Guerrilla marketing uses unconventional and lower-cost tactics to gain maximum exposure. It’s particularly effective for businesses with smaller budgets because it generates a lot of attention for a minimal cost, delivering a good return on investment.
We spoke to the pros and compiled 25 out-of-the-ordinary guerrilla marketing ideas to inspire you.
1. Create Chalk Art on Sidewalks
Mazdak Mohammadi, Owner & Founder, blueberrycloud
A fun way to engage people to attract more attention toward your physical mom-and-pop-type shop in the summer is to use chalk. That’s right! Chalk! Draw a canvas on the sidewalk in front of your store with a big, bold, beautiful message to encourage walk-by traffic to “write something beautiful.” People are keen on being part of something positive, and chalking up sidewalk is an easy action for people to take.
The byproduct of this tactic is that people will spend time thinking about who is behind the tactic, which gives your brand more attention in the community in the summertime. It will also draw a crowd, which is great for business.
2. Livestream an Event on Facebook
Tabitha Jean Naylor, Owner, TabithaNaylor.com
I think Facebook Live has made live streaming events one of the most affordable and effective guerrilla marketing ideas. It gives business owners the opportunity to schedule cool events, such as the unveiling of a new product or service or even something as simple as a Q&A session where consumers can find out more info about your company and learn more about your culture.
You can also do special “Meet the Team” live events where you introduce your employees in a relaxed environment and give a peek inside your company’s operations. These live events are a fantastic way to engage your audience and connect with them on a personal level that makes them feel more invested in your brand.
3. Prepare Free Themes for Bloggers and Website Owners
Adhip Ray, Founder, WinSavvy
If you have an online business, then you probably know that gaining relevant and quality backlinks should be among your top priority. If you code or if you can get yourself a coder, then you are in luck! Because now you are going to develop free themes and web designs for WordPress and Blogger blogs, which will have do-follow backlinks pointed at your website. Of course, some may get rid of those links, but they aren’t your target in the first place. Those people who will let your link stay (as is common with several people who don’t know coding) are the people who are actually your targets, and this is what will make your website/online business’ traffic skyrocket through Google’s search engine results page (SERP).
This increase in traffic is due to the dual reason of visitors coming via the links pointed at your site and through organic search traffic.
4. Take Advantage of Holidays in Your Marketing Campaign
Scott G. Frederick, Vice President of Marketing, Logistics Plus Inc.
We are a midsized, third-party logistics company in a very competitive industry with a limited marketing budget and resources. One way we keep our brand name relevant and top of mind is by piggybacking on to the seemingly unlimited number of “holidays” around the world. A few times a month, we’ll redesign our logo to adapt some fun aspect of a holiday-for-the-day, and then we’ll promote it through all of our social media channels. This helps keep awareness high, drives additional likes and traffic to our social media sites and, ultimately, it drives more traffic to our website (where we can then sell our services). It is one of a number of tactics that have contributed to a near quadrupling of our website traffic the past three years.
5. Leverage Reddit
Alex Barshai, Founder, Third Temple Digital
Reddit marketing is one of my favorite unorthodox marketing techniques. Reddit can really pay off for marketers as it is divided into countless subreddits, which are pretty much online content sharing forums with niche communities. By niche I really mean so — subreddits can range in topics from Dungeons and Dragons or hip-hop images to a country-specific political discussion.
It is very likely that if you have a product or a service that you find innovative, there is a subreddit for it already. The good thing about it is that the members of the community are usually very knowledgeable about their spheres of interest and are usually willing to provide constructive criticism if they do not like the idea before them, or they will share it if they do. The key to using this potential properly, however, is not to come create posts full of flashy marketing lingo or catchy phrases but to simply act as one of the members of the community.
6. Add a Call to Action to Your Email Signature
Bryon McCartney, Managing Partner & Chief Idea Guy, Be Brilliant Marketing
This is a simple, effective technique for getting people interested in your offer. Be clever and creative with phrasing — you want to grab their attention with a concise tagline that hints at the problem your offer solves or how it will change the viewer’s life.
