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We see them everywhere: ads on television, billboards, YouTube videos. We see so many in a day that sometimes they might blur together.
Considering how many people and companies are vying to sell their products, it can be hard to stand out. Doing what’s popular or stable—or both—seems like a safe, tried-and-true strategy.
But it’s not what’s most likely to catch your attention.
For all the similar ads and marketing strategies you may have seen, you’ve also likely seen something really different. Something that might have seemed really strange or off-the-wall at the time, but you could never get it out of your head.
It tends to be the unusual and different that most stick in our minds, and these strategies can make selling your product easier.
However, there are drawbacks; after all, unconventional marketing strategies (or guerrilla marketing tactics, as they're better known) may be noticeable, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be noticeable in a good way.
So what are some interesting guerrilla marketing strategies that have made headway in the modern marketing world?
We start off with some very recent examples of guerrilla marketing strategies that really worked, as shared by consumers on Twitter, and then go into some suggestions for coming up with your own—with much less risk of a negative outcome.
Here are a few eye-catching examples, some implemented as recently as this past Halloween:
— Jonathan Herrick (@JonathanHerrick) November 1, 2016
— Survey Anyplace (@surveyanyplace) October 29, 2016
The new hit show “Mr. Robot” tried a distinctly different marketing method than most television shows. According to Libby Hill, the premiere for season two was put up for online streaming ahead of time, but with a catch: the episode would only be shown at certain times and taken down immediately after the stream.
The marketing for the early stream included a Facebook video, where “Mr. Robot’s” fictional hacking group supposedly hacked the page to deliver an announcement of “something new” and “unexpected.”
“Mr. Robot’s” Twitter also monitored who was watching the stream and what their watchers posted, then made posts to Twitter based on that, furthering the idea of the fictional hacking group having an effect on reality.
Only one episode was shown on the early stream, meaning that if viewers wanted the full experience they’d have to watch the show on television.
The show’s creators mentioned that they took an unconventional guerrilla marketing approach because of the nature of the show.
Implementing the fictional group—known from the show as ‘fsociety’—into a real-life setting likely increased excitement for the show.
Buzz words in the video, and the fact that the episode could only be watched for a short amount of time beforehand, created a sense of excitement and urgency, and only airing a single episode meant the show could expect an influx of new viewers on the show’s actual premier night.
People will naturally gravitate towards free samples, especially if that sample is food based. Quaker Oats took that to an entirely different level with a particularly interesting marketing campaign.
The breakfast provider created a sort of vending machine that provides free breakfast, according to Mariya Tugayeva. The machine was set up in a mall, and encouraged consumer participation. Two choices could be chosen, including a traditional bowl of Quaker oatmeal. Interested participants can choose which of the two options they’d prefer, and the robots will make the food.
The video shows quite a crowd gathering. Several are interested enough to take pictures and videos.
The article listed above gives several reasons why this marketing strategy is so effective, including the fact that the presentation reminds people that Quaker food is relatively quick and easy to make, much like the items people would likely get from a traditional fast food restaurant, but healthier.
The free food certainly helped draw a crowd, but curiosity likely also played a defining factor. It’s not often you see two robots making breakfast in a mall.
The videos and pictures circulating Facebook probably brought the company some extra customers. At the very least, it’d keep people on the lookout for more interesting marketing strategies from Quaker.
If you’ve spent much time on social media, you’ve likely heard the phrase “straight outta somewhere,” with “somewhere” replaced by a specific place. This phrase was originated as a marketing campaign by the sound company Beats, which, instead of following a traditional marketing platform, decided to create a meme to help advertise a movie they were helping to promote.
According to Lucy Tesseras, the CEO of the company, Omar Johnson, didn’t think traditional television ads would work, since they sell sound software, which can’t be accurately gauged through such means. As such he decided the company should resort to different methods.
The “straight outta” campaign was actually done to help support “Straight Outta Campton,” a film released in 2015. Johnson thought a less traditional method would work better for promoting the movie, and so created an app based around the phrase “straight outta somewhere.”
The success is obvious, as the phrase “straight outta” can be seen throughout social media and has been used by large companies, such as Snickers.
