Expect The Unexpected: What is Guerrilla Marketing?

One of the greatest challenges with any marketing campaign is creating something that is just creating something that stands out from the competition. Even if you have engaging and informative content, it can be easily be overwhelmed by all of the other ads running on social, television, and other channels. Sometimes, if you want to cut through the noise, you need to use different advertising channels and more unorthodox methods for raising brand awareness. Guerilla marketing is one of the best (and most unconventional) ways to achieve this!

What Is Guerilla Marketing?

Guerilla marketing is an advertising strategy that is based around the element of surprise. Jay Conrad Levinson first popularized the term in his 1984 book Guerrilla Marketing. The concept is heavily derived from the idea of guerilla warfare, where small and loosely organized groups take on a larger and more organized force. This was most often accomplished through ambushes, sneak attacks, and other irregular tactics. Guerilla marketing applies that same strategy to the marketing industry.

With guerilla marketing, the goal is to gain an audience’s attention while using fewer resources in order to compete against brands that have bigger budgets and a larger market presence. This accomplished by using eye-catching and unorthodox methods that are ultimately cheaper than a traditional marketing campaign. This typically involves non-standard advertising methods or unusual uses of classical forms of advertising.

What Are Some Guerilla Marketing Strategies?

There is no set-in-stone guerilla marketing playbook out there, but there are a few strategies marketers tend to use when they are looking to shake things up. Some of these include:

  • Ambient Marketing: A form of advertising that involves placing ads on unusual items or places that you wouldn’t normally expect to see them. The odd location choice is often humorous, which makes the ad especially memorable. These ads often appear outdoors, but they can be found in any public location.
  • Experiential Marketing: A marketing strategy that focuses on immersive experiences in which customers directly interact with the brand. This can include things like “pop-up” stores that are only open one day or simply fun interactive branded objects.
  • Ambush Marketing: A marketing strategy in which an advertiser “ambushes” an event or campaign without directly participating in it. One example is to place ads right next to a competitor’s advertising that references or comments on their campaign.

Guerilla marketing has a high chance of going viral due to its creativity, interactivity, and the fact that it usually plays out in public. Whether it’s a funny ad in an unexpected place or a surprise event that helps customers connect with a brand, guerilla marketing not only builds engagement and brand trust, it spreads awareness.

What Are The Pros & Cons of Guerilla Marketing?

The most obvious benefits for using guerilla marketing tactics is that they are cost-effective and engaging. If managed correctly, an act of guerilla marketing will be far cheaper than a full-fledged marketing campaign conducted through more traditional methods. However, because guerilla marketing tends to be creative and unexpected, it can potentially draw more attention than a more expensive option. This cost-effectiveness also makes it possible for smaller brands to compete with larger businesses with bigger marketing budgets. For those with the creative know-how and a willingness to take risks, guerilla marketing can be an ideal option to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

There are challenges to using guerilla marketing tactics though: guerilla marketing is good at drawing attention to itself, but this means that it will be a very public failure if it flops. Also, despite the fact that guerilla marketing is all about being cost-efficient, it can potentially get quite expensive if it isn’t approached with some degree of caution. For example, there are many cases of ambush marketing going awry, with one brand suing another for hi-jacking their ad campaign. Not to mention that all guerilla marketing strategies are reliant on time and space, meaning that you need to make sure that the location you are using will be there for a while, or otherwise that you’ll be able to execute your plan quickly enough to make the most out of it.

Still, despite these challenges, guerilla marketing has an undeniable value for brands both large and small. All ad campaigns come with a degree of risk and sometimes you need to get creative to stand out among the competition. If you have an idea that’s eye-catching enough, guerilla marketing can be one of the most effective and inexpensive options available, giving brands both an opportunity to deliver a strong impact at a low cost.

Mark Buckner
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Mark Buckner is a freelance writer and editor from Hammond, Indiana. A recent graduate of Purdue University Northwest, he has edited two books and written on topics ranging from social media to science fiction film. At this time, he is open to other freelance writing and editing opportunities.

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