The next part of the equation is the landing page for your call-to-action (CTA) link. It should clearly/concisely explain the offer, what it will do or the problem it solves and, finally, what the user needs to do next (buy, order, sign up and so on).
7. Always Tie Your Guerrilla Marketing to a Bigger Campaign
Emily Sarecky, Director of Engagement Strategies, Merrick Towle Communications
Our approach is to always tie it to a bigger campaign, like a social media contest, so we can not only get the exposure that guerrilla marketing creates but also gets that traffic engaging with you online. Stop people in their tracks with the guerrilla approach but then capitalize on that and make them take action!
8. Use a Photo-sharing App to Engage Your Audience
Huw Moxon, Marketing Manager, Informi
Guerrilla marketing: coming in at a different angle in order to encourage exposure for your business without the price tag. You are reached by guerrilla marketing every day if you use a certain photo-sharing app — users promoting their businesses through competitions and product giveaways — it’s effective! Competitions and free gifts create a sense of urgency that can really create a lasting buzz around your business.
If foot traffic is what drives traditional guerrilla marketing, we shouldn’t be surprised that it would also thrive in social media. From the really popular Wendy’s Twitter feed to those fun Snapchat Geofilters, it’s become undeniable that social media has provided a larger platform for guerrilla marketing. Check out this article for nine examples that can inspire you to make your own.
10. Hack Your Next Conference
Jon Ferrara, CEO, Nimble
Before your next trade show, find out who are the speakers and what are the conference hashtags, and start sharing speakers’ and attending influencers’ content using the hashtag. This way, you show up in the conference feed before the conference, and you can continue doing so during the conference and shortly after.
Use a social listening tool like Brand 24 or Hootsuite to monitor conversations about the conference and joining by adding value, retweeting content and/or otherwise engaging.
11. Find Customers Who Share Similar Content
Pat Ahern, Director of Traffic Generation, Junto
My favorite technique is to identify the content that is currently ranking on the first page of search engines for the target keyword of your post, identifying the people who were most engaged with that content and sharing your article directly with them.
I call this the Twitter Leapfrog Method and have seen this drive incredible results for both our internal blogging efforts and client blogging efforts.
The method starts with identifying the top-performing articles that relate to your blog article or video, finding the Twitter accounts that shared this content previously and sending out targeted messages to each of these Twitter accounts that encourage them to check out your article as well.
This method has served as the primary catalyst for driving social shares and backlinks to both mine and my clients’ articles and has led countless articles to rank higher in search engines than popular publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur for the search terms that relate to our business.
12. Host a (Social) Launch Party
Russell Frazier, Digital Marketing Specialist & Founder, Visigility
My company recently helped launch a brand new consumer product. To build media and social buzz and blast open the gates with a big intro, we hosted a social launch party. We organized an event at a local hotel and sent personal invitations to our circle of friends through text, email and social media. We also contacted radio and TV stations with a press release about the party and received several mentions.
At the party, we had a bunch of door prizes. To enter, we asked each guest to invite their friends to like our Facebook page and to share a photo of themselves at the party on their own social media using a common hashtag. In one day, our Facebook following grew by 534 likes. In 10 days, we had added 2,725 likes.
13. Use Food Trucks to Reach People
Nicole Delorme, Marketing Manager, Tigris Events
We have had success utilizing food trucks as a guerrilla marketing tactic for several companies in Canada, including Uncle Ben’s, in association with Roaming Hunger and FleishmanHillard.
Here is a video showing the Uncle Ben’s Rice & Grains Food Truck Challenge we executed in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Trucks are an excellent way to connect directly with consumers. Shoppers are more likely to respond better when they are given the opportunity to experience a product in-person, rather than being pushed to make a purchase. In addition to offering free samples and coupons, we provided participants with recipes to recreate each dish at home. Finally, we also encouraged discussion of the product by asking participants to vote on their favorite dish.
