There’s a fantastic online resource for small business owners at the Kiplinger Business Resource Center — forecasts, recommendations, a business resource library and more — you can use to stay informed and be able to make better decisions. What’s more, this resource offers a dedicated small business area that has information targeted specifically to your unique needs.
It’s from this source that you can find a great discussion of what’s being called “guerrilla marketing” — a unique, affordable way to draw attention to your business. What is this exactly? Fans of the offbeat and rather short lived comedy WKRP in Cincinnati may remember the now famous episode where a local shopping mall was “bombed” by live turkeys — a disastrous, though absurdly funny example of this type of promotion.
The objective of guerrilla marketing is to break through the seen-it-all-too-many-times drone of advertising and other promotions with something that is fresh and innovative — something that really and truly speaks to people. Done right, this can be amazingly effective — done wrong… well let’s just say, like the aftermath of the “Big Turkey Give Away”, it’s not pretty.
Here are five tactics, none involving a helicopter or live farm animals, that you might consider…
- Partnerships — prospects and customers give more weight to promotions that come from another business. Find compatible businesses in your area and combine forces — you’ll both benefit. You might also want to join in on events where other local businesses will be participating, bringing in increased traffic during the event, and afterward too.
- Stunts — unlike the architects of the WKRP “Big Turkey Give Away”, done right, a simple, creative stunt can really capture interest. One California restaurant offered a discount to bald men on a set day of the week — the idea took off and won them national attention. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, just a bit of creativity and originality, a generous measure of common sense, and please, by all means, obey the laws of God and man in whatever you do.
- Influencer Marketing — meaning that instead of promoting your product or service to its direct users, focus your efforts on selling to people they trust. A great example of this is Post-It Notes, a wildly successful product that didn’t take off until given to the administrative assistants of CEOs, who found a use for them at once. You might look for local authors, those who have served on committee’s or been active in another well known organization for your own efforts. Of course, as they say in the movies, “Choose wisely.”
- Experience Marketing — rather than feeling like one of a faceless mass, this tactic gives a prospective customer real world experience of your product or service. Whether free samples, trial periods and other one-on-one interactions these are simple, nearly no cost offers that can make a huge and lasting impact.
- A smile and handshake — it costs nothing and is an essential when it comes to guerrilla marketing. You need to be upbeat and friendly. A positive, can-do attitude, at each and every contact a customer has with your business, goes a long way toward setting you apart. What’s more, most businesses so consistently fall short on this point that you’re bound to make a lasting impression.
Of course, there are “don’ts” when it comes to guerrilla marketing. Chief among them — don’t cast aside common sense.
Companies like Snapple are proof that even those who should know better, often don’t. Consider the June 2005 promotion that involved erecting a 25 foot tall frozen popsicle in Union Square in downtown Manhattan. Trouble was, the kiwi-strawberry confection, exposed to the sizzling summer temperatures, melted faster than expected, sending pedestrians scrambling and leaving a huge sticky mess that took hours of cleanup.
Before trying guerrilla marketing for yourself, take a look at the book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guerrilla Marketing by Colleen Wells and Susan Drake to learn more before embarking on your own campaign.