What is guerrilla marketing and how do you apply it?

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash.

Guerrilla marketing is a term that you see passing by every now and then. According to some it is aggressive marketing and according to others something that comes out of nowhere, just like guerrillas in times of war. But for many, it’s mostly a vague concept. So what is guerrilla marketing really? And how can you apply it to your own business?

What is guerrilla marketing?

The term guerrilla marketing is derived from warfare. In a guerrilla war, a small group of combatants effectively fights a much larger army. The term originated because in a similar way, small businesses are fighting against the market leaders.

With guerrilla marketing, you try to get big results with limited resources. It is aimed at getting media attention and going viral with playful actions and stunts. When guerrilla marketing succeeds, it is a fast and effective tool.

How to apply guerrilla marketing

Guerrilla marketing can be applied in different ways, there is no one method you use for it. A well-known way of guerrilla marketing is viral marketing. Here you spread your messages through social media with the aim that the recipients will share and forward it. Besides online, there are also ways to apply offline guerrilla marketing. Originally, the marketing technique was also used offline; therefore, it is a long-standing technique.

  • Reverse graffiti
    A semi-legal form of advertising where you leave your message in places by selectively cleaning walls and pavements. So instead of spraying paint on something you actually clean it.
  • Undercover marketing
    A form of surreptitious advertising where an actor or other person uses the product in a high-traffic location
  • Flashmob
    This involves using a large group of people to attract attention in a crowded place. People get together somewhere and do something unusual and then break up again. Flashmobs were first seen in the Netherlands in 2003 and became a real craze, popping up everywhere. Nowadays you see them less often. They are often communicated through social media channels.
  • Posters
    This happens both legally and illegally. With the right posters in the right place, you can attract the interest of a large audience.

In addition to these methods, there are many other ways to apply guerrilla marketing. There are also no fixed formats that you have to adhere to. In principle you can go in any direction as long as it is something striking and unique.

The pros and cons of guerrilla marketing

Over the years, guerrilla marketing has often been used by large companies with MCDonald’s as a forerunner. The fast food chain regularly uses this marketing technique to get in the news and go viral, such as these 28 examples. One of the most famous examples is the Coca Cola James Bond experience called, “Unlock the 007 in you, you have 70 seconds.” After purchasing a can of Coke from the vending machine at Antwerp station, the buyer had the chance to win free movie tickets. The challenge was to complete a course within 70 seconds.

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