Guerrilla Marketing Insights

Business Insider ran a feature today on guerrilla marketing which included a couple of quotes from yours truly.  Here are my notes from my interview with reporter Bianca Male.

What is the best way to define guerrilla marketing? And what is it most definitely not?

Guerrilla marketing is a state of mind not a particular channel. Guerrilla marketing is about making more out of less, combining innovation and elbow grease to cut through. Guerrilla marketing can also be defined by what it isn’t. It isn’t traditional media like TV and print. Today’s guerrilla marketers capitalize on social media with a vengeance; listening, researching, conversing, engaging, supporting and ultimately selling. That said, just using social media channels like Facebook doesn’t make you a guerrilla. Using Facebook in a fresh way like Burger King did with Whopper Sacrafice is guerrilla. It simply isn’t guerrilla if it isn’t newsworthy.

How can a business decide if a guerilla marketing campaign is right for them?

There are a few highly regulated industries like financial services and insurance that make considering guerrilla approaches a risky proposition. That said, just about every other marketer big or small can benefit from guerrilla, its just a question of risk tolerance. Guerrilla marketing typically carries some risk since it requires a brand to step outside its comfort zone and do something they’ve never done before. Guerrilla marketing done right is newsworthy. As I said earlier, It isn’t guerrilla marketing if it isn’t newsworthy. One of the risks of guerrilla marketing is that it simply won’t cut through as planned simply because it wasn’t original or it was just a dumb idea. Another risk is that the guerrilla idea was a mere moment in time and didn’t include sustaining elements. One of my favorites: Renegade launched the HSBC BankCab in 2003 with a search for the “most knowledgeable cabbie in New York” which got tons of PR and concluded with a one-year contract for Johnnie Morello. Seven years later Johnnie is still on the road providing free rides to delighted HSBC customers in a vintage 1982 Checker Cab.

How does a business develop a guerrilla campaign? Any guidelines?

The article I just wrote for my blog on Fast Company provides several relevant guidelines. Generally, its best to start by setting clear objectives followed quickly by doing your homework, really thinking through your category, brand and consumer. Ideally, this process will yield a true insight that can be transformed into a big idea. Then its time to think 360°, imagining all the ways your idea can come to life, online, offline and in-between. It often helps at this point to imagine the story headline you’d like to see, the tweets you’d like to read, the photos you’d like to be taken and YouTube videos that you’d want to view. Talk to some PR professionals you trust to make sure these story ideas might in fact find purchase in your ideal media outlets. Google your idea to make sure it hasn’t been done the same way you’re planning to do it. Guerrilla programs usually start when a client says to us, “we don’t have any money but we’d really like to get some media attention.”

One of my favorites: A few years ago, Panasonic was introducing a new line of alkaline batteries called Oxyride that were far more powerful than Energizer. Since they didn’t have the budget to compete directly, Renegade came up with a truly guerrilla program called “Neuter your Bunny.” This tongue-in-cheek “public service” effort focused on heightening awareness of the benefits of bunny neutering. Turns out it calms the male bunnies down and prevents female bunnies from getting cervical cancer, a disease that otherwise strikes them with remarkably frequency. So Panasonic Oxyride batteries established Neuter Your Bunny day, donating 5 free neuterings and $10,000 to the House Rabbit Society. And despite the fact that PETA gave Panasonic an award for caring, the American press thought this was veiled yet hilarious competitive campaign writing headlines like “Panasonic Wants to Neuter Energizer” in over 30 publications from Time Magazine to Newsday.

Is there anything a business should NEVER do when it comes to guerrilla marketing?

It is generally not a good idea to do something that will cause someone on the team to go to jail. If you have to break the law to get attention then you probably need a different business model. Try not to annoy your target. A street team performer once shoved a donut in my face in order to get me to stop and go into a bank branch—this was not a fun experience for me or productive for the bank who would never ever get my business after that. Try not to think of guerrilla as a moment in time or as a simple street stunt. This will limit your horizons and the potential impact. And never tell the boss that your guerrilla program is going to be a hit before it becomes one. Its always better to under-promise and over-deliver especially with often unpredictable guerrilla endeavors.