Beats continues to use less-conventional marketing methods, such as partnering with bands to create a mix between an advertisement and a music video.
Both creating memes and music videos tend to be much more entertaining than traditional advertising methods. Furthermore, both have a tendency to go viral, helping spread the information across various platforms.
When creating an ad for a billboard, you’re likely thinking you should make it as big as possible to attract the most attention. It’s easier for people to see, and, since most people are likely to see it while driving, also makes it easier to read.
LEGO thought they should do things a little differently.
According to Than Merrill, the company decided to create much smaller billboards that wouldn’t be out of place in a LEGO play set. They hid the small billboards throughout London, with the intent of advertising for LEGO Land’s new hotel branch. People were invited to search for them using the ‘map’ provided by the company.
The strategy gained a lot of traction, as not only was the search for the tiny LEGO billboards fun, it provided a neat way to compete with friends. And hey, maybe when everyone was done they could stay at one of those new hotels.
Each of these individual campaigns used creativity to tap into what the public might enjoy. So what can you do to create a memorable campaign such as these that also works?
The number one trend for guerrilla marketing strategies is to use a method that is distinctly different than what’s normally seen. All of the above examples had rather unusual methods for advertising, but all proved rather effective.
Than Merril’s previously mentioned article has an interesting suggestion: throw a party instead of a business meeting. The atmosphere is more personal and relaxed, and while you would still be trying to sell your product, it would relieve much of the tension that might make someone less likely to buy a product.
Shawn Porat has several unique suggestions. Some may be a bit more expensive—such as creating holograms to advertise your product—but some are easily within anyone’s price range, such as using street art to advertise a product. The article also mentions 3D billboards as a recent innovative trend in the marketing world.
This site includes images of a few rather creative examples of outside-the-box thinking.
One way to avert the potential fallout of a guerrilla campaign is to use methods to actively incorporate the consumer audience you’re aiming at. The memes used in the “Straight Outta Somewhere” campaign and LEGO’s scavenger hunt are perfect examples of this.
One of the most used ways to interact with a consumer base is through social media. According to Zen Design Firm, using emojis when posting about your product is actually a rather effective marketing tactic. The emojis make the post feel less like a bid to sell a product and more personal, and generates more attention than posts without emojis.
Dan Shewan lists specific ways to use Facebook mechanics innovatively. For example, the site mentions that combining a focus of specific interests and what individuals look at online can help bring more consumers to a product, rather than only focusing on one subject or another.
They worked once before; even if they’ve fallen out of style more recently, they could still work again. Sometimes bringing back something familiar can provide a sense of nostalgia, while managing to obtain an original flavor since so few people are still using the method.
A few years ago, Michael Hemsworth posted an article about guerrilla marketing strategies. One of his top suggestions was to hand out business cards, as they had originally lost traction, but still managed to obtain an appeal.
He added one unique twist, though: He handed out heat-sensitive business cards like the ones seen above, which were a surefire way to attract attention to his brand.
Thinking about some more recent trends that have lost traction may help generate new, unique ideas for what one can do.
Perhaps a really simple method that some may overlook simply because of that: simply being honest. People appreciate when others tell them the truth and don’t try to hide things, especially considering the current political situation.
Danny Wong notes several instances of this working for the better. For example, a site known as Buffer would publicly release the salaries of their employees each month. The results were a significant growth in user base—to 729,832 individuals—and significant media attention from such sources as the Huffington post.
The article in question may have been written two years prior, but that doesn’t mean consumers’ desires have changed in regard to transparency.
Generally speaking, a consumer would like to feel that he or she can trust a particular company. If significant transparency is given, at the very least it will assure a consumer base that the company will be open and honest with them, and that can gain significant loyal support all on its own.
There are certainly plenty of options not listed here to create a unique, unusual strategy. Maybe you want to tell a story with your advertisements, or think that creating comics to advertise a product is the way to go. Maybe it’s as simple as reaching out to people on their level. You can read about more innovative ways to appeal to your online audience here.
What are some guerrilla marketing strategies that you can think of, or that you’ve heard gaining traction in recent years? What are some ways that you think would help alleviate the risk of some strategies flopping? Leave a comment down below and let us know what you think on the subject.