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How to Execute a Successful Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

June 25, 2018

So your traditional marketing efforts just haven’t been cutting it lately.

We get it, we’ve been there. With iconic campaigns like Nike’s “Just Do It” and Dove’s Real Beauty movement, standing out in a crowd against top players isn’t easy.

Now I’m not saying that you’ll never be playing in the big leagues, but if you want to stand a chance against your competitors, you sure as heck better act like you are.

So why resort to efforts that aren’t bringing the results you need? It’s time to try something new, something bold. Like a guerrilla marketing campaign.  

If you’ve got big plans and a small budget, this is for you.

Throughout this article I will discuss how to plan and execute a successful guerrilla marketing campaign. From ideation to measuring success and every step in between, we’ll cover everything you need to know about rolling out your first guerrilla marketing campaign.

The process will be different for everyone depending on their current business situation and needs, but with this framework you’ll be one step closer to killing the guerrilla marketing game.

Let’s jump in with a quick refresher on what guerrilla marketing is.

Guerrilla marketing campaigns are unique because they allow you to communicate your marketing message by reaching your audience on an emotional level. Most consumers have trained themselves to tune out conventional methods of marketing. Guerrilla marketing, on the other hand, opens doors to actually get and hold a consumer’s attention.

If you’re looking to get noticed and set yourself apart from your competition, this unconventional approach will do just that. All it takes is a big imagination, lots of creativity, and the willingness to take a little risk.

How to plan a guerrilla marketing campaign

Here are a few steps to start planning your first guerrilla marketing campaign:

Define purpose for your campaign

With a guerrilla marketing campaign, sometimes coming up with the idea can be the hardest part. The creative process takes time, so don’t be discouraged. Before you begin brainstorming, consider these few things to shape your thoughts:

  • Define your end goal. Why are you executing this campaign? What are you trying to accomplish? You can’t come up with a compelling idea for a campaign until you recognize what you want out of it in the first place.
  • Define your audience. Develop a clear and profound understanding of your audience. Who are you trying to reach? How can you reach them effectively? Audience is important in any successful marketing campaign. But with guerrilla marketing, it’s especially important to break free from your traditional marketing mindset and focus completely on the buyers and their perspectives.
  • Meet your audience on a personal, memorable level. The goal of guerrilla marketing is to include an element of surprise and innovation that leaves a mark on buyers; make them feel special, surprised, or intrigued by this interaction with your brand.

Brainstorm guerrilla marketing ideas

Once you’ve defined your goals and identified your audience, let the brainstorming begin!

First, find a time and place where you and your co-workers are free from distraction. This stage in the campaign should be fun. But forewarning, it can also be frustrating. Don’t go into the session expecting your first idea to be gold. Chances are you’ll come up with lots of bad ideas before getting the right one.

With that, no idea is bad until proven otherwise. Document every idea that is proposed and eliminate as you discover flaws. To start, put your heads together, collaborate, and build off each other’s ideas. Two (even three, four, or five) heads are better than one.

I’d also recommend brainstorming a variety of ideas and methods of delivery. It’s a good idea to have several options in case one falls through, and it will also allow you to find the best combination, ultimately maximizing the impact of your campaign.

While there is no set process to guarantee you score the best campaign idea known to man, here are a few tips that myself, and others, have found success in:

  • Be authentic. A brand that stays true to its authentic self is a brand that people will trust. In a world full of fake news, a little authenticity goes a long way.
  • Hook ‘em. A strong hook will connect you with your audience. How does your campaign grab attention? And how will it keep that attention?
  • Be original. Don’t be a copycat. A campaign might have been awesome the first time someone did it, but it won’t have the same effect the second time. Stick to your company’s core message and style, and keep it unique to you.  
  • Clever = better. Clever catches attention. The more clever the campaign, the more memorable it will be to your audience. Ask yourself, “What would make me stop, laugh, think, and remember?” and roll with that.
  • Have good timing. Know the WHEN. It can be just as important as the WHY and the WHO. If you have a great campaign but execute it at the wrong time, you risk not maximizing the reach of your audience.
  • Make it engaging. Do you want your audience to really remember the experience? Throw them into the mix. It’s hard to forget something you’re physically part of, especially when you were least expecting it. 
  • Be mindful. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to satisfy everyone in your audience. Again, guerrilla marketing is more effective on an emotional level. So be mindful not to annoy, scare, or offend people as much as possible.
  • Have measurable results. Be sure to have a clear call to action (CTA) so you’re able to measure the effects of your campaign. Having a CTA is essential in directing your audience to do exactly what you’re asking of them.

Campaign organization

Guerrilla marketing is supposed to be spontaneous, but that doesn’t mean the planning should be. Actually, the planning stage of these campaigns is crucial in order to make your one shot count.

Put your plan into writing. Write down what you’re going to do and when. Set dates, break down everything that needs to be done to reach your end goal, and add details to each step of the plan. Doing this will streamline the execution process as much as possible.

Need a little help laying out your plan? Download our guerrilla marketing campaign project brief template.

Download Guerrilla Marketing Plan Template

Executing a guerrilla marketing campaign

This is the fun part: putting your plan into action. Assuming you’ve put time into a well-thought-out strategy, this should be pretty easy. Follow your action plan and shoot to complete each step by the date you’ve set.

It’s also important to realize that your plan might change throughout the execution process.  Sometimes unexpected blockers can pop up and shift your original plan, but this is okay. Anticipate setbacks and adjust accordingly.

Measuring the success of your guerrilla marketing campaign

Results are, by nature, unpredictable. And with guerrilla marketing being a less conventional approach, results are even more uncertain. With that in mind, be ready to track your results and learn from them.

Recall your CTA, recognize what worked and what didn’t, and aim to understand why it was successful or it wasn’t. These metrics can take some trial and error, but it’s important to learn from mistakes so you can maximize your results moving forward.

On the contrary, if you have great success with the campaign, document it and share! Guerrilla marketing campaigns are a great opportunity for potential virality and brand building. They can also provide great content for your social media accounts, so plan ahead to capture the effects of your campaign.

The audience’s initial reaction should give you an idea of whether or not your campaign looks to be successful. But when it comes to actually measuring your success, keep in mind that guerrilla marketing campaigns are measured a little differently.

Unlike traditional digital marketing campaigns, the success of guerrilla marketing campaigns won’t be measured in clicks or impressions, but rather things like traffic or revenue. This is because your CTA and the audience’s experience with your brand should lead to increased brand exposure, resulting in increased site visits and revenue, for example.

Now do it yourself!

When it comes down to it, guerrilla marketing can be a gamble. But also understand that high risk can mean high reward.

It’s time to stop settling for conventional marketing tactics that aren’t giving you a bang for your buck, and start utilizing your creativity. Take a chance on something bold, make moves for your business, and win big with guerrilla marketing.

If you want to learn more about marketing campaigns, check out what our CMO Ryan Bonnici says about B2B marketing and applying it to your very own business

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