5 Savvy Guerrilla Marketing Ideas for 0h 10

ADWEEK published its special report on Guerrilla Marketing a couple of weeks ago including a few quotes from your truly on how marketers are capitalizing on empty retail spaces. These quotes were part of a larger conversation I had with ADWEEK on overall guerrilla trends and the kinds of things you might see in 2010. I’ve collected those thoughts into this piece that looks remarkably similar to an article of mine that appeared in MediaPost this week!

More DO, Less SAY
Guerrilla used to be about “hit and run” stunts that in the best case yielded on-message PR. Like other forms of marketing, guerrilla is evolving into more complex experiences that DO something for the consumer rather than simply saying something to them. The HSBC BankCab (yup, its still driving brand love after seven years!), the Samsung Charging stations and Charmin’s Times Square bathrooms are three examples of the DO versus SAY approach.

Expect a lot more of this in 2010 with new twists that integrate technology and/or social media. For example, Charmin added a search for Tweeters to supports its 2009 “pottie platoon” and HSBC added tweets to the BankCab program.

Meet Up meets Flash Mob
At the heart of the most effective guerrilla campaigns is a physical interaction. Social mobile technologies enable new interactions that guerrilla marketers will undoubtedly exploit. A well-connected marketer will be able to take the notion of a flash mob to new heights, gathering people of extraordinary commonalities at a moments notice. Think Meet Up meets Flash Mob. It is easy to imagine a kitchen appliance company gathering left handed vegan cooks for an “equal rights” march through Bloomingdales that turns into a party to celebrate a new “leftist” friendly product line.

Foursquare, Loopt and Google Latitude all represent interesting opportunities for marketers to connect with likeminded consumers in fresh ways. These tools all create the opportunity for customized micro-events that could make prospects feel a part of something special. For example, liquor brands should have a field day partnering with Foursquare and/or Loopt to create an entire nights worth of experiences.

Pop-up not Pooped Out
With commercial real estate still in the tank, expect guerrilla opportunists to exploit empty spaces in all sorts of new ways. Suddenly these windows could become touch screen displays that are customized ecommerce enabled eco-systems. Smart video technology would assess the people walking by (i.e. male, female, young, old, short, tall) and serve up a customized visual experience.

For example, the video window could display an avatar of the individual walking by and then transport it to sunny beach in the Bahamas for a travel company. The consumer could select their own destination and place their image into it. This image could be emailed to the consumer along with a discount for a cruise to that destination. Less tech heavy uses of storefronts will include live mannequins, video projections and printed posters that change on a daily basis for a reason (weather reports, news items, drinks of the day, etc.)

Taking Tech over the Top
Look for augmented reality to creep into guerrilla programs. For example, a girl could virtually try on a dress she’s just seen via a guerrilla encounter, share that “trial” with a friend, get instant feedback, figure out who makes that dress and then order it on Zappos. Smart phone apps could include components found via a real life scavenger hunt. The consumer would have to find the “clue” and take a picture of it which would help them reach a higher level in the app. The variations on this are endless but all involve integrating mobile technology with a physical experience.

Little Luxuries
Guerrilla marketers have long pursued random acts of kindness as a means of gaining attention for their brand. Look for these random acts to become less random and more upscale, providing little moments of luxury in 2010. Concierge service in unexpected places, free transport in unique vehicles and exotic food samples for passersby are but three examples you can expect to see this year.

Little luxuries are always welcome and can be delivered on an increasingly personal basis thanks to advancing technology. For example, GPS mash-ups can enable everything from customized messaging to personalized walking tours. This messaging could be educational—like how do you get the best shot of a landmark (that you happened to be at) to what’s the best thing to order at the restaurant across the street. This level of customization will endear brands to their prospects thus transforming them into card-carrying brand evangelists.

