A few weeks ago, my family went to the East Nashville Tomato Art Festival. This is a large festival on a Saturday with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of attendees. The booths consisted of local artists, vendors, local businesses, and food vendors. These vendors did pay a nominal amount for table space. But, what free stuff did my kids want the most? Red and green round discs used as fans. We saw people walking around with them and feverishly looked for the tent. However, there were two people who handed these for free to hot people walking the streets. It was already 90 degrees by 11 am so people willingly grabbed them. The company was Smile Direct Club. So not directly related to the product but I did take note of the company and If I need my teeth fixed, I’ll look into Smile Direct. This is one example of guerilla marketing, reaching potential buyers with little or no marketing budget.
Guerilla marketing is basically marketing with little or no spending and reaching a lot of people selling. It includes going out where the people are and meeting directly where they are. These days, you can include a viral video too but then again, most videos that sell products don’t go viral.
One of the best companies to use guerilla marketing concepts is Redbull. The company wrapped cool cars with the Redbull logo, hired young people wearing their shirts, and directed them to hand out free samples at large events, like sports and concerts. The company did not use the traditional marketing concepts like buying magazine or television ads or paying grocery stores for premium shelf space.
What can you do? If you are selling a physical product, then you can hand out samples. Some events want you to register and be a paid sponsor before handing out free samples. I hate to say this as an event director, but you can probably, maybe, hijack events and hand out free samples. Be prepared if you are caught though…. Just to clarify, I am thinking of large events like professional sporting events or hanging out near concert venues before people enter and exit the concert. As another side note, you may be required to have permits too. I live in Nashville. There’s a lot of this stuff going on downtown so it’s regulated.
What if I don’t live near a big city? You can also sell your goods or hand out free samples at flea markets or farmer’s markets. E&B Coffee Roasters started out by selling their coffee at the local farmer’s market. A few years later and the company has enough supporters and customers that it opened a little coffee shop. Remember that Starbucks started as one shop too.
You can pass out flyers on people’s cars when they park at the mall. I would also caution on this one thought because there is typically a no soliciting sign and policy on private property and you will more than likely put a flyer on management’s car too who will then call you out.
Be sure to take advantage of the low hanging fruit too. What organizations do you belong to? You don’t have to “sell” to your group but you can update your business description, or network and attend events, participate in discussions. Any time you send an email, include the business information and even a brief description in your email signature. That way, it’s not obvious selling but people see it. Of course, even if you don’t have the cash to sponsor an event, you may be able to hand out free samples, or even free samples at your lunch table that you’ve stashed in your purse or bag.
My college alumni group has all kinds of networking opportunities, such as social media, online directory, and even a print magazine of “What are you up to?” I’ll be honest. This may not lead to direct sales but it’s probably going to take you 15 minutes to update and will always be there. You can also offer to attend local events, such as game watch parties. Offer to donate a proceed of sales or a flat amount to the university.
Another guerilla marketing technique is to ask someone you know to recommend your product or company. This may be hard to do. I’m not sure how well random business cards do at restaurants or Starbucks corkboards, but if you are there, you might as well put your card there. You can also display the company info too, like wear a shirt, or carry a bag with the logo.
Nashville hosts one of the largest half and full marathons in the U.S. every year, The Rock’n’Roll Nashville. Your company can volunteer to cheer on runners, or work a water stop (wearing your company shirt of course). You can also stand on the side of the road with funny signs with your company logo on it. I mean, 25,000 people running over 13 miles are looking for some mental distractions.
Guerilla marketing can include lots of crazy ideas where you can reach a large group of people. As mentioned before, be mindful of any soliciting laws and be sure to donate to non-profits and schools since they need the money.
Hope you can find some creative and clever ways to use guerilla marketing to get your company name out there! If you like this post, please share with your social media. Thanks!