Guerrilla Marketing: From Marginal to Mainstream

Guerrilla Marketing: From Marginal to Mainstream Guerrilla Marketing PhotoThe current fragmented media landscape and the decline of traditional advertising methods, as well as the power of storytelling and the consumers’ desire to get relevant brand advantage, have opened up tremendous opportunities for guerrilla marketing. In today’s media landscape it’s clear as day: guerrilla marketing will grow from marginal to mainstream. This is good news for number crunchers, because the impact and ROI of guerrilla marketing is easily measured.

‘Life used to be better’, lament those who dab their faces with Kleenex tissues while they flip through childhood picture books or listen to songs from the sixties and seventies. Marketers and sales managers couldn’t agree less.
They consider themselves lucky living in the 21st century, because the internet and – more specifically – social media have made their career so much easier. Obviously. Imagine the era when TVs had two, maybe three channels. Back then ad men easily reached large audiences. Commercials hit the bullseye every night. But these ‘Mad men’ had no clue what their viewers said to their friends and family about the products depicted on TV. They didn’t have eyes and ears in offices for watercooler gossip, or for boasting in locker rooms after soccer practice. Now, because of social media, marketers see and hear everything. Consumer product reviews are easily tracked through tweets, blogs and buzzes.[pullquote]More than one-third of all bloggers often write about brands, products and services.[/pullquote]

Guerrilla Marketing: From Marginal to Mainstream Guerrilla Marketing Photo

Nokia realized with the Nokia Silence Booth their pay off: Connecting People. The brand is connecting people by providing silent environments to make phone calls. At music festivals for instance.

The statistics speak volumes: more than one-third of all bloggers often write about brands, products and services. Two-thirds of the world’s population visit online networks and read bloggers comments. Instant food for thought for all those billions of consumers who educate themselves online before buying a product. 93% of Americans already do exactly that. Brand experiences from friends and family are most crucial. 78% of all consumers rely on tips from friends, 14% rely on advertisement. Traditional advertising is diminishing. TV ads have almost lost all their persuasiveness.

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Surprising? Not really. All the products out there are practically look-a-likes. No matter what those shiny ads tell you, if you line up five different draft beers, you’ll hardly taste a difference. Even the founder of Heineken, Freddy Heineken, once declined such a blind taste test.

The key is to offer consumers that bit of extra value that will make them choose your product and not your competitor’s. So excite them with stories. Or add meaning to your product, because that’s what consumers are craving. If they know what’s in it for them, their response will be positive. Seth Godin hit the nail on the head when he said: ‘We shouldn’t sell products, we should tell stories.’

Guerrilla marketing is the perfect tool for story telling. Here’s how I defined the term ‘guerrilla marketing’ in my book ‘Guerrillamarketing’ (‘Nieuwe sluiproutes naar het hart van de klant’ – although only available in Dutch this roughly translates to: Guerrilla Marketing. New detours to the heart of the client):

‘A strategic, original and relevant advertising attack at an unpredictable moment with an unforgettable wow-effect that creates sympathy around a brand, point of view, service or product to the right audience.’

Such an ambush creates buzz and chatter automatically.

Guerrilla Marketing: From Marginal to Mainstream Guerrilla Marketing Photo

Gotta go? There are few public restrooms ... in the Big Apple. So Charmin built 20 restrooms on Times Square over the 2007 holiday seasons fully equiped with Charmin-products. 392,862 visitors used them.

Note that we’re not talking about an ambush for the sake of shock and fun. If that becomes your purpose, you’ll step into the same trap of misconceptions that traditional ad agencies have been stepping in for years. Brands need to be authentic, transparent, honest and human. ‘Don’t sell bullshit’ is the mantra for guerrilla marketing, because it’s authentic, carte blanche, fun, relevant and meaningful. And that’s the direction guerilla marketing is going. It doesn’t just entertain, it’s meaningful. It can do good things. Think of brand utility.

Guerrilla Marketing: From Marginal to Mainstream Guerrilla Marketing Photo

At the biggest music festival in the Netherlands jeans brand Wrangler offered festival goers a much needed service: laundry. And at 18 meters wide and 9 meters high, the Wrangler Laundromat was hard to miss. People dropped off their mud-encrusted laundry and were sent a text message the moment it was ready. No spare change of clothes? Wrangler came up with a generous solution to that problem, too: they handed out brand overalls to anyone who used the laundromat.

Let’s draw a parallel to guerrillas. In order for them to be able to survive in their back woods hiding place, they have to connect to the small communities surrounding their hiding place. They need to befriend them and help them in exchange for food and sworn secrecy.

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Even though the media landscape is fragmented, it’s very easy to connect with your target audience. Logically, people who like video games, chocolate or Hello Kitty go to online shops, sites and blogs where they can buy the products they like and read all about latest and greatest in their field of interest. These are perfect ‘locations’ for ad ambushes. Simple as that, and right under the noses of your target audience.

The disintegrated media landscape; the end of TV commercial believabilty; the power of storytelling; the growing demand of consumers for high product and brand value. All arrows point in one direction: guerrilla marketing is at its peak, because guerrilla marketing acts from the perspective of the consumer. It’s authentic, relevant, strategic and meaningful. How else can we explain that a TV viewer starts flipping channels as soon as the commercials come on, while that same consumer sends around photos or videos of a guerrilla marketing ambush to friends and family and continues to blog, tweet and buz about it?

Guerrilla marketing has become a mainstream tool. Brands can’t do without it anymore. And thanks to social media, it’s easy to measure the power of guerrilla marketing. Viva la revolution, viva guerrilla marketing.

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