When most people think “guerrilla marketing”, they think of startups, which is arguably the industry where the term and tactics are used the most. However, even if you’re running a brick and mortar small business, you can still use guerrilla marketing to your advantage and start getting customers in the door ASAP.
What defines guerrilla marketing?
What exactly is guerrilla marketing? The simplest definition is often the best one, and with that in mind, for the purposes of this article I’m going to define guerrilla marketing as getting new customers and clients with the highest return on investment possible. Some might define it as getting more customers and clients while on a tight budget, but oftentimes that mindset leads to a large time investment instead – which doesn’t always pay off and which can wind up being costly in its own right.
The idea is to use creativity and plain ol’ hustle in a way that makes your business stand out and gets more customers. But what does that actually look like in practice, you ask?
How you can make it work for your business:
Take to the web. When Paul Mathieson, CEO/founder of IEG Holdings Corporation, needed to bring his business to an entirely new market (the US, after success in Australia), he decided not to go the “traditional” route. “Mr. Amazing Loans capitalized on web-based bootstrap marketing to pivot the business to a whole new market compared to previous traditional TV, radio and storefront advertising at a much lower cost, therefore maximizing return on investment and minimizing the risk, especially through cost per funded lead purchases,” he said, noting that releasing regular press releases to build brand awareness and personifying the brand via personally doing the voiceover for YouTube videos has been effective.
Many business owners have also had luck with HARO (Help A Reporter Out) as a way to gain press and traction quickly – the key with HARO is to be quick on the draw, so make sure to read the emails and send in your pitch as quickly as possible.
Build it into your business from the get-go. Says Lauren Friese, owner and founder of TalentEgg: “When I was starting TalentEgg, I read a lot of Seth Godin, and one point stood out to me in particular. Seth often writes that advertising is the cost of having an unremarkable product. What’s the solution? Build something remarkable that people want to talk about, and then enable and encourage their conversations. This has been, and continues to be, our main strategy.”
Track your results. Too often, people make spending (or action) decisions based on what they think works, not on what actually works. It’s vital for you as a business owner to track your marketing results – even if you’re spending little or no money – so that you can base future decisions off of the data.
“Bootstrappers can’t afford to “go with their gut” and make a mistake. Instead, take a scientific approach. Track referral sources. When we started, we had no budget. We used guerrilla marketing tactics and then asked clients how they’d heard of us. As we grew, we continued to invest in techniques that gave a return and forgot those that didn’t. It’s simple and clinical, but it’s effective,” says Nick Friedman, founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk.
Just interact with people. Some of the best results business owners have are from the lowest-tech of activities: talking to people. Carry Norfolk, a bicycle delivery company, had great luck with the surprisingly simple tactic of handing out flyers along with popsicles on a hot day. (Watch the video here.) Raven Robinson of Veranda Lane Life & Leadership Coaching was surprised to find that she gained clients and referrals by hosting a local book club meetup, and Téa Silvestre has had good enough luck from her in-person networking attendance to start a Portland based event called “The Storyteling Soiree” for business owners to bond over – what else? – food.
You might worry about the time involved, but as long as you’re tracking your results (which you were going to do anyways, right?), you should be fine. “I joined a local Meetup group, Women In Networking, in December. Since that time, I’ve written two proposals for other members and received the names of three or four additional prospects to contact. Between these leads and the weekly sharing of information, the group has been worth well worth the time,” says Amy Austin, founder and owner of Austin Marketing.
Head here for more quotes from business owners on how much to spend on marketing, and then make sure to read this Business2Community article to learn more about how SEO and social media marketing can work together to get results for your business.
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