Back in 1994 a new, marketing buzz phrase—guerrilla marketing—was introduced in a book aptly titled, “The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook,” coauthored by Jay Levinson and Seth Godin. Simply stated, guerrilla marketing was presented as an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget spent on conventional means of spreading news.
Typical guerrilla marketing approaches are unexpected and unconventional, potentially interactive, and targets consumers in unexpected places. This may include encounters in public places, street giveaways of products, public relations stunts, and any unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources. The objective is to create a unique, engaging and thought-provoking concept that will generate “buzz,” and consequently turn viral through word-of-mouth.
Can you “go guerilla” in your marketing strategy? Absolutely! You can find many creative ways, such as distributing your business cards in unconventional places, staging a free demo of your services at a store that pertains to your services; or sending out holiday greetings to existing clients and prospects telling them the “Top 10” reasons they should choose your company.
There’s literally no end to unique and creative ideas when it comes to effective guerrilla marketing. And the same is becoming true for viral marketing as well. Although “going viral” is something that will continue to be defined for the foreseeable future, some critical elements of a viral and guerilla marketing strategy will always include:
Giving away something of value — “Free” is perhaps the most powerful word in a marketer’s vocabulary. Most viral marketing programs take advantage of giving away free products or services in order to attract attention and build a platform. While the marketer may not profit today or tomorrow, they know if they can generate interest from something free, profits will soon follow.
Make it easy to spread the word — Just like the physical kind of virus that comes around every flu season, viral marketing plans only spread when they’re easy to transmit. Therefore make the medium that carries your marketing message easy to transfer and replicate. The Internet, especially, lends itself to viral marketing because instant communication has become easy and inexpensive. From a marketing standpoint, keep your message short and simple so it can be transmitted easily and in its entirety.
Target common motivations and behaviors — Clever viral marketing plans take advantage of common human motivations. Remember, people respond for emotional—not rational—reasons. Emotional triggers drive people. So does the need to be popular, loved, and understood. Touch upon these effectively and the resulting urge to communicate has the potential to produce millions of websites and billions of e-mail messages.
Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to communication networks — Most people are, by nature, social. In fact, social scientists tell us that each person regularly reaches out to 8 to 12 people in their close network of friends, family, and associates. A person’s broader network may consist of a great many more people, depending upon one’s position in society. These strong close networks and weaker, networked relationships have been long understood by network marketers, who also understand the power of the Internet to develop networks of relationships. The sooner you learn how to place your message into existing communications between people and their networks, the sooner you’ll rapidly spread it around.
Piggyback on other peoples’ resources — You can use other peoples’ resources as part of a viral marketing strategy for getting the word out. Affiliate programs, for example, place text or graphic links on others’ websites. Authors, who give away free articles, seek to position their articles on others’ web pages. Never underestimate the power of someone else’s newsprint or webpage to relay your marketing message!
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Michigan, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Michigan. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @micarnegie.
Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.net/ddpavumba