Guerrilla Marketing

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Guerrilla marketing is an advertisement strategy concept designed for businesses to promote their products or services in an unconventional way with little budget to spend. This involves high energy and imagination focusing on grabbing the attention of the public in more personal and memorable level. Some large companies use unconventional advertising techniques, proclaiming to be guerrilla marketing but those companies will have larger budget and the brand is already visible. The main point of guerrilla marketing is that the activities are done exclusively on the streets or other public places, such as shopping centers, parks or beaches with maximum exposure.

The term and concept were first described by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book ‘Guerrilla Marketing.’ Traditional advertising media channels such as print, radio, television, and direct mail are falling out of fashion, forcing marketers and advertisers to look for new strategies to get their commercial messages to the consumer. Guerrilla marketing tries to create surprising and memorable experiences for potential consumer, to increases the likelihood that will tell their friends about it and via word of mouth.

This style of marketing is extremely effective for small businesses, especially if they are competing against bigger companies, as it is inexpensive and focuses more on reach rather than frequency. For guerrilla campaigns to be successful companies don’t need to spend large amounts, they just need to have imagination, energy, and time. As opposed to traditional media, Guerrilla marketing cannot be measured by statistics like sales and hits, but is measured by profit made. Unlike typical public marketing campaigns that utilize billboards, guerrilla marketing involves the application of multiple techniques and practices in order to establish direct contact with the customers. The goal of this interaction is to cause an emotional reaction in the clients, which will cause them to remember the experience.

Guerrilla marketing compasses several subgroups including: Ambient, Ambush, Stealth, Viral and Street Marketing: Ambient communication is a complex form of corporate communication that uses elements of the environment, including nearly every available physical surface, to convey messages that elicit customer engagement. It is a compilation of intelligence, flexibility and effective use of the atmosphere. Ambient marketing, which can be referred to as ‘presence marketing’ can be defined as: ‘The placement of advertising in unusual and unexpected places (location) often with unconventional methods (execution) and being first or only ad execution to do so (temporal).’ Ambient marketing can be found anywhere and everywhere from hand dryers in public bathrooms, petrol pumps, bus hand straps, and golf-hole cups.

Ambush marketing is a form of associative marketing utilized by an organization to capitalize upon the awareness, attention, goodwill, and other benefits, generated by having an association with an event or property, without that organization having an official or direct connection to that event or property. Essentially, a company or a product seeks to ride on the publicity value of a major event without having contributed to the financing of the event through sponsorship. It is typically seen at major events where rivals of official sponsors use creative and sometimes covert tactics to build an association with the event and increase awareness for their brands. For example, during the 2012 London Olympics, Nike created ‘find your Greatness’ spots where they featured athletes from several locations called London (but without showing the real London or referring to the Olympic games) which helped in building a strong association between London Olympics and Nike.

Stealth marketing (also known as undercover marketing) is a deliberate act of entering, operating in, or exiting a market in a furtive, secretive or imperceptible manner, or an attempt to do so. People get involved with the product without them actually knowing that they are the part of advertisement campaign. This needs to be implemented with uttermost covertness because if the participants become aware of the campaign, it will have a negative effect on the brand resulting in ethical doubts about its use. Buzz campaigns can reach consumers isolated from all other media, and unlike conventional media, consumers tend to trust it more often, as it is usually coming from a friend or acquaintance. Overall, the person doing the marketing must look and sound like a peer of their target audience, without any signs of an ulterior motive for endorsing the item.

Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication. Off the Internet, viral marketing has been referred to as ‘word-of-mouth,’ ‘creating a buzz,’ ‘leveraging the media,’ and ‘network marketing.’ Similarly, buzz marketing, uses high-profile media to encourage the public to discuss the brand or product. Buzz marketing works best when consumer’s responses to a product or service and subsequent endorsements are genuine, without the company paying them. Buzz generated from buzz marketing campaigns is referred to as ‘amplified WOM’ (word-of-mouth), and ‘organic WOM’ is when buzz occurs naturally by the consumer.

Street marketing uses unconventional means of advertising or promoting products and brands in public areas with the main goal to encourage consumers to remember and recall the brand or product marketed. Street marketing is specific to all marketing activities carried out in streets and public areas such as parks, streets, events, and encompasses advertising outdoors on public toilets, cars or public transport, manhole covers, footpaths, trash cans, etc. Guerrilla marketing is indeed being understood more and more as mobilizing not only the space of the streets but also the imagination of the street: that of street culture and street art.

Street marketing isn’t confined to fixed advertisements. It is common practice for organizations to utilize brand ambassadors who can distribute product samples and discount vouchers and answer queries about the product while emphasizing the brand. The brand ambassadors may be accompanied by a bicycle kiosk which contains the product samples or demonstration materials, or they may be wearing a ‘walking billboard.’ The physical interaction with consumers has a greater influencing power than traditional passive advertising. Other types of street marketing include the distribution of flyers or products, product demonstrations, street performances, road shows, and event actions (spectacles, such as flash mobs or contests).

