In 1983, Jay Conrad Levinson was the first to coin the term “guerrilla marketing” in his ground-breaking book Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business. He defined “guerrilla marketing” as: “….achieving conventional goals, such as profits and joy, with unconventional methods, such as investing energy instead of money.”
Guerrilla marketing is unexpected, memorable and fun. The term was first applied to low-budget marketing initiatives. One of the keys to the success of guerrilla marketing is that it can compensate for low budgets if clients are willing to substitute time, energy and imagination. Whether event planners have a large budget or they need to stretch a limited budget, guerrilla marketing can have a huge impact on events.
Levinson described marketing as both art and science. Event planners with their emphasis on creativity and innovative approaches can add a lot of value to guerrilla marketing events.
Here are eight quick tips to unleash the power of guerrilla marketing events.
1. Identify the audience
Guerrilla marketing events are often geared towards prospective clients but Levinson emphasized the fact that an even higher return on investment can be achieved by targeting existing clients and the media. The more specific event planners can pinpoint the audience, the easier it will be to design and execute effective guerrilla marketing events that “hit the mark.”
2. Analyze the audience
Consider demographics such as sex, age and ethnic group. Identify interests, favorite sports, hobbies, tastes in music, art and cuisine. All of these factors can be of great assistance in designing events.
3. Identify where the audience assembles
The most effective guerrilla marketing events take place in the audience’s “natural habitat.” When people are going about their daily routine and something unexpected happens, they will remember it.
4. Select the venue
Venues for guerrilla marketing events are often unconventional. Depending on the target audience, guerrilla marketing events can take place on the street, in the lobby of an office building, in a parking lot, on campus, at concerts, trade shows, shopping malls, food courts, parks, amusement parks, town squares and pop-up event venues. Take a look at Disney in action in Times Square:
5. Add the element of surprise
The element of surprise is a key component of all effective guerrilla marketing. Dial up the surprise meter and you can dial down the dollars. In Copenhagen, Adidas floated blue rubber ducks in fountains during Fashion Week. The bottom of each duck had the message “I’ve swum too far—help me get back home!” When the ducks were returned to the new Adidas store, the reward was an “I love Copenhagen” T-shirt with the Adidas logo.
Out of context or off-season are surefire approaches for grabbing people’s attention. For example, many cities have urban beaches in the downtown core that are empty in the middle of winter. Clear the snow and create a tropical oasis to grab the attention of the crowds passing by.
Hilton Hotels didn’t even bother to clear the snow when it created this pop-up beach resort on the Thames:
Just as in guerrilla warfare, companies such as ALT TERRAIN focus on the underground aspects of guerrilla marketing by using both low- and high-tech approaches to create out of context events. The mobile billboard shown in the following video is a great example of viral guerrilla marketing that popped up all over New York City and created a lot of buzz.
6. Attract with the arts or athletics
Some of the most memorable guerrilla marketing events have involved flash mobs, music, live bands, dancers and quick sporting events in unexpected places. The key is to select an approach that resonates with the audience.
7. Make it multi-sensory
By appealing to as many senses as possible, any event will be more memorable and engaging. So, pull out all the stops with music, tactile props, vivid colors, scent and taste. Watch how a bank in Spain grabbed attention and engaged the crowd.
Tropika beverages incorporated virtually every sense including taste through product samples into its “You’re a sip away from Jamaica” guerrilla marketing event in Johannesburg, South Africa, as seen below.
8. Go high tech…or not
We have already looked at a number of examples of low-tech guerrilla marketing events. Events can also incorporate cutting edge technology such as projections, tech installations and activations, 3D projection mapping, GoPro, virtual reality, augmented reality and drones.
Samsung added a touch of fun through an approach integrating both low- and high-tech into its “stare down” event in Zurich:
Capturing the excitement for sites like YouTube and Vimeo can extend the impact of these events for years to come.
From Copenhagen to Zurich to South Africa to New York to London, brands both large and small are using guerrilla marketing events to boost their presence with clients and grab coveted media attention. These events can inspire event planners around the world to get more mileage out of their own events.