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Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy in which low-cost unconventional means (graffiti or street art, sticker bombing, flash mobs) are used, often in a localized fashion or large network of individual cells, to convey or promote a product or an idea. The term guerrilla marketing is easily traced to guerrilla warfare, which utilizes atypical tactics to achieve a goal in a competitive and unforgiving environment.
The concept of guerrilla marketing was invented as an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget. Typically, guerrilla marketing campaigns are unexpected and unconventional, potentially interactive, and consumers are targeted in unexpected places.
The objective of guerrilla marketing is to create a unique, engaging and thought-provoking concept to generate buzz, and consequently turn viral. The term was defined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing (1984). The term has since entered the popular vocabulary and marketing textbooks.
Guerrilla marketing involves unusual approaches such as intercept encounters in public places, street giveaways of products, PR stunts, or any unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources. More innovative approaches to Guerrilla marketing now utilize mobile-digital technologies to engage the consumer and create a memorable brand experience. It focuses on low cost creative strategies of marketing. Basic requirements are time, energy, and imagination and not money. Profits, not sales, are the primary measure of success. Emphasis is on retaining existing customers rather than acquiring new ones.
Levinson's book includes hundreds of "guerrilla marketing weapons," but also encourages guerrilla marketers to be creative in devising unconventional methods of promotion. Guerrilla marketers use all of their contacts, both professional and personal, and examine their company and its products, looking for sources of publicity.
Levinson says that when implementing guerrilla marketing tactics, small size is actually an advantage. Small organizations and entrepreneurs are able to obtain publicity more easily than large companies, as they are closer to their customers and considerably more agile.
Ultimately the guerrilla marketer must "deliver the goods." In The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook, Levinson states: "In order to sell a product or a service, a company must establish a relationship with the customer. It must build trust and support the customer's needs, and it must provide a product that delivers the promised benefits."
Another method devised by Chris Swanger[who?] requires a team think-tank approach where all team members get together and come up with two original ideas that are very inexpensive or free to deploy. Once the idea is imagined, the team has 24 hours to execute the idea. This is called GorillaSwang.
Associated marketing trends
The term Guerrilla Marketing is now often used more loosely as a descriptor for non-traditional media, such as:
- Reverse Graffiti—clean pavement adverts
- Viral marketing—through social networks
- Internet marketing—having presence on sites, subliminally encouraging its users (A combination of Viral and Undercover marketing)
- Grassroots marketing—tapping into the collective efforts of brand enthusiasts
- Wild Posting Campaigns
- Forehead advertising—placement of temporary or permanent tattoos on foreheads
- Buzz (or undercover marketing)—word of mouth marketing and subtle product placements
- Astroturfing—disguising company messaging as an authentic grassroots movement
- Experiential marketing—interaction with product
- Tissue-pack marketing—hand-to-hand marketing
- Live-in marketing—real life product placement
- Wait marketing—when and where consumers are waiting (such as medical offices and gas pumps) and receptive to communications
To understand customers' feelings is understanding the trend of the guerrilla marketing strategies, the bottom line of any marketing issues were based on feelings and willingness of the buyer and the seller to face realities. Guerrilla marketing was initially used by small and medium size (SMEs) businesses, but it is now increasingly adopted by large businesses.
Risks include misrepresentation of the brand image intended to be promoted as word of mouth does not always present the brand image decided, as well as reception of wrongly place products as against the interests of the consumer. Often guerrilla marketing is not very definitive if it tries to promote brand image thoroughly and creates false rumours about the brand. Also, devices used might be misunderstood. For instance; on January 31, 2007, several magnetic boxes with blinking LED cartoon figures were attached to metal surfaces in and around Boston, Massachusetts to promote the animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The boxes were mistaken for possible explosive devices. Several subway stations and bridges; and a portion of Interstate 93 were closed as police examined and removed (and in some cases, destroyed) the devices.
In some cases, risks are assessed and considered worthwhile. For example, some guerrilla marketing may incite the ire of local authorities, such was the case in Houston, Texas, when BMW's ad agency (Street Factory Media in Minneapolis)  attached a replication of a Mini-Cooper (made of Styrofoam), to the side of a downtown building. For the cost of a small city-issued fine, the company received front page advertising in the Houston Chronicle.
- Gotcha! Ads Push the Envelope; CNN/Money article