In 1984 Jay Conrad Levinson wrote a book entitled “Guerrilla Marketing.” Since then the term has stuck and entered into popular culture. The idea is that marketing does not have to follow conventional systems (television, radio, billboard, or newspaper ads, etc.). Instead, using surprise tactics, a person or a company can market their product or service with little to no monetary involvement. When done properly, the result is often more effective than traditional marketing tactics. Of course, you need to know your market, so what are guerrilla marketing tactics that work in Billings?
First, we must understand where people gather in Billings. We do not have a thriving downtown where people go to spend an afternoon and an evening; but rather we head down there for an hour, and then retreat to the suburbs. However, just like anywhere else, we love free stuff. Whether it’s a bottle of water during the summer, or a free sample of the product, we will take it. A great guerrilla marketing tactic would be to travel around farmer’s markets, summer fairs, and other events where people gather and pass out bottles of water with your business name on them.
Have you ever been to Las Vegas and been handed one of those little trading cards that has a half or fully naked woman on it? One would think that the companies behind these “trading cards” would realize that people just throw them on the ground. But it must work because every time I am in Vegas I am handed a hundred of the things. I have never seen this tactic done in Billings. While it may not go over so well to hand out cards advertising an escort service, it could go over well handing out cards advertising meal deals after a ball game. The cost to print the cards is minimal, and a few volunteers could pass out thousands of them in an hour.
Community Clean Up
As Montanans we thrive on helping one another. However, there could be a whole lot more done. Gather a dozen volunteers that go out every other Saturday and clean up public spaces and you would attract a lot of attention. Have each volunteer wear a t-shirt with your brand or company name emblazoned on it. After the first few cleanups, you will surely get at least one television news crew to interview you.
The first Friday of each month hosts the Art Walk in downtown Billings. For those looking for something fun and exciting, find a talented college student to draw caricatures. They can be paid a flat rate, tips, hourly, or a combination of the three to sit on the corner and draw free caricatures of people that come by. Every drawing will either incorporate your logo or company name into the drawing, or it will be stamped in the corner of the page.
Something nearly every other big city has is street performers. While most of these guys are independent and doing the performance as a way of making a living, there is no reason that it cannot be done as a means of promotion. You could have a magician perform simple tricks, acrobats do flips, or comedians tell jokes. The point is that your brand would be prominently displayed, and people would stop to watch.
Guerrilla marketing is the most fun way to market your product or service. Many of the methods require just a little ingenuity, some time, and often not a lot of money. Now one thing to be aware of is that if you are occupying a street, sidewalk, or other public place, you will most likely need permission. So before jumping into any of these, double check city ordinances to make sure you have the proper licenses and permits.
What guerrilla marketing tactics have you seen in Billings? Were they effective?