February 16, 2021

Small Business Guerrilla Marketing: How and 3 Ideas

Small business owners often overlook the advantages of guerrilla marketing. We look at guerrilla marketing for you, and some ideas to take advantage

Guerrilla marketing is a tactic that most small businesses overlook when it comes to building a successful marketing plan. But every business can benefit from guerrilla marketing ideas. Today, I’ll break down what guerilla marketing is and how your small business can use it, as well as a few starter ideas for any small business to use.

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

Amanda Zantal-Wiener from Hubspot has a good definition of guerrilla marketing:  

“In marketing, guerrilla techniques mostly play on the element of surprise. It sets out to create highly unconventional campaigns that catch people unexpectedly in the course of their day-to-day routines.”

In other words, guerrilla marketing is all about making your marketing surprise and shock your general audiences. People are bombarded by messages. We start to ignore them and go into beta mode. The brain captures the stimuli but stores them in the subconscious. That said, the brain is hardwired to notice deviations from the norm. Those get fast-tracked to the conscious mind. That’s the psychology that makes guerilla marketing work. The challenge with guerilla marketing is gimmick is played, you need to create a new one.

Any business can use guerrilla marketing, but sometimes there are questions about how to make it affordable. That said, guerrilla marketing on a budget is more than possible. It’s much more about creativity than budget.

How Can a Small Business Use Guerrilla Marketing?

It can be tough for small businesses to take advantage of traditional marketing tactics due to cost. If you need to reach the public and you want to do so without spending too much money, guerrilla marketing is a great option if you are very creative. A small business doesn’t need to make the biggest show of marketing prowess to succeed. Instead, it is a matter of grabbing attention and holding it long enough to get your message across.  

At Keap, an article about small business guerrilla marketing by writer Ben Snedeker provides some great example, which we will build on using some ideas of our own as well.

Three Small Business Guerrilla Marketing Examples

If you’re trying to think of guerrilla marketing tactics for your own small business, here are three ideas that I advise. Credit for some of these also goes to Megan Marrs from WordStream, who wrote a similar article about guerrilla marketing examples.  

  1. Street Art is useful when marketing in a public place. By putting designs onto surfaces visible to everyone, you can spread awareness about your brand by making artwork of your own and spreading your creativity.
  2. Give out free swag, but it needs to be creative. Everyone likes free products. Something as simple as a phone case or a sticker can give your brand more prominence to a potential audience if it’s creative enough so it looks different.  
  3. Sometimes stunts can jolt people out of beta mode. Creativity and brand connection are key. They need to be more than just entertaining. They need to create a positive brand connection.

For other great guerilla marketing ideas, please see "What Is Guerrilla Advertising? – 9 Examples of Effective Campaigns" by Don't Panic. It's a great overview of how guerilla marketing has been put in to practice.

Key Takeaways

Guerilla marketing can be a cost-effective tool that small businesses can use if you keep these three ideas in mind.

  1. Creativity is key: You need to jolt people out of beta mode. Therefore, you will need to do something unique and out of the ordinary. If it’s been done before, don’t do it.
  2. Creativity itself is not enough: The creative idea needs to be linked to the brand message or identity. Otherwise, it’s just a stunt.
  3. Guerilla marketing is short-lived: A joke becomes less funny the more it’s told. The same is true for guerilla marketing. For it to be a long-term strategy, you need to have a constant stream of new, creative ideas. Brands that do, succeed

There are other ways to grow your business cost effectively that we cover in other posts.

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About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile

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