Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson
What Is Guerrilla Marketing: Taking Your Audience by Surprise
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Most people don’t like ads. And you can’t really blame them. We live in a world where thousands of brands struggle for exposure. Ads are everywhere: in the streets, in public transport, on the TV, radio, and, of course, on the Internet. You will hardly find a popular website that wouldn’t throw a bunch of PPC ads right at you. And it seems there’s nowhere you can hide. Everyone wants your attention! No wonder why ads have become a nuisance for so many people these days. 

But advertisements should not necessarily be annoying. In fact, some of them can be quite engaging and fun! Imagine walking in the street and seeing a giant juicy burger slapped on the pavement. That is something to reckon with! No doubt, you would notice it from afar, and you may even want to know who left it there. And perhaps it would even put a smile on your face. 

That is exactly what guerrilla marketing is about: surprising and amazing people where (and when) they least expect it. 

What is guerrilla marketing, anyway?

Guerrilla marketing, also known as “street marketing,” is an advertising strategy aimed at drawing public attention to a brand or product by means of creative and original marketing stunts. Although the term itself may sound militant, guerrilla marketing has nothing to do with warfare. “Guerrilla” is intended to imply the surprise or shock factor, which is the key to this marketing technique.

Most often, guerrilla marketing stunts take place outdoors in crowded public places. They are usually integrated creatively with the environment: pavements, zebra crossings, bus stops, urban benches, garbage bins, building exteriors, public transport, etc. However, indoor guerrilla marketing is not unusual. A stunt can even take the form of an event in which passers-by can participate.

The goal of guerilla marketing is to engage the audience in a variety of unexpected and fun ways in order to cause a strong reaction and resonance. As said before, the strategy relies heavily on a surprise factor, playing on emotions and employing humor to stir interest for a brand or product. Also, it often encourages unconventional personal interactions with a brand to increase the engagement rate and to add entertainment value to a stunt.

Advantages of guerrilla marketing

Better than ads

Guerrilla marketing is a unique advertising technique in a way that it allows businesses to promote their products and services without causing the annoyance typically associated with standard ads. If implemented correctly, guerrilla marketing stunts are perceived as entertainment rather than advertising. They let your brand show its human side and allow you to “break the ice” with your potential customers. 

In that sense, guerrilla marketing can be viewed as indirect advertising. You don’t simply get in front of people, urging them to buy from you. Rather, you undertake a gentle attempt to put a smile on their faces. If you manage to grasp their attention, your brand will be noticed and remembered. 

Cost-effectiveness

Apparently, the expenses associated with guerrilla advertising may vary greatly, depending on a project and its scope. Mounting a gigantic stuffed toy of King Kong on top of a skyscraper will certainly cost you a pretty penny. But guerrilla gimmicks shouldn’t necessarily be epic to pay off. For example, an eye-catching street art, such as 3D graffiti (legal, of course), can be as good of an advertisement while being much cheaper. At the end of the day, guerrilla marketing comes down to imagination rather than money.

High viral potential

Guerrilla marketing is meant to impress and amaze. Funny or spectacular stunts and gimmicks captivate the public and can cause a massive resonance. If you’re lucky, people will talk about your campaign for a long time to come. But most importantly, they will take photos and share them with friends. Nowadays, in the age of social media, guerrilla marketing is more useful than ever! If your guerrilla content touches the right chords, it will get a powerful social media boost, becoming viral and spreading by means of both social shares and word of mouth. 

The emotional impact that lasts

Guerrilla marketing aims at exciting emotions. Whether it is happiness, a sense of thrill, fun, or surprise, people tend to remember what they feel rather than what they see. That is why promoting your brand using guerrilla techniques can be much more effective than relying on traditional advertising. If you manage to hit the soft spot, people will notice you and remember your brand. 

Room for experiments

Due to the creative nature of guerrilla marketing, this technique allows you to show different faces of your brand, play around with its public image, and engage your audience in a variety of unconventional ways. And although it is still necessary for a company to own a business website and drive traffic through online ads, it’s a whole different story to get out there and show your creative side to the world.

Challenges of guerrilla marketing

Despite all the benefits, guerrilla marketing is not that simple. First and foremost, it takes a lot of creativity and requires outstanding imagination. Without genuinely original or even crazy ideas, you will hardly impress anyone. You need to think outside of the box and to be able to look at your brand at different angles to reveal its diverse facets.

What’s more, guerrilla marketing is not suitable for all products and services alike. Neither is it effective for all brands to the same degree. This strategy works best for physical product manufacturers, brick-and-mortar stores, restaurants, etc. But it is much more challenging to apply it if you’re dealing with digital products, software, or content.

It is important to remember that guerrilla marketing relies heavily on context. Therefore, there are many aspects you should take into account when planning a guerrilla campaign: place, time, environment, special conditions, audience, and so on. The emotions your stunts evoke must also be appropriate under the given circumstances. In the wrong context, your message can be easily misinterpreted, and your guerrilla marketing efforts will eventually end up damaging your reputation as a brand. That is why this strategy should be approached with caution. But then again, everything depends on your creativity and ingenuity!

So who’s guerrilla marketing for?

Thanks to its cost-effectiveness and high viral potential, guerrilla marketing is perfect for small businesses with a limited budget that need as much raw exposure as they can get. Besides, when a brand’s reputation and image are not yet established, experimenting with guerrilla marketing is much easier. However, large companies turn to this strategy as well, which gives a powerful boost to their brand awareness and recognition. 

But regardless of the scale of your business, guerrilla marketing boils down, first and foremost, to imagination and creativity. How far can you go with your ideas?


Brenda Peterson

Brenda is Technical Specialist at Ning