You’ve seen them on YouTube,on the news, and – if you’re lucky – in real life. When executed correctly, they will go viral and become globally recognizable.
It’s the guerrilla marketing campaign.
Guerrilla marketing campaigns are a powerful tool for public relations. The allure of a guerrilla marketing campaign is the subversive feel of the event, and the buzz generated by the no rules, take no prisoners attitude of a successful campaign can often get more attention than any traditional P.R. strategy.
But there is a misconception.
Many people wrongly assume that there are no rules in guerrilla marketing, and that’s just not true.
A successful campaign needs to walk a fine line between seeming “corporate” and breaking laws. You want to leave everyone with a positive feeling. Walk that line well and you could get all the publicity you could ever want. Screw up and, well, your guerrilla marketing days are probably through.
We don’t want you to fail, however, because we like good guerrilla marketing. So, here are five rules that you should probably follow in order to mount a successful guerrilla campaign.
STICK TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FOR PLANNING
Keep the planning as quiet as possible. The element of surprise is essential. Plus, you want the people who are apart of your event to feel they’ve done something special, and even a bit subversive. This means you need to stay away from using main stream media for advance publicity. Stick to your social media networks in order to plan your event. Why? Well you need your participants invested and that means getting them to feel like they’re a part of something special. Advertising on television, newspapers or radio doesn’t give people that feeling. You want the people who are “in on the joke” to proudly wear your brand, and you want the people not “in on the joke” to want to be in on it next time. You can let the press know right before so they can get there in time to cover it, but anything else ruins your “guerrilla credibility.”
BE OF GOOD CHEER
What are the best type of practical jokes? The one where everyone, including the mark, are laughing at the end. The same goes for a guerrilla campaign. No one wants to be minding their own business at some location when a bunch of hooligans show up and try to make them feel uncomfortable, angry, or scared. This is a sure way to cause yourself headaches.
Instead, keep your campaign lighthearted. You want people to remember whatever message your publicizing with a smile, not a shiver.
Case in point: Critical Mass, a group promoting bicycle use and rights. The group got a lot more traction when they started treating their rides more like a party, complete with music and costumes, instead of acting like a bunch of angry thugs vandalizing cars and seeing how miserable they could make an afternoon rush hour.
You want people to embrace your message, not fight it. Being of good cheer makes everyone a winner.
MESSAGE COMES FIRST
It can be probably be said for a lot of public relations, but with guerrilla marketing campaigns it is even more important. The message has to come first. It doesn’t matter how cool, or exciting your event, if no one gets why your doing it, you’ve basically failed.
Find what makes the entity you’re promoting unique and highlight it. That way folks will get the joke AND the message.
ONLY PHOTOS AND MEMORIES LEFT
There are two truths in life. Everyone loves a party, and everyone hates cleaning up after a party. The only thing worse than cleaning up after a party is cleaning up after one you didn’t want while the hosts drive away. Make sure your guerrilla marketing doesn’t create a mess that someone else has to deal with.
Microsoft found this out recently with a guerrilla campaign in San Francisco. Their “chalk” messages turned out to be more permanent than thought and now Microsoft is going to have to pay for the clean up and any fines. This doesn’t include all the evil thoughts the people actually cleaning up the mess will have towards Bill Gates. Not a good way to get new customers.
TAKE AND KEEP RESPONSIBILITY
What many guerrilla marketers often forget is that they are responsible for everything that happens during an event. This means good AND bad. Some old lady who gets trampled by the hundreds of folk dressed up like stampeding bulls is your responsibility. Make sure you keep control of your event. Let your “participants” know what you expect. Make sure you take care of any damage. Don’t give people a reason to complain about your event. The only thing you want to apologize for is for too much awesomeness.
Guerrilla Marketing is a great tool for any public relations professional. A successful campaign can create buzz that other types of P.R. are hard pressed to duplicate. An unsuccessful campaign, however, can be disastrous. Hopefully, by following these five rules for mounting a successful guerrilla campaign you too can create the next YouTube sensation.