Guerilla marketing appeals to many businesses because it typically relies on no-cost or low-cost marketing ideas, and the unconventional nature of the tactics means it could be a smashing success. Even if you take a gamble on a guerilla marketing campaign that doesn’t produce the results you’re looking for, the low cost means you haven’t lost much.
Guerilla marketing campaigns can make use of content marketing, social media, traditional advertising mediums, and any other channel you can think of. Some of the most successful guerilla marketing tactics in the past consisted of boots-on-the-ground, real-world marketing tactics that took audiences by surprise. Today, many of those elements remain, but digital marketing has changed the game and opened up a world of new guerilla marketing possibilities. At the same time, audiences have become accustomed to a barrage of advertising and marketing messages every day – so much so that many tend to tune out. In other words, the proliferation of marketing and advertising means it takes something special to really stand out and grab attention. So, what does it take to execute an effective guerilla marketing campaign today?
To learn more about what it takes to create a successful guerilla marketing campaign, we reached out to a panel of marketing professionals and business leaders and asked them to answer this question:
“What is your favorite guerilla marketing tip or example?”
Meet Our Panel of Marketing Professionals & Business Leaders:
Read on to learn what our experts had to say about their favorite guerilla marketing tips and examples you can draw some inspiration from.
Noah James is a full-time expert landscaping business owner who lives just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with his dog Bailey. Noah has been in the landscaping industry for 20+ years.
“Once we’ve finished a landscaping project, we blitz the neighbors on the street with a door hanger that has before and after pics of the project, along with a discount coupon. This almost always generates requests for quotes because most know the home in which the work was done since it’s nearby. The pictures really drive interest because almost everyone remembers what the property looked like prior. This seemingly insignificant guerilla marketing tip takes little time to implement. Simply visiting at least 50 surrounding homes often generates continual work for my crew throughout the season.”
Alexis entered the fitness industry as a group exercise instructor in 2009. Since then, she has taught master classes all over the world, led and co-produced the 30-minute television program Fuzion Fitness, hosted the largest dance fitness event in Coastal Virginia, and became the owner of Body by Alexis Studio. Currently, she’s the host of the new television program We are Living Healthy and Founder and Creative Director of Chair One Fitness. Chair One Fitness is breaking down boundaries making fun fitness options available to anyone no matter their age or ability.
“My favorite guerrilla marketing tip is to master the art of collaboration. Too many people stray away from collaboration in fear of competition or conflict of interest. This fear should be put to rest. A great example of this on a large scale is fast-food chains. If you have ever driven on the interstate, you’ve probably seen the signs that have McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Chick-fil-A all listed on the same sign and all on the same street. When you stand beside and work near other companies, everybody wins.”
Stephen Roe is the founder and head of digital strategy at Grow Atom, an SEO agency for eCommerce stores. He’s created content for Fortune 500 companies like Salesforce and AT&T alongside fast-growing startups like WooCommerce and Neil Patel.
“One of my favorite guerilla marketing tips is to think of where your ideal customer will be—but not thinking about your product. Then, surprise them with a reminder of your brand.
Nearly all successful guerilla marketing projects work like this, and it proves that you don’t need expensive props or fancy billboards for a successful campaign.”
Steven V. Dubin
Steven Dubin is the president of PR Works, president of the New England Franchise Association, founding president of the South Shore Ad Club, and founding member of South Shore Business 2 Business, a business-to-business lead generation group. He is an active member of the Marshfield Chamber of Commerce’s communications committee, as well as the Massachusetts Extended Care Federation’s communication committee.
“My favorite guerilla marketing tip is to leverage someone else’s audience via podcast guesting. As you know from hosting your own vlodcast/podcast, it is a powerful tool. Why not take advantage of someone else’s audience?
Arrange guest spots on targeted shows. Develop personal relationships with podcast producers and hosts from a wide range of podcast portals including Itunes, iHeartRadio, Google Play, YouTube, Stitcher, and more.
All you need is an enticing email subject line (e.g., ‘7 things that could transform your world’), a 1-sheet with the topics you can address, a brief bio, headshot, contact info, and a direct call to action (e.g., ‘Contact me to arrange a segment or quick intro meeting.’).
We also suggest that your vlodcasts/podcasts be archived on your own website and be promoted via your social media and that of each guest.”
Matt Benevento is the Senior SEO Strategist at HMG Creative.
