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Guerrilla (low-cost) marketing

Thursday, October 8, 2009
Guerrilla marketing. Image: Getty Images
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By Diana Clement
MSN NZ Money writer

There's no shame in becoming a guerrilla marketer — that is, a company that markets its business on the smell of an oily rag.

You don't need lots of cash to market your business well. Guerrilla marketing is all about using your imagination, energy and time to promote your business rather than spending huge marketing dollars.

Guerrilla marketing was invented by Jay Conrad Levinson and his website has lots of useful ideas — in between the adverts for his seminars, books and other merchandise. If you are serious about low-budget marketing it's well worth either buying a copy of the book Guerrilla Marketing or getting it out of the library.

When it comes to guerrilla marketing you're only limited by your imagination and some marketing people have really embraced the concept. For example, one farmers market hung fresh apples adorned with advertising stickers from leafless trees in mid-winter.

In New York a charity dropped 8000 wallets in the street. When curious people picked them up they found a "get out of hell free" card with the address of the website CharityCounts.com. A small business might just need a few dozen or hundred wallets to generate some business and local publicity.

Catching potential customers off guard is best. And if your guerrilla marketing is really good it might get you some free publicity in the media. Ideas that might both catch customer's attention or get you a photo caption in the local paper include:

  • Writing your business website address in the sand hundreds of times over on a beach — and photographing it from a hill for the local media.
  • Getting out with chalk and drawing some adverts for your business on the pavement around town. You might even pay art students to do it for you.
  • Print discount vouchers or introductory offers on the back of your business card.
  • Or you can just ring your local newspaper with slightly wacky picture ideas involving your business.

We're living in the 21st century and guerrilla marketing doesn't have to be terrestrial. Many companies have expanded their businesses by going "viral" and promoting themselves with videos or something creative via Twitter. Guerrilla marketing "viral" e-mails will be forwarded on to vast hordes of potential customers if they're good enough. One of my favourite guerrilla marketing videos of all time is of a Belgian reality TV show's dance stunt that was viewed on YouTube by more than 10 million people.

Other well-used guerrilla marketing channels include:

  • buzz (word of mouth) marketing; and
  • ambush marketing (where you ambush an event for the publicity)

There's nothing to say that your guerrilla marketing ideas need to be unique or your own. There's no need to re-invent the wheel when there are many fine ideas that can be found by searching the Internet.

Finally, guerrilla marketing can go wrong, so think through your campaign carefully.

More information about guerrilla marketing