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.