Other businesses apply the technique of sending disguised people to promote things on the streets. For example, Match.com organized a street marketing activity in the ‘Feria del Libro’ (‘Book Fair’) in Madrid. It consisted of a man dressed like a prince who was walking among the crowd looking for his ‘real love.’ He had a glass slipper and even got to try the shoe on some people. A woman behind him was giving bookmarks to the people which contained messages such as “’Times have changed; the way to find love, too’ or ‘You have been reading love stories all your life; experience yours on Match.com.’

Guerrilla projection advertising is effectively a digital billboard that is projected at night onto the side of a building without permission of the governing bodies (i.e. council permits), or the permission from owner of the building. The displays are projected on buildings in high traffic locations. As with several guerrilla marketing techniques, guerrilla projection advertising may incur fines or penalties for advertising without the consent of the building owner. This comes at a risk to the company and/or brand. The advantages and disadvantages of this form of guerrilla marketing must be carefully considered before proceeding to avoid unwanted expenses.

‘Wild postings’ (also referred to as ‘flyposting’ or ‘bill posting’) is a fundamental guerrilla marketing campaign which uses cost effective static poster campaigns where posters are adhered without permission to high traffic urban areas such as the side of buildings, walkways or alleys, shopping malls, lampposts, university campuses, on café bulletin boards, or skate parks etc. Wild posting marketing can encompass different varieties including paper posters, tear-away posters, guerrilla cling posters (statically charged plastic posters which can stick to most smooth surfaces), magnets, stickers, and vinyl labels. There may be legal issues around wild posting however, if the display is not posted on a paid advertising space as it is illegal to advertise on private property without prior consent. In some cases, some street marketing may incite the ire of local authorities; such was the case in Houston, Texas, when BMW’s ad agency (Street Factory Media in Minneapolis) attached a replication, made from styrofoam, of a Mini-Cooper to the side of a downtown building. For the cost of a small city-issued fine, the company received front page advertising on the Houston Chronicle.

Grassroots campaigns aim to win customers over on an individual basis. A successful grassroots campaign is not about the dissemination of the marketing message in the hope that possible consumers are paying attention, but rather highlights a personal connection between the consumer and the brand and builds a lasting relationship with the brand. False grassroots campaigns are referred to pejoratively as ‘Astroturfing.’ The term derives from artificial ‘turf,’ often used in stadiums or tennis courts – also known as fake grass. Hence, fake endorsements, testimonials and recommendations are all products of Astroturfing in the public relations sector. Astroturfing involves generating an artificial hype around a particular product or company through a review or discussion on online blogs or forums by an individual who is paid to convey a positive view. This can have a negative and detrimental effect on a company should the consumer suspect that the review or opinion is not authentic, damaging the company’s reputation or even worse, resulting in litigation.

Successful gurllia marketing campaigns create word-of-mouth buzz, create positive associations with a brand, and reach the target market in its own environment and routine. Through the experience and the ephemeral feelings shared between the company and the target, advertisers and agencies generate a feeling of intimacy that resonates beyond the encounter. This feeling of nearness becomes all the more lasting as the affected individuals relive this encounter on the internet through social media.

Many online marketing strategies also use social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn to begin campaigns, share-able features, and host events. Other companies run competitions or discounts based on encouraging users to share or create content related to their product. Viral videos are an incredibly popular form of guerrilla marketing in which companies film entertaining or surprising videos that internet users are likely to share and enjoy, that subtly advertise their service or product. Some companies such as Google even create interactive elements like the themed Google logo games to spark interest and engagement. These dynamic guerrilla marking tactics can become news globally and give businesses considerable publicity.

In January 2010, Coca-Cola, with the help of Definition 6, filmed a reaction video of a Coke vending machine dispensing ‘doses’ of happiness to unsuspecting students in St. John’s University. A seemingly normal vending machine surprised students by dispensing items that were more than they bargained for. The students received goodies ranging from extra coke, pizza, flowers, to even a twelve-foot hero sub. ‘Coke’s goal to inspire consumers through small, surprise moments of happiness’ said Paul Iannacchino Jr., Creative Director, Definition 6. With a budget of only $60,000, the video generated 500,000 views in the first week. It now has over 7 million views to date. The campaign was so popular that a 30 second edit of the footage was featured during ‘American Idol’s’ season finale.

Because of the nature of guerrilla marketing, the message and objective must be clearly defined in order to avoid being misunderstood. The rumor-like spread of word-of-mouth marketing is uncontrollable once released, and can result in a misrepresentation of the message or confusion about a brand. Another risk involves wrongly timed (or wrongly placed) events, which may actually be perceived to be against the interests of the consumer. For instance, in an ill-conceived promotion which took place on January 31, 2007, several magnetic circuit boards—each with an flashing LED cartoon figure—were attached to metal surfaces in and around Boston to promote the animated series, ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force.’ The circuit boards were mistaken for explosive devices. Several subway stations; bridges; and a portion of Interstate 93 were closed as police examined, removed, and (in some cases) destroyed the devices.

According to Jay Levinson, guerrilla marketing emphasizes strongly on customer follow-up rather than ignoring customers after their purchase. Focusing on customer follow-up is a cheaper strategy because the cost of selling to a new customer is six times higher than selling to an existing customer. This promotes repeat sales, referrals, and increased size of purchase. The use of telephone as a follow-up tool is helpful in improving customer relationships. Email is also another inexpensive tool for maintaining relationships.

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