11 Businesses share their Real-Life Guerrilla Marketing examples
Writer: Gabriela Vankova
How do you capture your target audience’s attention in a unique way that leaves a positive, memorable impression and doesn’t break your budget? Try guerrilla marketing.
Guerilla marketing is a type of low-cost marketing done online or offline. It’s usually eye-catching, surprising, or unique in some way. Because of this, it can be recalled by the recipients for years to come and, if appropriately done, remind them of the brand that created it.
To inspire you, we asked eleven businesses what online or offline guerrilla marketing tactics they implemented. Here is what they said:
We own a tour company here in NY called Central Park Tours. We operate a fleet of pedicabs, and we tried many things to get people’s attention in the streets. Our most recent project was Obverse. I sent a pedicab to a famous artist in Canada, and I told him to do whatever he thinks is appropriate and to send it back to New York, and we will go around the streets of NY. He sent us back a jail cell affixed on a pedicab. It was a crazy experience, and people were taking videos and photos of it. Cars were stopping to ask what’s going on. I even had a friend from Greece call me, saying he saw a jail cell on a pedicab on TV there. It was advantageous to know that we can have so much exposure from doing something outside of the box and showing it in the streets of NY.
I own a furniture business, and every year we spend millions of dollars on our guerrilla techniques to market our products. Our very first guerrilla technique was showcasing the products at the corners of big shopping malls. We presented the simple ideas which corner of their home will suit best for our furniture. Then we market our comfy sofas using them on a local bus. We replaced all the bus seats with our comfy couches and let people judge our product by experiencing it themselves. After the campaign, the majority of the customers include the employees who wanted to rest on comfy sofas after getting back from their offices. To prove the durability and strength of our furniture, we posed an elephant statue in the middle of the local gathering area, standing on our table-chair. The idea helped raise thoughts that people can trust our products when it comes to long life furniture. Another guerilla technique we used last year was to embed the half-products on the walls so that passers can sit and rest for a while and drink or eat. The idea was pure to market the brand.
My American Advertising Federation (AAF) student chapter, Park ADvenue, dressed up our president in a gorilla suit that I had kept from my professional days in radio station management. He roamed the campus to promote our organization and solicit new members. This single-simian street team was highly successful. We landed new paid memberships and earned media. We generated huge interest and a lot of incredible word-of-mouth from this unique, one-on-one advertising strategy.
Andrew J. Chwalik
As a marketing agency, we wanted to get people aware of our unique service offerings and stand out in a crowded marketplace. We created over 100 mini scrolls that included our contact information. They were made of old parchment paper and sealed with a wax stamp. We handed out these scrolls as we had conversations during this conference, using them as our business cards.
After passing out around 100 of these scrolls, we had 43 people directly reach out, asking about our agency. Plus, this little campaign only cost $52 with all the supplies being available on Amazon.
One strategy that I used early on was hand-delivering my business cards. I would bunch them in groups of 20 and then hit 25 businesses to pass out 500 in a day. I would enter the store and identify that I was new to the area and just wanted to stop in and introduce myself and answer any questions they had about Eye Doctors or their vision insurance. After chatting for a few minutes, I would ask if I could leave behind a few cards. I would typically do this on a Tuesday morning when other businesses were slow. This would allow more free time for the staff to chat. On average, I would gain between 10 and 15 new patients for the week.
I work in B2B now, but when I worked in B2C, I worked for an after-work club for millennials similar to The Wing or Soho House. I used to get lunch at SG, and when I would pick up my salad, I would get there a little early and follow people from the brand account on IG. I knew they either lived or worked in my neighbor, and if they were ordering lunch via a mobile app, they were probably close to our target demographic. We got some of our most loyal customers out of the strategy.
Content marketing via our Medium blog is our key driver for traffic and leads. What makes it guerrilla is our approach to content – we decided to be our own “first clients.” As a tech data startup, we’ve learned to produce content using our product. We predict customer demographics using names, so we conducted several case studies from analyzing social media demographics to measuring gender and race bias in movies. We backed them by comparing our results with reputable sources like Google and Pew Research (case studies are available in our blog and site). It produced both content worth of reading (insights and analytics) and a kind of proof and showcase of our technology for potential clients. To promote our content, we’ve published some articles via guest posts in relevant Medium publications with a high number of followers. Our approach resulted in 11.6% on-site and 2.7% overall conversion rate (from blog post read to visiting the website and converting to a lead on the waiting list). We even managed to get three notable brands on the waiting list. Considering we’re B2B, the numbers are not that bad.
I have created organic viral videos with over half a million views that are product specific, meaning the only intention is to promote a product. When you make a product video useful and exciting, using this as a guerrilla marketing technique is not only free, it will get you that attention and views without using paid promotion.
One of the best uses of guerilla marketing has been the combination of both blog posts and YouTube videos. First, I create a blog post focused on a long-tail keyword. After I’m done, I shoot a video as well (for the same topic), and then embed it on the blog post. This allows me to get more views, keep people on my blog post longer, as well as rank in both Google and YouTube for these search terms. I don’t stop there, though. Eventually, I’ll keep copying this process over and over again using multiple websites and YouTube channels to really dominate my topic. It’s a ton of work, but it’s about as low-cost as it gets, and the results have been nothing short of phenomenal. Not only is this primary way that I get traffic, leads, and sales, I’ve generated well over $200,000 in revenue for one single company (as an affiliate), and it’s still growing every single day.
When the typical marketing strategy fails to serve the purpose, guerrillas do the job. Our company has designed and implemented a guerrilla marketing strategy in which wooden popsicles with the shape of a toothbrush were used inside the ice cream, reminding the kids how essential it is to brush their teeth or the importance of toothbrushing, especially after eating something sweet.
At Pastilla, we worked with Pasadena Public Health to launch an anti-tobacco ad campaign, with sensational, attention-grabbing ads posted on transit, bus shelters, movie theaters, and social media. The impact of this campaign received support from TV and media ads for an extra boost in visibility.
In another testimonial, Microsoft engaged Pastilla to create wonder and curiosity for its new Surface tablet leading up to its launch. We did this through street art, creating unique illustrations that depicted Microsoft’s upcoming tablet. We added to that wonder and curiosity by adding a new visual aspect to the design each week. The result? A localized guerilla marketing tactic that went viral on social media and publications worldwide.
Guerilla marketing strategies are generally pretty localized in that they’re created in high-traffic areas, such as New York City, or in the center of London at Trafalgar Square. However, with enough surprise, sensation, shock, and awe, the campaigns go viral on social outlets worldwide.