Guerilla marketing consists of marketing efforts that are defined as a localized strategy to promote a product or business. Guerilla marketing efforts require imagination, time, and effort instead of a huge marketing budget. Not all businesses can use all of these ideas due to local laws, but most can, and should use these low-cost and effective methods of advertising for their business.
Signage – The majority of your customers will visit your store because they are “drive-by” or “walk-by” customers. Put an “OPEN” neon sign in your window and have it lit when you are open for business so people know you are open. This is an important traffic driving tool in your arsenal.
Store Front – You should always keep your door open, weather permitting, to create a welcome feeling. More customers will come through your door if it is open. Another way to create a welcome or warm feeling for customers is to put balloons outside and inside, as well as streamers, music and other party items. Nothing draws attention like a party. Also put out sky dancers, big balloons on the roof, and other collateral items. Have gift certificates pre-printed in a convenient business card format, stand outside of the store and pass them out. Remember motion creates emotion!
Sign Walker – A sign walker is a person who stands on the sidewalk with an arrow or other sign that advertises your promotions as well as shows the way to your store. The sign must be clear in its message..and simple. The simpler the sign, the easier the customers can read it quickly. The sign should have your store name and a call to action. Research the times and days when traffic is heaviest in nearby intersections. You will also need to research where the best visibility will be for on-coming motorists.
It is a good idea to hire a sign walker through a temp agency so that you are not liable for the insurance requirements. The sign walker must be energetic and carefree and not embarrassed to sing, dance, jump around and talk to cars. Set these expectations with the temp agency to help them find a person who will be the “right fit” for your needs. Set specific parameters before you hire the sign walker. For example, where the person must stand; that they must stand the entire time; that they must point the arrow at your store; that they must turn around to be seen by on-coming traffic when the light changes; and that they cannot sit on the sidewalk and appear lifeless, etc. Make sure to give the person appropriate breaks and check on them about once an hour to make sure they don’t need water or to go to the restroom and that they are doing their job.
A-frame Sign – Put an A-frame sign, or sandwich board, on the sidewalk in front of your store and attach balloons, especially if you are on a busy street. This will grab foot traffic attention.
Special Events – Special events are also a must to draw in business. Purchase a large EZ Up tent to use at your convenience. Get everyone in your center involved. Have them hire or split the cost of radio stations, face painters for kids, etc. Get clubs and other free organizations to participate (i.e. Habitat for Humanity, the police station, etc.). Decorate your store and make it inviting. Have a different theme / activities each time you do these events, and have giveaways and prizes customers can enter to win. Contact your local chamber of commerce to hold events at your store as well. Speak with everyone who comes to your store.
Wrapped Vehicle/Banners – You can also put an upright arrow on top of your wrapped vehicle that points directly to your store. Other signs can also be put in the grass leading up to your store – there are many ways you can do this, but keep them simple. You can put one word per sign as attention getters. Banners out front are also a great way of letting your customers know what is sold in your business.
Online Sites – There are also other ways of marketing your store with online sites such as www.yahoo.com, www.google.com, and www.facebook.com. Some store owners post on Craig’s List (www.craigslist.com) under the category “Items Wanted.” Ensure that your branding message is the same on all sites you advertise / sell on to get your branding message out to more people.
Local Publications – Design an ad for specific publications that focus on your neighborhood or town. Have this ad published in the month/week you are planning to open your store or have an event. Research what publications are popular or most often read. At the very least, cover ads (either front or back) will more likely be seen even if the publication is thrown away.
Direct Mail – You can try a direct mail campaign in your immediate area and then gauge the results after 2-3 consistent monthly attempts. This is effective in some areas but not in all. Postcards 6X12 are an excellent size to stand out amongst everything else.
Fliers – Fliers are also a great inexpensive way of getting the word out about your business and what you offer while avoiding expensive postage fees. Hand-deliver at least 1,000 fliers a minimum of two times a week before your business opens and once a week thereafter within a 3-5 mile radius. Check local laws on mailbox access and entering private property. After 2 – 3 months of consistent flier deliveries you can gauge the effectiveness of this program.
With ads for direct mailers or fliers, create a sense of urgency and set in print a timeline or cutoff date as to when the offer ends, such as one week after the piece hits homes. Provide contact information (i.e. store phone number, address, directions, intersection with small map, etc – but keep it clean). Pay attention to drop or publishing dates. Advertisements should hit homes when they have the potential to have the most impact such as a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, and verify that they in fact went out. Finally, be sure your advertisement or call to action is easy to understand and the customer can “get it.”
Neighboring Businesses – Networking with neighboring businesses can be extremely effective to get customers into your store. For example, you could put fliers on pizza boxes, post coupons on the back of grocery receipts, offer free Starbucks coffee with a certain type of sale, etc. Be creative!
What types of guerilla marketing does your business conduct? Is it effective? Does it have a clear and concise message?