What is Guerrilla Marketing and Why to Go For It?

What is guerrilla marketing and why to go for it

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Whether you work in e-commerce or any other sector, you have to beat the competition and guerrilla marketing is a powerful way to do it. 
Not only you will need a unique and better idea than your competitor, you will also need a strong marketing.
Knowing your audience and creating ad-hoc contents will help you get the best out of your marketing strategy. Yet, if you have a low budget and you need to expand the brand awareness, guerrilla marketing is the way to go. 
Let’s see together what this concept is about and how it can help you build a successful business.

Guerrilla marketing: meaning and characteristics

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy. It is unconventional, creative and memorable brand exposure.
Guerrilla marketing finds its origin in the guerrilla warfare. Which is the warfare where traditional battleground tactics are ineffective. The idea, in fact, is the same. You need to find new strategies and tactics to win the competition and astonish the target audience.
Guerrilla marketing has the following characteristics:

  • it’s unique;
  • it works at the first time;
  • it location-oriented;
  • it can origin viral content and effects;
  • it can change brand perception;
  • it surprises.

The final goal of every guerrilla marketing strategy is to surprise competitors and your public with a low budget. In fact, guerrilla marketing is born as the marketing tool of smart business with zero budget.
If you are creative, disruptive and smart enough to develop a powerful guerrilla marketing campaign, you can go from zero to hero in no time.

Why to go guerrilla

Now that you know what guerrilla marketing is, let’s see why you should do it.

Reason number one: guerrilla marketing doesn’t need a huge budget.

We already mentioned it: guerrilla marketing is born to help small companies to get outstanding results. Even if they have a reduced budget.
If you have a good dose of imagination and creativity, you can get the same results of big-corporate marketing campaigns.
It’s what Pinterest did.
You know it now as one of the most popular social media channels, but it started small as every other company.
Here’s what happened.
The CEO, Ben Silbermann, decided to go to the Apple store of his city and to set his website, Pinterest, as homepage. He did it with every single computer on display in the store. In this way people, when trying the PC, were able to see the website.
Everything without spending one single dollar.
Can you imagine the effect it would have had if the same happened in every city all over the globe?

Reason number two: you can win every competitor, despite the size.

It doesn’t matter if you are a small business or a big one. Thanks to guerrilla marketing you can beat every competitor.
To give you an example of how easy it can be to boost your brand even against bigger competitors, we will talk about half.com.
Half.com was a company founded in 1999. It was an online marketplace that allowed people to sell used goods for a fixed price.
In that year they were already competing with eBay, that was on the market from 1993.
To get some more visibility, they proposed to the tow of Halfway in Oregon, to rename itself for one year. The new name would have been, of course, half.com, Oregon. In exchange, they would have earned 100.000 dollars other than a new computer lab.
The campaign had a huge success. In only a few weeks the news was covered by agencies like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Even the Today show talked about half.com, giving the brand an extensive visibility.
Only a few weeks after, eBay decided to buy the company for more than three hundred millions dollars.

Reason number three: your brand will be memorable.

When you do guerrilla marketing you create something unique. You create the wow-effect for your audience. This doesn’t mean that it’s something that will always have a positive memory of your brand. But at least, people won’t be able to forget it!
Think about what the Universal Studios did to promote the King Kong 3D theme park.
In Florida, supported by an agency, they created an astonishing campaign to make people notice and remember them.
They created enormous footprints in Santa Monica Beach and added a crushed SUV to make it more memorable.

How to do guerrilla marketing

Thanks to guerrilla marketing you can stand out from your competitors. At the same time you can win the attention of your prospects, making the most of every single dollar invested.
There are different kinds of models you can use to do guerrilla marketing.

#1 Graffiti, street and public art

Graffiti are powerful means of communication. First used to grab attention or mark territory in Philadelphia, they became something more. Thanks to famous artists, they became a tool to denounce political and social issues.
Today, reverse graffiti has a great success. Artists create ad-hoc art pieces covering the dirt and debris from the urban walls.
It’s what Green Works did with the Reverse Graffiti Project in San Francisco.

Brands can use this art to do something good for their city and for their company.

#2 Storefront Displays

You can take advantage of your building or storefront to create unique displays.
Creativity is the key in this context.
Look at what Oskar Jensen did in Copenhagen to promote its office space.

He recreated a big announcement on the front of the building to make people notice it for good.

#3 Stickers

Stickers are cheap and versatile. They can be both attached and removed with ease. And of course, they cost less than commissioning an artist or printing huge displays.
Here below you can see many examples. These brands used stickers in a disruptive way to promote themselves.

#4 Live Public Performances

If you don’t want to leave any print all over the city, you can decided to go for public performances.
The most popular is the flash mob. This kind of activity can be repeated to maximize the effect and results. It can also be filmed and shared via social media to raise the virality of the message.
What are the ingredients for a perfect and powerful flash mob? Velocity, fun and, of course, visibility. They have to grab the attention of people, entertain them and, if possible, engage them too.
Public performances are not only about flash mob and dance. They can be anything.
For example, Molo Nation designed the Jedi Battle Prank. The idea is simple: a small group of jedis challenge pedestrian to fight with lightsabers.

#5 Sabotage or ambush

No, it’s not what you are thinking.
In guerrilla marketing these words have a different meaning. They mean taking advantage of the popularity or the massage of your competitors and draw attention to your own brand.
Audi and BMW had a very long marketing battle using guerrilla marketing strategies.

The key is using humor to make your product or service stand out when compared to the competition.

#6 Other guerrilla marketing strategies

Other than the before mentioned tactics, there are some other ways you can do guerrilla marketing:

  • Word of Mouth (WOM). You can invent and share fake rumors or secrets to boost your brand awareness. It’s what happened with the Blair Witch Project;
  • Stealth marketing. This strategy consists in create the wow effect among the public, without making them realize that they have been marketed. A popular example is when movies promote some brands without you noticing (you focus on the plot);
  • Experiential marketing. It is the strategy where you make people experience the product or service;
  • Wait marketing. In this case you take advantage of waiting places, for example bus stops, to promote your brand.
  • Others like: grassroots marketing or ambient marketing and projections.

Guerrilla marketing is not only offline and physical. Online marketing campaigns can be as powerful as physical ones. If you think about The Blair Witch Project, it couldn’t have had the same success without the website they created to make the story believable.

Tips and tricks to make your guerrilla marketing strategy successful

If you do guerrilla marketing, your goal is to gain positive image and brand recognition. This is why you should make sure your ideas have no chance to scare the audience and put them on the defense. Otherwise, everything will be wasted.
Following you can find some tips and tricks to get the best out of your guerrilla marketing strategy:

  • Grab people’s attention when they are not on high alert. In this way the won’t be able to ignore your message;
  • Don’t scare people away. Think about your idea and test it. You may not notice if something is too creepy or scary. This is why it’s important to have an external opinion; 
  • Unleash your creativity. Create the ad-hoc, innovative and catchy message that people won’t be able to avoid and forget;
  • Make sure you don’t cause any pain or trouble to the audience with your marketing strategy;
  • Create reversible and temporary content. Guerrilla marketing is designed to be easy both to place and remove, and to last for a determined time:
  • Remember the core values of your brand. Being creative and disruptive makes no sense if your idea is not connected to the identity of your brand;
  • Share your marketing campaign. To reach the best result you should make the campaign the most visible possible.


If you have a low budget or if you want to make people know your brand, guerrilla marketing is the answer.
In this article, we explained you everything you need to know to start doing guerrilla marketing. Now you can create powerful and disruptive marketing campaigns to boost your business.
The rest is up to you!
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