Posted by : Amanda Stein Saturday, December 1, 2012

Not all businesses are created equal. Small businesses often do not have the same resources that large corporations do. Be honest with yourself – you know that it is true.

Luckily, not all forms are marketing are created equal. In fact, many small businesses work within the “5-mile rule,” so really getting into the community around you is critical to your success. Branching out is important, having an Internet is presence is important, but in order to take those first, second, and third steps with your small business, you need to consider those people that will support you first.

That’s where a small business with little-to-no marketing budget needs a little marketing help. The answer? It’s the 800 lb. gorilla in the room – guerilla marketing.

But what is guerilla marketing? At its core, it is simply coming up with a creative way to market your brand or company on a small budget. We’ll get into different methods of doing this later in the article. The key, though, is to never forget your company’s vision, what you are trying to sell, and what your company’s values are.

So how does a company go about making the decision to get into a guerilla marketing campaign? Let’s take a look at the advantages.

Guerilla marketing is outside the box

What’s the most important thing about marketing? Isn’t it to reach your target demographic and help them make the choice to buy your product or services? Guerilla marketing offers small businesses to cut through all the clutter that large corporations put into the airwaves every single day. It gives you the opportunity to be creative, to think outside the box, to surprise the consumer, to shock them. You get to define yourself as a brand.

Guerilla marketing is cheap 

Of course there are exceptions, but at its core, guerilla marketing was made for small businesses that have smaller budgets. It levels the competitive playing field, so to speak. Most forms of guerilla marketing are far cheaper than traditional forms of marketing. Take for instance presence marketing, buzz marketing, grassroots marketing – all of these can be done on a minimalist budget (we’ll discuss a few of those later). With a little work, your company will have no problem reaching your target demographic, and not only will you reach them, you’ll stick with them.

Guerilla marketing makes your company memorable 

As was said in the first of these three sub-sections, guerilla marketing gives your company the opportunity to define itself as a brand. There is so much out there right now that it can be tough for small businesses to really distinguish themselves from the competition. Guerilla marketing gives your company the opportunity to really show its personality, which means a lot to consumers.

So what are a few guerilla marketing techniques that small businesses can take advantage of on the cheap?

Buzz marketing 

Buzz marketing (or Undercover marketing) is the art of playing a great game of Telephone. Do it correctly, and you get the correct message to hundreds – maybe thousands – of new potential customers. Do it incorrectly, and you will most likely get a lot of confusion. Confusion is not what you want here.

It’s all about seeding in this case. To get the correct message about your company or a particular product of yours out into the community, you’ll need to seed it with people that are sympathetic to your company. Send them out with a little information that you want spread around the community and watch it spread. The key to making sure that it doesn’t turn into the bad kind of Telephone is to seed the information several times. Depending on how long you want the campaign or particular message to run, you’ll want to seed more or less. Typically, once a week for a month-long message is sufficient.

Once the message begins to spread, you’ll start to see customers roll into your little shop. Crafting the message is where creativity comes into the picture, though. You need that message to bring a curiosity and wonder to your potential customers – kind of like a “What’s going on there?” type of thing.

Another way you can ensure that your message is received correctly all the way down the road is to support that message within your store or wherever you are pointing your consumers to. Don’t put the exact message you’ve seeded, but something subtle – maybe a sale sign or bit of artwork that talks about your business. Remember – be creative.

Presence marketing
This isn’t the cheapest form of guerilla marketing, but it is one of the most effective. Presence marketing is all about making your business and your product visible by making your product visible to public at all times.

What does that mean?
Let’s say you own a little store for unique hats. You could buy a little space on the backs of busses (the back part where people sit – not the outside back of the bus) and have a picture or painting of your hat sitting at about head level of the average person (male or female, depending on your demographic). This picture or painting will, of course, be accompanied with the name of your company and maybe even your address. When people sit down, they’ll be wearing one of your branded hats. And, if you want to take it one step further, you could even get a message out via social media that says that the people that send in their best “hat pictures” get a free (fill in the blank).

The point is that your company and that hat are always there, where the consumers are. If they’re looking for a hat, they see one all the time. Even if they’re not “looking” for a hat, they’ve got a hat on their mind at all times. That is the key to a great presence marketing campaign.

Get To It!
Putting together a guerilla marketing campaign doesn’t need to be difficult. Just pull together the creative minds of the company and pretend like you cannot use traditional forms of marketing to get your business name out there (i.e. TV, billboard, newspaper, radio, etc.)

Let that rattle around your skull for a minute and then let out any ideas that come to mind. You’ll be surprised at what you come up with.

Don’t be afraid to try something new, but, at the same time, don’t go so overboard that you lose your company’s vision, values, and goals. Those are just as important, if not more important, than any marketing campaign you can set in motion.

So go get creative and watch your business grow!

Lance Trebesch is the CEO of & Ticket River, which offers a variety of event products and ticketing services. After nineteen years of Silicon Valley experience, Lance found the key to happiness is helping customers worldwide beautify and monetize their events with brilliant print products and event services. Listening to his customers and learning about how they plan their events ñ ranging from concerts to fundraisers has helped him gain insight and expertise on how to host a successful event that he is always eager to share.

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