When Jay Conrad Levinson coined the term “guerilla marketing” in 1984, he was referring to low-cost, high-value marketing techniques usable by small businesses looking for big profits. Since then, the term has expanded to also include impactful, creative campaigns at any price point, and everybody from corner shops to international brands is getting in on the act.
Here are six examples of this phenomenon at its best. Not all of them are within the reach of the average small business, but they can all inspire and inform your marketing efforts.
1. Reverse Graffiti Campaigns
Though some companies have resorted to illegal graffiti as a guerrilla marketing strategy, we don’t ever recommend breaking the law. In contrast, several companies have used soap, water, and a waterproof stencil to create images by cleaning strategically selected spots on city streets to create images of their logos and contact information in the lighter-toned space created.
2. The Seattle Glee Event
In 2010, the promoters of Glee used social media to arrange a themed flash mob to celebrate the most recent season of the show. It included music, dancing, and whatever carrying-on the attendees wanted to get up to. Anniversary events in following years have applied the same concept, and had the support of news coverage and other traditional marketing channels.
3. Repurposed Manhole Covers
From Folgers to Gamestop to a local barbecue repair shop, more than one business has transformed the tops of manhole covers to promote their brand.
4. Eastern Bank’s Scavenger Hunt
In 2013, Eastern Bank hid six GoPro cameras (valued at $200) around Boston. It distributed clues to their whereabouts via email, Facebook, and Twitter to mobilize a small army of treasure hunters who all remember the bank’s name.
The greatest thing about this example is that any business can re-create this in its area, with prize values scaled to its own marketing budget. Consider how many coffee shop gift cards you could buy for how much a regional magazine charges for a single print ad.
5. The Swiss Skydive Elevator Base Jump
This simple-but-jaw-dropping piece of ambient advertising needs little description, and can be easily imitated or used as inspiration. You don’t have to go all-in with aerial photography to make strategically-placed signage like this work for you — just think about where your product would make the most visual impact and move on from there.
6. The 007 Coke Race
Prior to the release of the James Bond film Skyfall, Coca-Cola created an elaborate obstacle course where unsuspecting buyers had 70 seconds to run a gauntlet of stairs with actors creating impediments to their progress … all accompanied to the iconic Bond theme played by street musicians.
This last one definitely falls in the “dare to dream” department, but it shows just how elaborately powerful guerrilla marketing has become in this decade.