Guerrilla Marketing is an advertising strategy that focuses on low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results.
The original term was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book ‘Guerrilla Advertising’. The term guerrilla marketing was inspired by guerrilla warfare which is a form of irregular warfare and relates to the small tactic strategies used by armed civilians. Many of these tactics includes ambushes, sabotage, raids and elements of surprise. Much like guerrilla warfare, guerrilla marketing uses the same sort of tactics in the marketing industry.
This alternative advertising style relies heavily on unconventional marketing strategy, high energy and imagination. Guerrilla Marketing is about taking the consumer by surprise, make an indelible impression and create copious amounts of social buzz. Guerrilla marketing is said to make a far more valuable impression with consumers in comparison to more traditional forms of advertising and marketing. This is due to the fact that most guerrilla marketing campaigns aim to strike the consumer at a more personal and memorable level.
The History of Guerrilla Marketing
Advertising can be dated back to 4000 BC where the early Egyptians used papyrus to make sales messages and wall posters. What we consider traditional advertising and marketing slowly developed over the centuries but never really boomed until the early 1900s.
It was at this time that the main goal of advertisements were to educate the consumer on the product or service rather than to entertain and engage them.
In 1960, campaigns focuses on heavy advertising spending in different mass media channels such as radio and print.
It wasn’t till the late 1980s and early 1990s that cable television started seeing advertising messages. The most memorable pioneer during this time was MTV where they focused on getting the consumer to tune in for the advertising message rather than it being the by-product of a featured show.
Agencies struggled to make an impression on consumers and consumers were tired of being marketed to. It was time for a change.
In 1984, marketer Jay Conrad Levinson introduced the formal term in his book called, “Guerrilla Marketing.”
Levinson comes from a background as the Senior Vice-President at J. Walter Thompson and Creative Director and Board Member at Leo Burnett Advertising. In Levinson’s book, he proposes unique ways of approaching and combating traditional forms of advertising. The goal of guerrilla marketing was to use unconventional tactics to advertise on a small budget. During this time, radio, television and print were on the rise, but consumers were growing tired. Levinson suggests that campaigns need to be shocking, unique, outrageous and clever. It needs to create buzz.