What is Guerrilla Marketing? (Plus Effective Techniques to Try)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Brands around the world are constantly developing new and innovative ways to market their products to the public. One technique that is especially effective in the age of social media and portable cameras is guerilla marketing. If you are interested in how guerilla marketing can be used to effectively promote products, you should know what the term means and what kinds of marketing campaigns are considered guerilla. In this article, we define guerilla marketing, discuss specific types of guerilla marketing and look at some successful examples.

What is guerilla marketing?

The term, "guerilla marketing", refers to marketing techniques that involve an element of surprise. The purpose of a guerilla marketing campaign is to catch the public's attention unexpectedly or unconventionally. This usually involves interrupting someone who is going about their daily routine. In today's market, guerilla marketing techniques often rely on digital media and social media to accomplish their objectives.

Guerilla marketing techniques can be used in public places, in print and online. Their primary purpose is to capture the viewer's attention in a creative and atypical way. Many guerilla marketing campaigns invite audience interaction and encourage the public to share photos or videos online. If a guerilla marketing stunt attracts significant attention, it is likely to generate word-of-mouth discussions and bring attention to the brand.

Types of guerilla marketing

There are several specific methods that brands use for guerilla marketing today. These include:

  • Outdoor installations

  • Indoor installations

  • Flash mobs

  • Integrated artwork

Outdoor installations

A well-known form of guerilla marketing is to place an eye-catching, temporary object or piece of art in a high-traffic area. This could involve adding a piece of clothing to a statue, placing a larger than life version of a product in the middle of a sidewalk or painting a promotional mural on a highly-visible wall. Outdoor guerilla marketing techniques thrive in the world of social media. If someone takes a photo of an installation and shares it on their social media profile, they will likely inspire others to visit the object and prompt discussion about the product.

Outdoor installations should be temporary and relatively easy to remove and must adhere to city regulations.

Indoor installations

Similar to outdoor techniques, indoor guerilla marketing occurs inside a busy building, such as an airport, train station or shopping mall. Indoor installations do not have to be weather-proof or durable, so they are more likely to involve delicate art pieces and human actors. Examples of indoor installations include posters or signs, interactive art projects and temporary additions to popular tourist attractions. Indoor installations often invite photos and direct viewers to interact with the brand on social media.

Indoor installations must be approved by the owners of the property and are typically only available for a short period of time.

Flash mob

This type of guerilla marketing is most commonly associated with flash mobs. Flash mobs are large groups of people that secretly organize and execute an unexpected performance in a public place. They can happen in or out of doors and often take place without the knowledge or permission of any authorities. The appeal of a flash mob is the surprise that it causes the bystanders who happen to be nearby when it starts. Typically, a brand will plant videographers around the event's location to capture quality footage of the performance. Then, the video is uploaded online as a marketing and advertising tool.

One of the advantages of a flash mob is its potential to go viral online. Almost anyone can appreciate the time, effort and practice that goes into rehearsing for a flash mob, and many internet users will be inspired and willing to share the video with their friends.

Integrated artwork

One of the most popular techniques for guerilla marketing is to post artwork or stickers that cleverly connect with existing objects. You might see these on doors, fences, cars, bus stops, billboards, windows, buses and other everyday items. Designing and manufacturing integrated artwork requires considerable creativity and ingenuity. Ideas for integrated artwork might develop if you can carefully observe the world around you and imagine a unique way to promote a product using objects that are already available.

One of the easiest ways to find ideas for integrated artwork is to look at examples of other brand's campaigns. An internet search for "creative advertisements" will yield thousands of photo results.

Guerilla marketing examples

To further explain how guerilla marketing techniques can be used for specific products, here are some examples of hypothetical guerilla marketing campaigns:

Power washing service

To demonstrate what their equipment and technicians are capable of, a power washing company might power wash a small section of a dirty wall or sidewalk. The clean space will draw the attention of passerby by standing out from its surroundings. To invite interaction, the power washing company can post a sign or sticker with the company's name, number and tagline near the power-washed area.

Horror movie

Movie posters and billboards are known for successfully implementing guerilla marketing techniques. One idea for an upcoming horror movie might be to use 3D effects to make it seem as though an image of the movie's monster was stepping out of a poster placed in a public area. If the poster were sufficiently realistic, it might succeed in surprising or alarming unsuspecting passerby. The more successful the effect, the more likely it would be for viewers to take a photo with the advertisement and share it on their social media profiles, thus promoting the movie to their followers.

Athletic shoes

One way for an athletic shoe company to promote its product would be to organize a flash mob. The brand could hire 100 dancers to learn a choreographed routine and show up to a certain shopping mall at a designated time. When the time comes, one or two of the dancers will start the routine in the middle of a busy courtyard. The others, pretending to be innocent shoppers, would pretend to be surprised. As time goes on, more and more dancers would join in, shocking the uninvolved members of the audience.

The brand's hired videographers will film the entire flash mob and later edit the footage to make a short video. When the video is posted, the brand would include a tagline promoting their shoes to customers who enjoy dancing or other athletic activities.

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