10 Guerrilla Marketing Tactics to Inspire Small Retailers

In business, all companies face risks. However, not all enterprises deal with the same set of challenges. This notion particularly holds true in super competitive industries like retail.

When it comes to marketing, small retailers are naturally at a disadvantage. Even if they wanted to, they can’t spend as much money as their bigger and richer rivals.

According to Fortunly, over 40 million small businesses rely on Facebook pages to promote their brand. If you are one of these small businesses, you know you can’t depend on paid advertising alone forever to stay relevant.

Fortunately, what you may lack in financial clout you can make up for in creativity. And there is no better way to use this great equalizer to maximum effect than by implementing a guerrilla marketing strategy.

Guerrilla marketers treat advertising like warfare, capitalizing on the element of surprise to grab people’s attention and make a brand the talk of the town. Execution is just half of guerrilla marketing; unconventionality is the other.

Many of the most recognizable corporations today such as Tesla and Amazon have the “guerrilla” mindset to some extent because of the way they boldly do things their own way. You should follow their lead and generate a buzz about your brand in fashions other retailers would not dare to do.

Here are 10 guerrilla marketing tactics to consider.

  1. Turn Random Things Into Marketing Vehicles

Some of the most predictable advertising channels include newspapers, magazines, TV programs, and radio shows. While  conventional ads are easy to anticipate, they also induce loathing.

According to a New York Times interview, Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer, admitted that people hate ads because they are sometimes “just silly, ridiculous, or stupid.”

This confession is reason enough to surprise people with ingenious marketing campaigns. Instead of displaying your brand in typical spaces, go with places no one would expect and slowly win jaded consumers over.

The underside of a bridge, the floor of a train, the stairs of a quaint building, and the crosswalk of a street are strategic “random” ad locations that can delight casual observers. Pair imaginative placement with thought-provoking content, and your target demographics will likely not forget about their serendipitous discovery.

  1. Get Artsy With Graffiti

Advertising is an art form. So, why not turn your retail brand into a literal masterpiece? It is a clever opportunity to incorporate your business into urban culture.

All you need is a hard-to-miss wall, a willing building owner, and a talented artist to produce a tasteful advertisement passersby will marvel at.

  1. Tell Jokes Using Sandwich Boards

There is nothing unconventional about sandwich boards–unless you use them to crack people up every single day. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, displaying a funny sandwich board can make someone’s day and transfer that positive energy toward your brand.

In today’s digital age, hilarity is a surefire way to go viral on social media, which can turn your business into an instant local legend. It can be challenging to sustain quality comedy for a long time, but it is worth the trouble once laughs become sales.

  1. Blow People’s Minds With Yarn Bombing

One does not have to be a crotchet enthusiast to be enamored with yarn bombing. This art is applicable to almost anything, so you will never run out of everyday subjects to decorate.

Infuse your brand into these colorful creations around town, and it may not take long for public awareness of your marketing drive to spike.

  1. Organize a Flash Mob

What sets a flash mob apart from the guerrilla marketing tactics discussed so far is immersion. The performance inherently includes the people in the area, giving them a distinctly memorable experience.

Like a comedian’s punch line, the shock value of a well-orchestrated flash mob can suddenly change the direction of ordinary events for many people. Such an unusual occurrence could make for an interesting conversation piece at the dinner table and on the internet.

  1. Leave a Trail of Breadcrumbs

Do you want to announce the opening of your retail store, or perhaps spread the word that you have a special deal going on? You can create some intrigue through gamification.

Stir up consumers using a game that might compel interested participants to visit your shop. You could scatter clues across the community, eventually pointing to the location of your store.

If you prefer less complicated mechanics for your little treasure hunt, just give the lucky finders a prize for the ad they find.

  1. Start a Social Challenge

Think of an online challenge involving any of your products anyone could conveniently do in their own style. A simple—yet fun— activity that is relevant to your retail brand could make it trend for a while.

Do not forget to ask participants to dare their friends to join. This way, your social media craze will take on a life of its own like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014, which raised over $115 million.

  1. Invent Holiday Gimmicks

Make holidays a big deal. Feel free to come up with your own wacky celebrations too. Appealing to Star Wars fans on the 4th of May and to Marvel maniacs on Stan Lee’s birthday is an awesome strategy to boost your sales with the help of loyal fan bases.

Such events are a great excuse to step up your marketing, help your retail brand grab the headlines, and attract more customers than usual. You should also consider making your most successful ideas a tradition.

  1. Give Away Free Stuff

Everyone loves freebies. Many people would not mind waiting in line for some time for sought-after giveaways. The sight of a lengthy queue could also pique the interest of the general public, putting your store on people’s radar.

This tactic is suitable when launching new products or trying to get a ton of good press through philanthropic activities.

  1. Support a Competitor

This suggestion is probably the craziest of them all, but it could work wonders for your brand. Not trying to beat your closest competitors for a noble cause can send a powerful message to consumers that your business is not just about money.

In Argentina, Burger King pulled this strategy in September with their campaign called “A Day Without a Whopper” in hopes of helping McDonald’s sell more burgers to raise funds for Children With Cancer.

Jimmy Kimmel did the same thing in 2015 when he asked his viewers to watch David Letterman’s final show as a late-night host instead of his.

The Bottom Line

Guerrilla marketing can propel your brand to mainstream popularity with little cost; it is not without restrictions, though. But as long as your advertising initiatives do not break the law, cause harm, or damage any properties, your creativity is without limits!

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Ilija is a researcher and a writer that holds a degree in global economics, statistics and business management. He is currently acting as a content specialist helping in data collection, research, providing content guidelines and expert advice on certain topics. Subjects of interest range from personal finance, global debt all the way to blockchain and technology. As a person who likes challenges and strives for excellence his end goal is to use all that he can to create a better-informed world.