Traditional marketing was always faced with many challenges. It is difficult to create an approach to market a single product or brand to various customers with different tastes – multiple approaches need to be used. However, adopting from their friends in the field of ‘advertising’ traditional marketers were able to come up with a unique concept which not only caters to different audience of customers but also provide a fun and entertaining element too making selling the product and watching how it is being sold a very enjoyable experience. This technique is known as ‘Guerilla Marketing’.
Guerilla marketing is a concept providing non-traditional marketing techniques to attract the customers. It is not about the product anymore; it is about the approach which marketers use their creative imaginations to develop and implement. For example, if a marketer would like to sell a toothpaste – the traditional approach of marketing providing such a product either bundled with another product e.g. tooth brush, or maybe at a lower price, perhaps even using an innovative TV ad does not work anymore. Customers nowadays are more aware of the products they perceive; they understand that the basic functionality of a product is the same, and they also understand that marketers are just trying to sell – and as a customer I ain’t buying.
Using a Guerilla marketing approach to sell toothpaste is by using a large toothpaste bottle, place it on the street, and spill the toothpaste on the street to make the shape of the street lines. It absolutely has zero relevance to the product but off the street people can spot that ‘live’ ad from practically every corner of the street, they will definitely remember the brand ‘the brand recall at that time will be higher being associated with probably the name of the street, or a situation which occurred to the person using that street while seeing that ad. The current problem about this approach that the power of street marketing diminished by the different multiple ads available; as it is estimated that the average individual in the US view approximately 11,000 ads everyday while going out from home. Additionally, customers nowadays spend almost 40% (sometimes higher in certain countries) buying and being online.
The question then remains to marketers: how to use Guerilla marketing online??! It is as said previously a technique which attracts customer’s attention using low-cost unconventional means (graffiti, sticker bombing, flash mobs) often in a localized fashion or large network of individual cells, to convey or promote a product or an idea.
In the cyber space, your customers are of people you do not see but you should understand. Usually, people are more expressive online than in any other medium because the barriers of seeing others and actually talking to them is taken away. Your product is of something the customers do not see and surely will not understand from distance no matter how expressive as a seller you are or how professional the techniques you use – the only thing customers can do online is association: you are not what you sell, but you are what you say. This approach goes more towards building a brand than selling a product; it is in my opinion a very difficult approach to sell a product online so try being what your brand represents, coming closer to the customers, helping them enjoy what you are rather than selling what you have.
In traditional Guerilla marketing technique, your tools are as mentioned earlier (graffiti, flash mobs, sticker bombing, etc…) Your online tools however can be as simple as pictures, quotes, articles, videos, all of which resemble something to the end user – understand what you are selling and represent it with these tools. However, these tools mean nothing without the power of passion. An association as mentioned before needs to be created with the customer, that can never happen without consistency, relevance, and a sense of understanding for each and every reaction generated by one or more of these tools. The problem however that there is no space for testing any of these tools like traditional marketing; a live reaction with the live feed will be generated. So, it is important to understand first, your customers, then your brand, and finally ask yourself a question how am I adding to my customer and my brand using these tools? If nothing with no relevance is used or if something of relevance is overly used such will create a general attitude of disbelieve and rejection towards that brand.
The second most important thing is to remember never to sell. Your goal online is to create awareness of a specific brand or product, but never at any time offer your product. In an online environment all what is said is true however none of what is said is a fact – this might be hard to believe but it is vigilant. In other words, one brand might claim that its product is the best. As an online user I will never argue with such a claim or disbelieve it as it might be true, nonetheless because I do not know that such is a fact I will never buy that product. However, using an online Guerilla marketing technique’s approach is by telling the customers this is our brand, this is what we believe in, we care about you and that’s why we are happy to share our common interests.
The third most important aspect of an online Guerilla marketing approach is the support of opinion leaders. Opinion leaders are those who many online users are familiar with, trust, and like being engaged with. If you have a startup brand you need to associate with those individuals first and later understand that many will follow. It is natural to go into a store and buy a product that it sells because I have always seen my best friend or maybe a family member who all the time buys stuff from there. The only problem about inclining opinion leaders that they fickle most of the time changing their tastes between one brand to the other which might damage your brand if they see other brand of a better quality – at the end of the day the ‘followers’ will be inclined to their opinion. So, as an online brand trying to build itself you need to realize to update yourself all the time – providing the same feed or offering the same content might create an initial association with the brand on the short term but on the long term will create an obsolete brand myopic in the always changing online medium.
Last but not least, your Guerilla marketing approach will never be effective unless associated with a figure. As mentioned earlier, in the cyberspace everything said is true but none of what is said is a fact. What makes the brand a fact and provides it with credibility is a human being. When talking to the people as a brand never use a collective voice, never to be anonymous, and never be faceless. Allow others to accept that this brand is one of us; these guys are not trying to sell ‘this “x of people” is just trying to share something which we like and that’s why ‘he’ or ‘she’ is sharing it”. At that time you can guarantee continuous exposure, expectation to what you will offer, and truly loyal followers.
It is important to realize that the power of marketing diminished severely since what is being marketed is ample. The power shifted to an online medium where people converse in a friendly environment not accepting to be sold products or services but to be shared ideas with, concepts, things they are interested in, things that represents them, and a brand that builds itself by being part of the people not by selling. However, online Guerilla marketing still needs many years of research, evaluation, and testing. It is easy to understand how people will react towards a specific tool but it is really difficult to ascertain the results of such tool being used until further study and examinations.
Where to find Dr. Islam Gouda,