“My favorite example of guerilla marketing is from an episode of the television show Nathan For You. In the episode, the host, Nathan Fielder helps to improve a local pet shop’s marketing by getting a giant gravestone, with an ad for the pet shop, erected in a nearby pet cemetery. The idea was that people at a pet cemetery would likely be in the market for a new pet and seeing the gravestone would then direct them to that pet store.”
Kevin Miller is a digital marketing expert, former Google employee, entrepreneur, and angel investor. He was recently named Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2021 American Business Awards.
“Guerilla marketing is incredible because it plays on the element of surprise. One of my favorite tips is to make it as clever as possible. Similar to how Folgers did when they placed coffee stickers over manholes in NYC. The steam coming up from the manholes was instantly turned into appearing as though it came from a coffee mug.
There are so many possibilities with guerilla marketing. When you can make it memorable, subtle, interactive, and clever it can do absolute wonders for a campaign.”
CJ Xia is the VP of Marketing & Sales at Boster Biological Technology.
“The best way is to embody the spirit of guerilla marketing rather than the strategies/executions.
You should understand how to offer something unique in the introductory experience that makes you stand out in a crowded marketplace.
The best I saw was a beer brand in Central America disrupting a baseball game, climbing onto the field during a televised game and waving a banner before their launch. Later, they hung a banner on a massive building in the middle of town overnight for everyone to wake up to. Literally guerilla style!
Your objective should not be to follow strategies that worked for others but to embody what guerilla marketing is and disrupt the status quo. So, whatever it is you do from an execution standpoint, keep disruption/excitement/new as your overarching objective.”
Jack Killion is the Founder and CEO of Street-Smart Entrepreneurs.
“The most important guerilla marketing tip I can provide is to develop and use exceptional networking and relationship development skills.
I have successfully started and grown 10 new ventures, with every one of them benefiting from my networking and strategic alliance development skills.
Most people view networking as shallow, mostly going to meetings and collecting business cards and focused solely on business sales. I view it as much more diversified and important than that. I view it as an essential life skill with networking done:
- Every day as part of a lifestyle
- Randomly and by targeting
- In-person, on Zoom and on the internet (LinkedIn, etc.)
- By everyone from high school kids up to C-level leaders of Fortune 500 organizations
- More from the giving vs. getting point of view
I cost-effectively use networking and developing key alliances to:
- Raise funding for deals
- Expand marketing and sales of existing products and services and launch new ones
- Penetrate new vertical and geographical markets
- Buy and sell companies
- Recruit new talent
- Expand my knowledge base
Based on a 50-hour work week, I estimate I spend 20% of my time and about $3,000/year marketing my company by networking and creating alliances. I get an enormous ROI out of networking and creating alliances.”
Devon Fata is the CEO of Pixoul, a human-centric web design firm helping clients see better returns through intelligent, beautiful experiences.
“It is hard to get too weird when engaging in guerilla marketing. Anything, no matter how bizarre, that gets engagement online has the potential to be a great advertising angle for your company. Don’t be afraid to throw stuff out there to see what works, especially when you’re staring on a small scale.”
Mark de la Cruz
Mark shares his knowledge on learning the guitar at FretboardRevolution.com. He works as an SEO analyst during the day.
“One of my favorite tactics that I’ve used for one of my dental clients is using a sandwich board on the street where they were located with a very catchy headline to bring customers in. The headline that we used was ‘Make Your Smile Great Again’ based on the Trump campaign slogan. We saw over a 70% increase in phone calls and a 20% increase in visitors. Using this tactic on a busy street with plenty of eyes to see the message helped bring in more customers for my client.”
Karl Hughes is the CEO of the technical marketing agency Draft.dev.
“The best guerilla marketing tip is to include the natural environment for creativity. Using nature or buildings as part of the advertisement is a great way to use your creativity. Many companies have taken advantage of guerilla marketing by using imperfections on buildings.”
James Sun is an entrepreneur, managing partner, angel investor, and the founder of Beautytap, a diverse online community of beauty professionals sharing their expert advice and reviews about coveted products from around the globe. Sun has worked as an engineer at Intel and as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting, where he advised Microsoft, Daimler Chrysler, and Boeing.
“The best tip for guerilla marketing is to make your message clear. In order to avoid misunderstandings, make sure that you have a solid idea of what product or service you’re marketing. Even though most guerilla marketing tactics are stealthy, a clear message is important. For example, if your company is hosting a food drive, make sure employees are wearing eye-catching shirts with the business’s name on them.”