Six Questions to Start the New Year

1. Does your target Digg your ads?

If zapping tv spots wasn’t bad enough, now Digg is allowing their readers to essentially vote ads “off the island” while promoting the ones they like to star status. For the undug, Digg is the highly popular tech-focused news site where the stories are chosen by the users—the more Diggs a story gets, the higher it ranks on the site. And now that ads can be Digged or Buried, marketers will get real time feedback on the relative appeal of their ads to this highly influential target. If you’re targeting techies, this could be the cheapest copy test you ever tried, as well as the most eye opening.

2. Is your marketing worth retweeting?

While the joys of tweeting may still escape you personally, the phenomenal reach of Twitter is undeniable. In addition to the 20 million or so global users, tweets now appear as status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo and other social networks, extending Twitter’s influence to just about everyone marketers might want to reach. This isn’t kid stuff either. Professionals between 35–49 are the biggest tweeters of them all. So, if you create marketing worth tweeting about, the world will find out about it faster than you can say, “Wow that’s tweet.”

3. Do interns handle your social media?

This is not a trick question. We’ve been asked this a lot in the last month and it is a reflection of a naive belief that it is okay to put a brand’s social media campaign in the hands of novices. One senior marketer even told us that his company uses interns for all of their social media and then shrugs off the lost intellectual capital when the interns move on. As social media advances from the experimental phase to the front lines of customer relationship management, building and maintaining expertise is essential to optimizing results and avoiding PR nightmares. After all, would you ever put an intern on the phone with the press or your top customers?

4. How many customer “love letters” do you get a week?

It is a simple fact—beloved brands do better. Becoming beloved requires achieving customer satisfaction on the basics (product quality) and somehow exceeding expectations via service. Zappos calls this delivering “wow” and does this wherever they can. The Apple Store does this with its amazingly knowledgeable squad of orange-shirted concierges. Others use Marketing as Service to foster brand love, as HSBC does with the BankCab, whose riders send at least one love letter every week. So ask yourself, what could your marketing be doing (versus saying) to generate this kind of passion?

5. Do you have an app yet?

2009 was the year of the app rush for marketers. Everyone from Blockbuster to ZipCar, Betty Crocker to Starbucks, and Fandango to The Food Network cooked up mobile apps for their prospects and customers. In fact, well over a hundred brands joined the fun, some with pragmatic extensions of their service offering (like FedEx mobile) and others with engaging entertainment to enhance their brand perceptions (like Scion’s AV Radio). Given the low development costs of mobile apps and the millions of smart phone users, there is still time to get app happy. And while you’re at it, check out the newly launched CALL THE SHOTS iPhone app that Renegade developed for HARLEM, the new ice cold shot drink imported from Holland. It’s fun, it’s free and it’ll answer the question—how lucky are you really?

6. Did you know Renegade moved?

Back in September we said goodbye to Chelsea Market, our home for 10 years and moved to our new digs in the heart of Greenwich Village, just south of Bowlmor Lanes and north of Patsy’s Pizza. It seems that a few of you might not have our new address so here it is: 41 E 11th Street, 3F, NY, NY 10003-4602. Our phone numbers haven’t changed and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Happy New Year!

Timely Tips on Experiential Marketing

BRANDWEEK ran an expansive special section on Experiential Marketing this week that included some pithy quotes from yours truly. Since this is a topic I tend to think a lot about, here are extensive notes from my conversation with BRANDWEEK reporter Michael Applebaum a couple of months ago.

Great experiential marketing programs

Experiential marketing comes in a lot of flavors which makes it tough to generalize what makes a program great. For some clients, it is enough to have created an engaging trial-focused experience during which the consumer consumes the product or service in a reasonably memorable fashion. For others, the ultimate goal is buzz, as measured by PR coverage, word of mouth or on occasion trade reactions. Still others seek to establish a continuing relationship with the target, so online registration becomes the ultimate measure of effectiveness. A truly great program, in my opinion, does all of the above and then some.

A truly great experiential program first and foremost is so appealing the consumer wants to engage with the brand. It is the opposite of disruptive advertising which like an unwanted door-to-door salesman intrudes into the home. Great experiential marketing is not shoving a donut in someone’s face on the street and then saying “try our bank.” To be appealing, marketers need to offer a reasonable exchange of value, during which the consumer gives up his/her time while the brand provides the experience and usually some free stuff!