14. Create Print Collateral as an Additional Marketing Tool and Revenue Stream
Chelsea Bennett, Public Relations and Events Coordinator, Lulu
Think of creating a calendar, workbook, manual or journal to sell through your website as an additional stream of revenue. Lulu uses print-on-demand technology, meaning you’ll never have to worry about inventory and can create content on a regular basis that can be used to create a more robust online presence and boost sales.
15. Start a ‘Make it Green’ Moment
Alex Chamberlain, Marketing Group Manager, ERA Environmental Management Solutions
If green, sustainability or natural are part of your brand, one of the most powerful things you can do is leave a space better than you found it. While the days of the flash mob are passed, we’ve found success in ‘flash clean ups’ — large-scale environmental efforts like litter pick up or setting up branded recycling stations with brand ambassadors that communicate your values while grabbing attention. The secret? Make it exciting, relevant and seen by your desired market. This isn’t about sending a crew of garbage collectors to a park or adopting a highway — instead, think business conference, public festival or other events.
As a bonus, many event organizers overlook or don’t have a huge budget for waste management efforts, so they’ll be more than happy to let someone own that entire portion of an event. It’s an aspect of the event that every single person will engage with at some point.
16. Answer the Questions of Your Users as an Expert
Cristian Rennella, CEO & Co-founder, QuotesCalculator.com
We receive more than 50 queries per week on different aspects of our service, but the vast majority are general questions where the answer not only helps that user but also the hundreds or thousands of people who have the same question. That is why for each question of a client we respond in a special way, we dedicate time and effort to give a perfect answer. This response is not only sent to this user but we also publish it on our site as if it were a post on our blog. Then, Google or any other search engine indexes this content and new potential customers can find our answer. As the answer was valuable by featuring very useful information, these new customers take our brand as a reference and begin to see (and eventually buy) our products.
This mechanism of transforming the traditional questions and answers (FAQ) section in a blog where we published all our answers helped us to grow 34.7 percent in content marketing, which today represents revenue of $3.4 million per year.
17. Use Forums to Share Stories and Promote Your Product and Expertise
Stacy Caprio, Founder, Accelerated Growth Marketing
My number one guerilla organic promotion strategy is using forums like reddit to share genuine stories and promote my products and knowledge. A few weeks ago, I shared my investing story on reddit, and it gained more than 500 upvotes in a few days. From this alone, my site was visited hundreds of times, and I received more than 30 emails and messages asking for investing advice, help and requesting to be on my ‘investing waitlist.’
I’ve found telling your story through a genuine lens and posting in online forums like reddit to be a great source that drives new fans, customers and attention, great for any business to grow and, best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime.
18. Make User-generated Content Your Bread & Butter
Allison Tetreault, Content Marketing Strategist, Toast POS
Many guerrilla marketing tactics are offline, but this one could be online or offline. In order to get the word out about your product, directly engage with people using it, and give away a spot on your blog featuring them. Create a simple challenge: Share a picture of you using our product, and we’ll feature the best one on our Instagram every week.
For example, Toast interacts with our customers every day on a customer advocacy platform we call ‘The VIP Table.’ We ask customers to send in pictures of Toast in their restaurant, drawings of the Toast logo and to share their favorite cocktails to make or meals to cook. The effect? Customers are able to interact with each other and our social and content teams are never out of ideas of things to share for others to see social proof of our customers engaging with the brand. Plus, whenever we’re doing a contest — for example, share your worst restaurant nightmare for a chance to win a high-quality chef’s knife — the VIP Table is the first place we look!
19. Create LinkedIn Connections and Follow Up with Email and Phone
David Almodovar, CEO, Almodovar Group
LinkedIn provides small business owners with the ability to connect with key prospects in their target demographic for free using the people search feature. Once a small business owner identifies a target prospect, they can send a connection request to them with a customized and personal message. It is critical that this message is customized and personal. Once connected, a small business owner can view the prospect’s profile. In the upper right corner of the profile, there is a selection called ‘Contact and Personal Info’ and a clickable button that says ‘Show More.’ Once clicked, you’ll have access to the person’s current email address. Now, it’s time for follow up.
