“I don’t get how dressing up in a gorilla suit will help me sell this product.” – Anonymous Quote
Every good marketer has read Jay Conrad Levinson’s well-known book Guerrilla Marketing. The title has itself become ubiquitous to the profession. It registers as a noun in ‘marcom-speak’ describing nearly any off-the-beaten-path marketing tactic. New guerrilla methods are mostly distillations, permutations, and variations on Levinson’s original theme. Nearly all bank on his singular realization that all marketing is a matter of geometry and kinetics.
Unfortunately, just about any non-traditional process has become “guerrilla.” My friend Bob Frost complains that most things people call ‘guerrilla’ are decidedly NOT guerrilla. More often than not, he says, folks misuse the term to describe ways of doing things on the cheap. I agree with Bob. It is the latter point that I believe causes many would-be to guerrillas fail. Marcom ‘guerrilla-style’ is not the poor man’s marketing campaign – it is not a way to do cheap marketing. If you believe that, you WILL fail.
True guerrilla marketing, at least as Levinson envisioned, centers on precision methodologies like ambient marketing, word-of-mouth, buzz marketing, undercover marketing and viral marketing. When Michael Wollner and I were working in the hospitality and lodging industry, we came across “touchpoint marketing” – a method that focuses on every aspect of the customer experience – from branding all the way to the first 2 minutes of a guest’s stay. Guests form their most acute attitudes and opinions about a hotel in those vital two minutes, but as it turns out, the same can be said for all businesses.
Levinson leaves us with an armload of ‘weapons’ and tactics to go with them. But the best advice is to use your creativity and a dab of common sense. He also believes that small organizations and entrepreneurs are probably better able to undertake his guerrilla tactics because they are usually closer to their customers and considerably more agile. That might have been true in the 80s when he wrote his book, but I don’t believe that to be the case now.
Any organization can look their overall strategic trajectory and dig for activities that generate effectiveness and locking power with the target audience no matter how large or small your company.
In order to sell a product or a service, a company must establish a relationship with the customer. It must build trust and support the customer’s needs, and it must provide a product that delivers the promised benefits.
Among Levinson’s top guerrilla principles, I believe these SIX are the most relevant today:
2) Establish a single strategy (e.g., increase unique page views, increase inquiries) and apply a combination of marketing methods in a single campaign; launch several campaigns (big and small).
3) Current technology is a tool, not the means to build your business. Learn all you can and utilize them to fulfill the goals in your strategy.
4) Aim small messages at individuals or small target markets; the smaller the better.
5) Message for the “opt-in” – not always to get the sale. Get the individual to accept you as a source of entertainment and information.
6) Go deep and long. Apply the concept of effective frequency and stick to your brand and messaging for long term effect.
Thus, saith “the Good Guerrilla.” Good hunting!