This article was originally published in Greetings Today Magazine by Chris Fox from the greeting card and gift shop Wishes of Cudworth.
If I said to you ‘Guerrilla Marketing’ what would instantly spring to mind?
A monkey playing the drums to Phil Collins to advertise chocolate?
Maybe someone running down the high street dressed as an ape handing out free bananas?
How about a Gorilla Gram offering sexy primate dancing? (Yes, such a thing exits, please don’t google it).
Well all the above are close but not quite right (I do however have the Gorilla costume on order). Here comes the educational bit; Guerilla marketing is an advertisement or promotion used by businesses to promote themselves in an unconventional way with often little cost involved. From the use of graffiti to mini events, viral videos to treasure hunts. The internet and social media platforms we use to promote our shops are flooded with millions of ‘consumer images’ everyday, so to stand out you sometimes have to try something different. We’ve noticed on our own Facebook page that our customers can become desensitised to seeing pure product photos and react better to personal or even quirky photos. A halloween costume or bad Christmas jumper photo will always go down well when posted onto Instagram (Is there anything but a bad Christmas jumper? My Doctor Who jumper must be the exception to the rule and certainly got lots of jealous looks on Christmas Eve in the shop). If you can come up with an eye catching, funny or inspirational promotion, people will talk about it.
Guerrilla marketing always works better when targeted at smaller groups; your shop might sell lots of different products but if you can tailor a promotion to a devoted few then the results are often better than spreading your message too thin. Think of your candle connoisseurs (step forward Village Candle), your Star Wars fanatics (hello Hallmark’s Itty Bittys) and your bath bomb buddies (Bath, Bubble & Beyond). The customers who buy these products, do so because they believe in the brand and have made them part of their lives. People don’t just like Star Wars…they love it! Passionate customers like these listed are more likely to share a post Facebook and join in with a spirit of a promotion.
The two big successes we’ve had at Wishes are our Star Wars themed week, with a colouring competition and life size props in the shop. Wicket the Ewok and Yoda were kind enough to visit us. The kids could have their picture taken with the characters and the dads loved them too (Everyone kept trying to buy my Ewok and I’m pretty sure Julia would have been more than happy to sell him). It became a real talking point in the Village with people telling their friend’s and family so they didn’t miss out on seeing them. It also got lots of retweets and shares on Facebook, a big bonus for us.
We also ran a Pokemon Go promotion last year. The ideas was that when you visited our shop, if you then ‘checked in’ on Facebook you would be given a free badge. Designed by us as a Yorkshire/Pokemon mash up (It was no way endorsed by Nintendo so don’t sue us for our free mini giveaway). Now part of the master plan was they would come in and buy some geek related products. Which they didn’t in their hundreds but still we got a few small sales and most importantly it definitely got a few younger people into the shop for the first time. The original Facebook post that advertised the give-away was seen by 6,000 people, mainly down to people sharing it and without us paying for a boost. So yes we had to design a badge, pay to get them made and then send a couple of hours sticking them onto card inserts but as adverting you can’t knock it.
Other examples I’ve seen in the past was a shop offering the competition prize of a date with Kylie Minogue (a cardboard cut out but still you can’t be too picky) and magic tickets released on helium balloons for people to hunt down. All very Willy Wonka and they both stuck in my mind years later.
If you were lucky to create a strong guerrilla marketing campaign, it could get picked up by a local paper. A smart, wacky, unusual promotion is more likely to get you featured and don’t discount word of month from your customers too. Add in sharing the campaign across social media and for little outlay, your shop could be hitting the front page plus Facebook newsfeed’s of your followers.
User generated content competitions are a creative way to engage with your local community, with a ‘Design a Card’ promotion coming next year from us at Wishes. We plan to tie it in with one of the big seasons and work with a local charity, donating any money received to them (the card will only have a very limited run, so will be just the first step in a ongoing link up with the charity). This will also help our social media platforms as we share the pictures, much like we did with our Star Wars colouring competition (one David Bowie style Chewbacca in particular got a lot of likes on Facebook).
Ideas cost northing and as the late, great Sir Terry Prachett once said “Imagination, not intelligence, made us human”. That we should never stop dreaming up new ways to promote ourselves to think outside the box and never stop monkeying around when comes to advertising ourselves online plus in our shops.