Guerilla marketing is a great way to promote your business and reach an even wider audience than would be possible with traditional marketing methods. It’s powerful, and it can make your business a huge success. However, it is also tricky to get just right because the methods you are using are so unconventional. It can be pretty easy to slip up with a guerilla marketing campaign.
If it does happen, you won’t be the first one to make a misstep in this area, either. Some of the biggest, best-known businesses in the country have made some serious guerilla marketing mistakes. The good news is that they were able to bounce back from these mistakes and become stronger and better than ever. You can, too. A guerilla marketing mistake does not have to doom your business. Use the experience as a learning opportunity, take responsibility for it with your audience, and prove to them you won’t let it happen again. When done right, they will keep coming back to you (and will probably bring their friends).
Here are some common guerilla marketing mistakes, with advice on how to bounce back and re-build your image so it’s even better than before.
Not Structuring the Campaign so You Get the Credit
Pontiac learned this guerilla marketing lesson the hard way when it partnered with Oprah Winfrey in 2004 to give a free car to every member of her talk show’s studio audience during one particular show. Oprah got all the credit, with her enthusiastic shouting of, “You get a car, and you get a car!” to everyone in the audience becoming an American catch-phrase. Though the campaign was Pontiac’s idea, the company got little to no credit for what was a very popular and well-publicized event.
If you’ve partnered with another business or person for a marketing stunt and your business’ name isn’t publicized for it at all, you’ve obviously done something wrong. You probably didn’t think the campaign through thoroughly, and now your partner in the campaign is reaping all the rewards.
Get together with your partner and put out a press release talking about the marketing stunt and how you were both involved. Interview your partner to get them talking about your part, so it doesn’t seem like you’re bragging. If you can, publicize it even further via local media. Once the public is aware you were involved, you will get the credit you need without looking self-serving, and your reputation will be greatly enhanced.
Not Thinking Through a Campaign
Cartoon Network made this mistake in 2007 when it put little blinking devices all over public places in 10 large cities. The stunt was to promote its new season of the cartoon, Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Unfortunately for Cartoon Network, they didn’t take the heightened awareness of national security into consideration, and the devices were treated as a terrorist threat in Boston until their true nature could be determined. Instead of instilling intrigue and goodwill among its viewers, Cartoon Network came off looking ill-informed and insensitive to national security concerns.
Not Taking Accountability for Mistakes
If you’ve caused public controversy with a guerilla marketing campaign, the best thing to do is publicly apologize. Invest in local media spots to make your public apology, and own up to your mistake without trying to reason or explain your way of thinking. Simply own up to it and promise to be more sensitive and aware in the future.
If your stunt did something to harm your customers, such as making their personal information vulnerable to hackers through a poorly secured Internet campaign, offer them something tangible to make it right, such as access to an identity theft protection company like LifeLock on your dime. Your audience will respect you for it, and view you as a business with integrity.
Businesses with good reputations get customers, plain and simple.