How to Run a Guerrilla Marketing Program

This article gives you tips on setting up and executing a successful Guerrilla Marketing program. Whether it's the utilization of street teams, spokesmodels, passing out samples or product demonstrations, street marketing reaches people where they work and play.


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    Be relevant. Your audience is fickle. Advertisements, billboards, radio, newspaper – they are bombarded all the time. Make your contact with them relevant to them, and you will win their heart. Flyer Distribution, Postering, Spokesmodels, Events, these are all great ways to communicate to your target audience, but you must be relevant. Promoting Coach Handbags at a Biker Convention is not relevant. Promoting Retirement Accounts to teenagers is not relevant. Think about your audience, get inside their heads. Think about what they like, and then you’ve got them.
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    Be where your audience is. An event may be high-traffic, but the traffic may be all wrong. Looks good on paper, but it doesn't look so good when your street team arrives they realize it’s the wrong crowd. Your target audience has predictable behaviors, predictable patterns. If you understand your audience, understand their buying habits, understand where they like to be, and when you can have confidence that you guerrilla efforts will get in your audience’s hands.
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    Make your package creative. Packaging will have a lot to do with your success rate. Whether your teams are dressed in leotards instead of khaki, or you are giving them branded fruit instead of flyers, think about what will shake your target from the rigors of their daily pattern enough to see what you are showing them. Singing telegrams, or flyer distribution on roller-skates, Segway Marketing, or BASE Jumping from buildings – make a stir and the window of impression will open long enough for your point to hit home.
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    Leave it to the professionals. Don’t try to do it alone. We all see those commercials where there is a warning that says “These Are Trained Professionals. Do Not Attempt to Try This on your Own.” The same is true with street marketing, guerrilla marketing or non-traditional marketing. The professionals know what they are doing. Not all programs go 100% perfectly. In fact, most don’t. However, by using a professional street marketing agency, you can get all the resources you need, and if anything is not as you intended, they will fix it for you. A good promotional agency will have contingency plans to account for the ‘what ifs’ of a campaign, they will have back-ups, and a 24-hour support line. Plus, even though you may think you can do it alone, with the help of a source like craigslist, do you really want to add Hiring Personnel or Firing Personnel to your list tasks and responsibilities. Stick to what you do best, and let the professionals make your life easy, instead of letting a marketing and promotional campaign make your life hell.
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    Have a great team. The difference between an excellent promotional campaign and a rotten one can be determined by the street team you have on the ground. This is not an area where you want to skimp. You can have the very best materials, the very best call to action, and you could have anticipated your target demographic so well that you are at the perfect event, but without a A+ Team (of Managers, Staffers, Samplers, Spokesmodels, Emcees or Costumed Characters) to attack at will, you are at risk. Look for Enthusiasm, Professionalism, Ingenuity, Self-Starters, and Experience. Attractiveness is always a plus, and with some programs a major necessity, but that should not replace any of the above qualities and remember you will always get more and better results from someone who is truly excited that they were picked to be on the project rather than someone who felt it was your privilege to have them there.
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    Hit 'em at all levels. The best defense is a good offense, and the best offense is one that attacks from all sides. Do not put all your street "marketing eggs" in one basket. Hit 'em at all levels. What does this mean? It means diversify how and where your audience with be targeted and make sure you are there. Marketing 101 tells us that for your message to be truly effective, it takes 7-10 exposures of your product/name per consumer. A good street-level marketing campaign should include at least 5 of the following street components: hand-to-hand flyer distribution, strategic store drops, wild postings, permission-based postering, sidewalk stencils, product distribution & sampling, guerrilla projections, Segway marketing, roach baiting, branded pizza boxes/coffee sleeves and a good publicity stunt.
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    Have good timing. Understanding the question of WHEN is very important. If you are promoting a nightclub, flyer distribution during the day is not going to be as effective as hitting your target at night. If you are doing a coffee promotion, cruising the entertainment district in the evening may not be as effective as hitting commuters on their way to work in the morning.
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    Think about your product. Think about your target audience. Knowing their behavior will allow you to know the when that makes your campaign a wow.
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    Show your work! Everyone has a boss. Everyone wants to impress the boss! When it comes to non-traditional marketing campaigns, results can be tricky to measure, so get as much evidence of your work as possible. If you were buying advertising, you would show your boss the great ad that you purchase in LUCKY magazine. With non-traditional, or street, or guerrilla marketing, you can still show your boss how cool you are. Get photos! Get event reports! Hire a videographer or a professional photographer. Do what it takes to make sure that your initiatives are very well documented. If you take this step, you will be covered, even if the program goes south.
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    Communicate. Important note: When it comes to reporting, make sure that what you have in mind regarding reporting is well communicated to your team. A photo from a cellphone is technically an event photo, but it is not going to show well in a presentation to the board of directors. Be clear in what you are expecting and you have a much higher likelihood of not being disappointed by the results down the road).
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    Twist the norm. Be unexpected! Be shocking! Make the public look. If you have a great to-market approach, your audience will have no choice but to look, listen and absorb. Shake it up. If you are promoting a movie, pass out popcorn. If you are doing a trade-show for dental professionals, give the public floss. For every great promotion that hits the mark on timing, relevance, call to action, etc., taking a moment to anticipate what the public will expect and twisting it ever so slightly will catch their eye, make them remember it and compel them to share the experience with others. That is true viral marketing, true guerrilla marketing – major impact from minor cost due to creativity and solid execution.


  • Don't forget that people, as a whole, have very short attention spans. Sure, a publicity stunt is great, but it's important to flash that logo before the majority of your market turns their head to something more interesting. If your target market leaves before finding out who is behind the stunt, then the entire ordeal goes from surgically precise guerrilla marketing to you just being a person on top of a building in a chicken suit flapping his fake, yellow wings.
  • Don't wait until the last minute to plan or get assistance. You can run a cost efficient program using a Marketing agency, but waiting until 1 week before you need to get it done will cost you more money.

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Categories: Marketing