By Alyssa Gregory

8 Risky Guerrilla Marketing Strategies to Get You Noticed

By Alyssa Gregory

tattooGuerrilla marketing, defined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing, is the act of executing an unusual or unexpected marketing activity in a common, everyday place in order to generate a buzz for your products or services.

Because guerrilla marketing tactics are different and typically more unpredictable than traditional marketing activities, they can be more memorable and produce a bigger impact. But these strategies are not without risk. In fact, key elements of a successful guerrilla marketing campaign include being bold, asserting yourself and taking a chance.

Are you ready to go for it and make a marketing splash? Here are some guerrilla marketing strategies to help get your risk-taking juices flowing.

  1. Take a Stand: Pick a popular or controversial industry topic, define your stance and make it known. Be ready to defend your perspective, participate in some healthy discussion and listen to opposing viewpoints in order to take full advantage of this strategy.
  2. Give It All Away: Many businesses offer free samples of their products and services in order to generate new interest. Take it one step further by giving away a full version of a product or a complete service in order to benefit from increased referrals and word of mouth marketing. To select the recipient, you can have a drawing, run a contest, or pick a favorite non-profit.
  3. Be Aggressive with Follow-Up: How often do you lose out on opportunities because you’re worried about annoying your prospects or being seen as desperate? Devise a well-timed plan for following up and then commit to following through each step of the way.
  4. Honor Your Competitors’ Coupons: Some major retailers use this technique to grab up customers who typically shop elsewhere. If you’re willing to risk creating an antagonistic relationship with the competition, you can use this strategy in your own business by piggy-backing on a special offer, coupon or other discount offered by someone else.
  5. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Use cold hard cash to get people’s attention. Locate some highly qualified and interested prospects, then send out a mailing with a “payment,” thanking them for their time spent reading through your letter. You can also mail a note written on cash, or send out half a $10 bill with the promise of sending the prospect the other half after a free consultation.
  6. Get Inked: Or pay someone else to get inked with your company’s  branding and then flaunt it at a public event. It might be a hard sell, but the shock factor can be worth the effort if you’re successful (see Shayne Tilley’s post for more non-traditional offline marketing techniques).
  7. Go Door to Door: Instead of just asking to speak to business owners and pitching your services in general terms, make your time increasingly effective and personal. Walk into a local business with their web site up on your laptop, have a mockup of a new site ready to go and pitch them on the spot.
  8. Throw a Party: Everyone loves a celebration and parties are one of the best ways to network. So consider throwing yourself a birthday party, anniversary party or other celebration and invite clients and prospects to mingle and get to know one another. As the common denominator at the event, you (and your products and services) will likely be the focus of conversation.

Do you do any risky, non-traditional marketing in your business? What has worked for you?

Image credit: madtornado

  • Michael Houghton

    if you are actually suggesting someone get tattooed with a logo/product name/brand, I would ask that you retire from marketing forever.

    Asking someone to trade the permanent alteration of their body for short term reward just so that your product is more visible should be against the law. The impressionable are not your canvas.

    (The rest of this article is OK, though)

  • Nathan Dube

    How about inviting your customers to destroy office equipment on video? We did just that!



  • dmantra

    Cool….risky though


  • Tim

    You can also mail a note written on cash, or send out half a $10 bill with the promise of sending the prospect the other half after a free consultation

    Isn’t destroying currency illegal?

  • How to be a weird and creepy jackass, presented and endorsed by SitePoint

  • It is indeed illegal to mutilate US currency. Doesn’t get much riskier than prison time! ;)

  • David

    I like the idea of going into a local business with a laptop and a mock-up ready to be shown off. The money stuff sounds intriguing, though what if you displayed a picture of a ten or some kind of gift card and included a “ransom note” stating that they’ll get the cash only when they receive some free consultation.

  • A great reminder to always check on the legality of your actions before starting your risky marketing campaign!

  • pannet1

    uh, that reminds me that you can spoil some other currency may be euro.