Katherine Brown is the Founder & Marketing Director at Spyic.
“My favorite tip is clever marketing strategies implemented on urban streets and environments frequented by their target audience. For example, businesses can place viral videos along busy streets and erect a temporary stall to offer tips and guidelines for product use and strategic product placement. For a successful campaign, jump on fanfares created by popular events such as movie releases, be bold, and ensure they create a positive outlook for your brand.”
Brian Donovan is the CEO of Timeshatter.
“I think the best guerrilla marketing strategy is one that has a fun, experiential element. For example, Volkswagen’s piano stairs, though part of a now decade-plus-old campaign, are memorable not only because they were large-scale and public, but also because they were playful and allowed would-be consumers to associate Volkswagen’s brand with a sense of humor.”
Max Benz is the Founder and CEO at Remote-job.net.
“Guerilla marketing is a type of marketing that tries to market products or services directly to consumers in unusual places, often without the permission of the owner of the location.
Some of my favorite guerilla marketing examples are distributing coupons in public bathrooms, using skateboards as billboards, and using a jigsaw puzzle on an office lobby floor. A lot of businesses use guerilla marketing to deliver their message and promote their company despite having no budget for advertising.”
Simon is the CEO of Click Intelligence, a business that helps businesses optimize their services through digital marketing.
“Social proof is one of my favorite marketing tactics. It may not be too unique, but it’s simple and extremely effective so it tops my list.
Here’s how we integrate social proof in our marketing strategies:
The majority of people have a ‘follow the herd’ mindset. They wait and see how other people’s experiences go before they decide for themselves. Therefore, adding labels like ‘800 people viewed this in the last 24 hours’ or ‘only 3 left in stock, hurry up!’ creates a view that other people are interested and buying a certain product.
This is also user proof, but with a higher reach. A celebrity endorsement can not only make the buying decisions easier for people interested in the product but also brings in new users. We always prefer people with followers close to our target market and a good reputation as they become the face of the brand.”
Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder & CEO of the global marketing and branding firm Mavens & Moguls. Her clients include Microsoft, Virgin, The New York Times Company, Colgate, and venture-backed startups as well as non profit organizations. She graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School. Paige serves on several boards and is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes.
“I started a global branding and digital marketing firm 20 years ago in Cambridge, MA, but years before when I joined Zipcar as the first head of marketing, we were raising money and had no budget. So, I had to be very scrappy and resourceful to find people to sign up and got good at guerrilla marketing. I did not have money to hire people either, so I offered the only currency I had to our members – free driving credit for every hour they would help me. They helped by attending street fairs and festivals, standing next to one of our cars decorated with helium balloons and passing out free postcards. I had the postcards printed online, offering free trial memberships to join. I had an army of folks who wanted to help us succeed, and they ended up working enough hours each month to drive for free by helping us grow. We had cars popping up at events all over town!”
Mark Goren is the President and Founder of 10|20 Marketing. Mark is passionate about helping small business owners succeed online. Throughout his career in marketing and communications strategy, analysis, and content creation, some of his biggest accomplishments have come from showing local business owners that little wins can add up to big ones when you work through an online marketing strategy.
“Honestly, the best guerilla marketing tip – especially for small businesses – is one of the most simple and won’t cost a cent. Ask for Google reviews! The more reviews you can get on your Google My Business listing, the more you can help drive awareness of your business and get potential customers to trust you.
Drive awareness? Yes, because Google favors listings that have positive reviews. So, if you can get more of these than your local competitors, you’ll be more likely to be presented in organic search results.
Get more people to trust you? Yes, because when potential customers look at your listing, they are exponentially more likely to trust businesses that have a 4-star rating or higher. Asking for positive reviews is a long-term play, but one that could pay dividends for the long term.”
Jameson Rodgers is a serial entrepreneur and executive with years of executive and managerial experience. In 2014, he launched CBDfx with business partner Ali Esmaili. Over the last seven years, CBDfx has grown from its San Fernando Valley roots to become the second largest privately held CBD company in the world.
“When thinking of the term guerilla marketing, most think of a strategy that is both cost-effective and manually intensive. However, as a result of eCommerce, guerilla marketing can still be automated and scaled in ways deemed unimaginable twenty years ago.
Specifically, one way to scale your Instagram influence is to hire a team of virtual assistants whose only job is to DM the commenters of your competitors and interact with your pre-existing audience. Indeed, by setting up personal accounts and creating them for the sole purpose of growing your Instagram, you can scale your social media output in unimaginable ways.
