Definition: Guerrilla Marketing is a catch-all term for various types of low-budget, unconventional marketing tactics with low risk and high reward potential. Ecommerce businesses looking to greatly increase their visibility lean on guerilla marketing to generate buzz for their store.

Common Types of Guerrilla Marketing

Part of guerrilla marketing's very nature is its uniqueness — many specific techniques are only used once, then discarded in favor of something else. However, there are a few broad patterns that tend to repeat themselves, such as:

  • Viral Marketing: The main goal of viral marketing is to get people to share and spread a particular message — the more people who spread it, the better. The key value of this technique is that once it gets going, it requires little or no effort from the company — millions of people can be reached in a cost-effective way. The best viral marketing is genuinely shareable content — something interesting, entertaining or important enough that people want to tell others about it.
    • For example, a company might start a viral marketing campaign whose goal is to share images of doing something positive in the world while enjoying a given product. Today's youth are used to sharing parts of their lives, so viral marketing is becoming more viable as a marketing tactic over time.
  • Stealth Marketing: In this marketing variant, customers don't actually know that they're engaging with marketing material. One common version of this is advertorials, which may pretend to be an objective release (like a news article) while actually being promotional material. Stealth marketing is considered especially risky because consumers who recognize that they're being marketed to this way tend to form a negative opinion of the company.
  • Street Marketing: Retailers selling solely online do not benefit from the real-world exposure of a physical storefront. Street marketing exists to fill in this gap by creating a physical presence outside of the internet. Even if it's just a temporary booth somewhere, it offers a chance to convert customers the company otherwise has no ability to market to.

Is guerrilla marketing right for my business?

Newly launched retailers with limited advertising budget can catapult their brand to notoriety with a well-executed guerrilla marketing campaign. Like any investment, it needs to be approached with a cost/benefit analysis and considered for originality. Ask some of the following questions:

  • What are the risks? Is there a potential for customer backlash
  • Would it be more worthwhile to divert time and resources to conventional marketing tactics? Is it possible to do both?
  • Is it original and unique, or are consumers likely to be unmoved?

As online marketing becomes democratized and businesses gain traction of social media, guerrilla marketing is becoming less risky and presents high upside when done properly.

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