Make it stick with guerrilla marketing

By Betsy McCloskey / Guest Column

In today’s noisy media landscape, the key to being noticed is the implementation of unique communication methods that make an impact with your audience. Guerrilla marketing plays an important role in doing so.

Common examples that people typically re­member but may not associate with guerrilla marketing include the Oscar Mayer Weinermo­bile, Chipotle’s free burrito giveaways for any­one who dresses up as a burrito or in tinfoil for Halloween, and Oprah’s car giveaway with GM’s Pontiac G6. Guerrilla marketing can in­clude attention-getting street graphics, strange occurrences, impactful events and/or product placements. It’s inexpensive, but more impor­tantly, it’s memorable and drives traffic to your organization and brand.

Netflix is on the forefront of implementing memorable guerrilla marketing campaigns. They launched one such campaign to promote the re­turn of “Gilmore Girls” for one final season. To celebrate the show’s return, they transformed 200 coffee shops across the United States and Canada into Luke’s Diner, a main setting for the show, and gave away more than 10,000 cups of coffee. From 9 a.m.-noon that day, fans could experience their own mini Stars Hollow – the fic­tional town where the show takes place – while drinking free coffee, complete with “Gilmore Girls”-themed cups and sleeves.

Of course, Netflix is just one of many compa­nies that have mastered the art of incorporating this type of grassroots effort into their market­ing mix. No matter the size of your company, you should also be trying to incorporate these tactics within your traditional media channels. Here’s why:

It’s memorable

Because it’s different from the day-to-day adver­tising methods, guerrilla marketing makes your brand stand out from the crowd. Many consum­ers have become immune to commercials, bill­boards and sales pitches over the years, giving the advantage to guerrilla marketing campaigns that are offbeat and attention-grabbing, which are more likely to stick with the audience.

It offers unprecedented exposure

Media outlets from mainstream news organi­zations to niche trade publications covered the ambitious “Gilmore Girls” campaign by Netflix. Coverage extended across, Huff­ington Post, MSN, Forbes and NBC’s “Today” show, just to name a few. For a campaign that was only live for five hours on one day, the ex­posure was unparalleled.

Not only did the campaign rack up free me­dia exposure, but it quickly went viral when visi­tors to the various Luke’s Diners posted to social media and triggered word-of-mouth awareness about the release of the show’s new season. When something is out of the ordinary, con­sumers will talk about it.

It can create collaborations

Guerrilla marketing doesn’t always involve free­bies or your business implementing the entire campaign on its own. You can easily collaborate with another business that attracts the same customers. With Netflix’s “Gilmore Girls” cam­paign, the company collaborated with over 200 coffee shops to help implement their idea. This benefited not only Netflix, but also brought in additional business to the coffee shops. With­out their involvement, this campaign would not have been successful.

Where does your company start?

Engage your employees and ask them to brain­storm marketing ideas that are inexpensive yet creative. The goal of guerrilla marketing is to positively surprise customers. Think freely and take a cue from other companies that have suc­cessfully implemented these tactics. When done correctly, it’s a surefire way to make sure custom­ers remember your brand.

Betsy McCloskey is a partner at Plaid Swan Inc. with offices in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. Plaid Swan is a female-owned and operated marketing communications firm.