Now, you can follow up with prospects with a personalized email message. Again, it is critical that this email is customized and personal to the prospect. It should also contain a strong value proposition and call to action. This method can be used by a small business owner or by a sales employee.
If you utilize HubSpot CRM (free) tied with Gmail (free), you can log and track emails to potential prospects. When a prospect views your email, you will be notified via the HubSpot CRM plug-in. Then, you can contact them directly on the main company phone number or the contact number from their LinkedIn profile or simply send a follow-up email asking if they have questions or would like to set up a call. This personalized approach allows for an endless amount of potential prospects without any upfront cost to a small business.
20. Google Yourself and Refine Your Marketing Based on the Results
Elisabeth Galligan, Owner & President, Newberry Public Relations & Marketing
Take a moment to search for yourself, your company and your services, products and offerings using a popular search engine (Google) or social media platform (LinkedIn). Try using phrases that are pertinent to what you do or how someone unfamiliar with your services would attempt to find you. For example, I could search my firm by ‘Newberry Public Relations’ but also ‘Newberry PR,’ ‘public relations firms in Rhode Island’ and ‘Rhode Island public relations firms,’ not to mention ‘marketing’ and other similar terms. A recent LinkedIn notification showed people found my company this week by searching ‘Newberry Group,’ which is something I would have never thought of.
Consider doing this on a regular basis and be sure to check your web and social media analytics often to see how people are finding you and adjust your web copy and marketing accordingly. Think like a potential customer seeking your business or service.
21. Create and Build a Relationship with Your LinkedIn Group
Reuben Kats, COO, Grabresults.com
Creating a LinkedIn group will get more powerful social media networks connecting with you. Throwing an actual event or social meeting with LinkedIn members will improve the connection you build and give you a chance to introduce your brand. Once you host a LinkedIn event, this will create more leverage, giving away your products for free will create even more movement for your business. However, this advice is only for those who have grown their business and have money to throw into their business like a free investment.
22. Prescreen Customers Before Asking for a Review
Chas Cooper, CEO & Founder, Rising Star Reviews
Prescreen customers before asking them for a review on a major review site like Yelp, Google or Facebook. Tools like Rising Star Reviews let you ask customers to rate your business, then sends only customers who give high ratings to review sites and collect private feedback from all other customers. Prescreening takes the fear out of asking customers for reviews, so you can ask every customer. This guerrilla marketing tactic results in a high average star rating, which then also helps with local SEO rankings.
23. Run a Custom Audience Advertisement on Social Media Before Sending Out Cold Emails
Yogesh Jain, Founder, Concept Allies
Small businesses usually send a lot of cold emails. This strategy may work if the target audience is selected properly but, more often than not, these businesses find their emails being marked ‘spam.’ The engagement level is also very low. The problem is that the receivers don’t recognize the small business as a brand. Before sending emails, you can run a custom audience advertisement on social media or Google Display Network. This will subconsciously create an awareness about your business, and you’ll notice better engagement and reply rates.
For the best return on investment, try to run ads based on impressions as your goal is only to create awareness.
Pop-up shops are becoming popular with the current market putting more value on customer experience. While there are many reasons why brands would open their own pop-up stores is the impact it creates to consumers increases awareness of the brand. Make sure that you maximize the location you chose for your store to get as much visibility as you need to stand out from your competitors. This article from Shopify is the ultimate guide to setting up and opening your very own pop-up store.
Remember those witty designs added onto walls, seats and stairs (practically just about anywhere) that you happen to walk past while going to work? Have you ever encountered brands offering car and window stickers as tokens for participating in event? Whether you want to keep the fun within your office building premises or are bold enough to step outside, using stickers for your guerrilla marketing campaign is a great way to stand out. It’s also easy to scale since it’s easy to work with almost any kind of budget. Check out this article for more brilliant use of stickers for your guerrilla marketing campaign.
Over to You
That concludes our list of the top guerrilla marketing ideas from the pros. If there’s anything we missed, or if you have any additional tips to add to the pot, please leave them in a comment below.