  • Street theatre advertising is another leftfiled tactic – has worked well in a previous company I worked for where we walk through city centres in coistume carrying a giant card with web site address on :-)

  • adoOod

    If guerrilla marketing activity is not dangerous and, yes, at times quasi-legal it’s not guerrilla advertising, is it? It may however be a cousin,er, say, Street Theatre, or Mall Events, which can sometime be licensed for practical purposes; often without the participants getting coodies(hives). For instance, it is expressly forbidden to Ping ot Tweet this post, so to do so would be a brazen and forbidden guerrilla activty. Currently not allowed is all it takes to give the itch to a guerrilla event D o)(o d itching for action. The views and opinions in this post are those of arthurbarbato If you get paid to RT a sneezae and it goes viral (500,000) views you generally get more work than you can handle. merry xmas free acess for all,media sales peeps til 2010.

  • taranfx


  • Patrick

    Techniques guaranteed to turn me off your product straight away…

  • hamp83

    As the title stated, Risky…but as written it is good information to stir some ideas in someone’s head. Be creative yourself; you don’t have to do as the article states, but use it to encourage you on your own guerilla marketing.

  • Ravedesigns

    While there’s risk associated with any kind of marketing or advertising that you do – mostly that you’ll waste your money and not see a return on your investment – I don’t think guerrilla marketing has to be risky in the sense that you could somehow get in trouble for what you’re doing.

    You do have to be unique and unusual enough to stand out from all the other marketing noise out there, but that’s fairly easy to do since many companies just copy what their competitors do. Just take a look in any yellowpages book and see how many ads look and sound exactly the same.

    The best recent example of good guerrilla marketing I’ve seen is from a local apple orchard and farm that delivered free samples of their bottled apple cider to local homes door-to-door (it’s cold enough to do that around here now!) along with a handwritten letter inviting people to come by and sample other products of theirs for free that they may want for their holiday get togethers. Now it’s a little tougher when you’re selling web design or other services, but it can be done with some out-of-the-box thinking.

  • Benjamin

    In Berlin a radio station pulled up a brand new Porsche 50 meters high in the air with a big crane. Then they started a winning game. All participants were also able to vote: Let the Porsche crash or let it down slowly to hand it over to the winner.

    After two weeks the winner was selected and invited to the handover…but more then 50% of the participants decided to let it fall… congratulations.

    Even US TV stations reported about the event in the far away Germany. This I would call a success.

  • Meta100

    We have a new guerilla marketing site which is very relevant to this post. The service is offered free to bloggers and at a one-time fee to corporate sponsors. Learn more at http://www.WeWearWetShirts.com.

    • Zakaia Cvitanovich

      Couldn’t come up with anything better than exploiting women???

  • Nice

    Article full of either totally useless or highly dull marketing tactics, I think congratulations are in order.

  • reactorr branding

    Effective PR stunts that get press often do more than a big ad campaign.

    reactorr branding

  • Sven

    I’ve been finding that “cold calling” WORKS! The oldest form of marketing? It takes balls, a thick skin, and will NOT work unless you are positive, enthusiastic and know your product inside and out.

  • Stephen J

    It is not illegal to write on currency. Regardless of the definition of mutilate, deface, etc. it is *not* illegal to write on U.S. currency. This has been well researched, established, and pretty much beat to death by the Where’s George community.

  • Jay Dee

    Be the first company to advertise on my body! I am an adult ready to lease or rent out space on my entire body for your company and or website for advertisements! I am allowing permanent or temporary tattoos to be strategically placed anywhere on my body of your choice for the purpose of marketing and or adverting your products, logos, domain names, websites, services, brands etc. All types of advertisements are welcome including but not limited to any colors, sizes, font types and styles! I have always been quite the attention getter and the “center of attention”. I am located in the center of Florida approximately 1 hour from Walt Disney World Orlando and about 45 minutes from the world famous Daytona Beach FL. I am known to and willing to frequent these places and any other places of your choice during the duration of your ad on my body solely for the purposes of advertising and generating more clientele to your business. Any and all revenues (residual or otherwise) your business gains from advertising on my person is all yours!! I only charge a one time negotiable fee! At no time and for no reason will your business be held responsible for any liabilities! I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR MYSELF!! I am ready and willing to sign your contract/agreement if necessary.
    If you are seriously interested and want more information please contact me @ jaysdee75@gmail.com
    Thank you for your valuable time, Jason Davidson

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