Done correctly these experiences can have exponential impact which is important since 1:1 experiences can be pricey. If an experience is targeted at the right influencers, then these influencers will undoubtedly share their experiences. If the physical experience has an online component, then there is an opportunity for both WOM and a deeper relationship with that consumer. If an experience is sufficiently newsworthy, millions of other interested parties can be influenced by the event(s).

Renegade’s rules of thumb for a great experience are as follows:

  • the experience is fresh enough that the press wants to write about it;
  • the experience is relevant to the story you want to tell about the brand;
  • the experience has legs well beyond one single event and/or one single communication channel;
  • the experience is entertaining and enlightening;
  • the experience is so engaging that the consumer wants tell his/her friends about it.

This is not about just getting attention. There is an old adage in our business, “If you want attention, put a gorilla in a jockstrap and stand him on a street corner.” This is about engagement. Mutually beneficial engagement.

Lots of industries are turning to experiential marketing

Food and beverage companies are old hands at this since sampling is essential to growing their businesses. Brands like Pepsi AMP go to extreme lengths to sample their product to the right target–they handed out as many as 5 million samples this summer. Alcohol brands are creating mini-experiences in bars, clubs and restaurants with extraordinary frequency across the US. Entertainment companies like to include experiential programs in the mix often with the hope of creating a “must see” buzz prior to launch. B2B brands are also crafting experiences with greater frequency (examples available if you need them).

Lately, we’ve been noticing a lot of brands pulling from the Experiential 101 Playbook:

  • The World Record—Wise potato chips set the world record for most chips crunched at the same time at a Mets game this summer. Not exactly New York Times material but surely some pub out there besides the Guinness Book was interested.
  • The Pop-Up Store–Southwest Airline is the latest airlines to set up a pop-up in Manhattan theirs being a café-like setting in Bryant Park. Now defunct Song tried a pop-up store in 2004—unfortunately the store experience was better than the airline itself.
  • User Generated Content—a lot of experiential programs start by asking the consumer to create some kind of content. HSBC’s Soap Box and JetBlue’s Story Booth (both by JWT) ask the man on the street to provide their points-of-view. This “content” was then turned into ads and online communications. A smaller scale example comes from a small Canadian Beer Company called Okanagan Beer that challenged consumers to tell them why the brand should sponsor their events/parties. This content was then repurposed into a 360° campaign and sales jumped 30% — this is definitely on my list of “wish we’d done that.”

There are lots of ways to measure experiential marketing

As for research, there are so many different kinds of experiences and a corresponding amount of measurement tools depending on the objectives. We like to use Net Promoter Score on a pre/post basis as a measure of the experience itself. We have seen 30-40 point swings in likeliness to recommend a brand to a friend after exceptional experiences. In theory, every brand can measure the value per customer gained and/or the value of increased loyalty per customer. For example, if a brand experience makes you twice as likely to buy and/or recommend a brand, then one can compute the increase in lifetime value of that customer. That said, the math can get fuzzy pretty quickly. That’s why PR coverage is so important. Great press coverage can extend the reach of a program, making it more comparable to measuring the effectiveness of a media or PR program.

Latest trends in experiential marketing

First, mobile devices are becoming integral parts of brand experiences. An iPhone app can start an experience. An in-bar trivia contest answered via text messages can start an engagement. Mobile is part of a bigger trend to integrate technology into the experience and extend beyond the physical into the virtual world. Event experiences are often extended via Facebook and Twitter programs. Event experiences can be used to introduce on online extension, like Frito/NFL’s hunt for the most “fanatical football family.” And of course, social media is playing an ever increasing role in starting and extending brand experiences. An experiential program Renegade created for Toasted Head wine has evolved into an on-going Facebook program that keeps the faithful engaged.

Second, microevents are starting to get big. Royal Caribbean held 1000+ “Cruisitude” parties at homes of former cruisers. As I mentioned earlier, alcohol brands are hosting small events at bars almost nightly to engage their targets.

