Going Bananas Over Marketing? Go Guerrilla!

How do you have your company, your product-service stand out in a crowded market? Move out of the comfort zone with your marketing strategy. If you want to be noticed for doing something no one has done before, you have to present it in a way things have never been presented before.

There is regular marketing and then there is Guerrilla Marketing. Guerrilla Marketing borrowed its name from Guerilla Warfare which embodies surprise tactics and non-traditional execution methodologies. All these define guerrilla marketing as it is designed ideally for small businesses that need to reach a large audience to generate profit without necessarily burning a hole in their pocket. Unlike mainstream marketing, guerrilla marketing relies on low-cost marketing strategies like the use of stickers, flash mob, and any new or reformed innovative efforts. The thing is there is no restriction to the methodology but at the end of the day it should bring home sales.

As the father of guerrilla marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson says, “It is not just science, not just art; underneath it all, it is a business. Sure, it is the art of getting people to change their minds but if it doesn’t show profit, it’s not really guerrilla marketing. Your prime investment in guerrilla marketing doesn’t have to be money; it is time, energy, imagination and information. And the more of those, higher your profits will be and that is what marketing ought to be all about.” The concept of guerrilla marketing however continues to expand and grow organically. That is why big companies like Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and Ray-Ban have been inexhaustibly using unconventional marketing ideas for their advertising campaigns, putting at bay the naysayers who don’t label their approach as true guerrilla style marketing.

One school of thought rejects strategies implemented by large corporate houses as guerrilla marketing. They might not be totally wrong, as the concept was originally aimed towards small businesses. However, big businesses have adopted the same ideology in grassroots campaigns to compliment on-going mass media campaigns. Guerrilla marketing is also termed as ‘brand activation’. “It is particularly effective if products and services need location-based marketing. Besides, with hordes of new products and services entering the market, companies are looking towards newer avenues to reach out to target customers,” says Arun Sthapit, Client Servicing Head, Echo Ad, a pioneer advertising agency in Kathmandu. One should follow pragmatism while executing such ideas.

Through social media websites like Facebook, individuals have also adopted this marketing style as a way to find work. This application has proved to be an effective self-marketing efforts. Recent Nepali films like Chhadke, Karkash and Uma made extensive use of guerrilla marketing for their respective projects during the promotional period. “These are exciting times in Nepal. It’s not just in Kathmandu, you can see youngsters from all over posting their creativity online, be it motorbike stunts on YouTube, or cover versions of songs from Butwol, Biratnagar and Nepalgunj,” says Manish Shrestha, Director, Kazi Studios, adding, “In Nepal, very few people have tried any kind of experimental marketing. We rarely hear of companies taking risks to try out different medium for marketing, so it is tough to tell how people would react to a completely new kind of marketing.” In neighboring India, startups have already adopted creative guerrilla marketing ideas with great results. Subu Shrestha, Director at Business Advantage informs that guerrilla marketing can be very effective as it is not something that has been done much here – if at all.

People in Nepal go for ‘tried and tested’ ways while ‘adopting’ guerrilla marketing. The looming fear is that audiences will not grasp the meaning of the ‘out of the box’ concept. Other times, time and budget constraints limit creativity. Fret not say Subu and Manish. “It is exactly at this juncture that something really innovative should be used to break the clutter,” says Subu. To this Manish adds, “I think this is the beginning. After copying other’s great ideas for a while, people will start tweaking and coming up with better new ideas of their own.”

Guerrilla Marketing in Nepal
  • For Vianet, in view of their new product launch, Kazi Studios sent lavish wedding-like invitation cards to their potential customers with a big engagement ring made out of fiber optic cables. The tagline said “Let’s start a relationship together”. The whole theme of the event was almost a posh Valentine’s/wedding setting with red and white brand colors. The customers appreciated the effort and the marketing effort caught people’s eyes right away
  • As a branding activation strategy for Ncell, Business Advantage turned an entire village purple by painting every roof with the color of the brand. This was executed on a small village on the way to Manakamana, visible from the highway and from the cable cars.
  • Echo had its brand promoters add a shaving service to passers-by at malls. This was to promote the new Gillette Mach3 product in the market. Potential customers did not just get to experience the smoother shave on-the-spot but were presented with the razor too.
Things to Consider
  • First have the strategy and then work on the tactic to achieve it.
  • It all boils down to doing things the way your customer would care about.
  • Don’t do what everyone is doing. Go outside your industry; adopt newer ideas from other industries that might work for you.
  • Consider joint ventures with peers that might profit both of you. Create partnership instead of worrying about competition and reap the long term benefits.
  • Never underestimate the power of over-communication. Many small businesses are selling themselves short because they are not communicating with their potential customers enough.
  • Guerrilla marketing is about focusing on your customers rather than your competitors. Great customer service is the surest way of ensuring the longevity of any business. Because people talk.

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