One of the things that has been pretty consistent during the more than 20 years that I have gigged for a living, is that most project budgets are on shoestrings. Particularly when it comes to marketing: a budget set for most any marketing effort is typically expected to go a long way.
In smaller organizations, like in being or serving a mom-n-pop kind of store, marketing projects usually don’t get a ton of help. There are already too many things for everyone to do to keep the business rolling forward, so marketing efforts may go to the one person with the most time to get it done, and/or it might go to the person most qualified. Sometimes, they are one and the same.
The effort may be well designed and carefully executed, but more typically, it is a reactive thing pushed out very fast, often without many (or any) resources behind it. It is operating as quickly and as smartly as possible, trying hard to ensure no missteps.
Though this situation may sound a little dangerous, in practice guerilla marketing is actually pretty fun, and can be very creatively satisfying. A win in this ultra-creative arena makes it truly feel great – so let’s think a minute about how you can keep your creative marketing on the cheap, but not make it look all ham-fisted or cheeseball.
Identify Your Superpowers
OK, you might not have any superpowers. But you may be good at writing, or laying out a webpage or an ad, or you might have a great idea for a radio spot. You want to asses if you or any members of your team are able to bring some special creative skills to the table.
If you do not have a creative team, perhaps assembling one is part of your immediate goal. It will depend on the level of effort you are going to be applying to your project, your budget, and the desired results. You want to stay competitive, which also means being realistic. A budget will often dictate the level of competition you can engage.
Most often, if you are not actively creative yourself, you might know someone who is that could help. Or, you can think of how to put together a team of folks that will give you professional-level stuff, for much less than a high-level corporate project would cost:
- Freelancers on larger sites like Upwork (https://www.upwork.com) and Fiverr (https://www.fiverr.com) and even Craig’s List (https://craigslist.org/) are often willing to do creative work for less. Designers, writers, videographers, musicians, and digital producers of all types will be available there to commiserate with. Build your team with creatives from anywhere, and you can usually find folks who will bite at any budget level. You may get what you pay for, but you can often find a lucky diamond in the rough as well. You may also find subcontractor gold in college students, or with newer artists looking for a way to break into their field…they will often work for less for the benefit of the experience and a published work sample.
- Be willing to try, but don’t waste a lot of time struggling with things that are too far out of your zone. Sure, it can be fun to start messing around in Photoshop or Illustrator or WordPress, or maybe Excel or PowerPoint, but if you don’t know what you are doing, the time spent may not be your most productive. Maybe your creative bent will be better expressed in the simple way you deliver and execute a perfect project, expertly harnessing the talents of others to express your vision. Executing your vision, effectively and with a minimal cost, is part of the essential definition of solid guerrilla marketing.
The point here is not to tease or unlock your inner artist, as much as it is to try to save money by stacking your responsibilities. Guerilla marketing means that you are doing it unconventionally and typically on-the-cheap, so it means everybody on the team likely will wear many hats to get it all done. Be prepared, and then some.
Benefits of Guerilla Marketing
In many cases, the aspect of guerilla marketing most attractive is the ability to be creative. A decent budget might be applied to an idea that is unconventional and perhaps a little risky – that is the point…to break the mold in standard thinking about marketing opportunities.
Examples of simple guerilla marketing:
- Bumper stickers/posters/computer stickers
- Flash mobs
- Pop-up shops
Keep in mind:
- Cheap is not sleazy: keep your marketing cost effective, but out of the gutter.
- Creative teams can be assembled: if you need help, use the web to find them.
- Rules don’t apply: outside the box thinking is the norm for all guerillas.
- Social media spreads: use social media to push market your efforts, cheaply.
- Localized efforts: even with a wider application, you want to think intimately.
- Hustle it up: speed, often matters in guerilla efforts, so exceed the normal pace.
Unconventional approaches to marketing are perhaps more common now than in years past. Guerilla marketing offers an inexpensive way, typically, for any effort to compete with businesses and budgets of all sizes. Connecting with larger audiences in unexpected ways is also a perfect way to enjoy the gig economy; one might say it is often even necessary.