Where to start

Marketers are best to start with “the why,” not “the how.” If they know why they want to create experiences then it is much easier to figure out the how. If trial is key, then the experience can be built around that. If they are doing it to stretch marketing dollars, then getting buzz & PR should probably be the top priority. From there, we recommend marketers focus on “the do,” not “the say.” What is it that you can do for your target that will make them want to engage with you? Sometimes “the do” is just free stuff but often “the do” can be more substantial. Sports car owners like to drive fast but rarely get to do it legally. “The do” for BMW was a Performance Driving School for its customers. Road warriors scamper about airports looking for places to charge their gear. “The do” for Samsung was charging stations in airport terminals.

Guerrilla PR Teleseminar

Had an interesting conversation today with fellow guerrilla practitioners in a “teleseminar” hosted by Bulldog Reporter. Other participants included Julian Aldridge of Ammo Marketing, Christian Jurinka of Attack! Marketing and Drew Livingston of FreeCar Media. The moderator did a great job keeping the conversation moving and hopefully the folks listening found it as interesting as I did. Before the call, I prepared some notes that I thought were worth sharing here since most of these didn’t make into the call. Please note that these are pieces of the puzzle and not whole answers since the other members of the panel brought lots of insights to the table.

Define Guerrilla PR
For Renegade, Guerrilla pr is an attitude not a tactic. It is the belief that you can make up for a lack of resources with ingenuity. As such, the possibilities are limitless even if your budgets aren’t. Like all marketing, guerrilla PR needs to be grounded in strategy with a keen understanding of your target. Once you know thy target, then ask yourself, what can you DO for them NOT what can you say to them. We call this approach Marketing as Service. Samsung figured out they could help road warriors by putting charging stations into airports. This service spoke volumes about Samsung and offered proof positive of their commitment to helping the mobile professional. KFC recently started filling potholes as a service to its customers who had to drive to their stores over bumpy roads. A Colonel Sanders look-alike did the repair work and spray painted KFC logos on the fixed potholes ensuring that the brand got lots of exposure for their efforts. Every company big or small can do something for its customers—the trick is to find something to do that is also newsworthy.

Some Emerging Categories to Consider in Non-Traditional PR Programs
There is definitely a rush by marketers to capitalize on the iPhone app craze. Zippo has enjoyed tremendous success with its virtual lighter (that you can blow on to affect the flame) and is currently the #1 downloaded app in the lifestyle segment. Kraft created the iFood Assistant which for $.99 puts 7,000 recipes at your fingertips. Consumers don’t mind paying the cost of one song if the app delivers real value. But this is definitely a category in which the early bird catches the worm. With over 25,000 apps already out for iPhones, you better make sure you have a fresh, fun and simple idea for another one.

Guidelines When Planning Guerrilla PR
Obviously knowing your target is critical to any successful marketing effort, guerrilla or otherwise. For guerrilla, it is particular helpful to understand the pain points of the target on both a general (lifestyle) and a specific (product category) basis. Knowing this will help identify things you can do for the target rather than just what to say to them. For example, we knew that New Yorkers have a love hate relationship with taxis, they love the convenience but hate to pay for them. So for HSBC customers, we created the HSBC BankCab which gives free rides all over Manhattan. HSBC customers simply can’t believe its free and feel like they’ve won the lottery and end up telling at least five friends about it after every ride.

Guerrilla PR Makes News When You Don’t Have It
Ideally, if you have some real news about your product or service, then it will be a lot easier to spread the word. If you product is better, faster, cheaper or ideally, a combination of the three, then the press will want to talk to you. If not, then you need to use marketing to create the news. And if what you are planning to do isn’t newsworthy, I would reconsider. If its not newsworthy, don’t’ bother. To make sure the press noticed the HSBC BankCab, we launched with a “search for the most knowledgeable cab driver in NY” that generated over 20 million PR impressions.

