For thousands of years, outnumbered armies have relied on guerrilla warfare to defeat larger, stronger, more heavily armed forces. The key to guerrilla warfare? Surprise. As the larger army marches forward, the guerrilla forces materialize out of nowhere, ambushing the army.
Then, just as quickly as they came, like ghosts in the night, they slip back into the forest or mountains and plan their next attack.
Guerrilla tactics are incredibly effective because they catch the enemy off-guard. They are so surprising that the enemy isn’t ready for them. When your guard is down, you’re more vulnerable to being caught unaware.
Guerrilla marketing, like guerrilla warfare, relies heavily on the element of surprise. And like guerrilla warfare, it’s the element of surprise that makes it so very effective. We’ve talked about how surprise and emotion are two key factors in effective marketing campaigns. This includes guerrilla marketing.
In fact, guerrilla marketing works so well because its primary goal is to surprise people and create an emotional reaction.
In this post, we’re going to give you five head-turning guerrilla marketing tactics that are sure to grab your audience’s attention, generate more leads and ultimately lead to more sales.
What Is Guerrilla Marketing?
First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding what guerrilla marketing actually is.
Guerrilla marketing is innovative, unconventional and low-cost marketing that seeks to gain as much exposure for a product or company as possible.
- Innovative – Guerrilla marketing doesn’t rely upon standard marketing techniques. Rather, it is outside-the-box marketing.
- Unconventional – Guerrilla marketing is different from other forms of marketing. It makes use of unusual, surprising tactics. It thrives on interrupting a person’s flow of thought and grabbing their attention.
- Low-cost – Guerrilla marketing doesn’t have to involve creating hugely expensive marketing campaigns. Rather, almost all the tactics cost very little and rely more upon creativity to gain exposure.
Did you catch that? Guerrilla marketing thrives on catching people unexpectedly. It’s all about standing out against the mundane events of daily life. It’s about surprising and delighting people as they are out and about.
With this basic definition in mind, let’s look at five ways you can deploy guerrilla marketing in your B2B business.
Learn to Cut through the Noise and Capture Your Audience’s Attention
1. Crash The Party
One of the best ways to gain attention for your product or service is to go where people’s attention is already focused. In other words, using creative tactics, you seek to “steal” attention from your competitors.
For example, Salesforce.com, a B2B CRM, staged a mock protest at a Siebel conference. Additionally, they rented dozens of taxis to provide free rides for people at the conference.
The catch? The taxis were filled with Salesforce marketing brochures and covered in the “NO SOFTWARE” logo (because Salesforce is web-based, not software-based).
By staging this mock protest and deploying “propaganda taxis” (a great indie band name if there ever was one), Salesforce was able to hijack people’s attention away from their biggest competitor and onto themselves.
Because they latched onto Siebel, every time someone thought of Siebel, they also thought of Salesforce.
Their tactics clearly worked. Salesforce was once an underdog in the CRM world. Now they are the undisputed market leader, with more than $10 billion in annual revenue.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff had this to say about their successful guerrilla marketing strategy:
This marketing stunt worked across many fronts: we built salesforce.com morale, got great press coverage, and brought our competitor’s customers to our event to hear our message. Within two weeks, more than one thousand organizations signed up for our service; most were introduced to it through articles about the launch. Later, our End of Software campaign was recognized by PR Week as the “Hi-Tech Campaign of the Year.”
AMD did something similar and “crashed” Intel’s celebration of their 40th birthday. In celebration of their birthday, Intel planned to give away 8,086 limited edition computers. AMD realized that they had an opportunity to steal some of the attention that this giveaway was generating. They offered to give 40 of those Intel prize winners AMD products.
Both Salesforce and AMD could have relied upon traditional marketing techniques such as SEO, PPC, or content marketing. But they knew that in order to really get people’s attention, they would need to do something completely innovative and surprising. By using guerrilla marketing techniques, they were able to generate buzz that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
2. Deploy Pop-Up Shops
A pop-up shop is usually a small shop that opens for a short time in a high-traffic area, such as a busy street. Typically, pop-up shops have been used almost strictly by B2C companies.
But Moo.com, an online printer, surprised everyone when they opened their own pop-up shop in the heart of London.
As a result, the company was featured in at least one highly respected publication, The Next Web, generating fresh buzz and exposure for the company.
Another way to utilize pop-up shops is to have your brand featured in another company’s pop-up shop, like MakerBot, a 3D printing tool, did at Wired Magazine’s pop-up.
