Guerilla Marketing: What It Is and How to Do It Online

Marketing is a broad area, spanning digital marketing, paid media, and social media marketing. While there is much to learn, there is also a lot of room for creativity. That is what makes marketing so interesting – you never know what will work and what won’t. That is why, no matter what stage you are in, you should never be afraid to try something new. This is especially important if you are doing it on a shoe-string budget. However, even if you are doing well financially, you should always try to experiment with new marketing strategies to see what works best for your specific situation. This is also the reason behind the boom in digital marketing – it is always changing and evolving to fit new discoveries and new marketing situations. So, while you are learning, you should also be testing and developing new strategies. That is what makes this area so interesting – you never know what will work and what won’t.

However, even experienced marketers agree that there are certain tried and tested methods that never go out of style. One of these proven methods is guerilla marketing. Guerilla marketing can be defined as marketing done using low-cost, yet highly effective, tactics that are often performed by one person or a very small team. This type of marketing can be highly targeted, and it relies heavily on SEO and SEM to bring in the traffic. However, despite how much you might know about SEO and SEM, you will never truly be able to master this area of marketing. That is why it is always a good idea to hire professionals to help you out. Even better, if you have the money, why not pay for the best of what SEO and SEM has to offer?

The purpose of this guide is to unravel the mystery surrounding guerilla marketing and expose it for what it really is – an overlooked yet extremely effective form of marketing that even the most experienced marketers have overlooked. Let us take a look at how guerilla marketing can be performed and the basic ideas behind it.

A Brief History of Guerilla Marketing

One of the first people to really break the mould with regards to marketing was William Duane. He is often credited with creating the first commercial radio station in the United States in 1922. That same year, he also coined the term “marketing.” It was originally used to describe the “advertiser-publisher relationship,” but it has since taken on a whole new meaning. Today, when you Google “marketing,” you will find a wealth of information about the field. However, if you click on the first few links, you will find that most of them are about paid media or digital marketing. While these are all important aspects of marketing, there is another aspect that has largely been overlooked. That is guerilla marketing.

Duane first coined the term “guerilla marketing” in his 1926 book The Advertising Concept and Its Development. In it, he defined guerrilla marketing as “the art of getting publicity with little or no money and the use of shrewd marketing ideas.” He went on to say the following about it:

“As a form of publicity it might be defined as the use of unconventional means to gain publicity. In practice it usually means a combination of methods, involving radio, posters, magazine articles, pamphlets, and word of mouth.”

Duane further expounded on the subject in an interview with the American Institute of Stress. In it, he said the following:

“The main idea behind using guerrilla methods is to test different approaches and modes of getting the word out there. It may be perfectly alright for something to go viral and be well-received, but you just don’t know. In that case, it doesn’t hurt to try a non-traditional method. So really, the main reason behind guerrilla marketing is to find the quickest and most effective way to get the news out there.”

Although Duane is credited with creating the term guerilla marketing, it was actually popularized by an American advertising executive named Al Teller in his 1939 publication of the same name. In it, he described the following six stages of a guerrilla marketing campaign:

The Crisis

The first stage of a guerrilla marketing campaign is called The Crisis. In this stage, your main objective is to get the word out there as quickly and as efficiently as possible. One of the simplest yet most effective ways to do this is through digital marketing and SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization, which helps your website rank higher on Google searches. This, in turn, will drive more traffic to your site. Then, when this traffic converts into paying customers, you can feel pretty confident that you are on the right track. Remember, the key to making any marketing campaign work is to identify your target audience and find a way to communicate with them. In the case of a crisis, this is often going to be someone in a position of power – a CEO, an owner, or the head of a marketing department. Someone with the authority to make a decision. This audience is then used to dictate the nature and the objectives of your campaign. It is also at this stage that you determine how much of a budget you are going to allocate to the campaign. Setting a limit on how much you are willing to spend is an excellent way of forcing yourself to be more creative with the ways in which you are marketing. It can also help you track the results of your campaign. As you may imagine, getting the word out there during a time of crisis is going to be a highly resource-intensive process. This is where you want to be careful and methodical about how you are spending your time and money. Take your time, analyze the results of your campaign, and don’t be afraid to push the panic button if you need to.

The Utopia

Once you have gotten the word out there about your company or brand during the crisis phase, it is time to move into the Utopia stage of your campaign. This is where you start to see some real results from your efforts. Now, you may be wondering why you have to wait until you have reached this stage to see results. The answer is simple – the Utopia stage is where you are setting the stage for the future. As a marketer, you are aiming to establish a brand identity and promote relevant products to this audience. The key to the Utopia stage is to target low-hanging fruit – basically, to take advantage of whatever popularity there may be among this audience. This is often going to be a combination of product-related and feature-related marketing. For example, you may decide to target influencers in your niche – people or brands that have a large social media following. Then, you can take advantage of these influencers by creating videos to promote your product or service.

The Reinvention

Once you have reached the Utopia stage of your campaign, it is time to revisit your objectives and redefine them. This is where you start to see the true potential of a guerrilla marketing campaign. In the previous stage, you were probably more focused on spreading the word about your product. However, now that you have established a foothold in your niche, it is time to branch out and establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche. Establishing your expertise in your niche is one of the best ways of doing this. You can put out expert-sounding content regularly, whether it is an article, a podcast, or a video.

The Revelation

At this stage, you are finally going to see the fruits of your efforts. Your target audience – the ones that you were courting during the crisis phase – have finally had enough of being “courted” and decided to take a liking to you. This stage is often referred to as the “reveal,” because your target audience will now be able to see and understand your strategy. At this stage, it is also a good idea to revisit your budget and see how much you have spent so far. It is now time to set an end date for your campaign and evaluate the success of your campaign.

The Summing Up

Whether you are just stepping into the field or you are already established, one thing is for sure – marketing never stops. When Duane was asked about this specific aspect of marketing in a 2015 interview, he said the following:

“It never ends for the creative person who wants to keep the spirit of innovation. It is a never-ending process of coming up with new ideas and new strategies to reach audiences, to convert that traffic into customers, and to delight those customers with compelling offers.”

While this may sound like an easy way to market, it is important to keep in mind that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, be patient, and most importantly, enjoy the process – it is eventually going to pay off.