If you have a small business you have likely heard of Guerrilla marketing. Start-ups have used Guerrilla marketing to great affect in order to engage customers and get more followers on social media. If you've been wondering just how and why you should consider using Guerrilla marketing for your start-up, this article has been written specifically for you.

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

The term Guerrilla marketing was originally coined back in 1984 in Jay Conrad Levinson's seminal book on the subject "Guerrilla Advertising." Levenson wanted us to envision the strategies most often used by armed civilians in certain wartime conditions, specifically the element of surprise. This surprise ambush is the most commonly cited factor of Guerrilla marketing. Guerrilla advertising and Guerrilla marketing tries to utilise the same kind of surprise ‘attack’ when selling a product to a person or group.

This is a highly alternative style of advertising – this isn’t Mad Men! Guerrilla marketing tries to break into the market by using a lot of energy, imagination and creativity. Just think about it - when you are caught by surprise, what you see tends to leave a lasting impression, and you might even post about it on social media. Therefore, Guerrilla marketing can create a huge impact without cost a lot of money.

People tend to associate Guerrilla marketing with smaller, dynamic, and creative firms, often in a start-up stage. That said, many bigger brands and businesses, including Coca-Cola and Red Bull, often take a page from Guerrilla marketing strategies in order to get the most bang for their buck.


Benefits of Guerilla Marketing

By now you might be thinking of Guerrilla marketing as a controversial and even combative strategy. This could not be further from the truth. The whole ethos behind Guerrilla marketing is to engage the potential consumer or client and get them fully on board with the brand.

Here are just a few of the benefits of Guerrilla Warfare:

  1. It is very budget friendly - One of the main reasons that start-up businesses utilise Guerrilla marketing is because it is easy on their budget. For just a small expenditure they can gain big returns.
  2. It is creative - Guerrilla marketing is by definition unique and exciting. People are often dazzled and excited by these marketing strategies, and getting people involved is a big part of its success.
  3. It creates engagement - Guerrilla marketing causes people to talk and post on social media. When they see something offbeat, bonkers, or exciting, they are far more likely to hop online and head to Facebook and Instagram to make a post. Creating that kind of organic engagement Is priceless, and almost impossible to do with traditional marketing schemes. That said if you try too hard, consumers will be able to sense your desperation, and nothing turns them off more! Any credibility you might have gained will be flushed down the toilet.


Three Classic Examples Of Guerrilla Marketing

Bounty Paper Towels

The American kitchen roll brand Bounty did something incredibly out of the ordinary in order to promote their product. They created a series of huge "messy situations" throughout Manhattan and the boroughs of New York. Some of these messes included a massive coffee cup that had been spilt on its side, and a gargantuan melting ice-lolly. They then utilised Bounty kitchen roll to clean up the sticky situations. People all over the city stopped to take photos and share them on social media. While New Yorkers are notoriously hard to impress, Bounty managed to do something different that stopped them in their tracks


While you might think of Guerrilla marketing working only for consumer brands, it can also work in the not-for-profit sector. If you're like me, you likely feel guilty about spending money on bottled water. After all, in Britain clean water flows from our faucets, but sometimes when you're on the go you have no choice but to stop and buy a bottle. Or do you? Not if UNICEF has a say in the matter. They created makeshift vending machines that sold bottles of dirty water instead fresh clean water. When people approached the vending machine they were greeted by buttons labelled with the names of waterborne diseases. Many people were shocked, followed by a sense of reflection. The photos went viral no pun intended. This UNICEF Guerrilla marketing tactic served two purposes: it caused people to think about their consumption choices, and it got people thinking about thewaterborne diseases that are still in epidemics in many places.

Greene King

What could be more British than the great neighbourhood pub? Pub chain Greene King noticed that many of their competitors and small neighbourhood pubs alike were being overtaken by big box brands. In order to show the real value and meaning of pubs, Greene King had those who knew their pub the best create their online content: bartenders,  pub-goers, and landlords. These "pub experts" were given cameras and asked to capture what they felt were the most important functions the pubs serve in the local community. They ended up chronicling weddings funerals, birthdays, parties, dates, break-ups, and a lot of very good dogs. This was a truly unique strategy that worked out fantastically for the Greene King chain, and was shared around the world as an example of the classic British pub.

How To Do Guerrilla Marketing?

By now you might be wondering how you can utilise the tenets of Guerrilla marketing in order to give your brand a boost. After all, this strategy requires only a small (or even no) investment, and can net huge returns. But don't make the mistake of thinking that Guerrilla marketing is "simple and easy ." It requires a sense of creativity and having your finger on the pulse of what is happening in your market.

Have a good think about what sets you apart from your competitors and how you can transition that into something creative, dynamic and exciting. Here are just a few tips of how you can create a Guerrilla marketing strategy for your business:

  1. Make it memorable

I know, I know, this is easier said than done! After all don't we all want to create marketing strategies that stick in the memories and imaginations of our intended demographic? That said if you spend time thinking about how you're all you can be clever This is likely a road to success. People tend to remember things that they find unique smart and funny and so adults should be your goals.

  1. Engage your audience

Remember people like to feel involved in the action. If you get your intended audience to participate in your Guerrilla marketing strategy, they are far more likely to tell others about it and to post about it on social media. Make sure they can "do "something as a part of the action – get them involved.

  1. Boost that serotonin!

People like to feel happy, and they ‘love’ loving something. Reminding your audience about why they love you in the first place you will go along way to making them feel endeared towards your brand. If they can share your branding campaign with friends and family to elicit a positive response, all the better.

  1. It can be dead simple

Some of the most long-lasting and effective Guerrilla marketing campaigns use very little wording or imagery. A subtle nod to your target audience Is all you might need. Consider artist Ben Wilson’s tiny masterpieces on London's Millennium Footbridge. He paints landscapes and customised portraits on the splotches of gum that end up on the bridge. Not everybody notices these tiny masterpieces, but when they do they are so delighted that they are sure to share them online. Could this work for your brand?

How Can Guerrilla Marketing Tie-In With Digital Marketing?

Remember we all live in today's increasing digitalised world. If it didn't happen on Facebook or Instagram, did it really happen at all? If you want your Guerrilla marketing strategy to be successful it needs to tie in with your digital marketing strategy and ideally get shared tons online – hopefully even going viral.

  • Make sure that it is consistent with your existing branding strategy – This one seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how often businesses make the mistake of trying to reinvent the wheel with the digital guerrilla marketing plan. Keep things consistent – if you want to showcase photos, make sure that people are wearing your logo (don’t have t-shirts? What are you waiting for! Get on that fabric printing today!), using your font and featuring your existing branding.
  • Make it visual – Make sure it packs a visual punch in order to get shared online. Remember – a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Be sure to engage your audience and get them involved – People are far more likely to share your campaign if they participated in it directly. Give them something to do!
  • Evoke feelings of nostalgia and/or happiness- People like feeling good. Give them a reason to share!


And as you can see above, Guerrilla marketing it's deceptively hard to do. It may seem very simple to come up with a good idea that engages people in a creative way, but you truly need to consider what sets you apart and spend time focusing on how best to engage your audience.