Guerrilla marketing is a term reputedly coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book, "Guerrilla Marketing," first published in 1983. Guerrilla marketing employs unconventional and inventive strategies and tactics to promote and market products and services for minimal cost and maximum return. For small businesses struggling to survive in these difficult economic times, and with the added burden of tight marketing budgets, guerrilla marketing can be an inexpensive way to get people talking about your company, attracting people to your store, or at least writing down your phone number and website address in case they ever need your goods or services.
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The tips offered below are just a few ways to get attention for, and interest in, what you're selling. There's literally no limit on what an inventive person might create to achieve those goals. Let your mind wander creatively and use this list to stimulate additional ideas and marketing tools. (For related reading, see 7 Popular Marketing Techniques For Small Businesses.)
Tried and Traditional T-Shirts
This is one of the oldest and most successful guerrilla marketing tools. If you buy a half dozen T-shirts, or more if you can afford them, and have them imprinted with your company name you have a good chance of bringing in more business. In smaller, but visible lettering, you can include a phone number, street address and website address. Wear one shirt yourself and pass out the others to people who move about your neighborhood as a way of creating a walking ad for your company.
Tag Your Car or Truck
What you did for your T-shirt, you can do for your car, truck, van, SUV or even your bike. Paint or stencil your company logo and other information on your vehicle and you'll have a traveling billboard.
Flyers in Strategic Places
Find an inexpensive printer, run off an affordable number of single-sheet flyers and deposit them in strategic locales. If you own a book store, you can leave flyers there. You can also leave flyers at your local library or a college or university library. For auto repair shops, leave flyers at a towing company. For restaurants, commuter train stations might be a productive site. Be sure to get permission before leaving flyers. (For related reading on marketing, see A Career Guide For Marketing Majors.)
Make a deal with other merchants in your neighborhood or city to provide a spot for their flyers if they do the same for you. You may be able to get exposure for your business in another business location. A dry cleaner might have flyers for a restaurant and vice versa. A clothing store might be a good place for a travel agency's flyers and vice versa.
Project Your Image
Have a slide made that includes your logo, company name, phone number and address. Add brief copy about what products or services you offer. After dark, project the slide on the side of a building. Change locations frequently, but look for sites where the most people can see it.
Join the Right Groups
Join your local Chamber of Commerce, and other appropriate groups to start a productive network of potential customers, vendors and consultants. You'll find a diverse pool of people and you'll be able to help each other, not only as mutual customers, but as advisors as well.
Put Sticky Notes Everywhere
Write out your sales message on Post-It notes and paste them everywhere people will see them. Bathrooms are not off limits - remember, this is guerrilla marketing. Ask a member of the opposite sex to post the notes in targeted bathrooms at movie theaters and restaurants. You can also put Post-It notes in fitting rooms at clothing stores.
Invite People to Come in and Complain or Suggest
Place some posters in your neighborhood announcing a "Come In and Complain or Suggest Day" at your business establishment. The idea is to attract traffic, listen to what your customers dislike and want, and to draw in potential customers. You might also offer some free, inexpensive gift as an incentive. The complaints and suggestions may be written or spoken. When you get complaints, make sure you promise to resolve them. When you get good suggestions, promise to use them.
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The Bottom Line
Guerrilla marketing is effective and inexpensive. The list of ideas above includes some of the more successful and frequently used tactics, according to research across the Internet. There are dozens of other ideas that may be used with equal success. If you're considering a guerrilla marketing campaign, be bold, inventive and don't be surprised if your efforts are successful. (For related reading, see Generational Marketing: Harvest The Whole Family Tree.)