations as a marketing technique.

4. Ambient Advertisements

Ambient advertising is about seamlessly integrating promotions into our everyday environments. By introducing ads in surprising and unconventional ways, brands have the power to disrupt the routine and deliver truly memorable experiences to consumers. This strategy thus shines by blending the advertisement with our daily surroundings innovatively.

5. Product Giveaways

Who can deny the lure of free stuff? But when it is done with a guerrilla twist, the impact is even bigger. For instance, think of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream giveaways. By distributing free ice creams on occasion and offering you a chance to get a year’s ice cream for free, they created an immediate buzz and lasting brand loyalty.

6. Viral Videos

Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign is the gold standard here. Using humor and unexpected twists, brands can craft video content that viewers willingly share, leading to a massive online buzz.

7. Stunt Performances

Red Bull is synonymous with pushing limits, be it through their energy drinks or marketing. For instance, their Stratos jump, where Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space, was not just a stunt; it was a statement. Such audacious feats grab headlines and position brands as pioneers.

8. Guerrilla Storefronts

Pop-up shops, when done right, can be a guerrilla marketer’s dream. Brands have often created surprise pop-up shops, where limited-edition items are sold or launched, creating urgency, exclusivity, and, you guessed it, immense buzz. Remember the Nike pop-up store in San Francisco where they relaunched their Air Foamposite One? That’s a classic example of a big brand resorting to out-of-the-box guerrilla marketing strategies.

9. Augmented Reality Campaigns

Pepsi, in one unforgettable campaign, transformed a London bus shelter’s glass into an augmented reality screen showing alien invasions, roaring tigers, robots, and more. Passersby were both startled and amused, leading to countless shares online.

10. Teaser Campaigns

In this digital era, guerrilla marketing has found its way online. Many brands employ the tactic of subtly dropping teasers or posting cryptic messages on social media. These mysterious teasers often lead to buzzing fan discussions and heightened media coverage.

ALSO READ: What is an Infographic and How Does It Benefit Marketing Plans?

What are Some Key Principles to Remember When Implementing Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns?

1. Understanding the Audience

One can’t stress enough the importance of knowing who you are speaking to. While some maneuvers might be a hit with millennials, they might fall flat with an older demographic. Tailor strategies to resonate with the right crowd.

2. Pushing Boundaries But With Caution

Being edgy and pushing boundaries can lead to memorable moments that get people talking. However, tread carefully because the last thing you want is to create controversy or upset potential customers.

3. Consistent Brand Messaging

No matter how out-of-the-box the campaign might be, staying true to the brand’s core image is absolutely crucial. The target audience should connect the innovative campaign back to the brand seamlessly.

Now, while guerrilla marketing can be a powerful tool, it is not for every business. Take, for instance, a law firm that specializes in serious corporate lawsuits. A quirky, surprise flash mob in a park, though captivating, might not align with the firm’s serious and professional image because such tactics might be seen as frivolous or inappropriate for the nature of their work. Additionally, it might alienate their target clients. Thus, it is important to remember that while guerrilla marketing has its charm, it is essential to gauge whether it fits the brand’s identity and audience.

ALSO READ: How Online Marketing Courses Can Help Entrepreneurs Stay Ahead of the Game

Green MarketingFrequently Asked Questions About Guerrilla Marketing

1. Are Guerrilla Marketing Tactics Suitable for All Types of Businesses?

Guerrilla marketing should not be considered a one-size-fits-all approach. While a trendy startup or a brand aiming for a younger demographic might benefit immensely from deploying guerilla marketing tactics, a more traditional or conservative business might find such tactics misaligned with its brand image.

2. Can Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns be Cost-Effective?

Definitely. One of the main attractions of guerrilla marketing is its ability to make a significant impact without a large investment. Instead of massive budgets, the emphasis here is on creativity, surprise, and ingenuity.

Explore Our Courses to Take Your Marketing Skills to the Next Level

Are you looking to harness the power of guerrilla marketing for your brand? Or perhaps you’re just hungry to learn more innovative marketing strategies. If so, dive into the world of Emeritus’ marketing courses and elevate your skills to new heights.

Write to us at content@emeritus.org

About the Author

Content Writer, Emeritus Blog
Sneha is a content marketing professional with over four years of experience in helping brands achieve their marketing goals. She crafts research-based, engaging content, making sure to showcase a bit of her creative side in every piece she writes. Sneha spends most of her time writing, reading, or drinking coffee. You will often find her practicing headstands or inversions to clear her mind.
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