If you want to start a local store and see it thrive, you’ll need to generate brand visibility and, ideally, customer loyalty at the same time. You can build a better reputation for your store by simply offering good products and exceptional customer service, but that mode of reputation building takes a long time to develop.

Instead, it’s better to turn to marketing and advertising to generate new interest and stronger brand loyalty. The problem there is usually cost, or a lack of expertise. But there’s an alternative way to market your local business, through guerrilla marketing, which is budget-friendly and approachable even to novices. So why are these tactics so effective, and how can you get started?

Why Guerrilla Marketing Tactics Work

Guerrilla marketing refers to any marketing strategy that’s innovative and unconventional, and usually refers to strategies that are low-cost.

There are a few advantages to this approach for local businesses:

  • Costs. Because these methods rely on inexpensive materials and existing infrastructure, they don’t require much in the way of upfront costs or upkeep. This makes them highly affordable.
  • Differentiation. Guerrilla marketing tactics, by definition, differentiate themselves from conventional marketing and advertising tactics. This will make your business stand out among the competition.
  • Novelty and surprise. You can also use guerrilla marketing to do something strange, surprising, or fun, which can help people remember your brand and give them a positive experience on which they can build a relationship with your company.

Ideas to Get Started

So how exactly should you approach guerrilla marketing?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Print flyers. Printing flyers may not seem like a guerrilla marketing tactic at first, but you can easily spin it into one. Flyers are ridiculously cost-efficient to print, and you can use them for any creative message you can come up with. A memorable phrase, a hilarious image, or a scavenger-hunt style prompt could all attract customers to the novelty of your brand. Just make sure you leave them in strategic locations to get maximum visibility.
  2. Leave behind cryptic messages. If you’re willing to forgo the immediacy of direct brand exposure, you could also promote your business through cryptic messages, left behind throughout the city. You could drop flyers or business cards wherever you go, or use billboards and sidewalks to leave behind your message. In any case, a prevailing image or message could get stuck in locals’ heads, and draw them to your business when they finally make the connection.
  3. Organize a publicity stunt. You could stage some kind of one-time publicity stunt to capture people’s attention. For example, underwear company GoldToe made waves back in 2010 when they had a pseudo-parade of underwear-sporting people march through New York City. They even dressed the Wall Street Bull and other statues in underwear. Your publicity stunt doesn’t have to be this in-depth or risky, but it should capture plenty of attention.
  4. Crash an event. You could also ride the coattails of another event already taking place. For example, if there’s a local festival or gathering, you could have a team of guerrilla marketers sporting your products, or engaging with people in some unique, creative way. The advantage here is that there will already be a crowd in place—you just have to generate attention.
  5. Get a social media gimmick. Your guerrilla marketing doesn’t have to be in the real world, either. You could stage some kind of social media gimmick, the way fast food brand Wendy’s started roasting its followers, generating a ton of new attention.
  6. Make something interactive. You can also use a conventional advertisement, but add a guerrilla marketing twist by making it interactive. For example, you could encourage passersby to doodle on a sign you purchased, or have some kind of photo booth-style display that encourages consumers to take pictures and share them on social media.
  7. Recruit street artists. You can also recruit street artists to paint murals, design sidewalk art, or create other types of art to promote your brand. There are countless examples of major brands capitalizing on this effort—just make sure you’re complying with the law during your approach.

The whole point of guerrilla marketing is to be inventive and creative, so don’t let yourself feel limited by the ideas referenced above. Your options are practically limitless, so the more creative brainstorming and enthusiastic energy you put into your project, the more successful it’s probably going to be. Start small, with a limited budget and a focused audience, then gradually scale to bigger heights once you feel comfortable; guerrilla marketing can be a risk, but if you play it smart, it’s bound to pay off.

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