Trying to run an effective marketing campaign can feel like playing roulette – you never know whether what your betting on is going to strike big. Before this summer, most Americans had either never heard of ALS or knew it by the name Lou Gehrig’s Disease. However, a few million buckets of ice water later, the disorder that attacks motor neurons in the brain now has an incredibly high level of public awareness and support. While the marketing campaign that led to the Ice Bucket Challenge could never reasonably expect the results it generated, this just goes to show the power guerrilla marketing campaigns can have in the age of social media.
Cheap, small scale, non-traditional marketing campaigns can prove exceptionally effective at helping any business build its brand if the concept behind the campaign captures the public zeitgeist and goes viral. Guerrilla marketing applies to a wide variety of campaign types, everything from viral videos to PR stunts.
To determine whether guerrilla marketing will work for your business, consider trying one of these tips for creating an effective campaign that will spur your target audience into action.
If the service or product your business supplies isn’t something people typically care about, you need to create an attention-grabbing hook, similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Take for example the recent Internet sensation that is the Dollar Shave Club, a company that was able to transform their business – ordering razors through the mail – into something people were interested in with a hilariously offbeat, low-budget YouTube video. Within two days of the video’s premiere the company generated over 12,000 new orders.
A couple of years ago, Old Spice – a product once thought the brand of choice for grandpas everywhere – successfully rebranded themselves through a similar series of humorous, off-beat videos. Overnight, a body wash suddenly became one of the most talked about brands in the country.
These examples just prove that with the right hook, any product can capture the public’s attention.
Sell an idea, not a product
As a small business, you need to possess a lot of passion about what you do otherwise the grind of running the day-to-day operations can feel overwhelming. Using that passion to boldly sell your product with an emotional appeal, not a rational argument, can give your business a real advantage.
Salesforce executed this strategy with its “No Software” logo, which helped to promote the company’s cloud-based business services without actually addressing what their product does. Simple but effective, this type of marketing helps to create an idea and interest in a brand without trying to make the hard sell to consumers.
Even more established brands have taken this approach. IKEA marked the 30th anniversary of the company’s popular Billy bookcase by loading 30 of them up with books and placing them on Australia’s Bondi Beach. Visitors could swap out books with one of their own or make a donation to a literacy charity. By making the focus on their campaign a favorite pastime of beachgoers everywhere – reading – IKEA was still able to capture consumer’s attention while marketing its product.
Make it real
While ideas are great, tangibility offers a lot of appeal for guerrilla marketing campaigns. Translating an idea into an actual physical object can help to better showcase your product, especially when it comes to digital services.
Adobe brilliantly demonstrated this concept with a prank the company performed at bus stops where they Photoshopped passengers waiting for a bus into fake digital movie posters in an effort to market the company’s Adobe Creative Day. This guerilla campaign generated over 22 million views on YouTube.
Occasionally great ideas can sound pretty stupid when on paper. While they actually may indeed be pretty dumb, you won’t know until given a chance. One of the primary reasons guerrilla campaigns receive the kind of attention they do is because they’re typically unconventional, outrageous or unusual. Don’t worry about people laughing at you, encourage it.
For example, Uber – a ride sharing service – promoted itself by delivering puppies and ice cream to customers. In December 2013, the Canadian airline WestJet asked what passengers boarding a flight wanted for Christmas and then delivered those gifts when they arrived in Calgary.
Whatever style of guerrilla marketing campaign you come up with, remember record and publish everything. While most campaigns start off fairly small, it’s the shard likes, links and laughs that make them the incredibly success they can become.