Low-Cost PR Tactics

Facebook can be very low cost and very effective for the right brands. Renegade recently created a social media program for Toasted Head Wine. Since no wine brand had gained more than 1000 friends there was a lot of question about this being the right place. But our research suggested that TH had a passionate yet down to earth following that just might enjoy engaging with the brand and other fans. Positioned as brand that can “fire things up,” our goal was to fire up Facebook providing provocative conversation starters like “its 60 minutes before the bachelor party and the stripper just canceled, now what?” The answers were hilarious and a real stripper chimed in defending the professionalism of her peers. We also used applications like Social Calendar to encourage Toasted Head fans to share their love which they did. In the first four weeks of the program, Toasted Head has picked up 3300 fans. Better yet, these fan are highly engaged, joining the conversation with “Barry the Wine guy” and leaving a steady stream of comments about their favorite variety of Toasted Head.

Twitter is another low cost option. Despite all the hype about Twitter, there is one really profound reason to use this channel and that is the role role Twitter can play in crisis management. Domino’s used Twitter and other social media to fight back when a couple of employees filmed themselves sticking cheese up there nose and then putting it on a pizza.

Real-World Tips for Incorporating Guerrilla Tactics and Techniques into Traditional Programs

As I mentioned earlier, it really helps to have a deep understanding of your target. When we developed the “Hell Cuts” program (see video) for Ubisoft’s Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway game, we were fairly confident that our hard core gamer target would do just about anything to get a free copy of this game. Sure enough, it took no persuading at all to get 157 “recruits” to have the head’s shaved and the word Hell spray painted on top. Seven of the recruits were reporters and the resulting PR coverage was extraordinary. And while this was a stunt, it related directly back to the product, a highly realistic WWII action game which required players to recruit a squadron to take on the Germans. And of course, no soldier entered the service without getting a buzz cut first.

Common Traps When Venturing into Non-Traditional Outreach
• Don’t bother with the Protest thing. Its been done a zillion times and its fake.
• Don’t bother with stunts that have nothing to do with the brand or the story your trying to tell. You can always get attention by putting a gorilla in a jock strap but unless your selling jock straps, monkey suits or bananas, find another idea to get attention you so crave.

Measurement and ROI Tips: How to Track and Show Value for Non-Traditional PR Efforts
Net Promoter Score—one simple yet instructive measure to consider is Net Promoter Score or NPS. Developed by Bain consultant Fred Reicheld who determined that customer likelihood to recommend a product/service to a friend is the single biggest factor in determining a brands success. To measure your NPS, ask your customers “on a scale of 0 to 10, how likely they would be to recommend your product to a friend.” You then add up the 9-10s and subtract them from the 0-6’s and you have a net promoter score. We use this on pre/post basis for all our programs.

Marketing as Service is not a Band-aid

To be effective, Marketing of Service needs to a genuine commitment versus a one-off stunt. While few marketers will have the perseverance to make it 108 years like Michelin with its peripatetic guides, I suspect they can make it longer than a weekend like the recent painfully misguided “free taxi” effort by Tylenol.

Thanks to Jason Wurtzel for spotting these when they first arrived in the city on November 3rd. Not knowing anything about the program at that moment, I neglected to post Jason’s shots (see below) or to feel any sense of flattery since these were another attempt to copy the HSBC BankCab, which I might add is in its sixth year of driving loyalty to The World’s Local Bank.

Tylenol TaxiTylenol Taxi close up

Still on the case, Jason then forwarded this snippet about the cabs on The Gothamist:

The Tylenol (global?) “Warming Taxis” will take you anywhere in Manhattan, today through Sunday, from noon to 8 p.m. Your best shot of catching one is heading to a CVS at 630 Lexington, 540 Amsterdam, 272 8th or 307 6th Avenues and waiting for a stranger in a white car to offer you a lift and some Tylenol.

One weekend? Is that really supposed to heat up our feelings about Tylenol? As the Renegade behind the BankCab, that just plain hurts. It wasn’t even a cold weekend by November standards so the warming part fell flat. J&J, a usually savvy marketer, should know better than to treat Marketing as Service as a Band-Aid or perhaps they got ripped off by an unlicensed guerrilla practitioner.