A few weeks ago I was on an Austin Technology Council panel for the topic of Guerilla Marketing (YouTube Videos here). I’ve always loved Guerrilla marketing, and wrote a book on Guerrilla and Word of Mouth Marketing in 1997 with foreword from Jay Conrad Levinson, the "father" of Guerilla Marketing. I also have this unpublished book of 193 Clever marketing ideas … I’m not going to do anything with it, so I posted it to Scribd for people to read for free.
I made a few notes to answer the questions the moderator was going to ask for the panel. I’m on a long flight back from London right now…a good time to expand these notes and publish them…
1. What criteria do you use to choose where to spend marketing dollars for new technology companies?
Start with sales first. You need very little marketing in the beginning. They are the most productive form of research and recon for the market, because they’re selling at the same time, adapting the message and learning what works. From this intelligence you build your foundation for the marketing plan and priorities. The bulls eye spend is on establishing outside credibility, typically through press and case studies. Also identify the customer objections from the sales team and work on overcoming those first. Finally, build and leverage partnerships. Leverage their spend and be associated with brands that are larger and more credible than yours (for now!).
2. What is the most efficient way to get your name out in front of the press and analysts? Is it trade conferences, blogs or something else?
Three principles: Clients, % and $$. Get clients to do the talking and share case studies. Share studies and releases that have some measureable result, usually in terms of percentages and dollars.
3. How do you determine the most appropriate marketing strategy when you have limited financial resources to invest?
There are three ways to make money…get more customers, more from customer transaction, or increase frequency. Consider if you are going to grow through product, vertical, or regions. Finally, figure out how you differentiate. Now, choose the most effective and efficient from all three categories.
Guerilla marketing employs unconventional tactics to achieve a marketing objective. It’s usually less expensive than traditional marketing and MAY have stronger results for the dollar spent. It’s like those indie movies that cost $200k to make and made millions. Guerilla may not have a viral effect. It could be you send a prospect a radio controlled car without the remote control until he takes your call.
5. How important is it for guerrilla marketing to push the limits?
It has to answer these three questions: Does it affect emotions? Does it look different? Does it tie to your product and brand? I once created a “Bazaarvoice Bull Ride” contest at a conference dinner, on the spot, and awarded winners. People ‘rated’ the winners. Lots of laughs, it was memorable, and perhaps the most unique sponsorship of my career. And the ratings tied back to our product.
In the late 90s, Power computing (through the marketing genius of Mike Rosenfelt) sponsored a bungee jump over Boston Harbor in front of the Macworld Conference Center. Only certain VIPs could do the jump, but everyone talked about the big Power Computing tower and it matched their brand image of being different than the Mac.
6. How does a traditional marketing plan work with guerrilla marketing?
WOM helps traditional marketing be more effective. It also needs to fit together. The tone should match. At Bazaarvoice we try to make our web site copy conversational, which matches the ‘humanness’ and tone to our other marketing tactics.
7. Besides the obvious activity in setting up the marketing event, is there anything that needs to happen before the event, and then after the event? What sort of things should I be thinking about?
Aggressive pre-show sales planning (setting up meetings) and post-show follow up. Focus on nothing else until you get this right. All the guerilla marketing in the world doesn’t matter if you don’t get face to face and create action after the show.
8. Are there certain business models that guerrilla marketing works best with?
It can work with all types of business, but typically it’s most common and sustainable in direct to consumer. That’s because the direct marketer can tie things these strategies to the results, which encourages them to continue and optimize them over time. Large manufacturers have a tougher time sustaining guerilla marketing due to turnover of creative marketers in the organization, and most B2B companies don’t believe they can be ‘guerilla’, but they can. Regardless, start with a great product and great service, because any ‘guerilla’ marketing (or any marketing) can’t mask a poor customer experience.
9. What have you seen to be the long-term cumulative effects of guerrilla marketing
It creates a more human, casual and fun tone for the company. If successful, the ‘guerilla’ mentality infects other parts of the company, and changes the culture. You can have Guerilla customer service, Guerilla product development strategies, Guerilla research….etc.
Why only 9 questions? 10 wouldn’t be very Guerrilla!