When talking about guerilla marketing, let’s eliminate ‘manual’ from our vocabulary and instead focus on solutions that are both automated and highly scalable.”
Mike Nemeroff is the CEO and Co-Founder of Rush Order Tees.
“I’ve seen it so many times in running my business, and the company always gets great results: Free t-shirts. Go anywhere the people are – a bar during a sporting event, a county or state fair, even out in public near an event (with permission for all of these, of course) – and just start handing them out. You can put almost anything on the t-shirts; people will wear them til they wear out or hand them on to friends. Koozies and keychains and stickers can be effective as well, but you won’t get the same level of visibility; those smaller items tend to get thrown away or forgotten. With a t-shirt, the wearer mostly forgets that they’ve turned themself into a walking billboard for your brand.”
Nate Tsang is the Founder and CEO at WallStreetZen.
“Digital guerilla marketing involves going where your audience is and being an active, respected user. That takes time and real effort – there’s no getting around the sweat equity here, because users will turn on you.
We’ve used Reddit in the past for our guerilla marketing, asking and answering personal finance questions and being upfront about the fact that we (meaning my team and I) are with WallStreetZen. Reddit has an informal standard of asking for 10 informative posts to one self-promotional post, and that’s a good rule of thumb across social media. It’s totally fair to bring up your product directly when it’s highly relevant, but most of the time you should be contributing, wherever you choose to meet your users.”
Ethan Howell is the Co-Owner of Florida Environmental.
“Here are two of my favorite guerilla marketing examples:
Putting the spotlight on the ‘invisible’ homeless
A low-cost guerrilla marketing strategy is suitable for non-profits that are perpetually cash-strapped. RaisingTheRoof, a Canadian charity that focuses on the problem of the homeless and solutions to homelessness, applied its own cost-effective technique by reminding busy city inhabitants of the prevalent, yet often ‘invisible,’ homeless youth all around them.
Outdoor dressing room
To generate buzz and attract attention, one mall’s creative agency relocated the mall’s dressing room into the street and converted the shells that traditionally house an outdoor pavement advertisement into mirrors for consumers to check out their fashionable appearance. Then, they adorned the mirrors with stunning photos of some of the available clothes, as well as the marketing campaign’s theme phrase.”
Antonio Wells is the owner of NAMYNOT Inc, a brand growth and strategy marketing agency based in Chicago. It was started in 1999 as a boutique design studio. Wells is a serial entrepreneur who has successfully started and exited one technology company. He has helped start-ups, small, mid, and even large Fortune 100 companies grow their brand and marketing
endeavors. Wells has been covered in Black Entrepreneur, and his expert commentary has been quoted on Yahoo News and Go Banking Rates.
“Watermark everything! I still advise many of my clients of this tactic to this day. It has proven to carry brand recognition and some referral traffic.
For example, the urban brand World Star Hip Hop built its brand from this guerilla marketing tactic by watermarking all videos with its logo. This way, potential fans know where to return for the source of more videos. Mainstream media would also source them for videos used in stories.
To date, the brand has amassed more than 23 million online followers and is projected to be worth more than $100 million.”
Jeremy Britton has been financial adviser since 1992, a crypto geek since 2015, an award-winning best-selling economic author, and the current CFO of Bostoncoin, the world’s first diversified crypto fund.
“When I published my first book, I was an unknown author with some highly controversial views (in 2006 I predicted the GFC, and that China would overtake the USA as a financial superpower). Major stores refused to stock my book, so I would enter a bookstore with a backpack full of books, stack a few on display in the finance section and leave. Nobody checks your backpack on the way into a store, only on the way out!
I also sent many press releases and gave media interviews, saying that my book was available at XYZ bookstore. When people kept going to the bookstore to request a copy, finally the stores relented and called to order several boxes of the book.
I figure I must have given away around 1,000 copies of my book for free, in every store within a 3-hour drive of my house, before it gained traction. Shoplifting is just stealing, but shop-gifting can be a great way to increase demand for very little cost.”
Jonathan Zacharias is the Founder of GR0, a focused, dedicated and committed digital marketing agency that will GR0 your brand online. He has over a decade of experience working in organic SEO, and his agency was named Fastest Growing Company of the Year by the
American Business Awards.
“My most significant tip for guerilla marketing campaigns and strategies is that they should NEVER replace standard marketing levers. Rather, they should be an add-on to your standard promotions and advertising strategies.
