Guerrilla marketing is the art and science of breaking conventional marketing rules, bypassing traditional outlets and using uncommon sense to reach people with marketing messages. Viral marketing can be loosely defined as digital word-of-mouth marketing. Both strategies can be more cost efficient than traditional techniques and can reach consumers in ways that connect with them in more personal and memorable ways. Understanding and applying these strategies in your marketing campaigns can provide distinct competitive advantages.
The term “guerrilla” comes from guerrilla warfare, in which soldiers use quick, unexpected attacks followed by fast retreats rather than fighting for prolonged periods out in the open. Like guerrilla warfare, guerrilla marketing messages appear seemingly out of nowhere, making a big impression on onlookers before quickly disappearing. This differs from traditional marketing tactics such as billboard or magazine advertising, which place messages in front of consumers for extended period in ways consumers have learned to tune out.
Viral marketing gets its name from the way in which physical viruses spread, which each individual unit replicating ceaselessly, creating exponential growth. A viral marketing campaign relies on social media sharing and other online word-of-mouth tactics to reach large numbers of people through their friends and contacts. A viral marketing campaign presents messages that consumers cannot resist sharing with their friends, who in turn share it with more people, fueling the cycle of exponential growth.
Flash-mobs are an example of a guerrilla marketing tactic. In a flash-mob, a large group of people infiltrates a public area, initially blending in with bystanders. Then the group acts out a skit or performs a song and dance to promote a marketing message to the surprise of everyone around. Mobile billboard trucks are another example of effective guerrilla marketing. Billboard trucks can display advertisements virtually anywhere, quickly moving on to cover different areas, even advertising right in front of competitors’ places of business.
Movie studios are providing numerous examples of successful viral campaigns, creating fake newscasts, websites and stories to generate buzz about future releases. Prior to the release of “The Dark Knight” in 2008, for example, Warner Brothers created a fake political campaign website for Harvey Dent, a character in the movie, providing fans with sharable campaign posters and other tools to spread the hype.
Tactics and Costs
Guerrilla marketing tactics cost a bit more than viral techniques in most instances. Guerrilla tactics can require more people, incurring higher labor costs, and can include the cost of physical media such as signs, vehicles and props. Viral campaigns, on the other hand, can be simple enough for a single person with a laptop and an Internet connection to produce. Viral campaigns truly level the playing field in terms of financial requirements, whereas guerrilla campaigns can be cost prohibitive to companies with smaller budgets.
Integrated Marketing Strategy
Integrated marketing strategies can be more effective than those that focus on a single set of tactics. Using guerrilla marketing techniques to create viral marketing campaigns can leverage the power of both of these innovative strategies at once. To create a guerrilla/viral marketing campaign, create a truly memorable and irresistibly sharable real-life component and turn that component into something sharable on the web. For example, rather than simply performing a flash-mob, consider filming the flash-mob and sharing it among your social media followers.
by David Ingram,
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