Yes…you read that right. A 30% response rate. On a plain and simple coupon.
Now you must be thinking that Captain Tony’s proprietor has pulled a memorable stunt to grab that kind of share. He must have commissioned a hot air balloon – multiple balloons in fact – to draw the attention of his coupon recipients and encourage an influx of pizza eaters to his parlor.
That is a good guess. But it is an expensive guess.
Captain Tony’s has gone a more unconventional route. It has hired a distributor to visit almost all the houses in and around the shop and stick post it coupons to the front doors of the homes.
It is a brilliant move. People do not throw the post-it away…after all, who wants to squander the chance to grab a discount? It inevitably ends up on the refrigerator. Where it is the first thing that greets the eye when hungry mouths come foraging.
The result? An unprecedented cash-in on the coupons and unplanned visits to Captain Tony’s Pizza parlor!
This is the essence of guerrilla marketing!
A moniker popularized by Jay Conrad Levinson that is aimed at small businesses with limited budgets, Guerrilla marketing is the predecessor of “growth hacking”.
In this piece we will dive into the pros of Guerilla marketing, learn how to set a campaign up and reference some innovative ways to get “Guerrilla” on your buyers.
The term was first coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing: Secrets for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business. Inspired by the covert tactics armed civilians employed in Vietnam to take advantage of the element of surprise and “ambush” more well equipped opponents, Guerrilla marketing also looks to offer an experience that is so delightful, so out of the ordinary that buyers are left amazed, impressed and willing to purchase.
The mainstay of Guerrilla marketing is using assets such as energy, imagination and innovation, not just money, to achieve goals like:
Most buyers are inured to conventional methods of advertisement like segments on television, radio channel snippets, hoardings, banner ads and pop-ups.
Since these promotional messages are often discordant, that is they are not delivered at the right time or in the right context, viewers have trained themselves to tune out the interruptions. It is almost impossible to get or hold their attention.
This is where guerrilla marketing wins.
Guerrilla campaigns do not fixate on process, rules or structure. They do not follow best practices. The only focus is on ensuring that buyers feel special, privileged, positively surprised, intrigued or thrilled by the interaction with the brand.
Everything else is secondary.
It is because the emotions of the target audience are involved that Guerrilla marketing manages to reach more people, elicit more responses and generate more word of mouth publicity than conventional promotions.
It is important to remember that guerrilla marketing is not about being whimsical. If you are experimenting with direct mail, you need to send them out pretty consistently. Frequency still matters.
The only difference is in the way the messages are conveyed and perceived. You can start out with lumpy mail, follow it up with a QR code on a postcard that has to be scanned to reveal a discount coupon and end your campaign with a scratch and sniff pieces that urges your customers to “wake up and smell the coffee” around your new offer. The options are practically endless.
By this time you may find guerrilla marketing strangely familiar. Aren’t the basics of the approach the same as the basics of growth hacking and viral campaigns?
Yes, you are right.
With growth hacking brands try to find a way to encourage exponential growth over a very short period of time. And often the best results come from marketing in an unconventional or unexpected way.
Take Dropbox as an example.
It hit the sweet spot when it started offering free space to users if they referred the service to their friends. Soon Dropbox was installed on 250 million devices. This is often cited as a genius growth hack. But upon deeper contemplation, you find that Dropbox “disrupted” the notion of buying additional space and then reframed to position a referral as the “payment”.
Virality is defined as encouraging rapid shares or views of a piece of content by appealing to the emotions of the target audience. The concept of “going viral” is not separate from guerrilla marketing. In fact it is one of the most used strategies in the tool kit of a Guerrilla marketer.
You can think of growth hacking (or accelerated growth) as the goal, guerrilla marketing as the means and virality as the technique.
Guerrilla marketing done right can work for well established companies as well. But there is a potential risk involved. Since Guerrilla campaigns are crafted from scratch to suit the requirements of a brand and they play directly on raw emotions, if they are not executed right, they might lead to disastrous results.
A prime example of this is the bomb scare that gripped Boston when the marketing unit of Aqua Teen Hunger Force decided to install flashing LED boards in shapes that resembled detonation devices.
If a startup goofs its Guerrilla attempt, very few people know! And those who do right it off as an amateurish experiment!
Larger organizations don’t have the luxury of anonymity and may have to pay for the bad press.
Guerrilla marketing encompasses a large number of strategies that utilize closer, more human connections with prospects, the element of surprise and innovation to leave a mark on buyers.
Here are a few of the most common techniques that bring in good results:
Scotch-Brite, a brand that manufactures scrubbers placed a large replica of its pad against the multi-windowed façade of the Edifico Masters’ building hinting at the fact that its product has the capacity to keep such a vast expanse spic and span.
These are uncertain times. And sticking to the rules may lead to mediocrity. Guerrilla marketing is a mindset that allows companies to break free and focus almost completely on the buyers and their perspective.
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