Why is this? Simple: guerilla marketing is a bold and unique attempt that strives to capture overwhelming audience attention and buzz. Although some guerilla marketing campaigns resonate with audiences, you cannot guarantee that this outside the box thinking will convert directly to sales.”
Gerald Lombardo is the Co-Founder of The Word Counter, a dynamic online tool used for counting words, characters, sentences, paragraphs, and pages in real-time, along with spelling and grammar checking.
“My number one guerilla marketing tip is that location matters above all else. Of course, guerilla marketing should target particular demographics and locations that are specific to your audience. However, even more importantly, focusing on location will allow you to devise guerilla marketing tactics that are unique to that particular locale.
Indeed, the most important facet of guerilla marketing is that it must be a never-before-seen tactic that cannot be replicated. If you are struggling with devising a strategy that accomplishes this, start with what makes your particular audience and its location unique. By tailoring your strategies to your audience/customer base, you can’t go wrong.”
Matt is Head of Growth at Blinq, a fast growing Melbourne-based SaaS company designed to make sharing your professional identity easier, wherever you go.
“I used to work for Paddy Power at the time they created this guerilla campaign for the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah.
Using sky writers, a brand took real tweets from followers and typed them out in the skies above the golf course where fans, players and the press couldn’t miss them. It was an incredible piece of ambush marketing that gained worldwide notoriety.”
Chris is the founder of Review Trackers. Their software empowers businesses to understand their customers better, build more trust, and find the insights that move their business forward.
“There can be no better guerilla marketing technique than the oft-overlooked but extremely important response rate on customer reviews of your product or service.
Responding back to both positive and negative reviews quickly helps foster an authentic relationship with your customers to inspire brand loyalty, increase confidence, and show prospective buyers you care. With the far-reaching implications of social media reviews, business response improves brand credibility and influences potential buyers with social proof.”
Ravi Davda is the CEO of Rockstar Marketing, a digital marketing agency based in the UK. They help businesses get more leads and sales through the power of digital marketing.
“If you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time responding to emails every day. Some of the people you email will know exactly what you do. But the truth is, most won’t. And that’s exactly why you need to set up an email signature. When doing this, don’t be boring and have the same signature as others. Be creative. Spend more than 5 minutes on this. Add your website URL, your phone number, social media links, and anything else you’d like people to see.
You could also take this a step further and add a link to your Google reviews page. This helps massively with search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a quick win that could easily win you more business.”
Nathan Sebastian is a Content Marketer with GoodFirms, a B2B research and review platform based out of Washington, DC. As a content expert at GoodFirms, he is responsible for market research, data presentation, and preparations of associated content for the IT industry and tech users. Along with this, he regularly contributes to several authoritative platforms such as HubSpot, WordStream, Template Monster, CMSWire, Databox, and others.
“Guerrilla marketing is a low-cost and creative technique that brands are using to increase awareness among their target audience. Guerrilla marketing mainly involves the use of tactics such as surprise and shock to grab attention. There are many reasons for businesses to use guerrilla marketing but the primary reason is if it is successful, it has the potential to create a lasting impression on the audience. My favorite guerrilla marketing tip is to make it interactive. Involving the audience in the campaign is one of the best ways to gain their attention. Whether it’s asking the audience to dispense the product from a vending machine or pose for a photo, there are higher chances of customers remembering the brand if it requires their interaction.
One of the finest examples of a guerrilla marketing campaign is Kit Kat’s Take a Break Challenge. Kit Kat is always reminding people to take a break. To leverage their tag line and celebrate the release of ‘Android Kit Kat,’ the brand decided to take its marketing to the streets with a unique bench challenge. Kit Kat put unique outdoor ads in various locations throughout Utrecht and Amsterdam. The ad encouraged people passing by to take a break on a single person bench that was attached to big Kit Kat signs. If a person was lucky enough to take the break at the right time, they could win a Nexus 7 tablet. Needless to say, the campaign turned out to be a huge success with a substantial increase in their social media engagement.”
Guerilla marketing can be wildly successful, or it can fall flat. But you don’t have to stick to the never-been-done-before tactics to get results. Pair your guerilla marketing efforts with proven strategies for growing your audience and expanding your reach like installing social media share buttons on your blog or website. They take just minutes to install and give your visitors a fast, easy, and painless way to share your best content with their social media networks – with a single click. Plus, they’re totally free to use!