Guerrilla Marketing – Part I

Guerrilla marketing is a concept invented or at least identified and labeled in 1984 by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing. Guerrilla marketing activities are designed to create buzz about a company and its products. The goal of guerrilla marketing is to create enough buzz that a company, its brand and its products go viral. Guerrilla marketers do this with unconventional events and promotions. The key to understanding guerrilla marketing is knowing that it relies on creativity, energy, time and imagination; not a big budget.

SWATCH was an early practitioner of guerilla marketing when it launched in the early eighties. I worked for SWATCH at the conservative global headquarters in Switzerland. At the New York office, unconventional was the key word driving marketing strategy. SWATCH USA’s president, Max Imgruth, was featured in promotional posters as Mad Max IV the Merchant Warrior and the company held one of its seasonal launch parties in the bowels of the New York City subway system. The invitations included a token and the party created enormous buzz. That buzz led to more sales, bigger marketing budgets and more elaborate events and campaigns. I kept one of those tokens for years (I may still have it somewhere) as a reminder that marketing does not have to be expensive to be effective.

Since poor and starving as well as creative and imaginative are frequently used adjectives when describing writers, guerilla marketing makes a lot of sense. And no, you do not need to rent the Manchester bus terminal or a condemned mill for a press party to attract attention. There are lots of little things that writers can do to claim their share of the public eye.

Speak up. Writers and bloggers are all experts of one thing or another. Whether your expertise is extended families, gardening, food, fashion or politics, add speaker to your resume. You can give talks and presentations at conferences, clubs and schools. These organizations are always looking for good speakers. Don’t forget to send a press release about your presentation to the newspaper. You can send your announcement before or after the event or  both.  It goes without saying that you should let your friends and followers on your favorite social media sites know when you are out and about.

If public speaking terrifies you, join Toastmasters. This organization has turned hundreds of thousands of Shrinking Violets into confident speakers.

Expand Your Reach. Lots of writers make regular appearances on radio and television; you can too. Radio and television will give you a broader reach and a bigger audience. To get air time, send press releases or proposals to your favorite stations. Whether you are about to start a ten-part series on living green or a major opus on food in public schools, let them know what you are up to. Realize it might take several attempts before you get a hit and an on-air appearance.

As a food writer, I make regular appearances on WMUR’s Cook’s Corner. It took me at least six months of proposals before they agreed to have me. My persistence and luck finally won out and I got my first spot when someone cancelled at the last minute. From time to time, I wonder, “Who the heck is at home watching the noon news?” I am frequently, and pleasantly, surprised by strangers who recognize me from my three minutes of noontime fame. As important, probably more, editors love it when I promote stories I’ve written for their magazines.

Before every appearance, I let friends and followers know about it on Facebook, Twitter and my website. WMUR frequently puts the clips on YouTube. I, in turn, update my channel with a link to the video and promote it with my friends and followers.

Uncomfortable? If self promotion makes you uncomfortable or nervous, remember you not just a writer, you are a brand and a product.  As long as you stay true to who you are, your best, authentic self, you’ll be fine. And your head won’t get too big for your collection of baseball caps.

Susan Nye is a corporate dropout turned writer. Her favorite topics are food, small business and green living. Feel free to visit her website, food blog Susan Nye – Around the Table or the cleverly named Susan Nye’s Other Blog where she writes about other stuff. © Susan W. Nye, 2010

5 thoughts on “Guerrilla Marketing – Part I

  1. I love the concept behind Guerrilla marketing. In my mind, it makes marketing more FUN, which – honestly – is a big part of what makes these kinds of viral, grassroots tactics work.

    Though a writer may not be able to (or want to) host a party in the underground or an abandoned warehouse, your tips on “hosting” speaking or radio events are good ones that will help expand awareness and reach.

    Additionally, there are a great many online venues for doing similar types of self promotion, often right from the comfort of your own home. For instance:
    * You can launch your own podcast or BlogTalkRadio show (for BTR, you won’t get a great time slot right off the bat, but your shows will be archived so people can listen at their leisure).
    * You can host your own twitter event using a hashtag and (#journchat is a great example of how this type of event can boost audience and credibility.)
    * You can start a meme via twitter, Facebook, or the blogosphere.
    * You can create and award some kind of special recognition in a category that is relevant to your niche. For example, if you’re a journalist, you might create a “best local article award” that gets awarded each week or month.

    There are so many fun and creative options available to us through the Social Web in combination with Real World events and touchpoints. I say “Go Guerrilla Today!”

  2. Great stuff here Susan. But you didn’t mention your red aprons. I proudly wear mine in the kitchen while cooking and it has gotten several comments from guests.

    Also, good tip about the press releases, for some reason those are the first to fall off my radar – even though they are one of the greatest tools for getting noticed.


  3. Wendy … thanks for the reminder – this post was part I or many – not sure how long the series will go. I plan to keep collecting ideas and putting them out there … Susan

  4. Pingback: Guerrilla Marketing – Part II « Live to Write – Write to Live

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