Home Advertising This Is the Unconventional Marketing Tactic Small Businesses Need to Try

This Is the Unconventional Marketing Tactic Small Businesses Need to Try

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you’ve never heard of guerrilla marketing, it can sound intimidating. After all, it comes from the term guerrilla warfare. The goal of guerrilla marketing is to drive brand awareness through unconventional or shocking tactics for maximum exposure. If you think guerrilla marketing isn’t for you and your business keep in mind that guerrilla marketing campaigns have a 21% higher ROI than more traditional marketing.

The elements that make guerrilla marketing are:

Cost-effective: If you think guerrilla marketing is expensive, think again. One of the biggest reasons to do it would actually be to save money you’d normally spend on traditional marketing outlets. Most small business owners like that guerrilla marketers spend 90% less on advertising than other traditional methods.

Element of surprise: Catching people off guard is a great way to make sure you’re getting their undivided attention. In a world of ads in every direction from bus stops to billboards, make your message garner attention.

Creative and unconventional: Marketers can distance themselves from the more corporate side of the brand and have more freedom of control to do something more fun, which could be different from what the brand is usually known for.

Interactive: In the mundane when people are going to and from work and going through the regular motions of a workday, you can lighten up their mood by giving them an activity which they wouldn’t normally do.

Related: 7 Guerrilla Marketing Tactics That Will Grow Your Business When Money Gets Tight

Benefits of guerrilla marketing

Let’s talk about why you should be applying guerrilla marketing tactics to your small business if you’re not yet.

Guerrilla marketing can become your unique selling proposition (USP) because it’s creative, memorable and unconventional — and if I haven’t convinced you yet how effective guerilla marketing is, take a look at this: “79% of consumers believe companies that provide unique experiences value their business more.” So you’re increasing your brand’s value in your audience’s mind by using a strategy that’s inherently more unique.

This will also generate word-of-mouth as people will talk about their unique experiences with others. Many times, guerrilla marketing will also garner media attention, which is another part of the low cost-effectiveness of guerrilla marketing.

Strategies to implement this unconventional strategy

Ambush marketing: This tactic is not the easiest to execute, and you will most likely need to work with other businesses or organizations as it’s a big undertaking and can easily go wrong. A great way to understand ambush marketing is to think about flash mobs. Let’s say you’re a local dance school; you could go to a baseball game for youths. Parents would be there, so your target market would already be at the event. Next, you’d need to wait for a break in the game and then ambush the field with your flash mob. At the end of the performance, all dancers could take off their jackets/sweaters and showcase a shirt with your dance school’s logo. Use caution once again, because if this isn’t done correctly, you could potentially offend the organizers of the event.

Undercover marketing: This can be done in two ways. The goal of undercover marketing is for potential customers to be unaware they’re being pitched to. A common example is product placements in your favorite TV shows. Another way to use undercover marketing is by hiring actors or using employees who go undercover to interact with the public. The public is unaware that the agents are actually there on a mission to execute an undercover marketing tactic.

Ambient marketing: This is the most common form of guerrilla marketing and also one of the most entertaining. It has strong visuals and includes putting a message for your brand out in unusual public spaces. Usually, some form of signage or logo will be used and put out in a clever way that goes with the brand’s offerings. Let’s say you own a small business selling Christmas tree ornaments. Your ambient marketing campaign could be making small round cardboard ornaments where one side is an eye-catching design, and the other side is your logo. You could hang these on trees in busy places where people will walk by them constantly. A word of caution: Make sure you contact your city if you’re unsure of whether or not you’d be allowed to do that so you don’t end up in a conflict.

Related: 9 Marketing Strategies for Startups to Boost Growth and Visibility

Experiential marketing: This is when you get the public out of their comfort zone to participate in an activity. Let’s say you own a power washing business. You could put graffiti on a wall and ask the public to participate in removing different types of products such as chalk, markers, paint, etc. Maybe make it a competition by blindfolding them and offering a prize if they’re able to complete the tasks. Make it fun and get people moving! Obviously, just make sure you get permission.

My company has used this strategy in B2B settings. Many people believe guerrilla marketing should only be reserved for B2C, mostly because they’re worried about the backlash they may receive in a B2B setting, but I recommend getting creative regardless of your audience. At the end of the day, B2B clients are still human and will enjoy the entertainment that comes with it. We went to a trade show once and put cards all over the vicinity. The card had a question mark on one side and instructions to come get a prize on the other side. This was such a low-cost way to get prospects to come to our booth and get free ice cream. We would use the opportunity while they were eating ice cream to teach them about our offerings. Never underestimate the power of free food!

If you haven’t tried guerrilla marketing yet as a small or medium-sized business, give it a try. Shake up the everyday experiences your town experiences and become the talk at the dinner table. Just remember a few things: Messages can be misinterpreted if they’re too mysterious, you might intimidate your audience or shareholders and it could put potential customers off if it’s too out there or controversial.