One reason pop-up shops are so effective is that they function as a pattern interrupt for people. As they go about their daily lives, suddenly a new shop appears where there wasn’t one before.
Wait. What is this new shop and where did it come from?
This catches people off-guard and piques their interest. They want to know more about this new shop and take the time to investigate.
3. Revamp Your 404 Pages
Have you ever tried to visit a web page, only to be greeted by a 404 message that says the page cannot be found? It’s annoying, right?
However, with some creativity and guerrilla marketing, you can turn your 404 pages into highly effective web pages that grab people’s attention.
For example, Slack paints a scrollable peaceful picture (including animated butterflies) in the background of their 404 page and encourages people to visit the help center to resolve their error. Since many 404 pages are simply black text on a bland background, this 404 page is effective at grabbing people’s attention and making Slack more endearing to potential customers.
Website hosting company Kualo turned their 404 pages into a retro, 1980s-esque video game in which you have to kill the “invaders” who have “ruined” their webpage. Not only does this make the page highly engaging (you get to play a video game, after all), but it also makes it much more likely that people will click on the Kualo home page instead of bouncing to another website.
And get this…
To get even more people to click on their hosting plans, they offer a discount if you score over 1,000 points in the game. Talk about effective guerrilla marketing! This strategy costs almost nothing, is extremely innovative, and generates additional exposure for the company’s products.
Don’t let your 404 pages go to waste. Use them to creatively engage your website visitors and direct them to the proper place. Instead of simply letting visitors bounce from your 404 pages, keep them around as long as possible.
4. Utilize Billboards
Billboards have long been a staple of marketing and most aren’t very creative. This gives you an opportunity to create another pattern interrupt for potential customers. The more creative you can get with a billboard, the more likely it is that you’ll grab people’s attention and compel them to take action.
The freelance hiring company Upwork created the “Hey World” campaign, which included billboards with very specific call-outs. They targeted NASA. They went after businesses who still use Comic Sans fonts. They even targeted Elon Musk, asking if he needed a personal assistant.
The billboards had corresponding videos, radio spots and television takeovers. And while NASA and Elon Musk may not have specifically chosen to work with Upwork (maybe they did – we don’t know!), Upwork’s guerrilla marketing technique certainly grabbed people’s attention, including many businesses who needed freelance workers.
When creating billboards, don’t be afraid to get creative. For example, San Francisco data warehouse company Snowflake created a billboard that said, “Even Karl can’t fog your data.” In San Francisco, the fog is often called “Karl”.
If you really want to get cheeky, consider putting billboards in front of your competitor’s offices.
Budweiser, for example, put dozens of “truck billboards” (another great indie band name) in front of their competitors’ main offices, directing funny, slightly insulting messages to the companies.
Or consider getting hyper-specific with your billboards. For example, Twilio targeted a much smaller group of people with their billboards, but they placed them in Silicon Valley where their target audience makes up a much higher percentage of the population than anywhere else.
5. Create Exclusive Events
Everyone likes to feel like they’re part of an exclusive club, and creating exclusive events is a relatively easy guerrilla marketing technique to give people that exclusive feeling.
For example, Canon wanted to reach C-suite executives at a list of target companies. But no matter what they tried, they simply couldn’t grab the executives’ attention.
Just before they were about to give up, they decided to host an exclusive “golf event”. Sounds pretty posh, right? Who wouldn’t want to be invited to a golf event?
To invite the executives, they sent each of them a massive package. Inside each package were exclusive golf balls, golf course turf, two invitations to the golf event, along with other golf-related gifts.
The results of this guerrilla marketing technique were an overwhelming success. An unheard of 50% of the recipients registered and showed up to the event.
Why was this technique so effective? Again, it’s all about hijacking people’s attention. The executives simply couldn’t ignore the giant packages sent to them (technically, they could, but who doesn’t love packages?).
By combining a pattern interrupt (a massive package) with social status (the event), Canon was able to generate stunning marketing results.
Surprise, Delight and Interrupt
Guerrilla marketing combines several critical elements of marketing into a single, compelling package. It surprises people by showing up out of nowhere, catching people off guard and forcing them to pay attention.
The surprise of guerrilla marketing also delights people, turning mundane moments into something special and delightful. This helps you develop a strong brand personality that your audience will remember.
Finally, in today’s world of information overload and constant distractions, guerrilla marketing cuts right through all the noise. It shakes people out of their daily routines by interrupting them. There’s simply no way you can ignore guerrilla marketing when it’s done effectively.
You don’t need a big budget or a massive team to create a highly effective guerrilla marketing campaign. What big, crazy campaign could you launch for your brand?