Below is a list of ten "guerilla marketing" tactics that can be employed with little or no money:
1. Stage a protest for "good customer service." Imagine what would happen if you had picketers outside your place of business with picket signs that read something like, "We're protesting good customer service at this location!" or "This place is full of nice people interested in customers!" First, you'll get noticed. Second, you may get coverage by the local media. Stage a repeat visit of the protesters and next time publicize their intent of returning. You never know what might happen, who might take notice and what it'll do for your business.
2. Conduct a random act of kindness. Pay the toll for the car behind yours and ask the toll collector to give your business card to them, telling them you paid their toll. Sure this is a crapshoot, but it's imaginative and you never know who might be on the road. It's a low-cost guerrilla marketing tactic that has imagination written all over it.
3. Nominate yourself for an award. Look around the internet. Ask your local chamber of commerce. There are many awards given by many organizations that accept self-nominations. Once you're nominated, publicize it with a press release. Once you're awarded the award, issue another press release. Use the award designation as part of your bio when speaking or when writing an article. Prospects love "award winning" people and businesses.
4. Award a "Customer of the Month" award and have many, many winners. Customers like attention, especially if they're in a special group. Award a plaque or certificate; these won't get thrown away and will remain at your customer's place of business as a reminder of their relationship with you.
5. Tie yourself to a news event or current event covered by the newspaper. I do this by reviewing Super Bowl commercials as a marketing expert and get free press out of it. Another example I've seen are chiropractors commenting on stretching exercises before local 5K runs or charity walks that are popular in many communities. Find a news story and issue a press release to publications, radio stations and television stations, offering yourself as an expert to comment on a related subject. It's one of the best ways to get free PR. Remember to use your imagination here. Just watch the news and do a reverse analysis. Make a list of companies that would be appropriate to comment on each story you watch. Sooner or later you'll find one where your company fits.
6. Provide special attention to trade-show attendees the night before a trade show you're attending. Stand out from the crowd at trade shows by hanging door hangers on hotel room doors at designated trade-show hotels, offering a hook and an announcement or a special offer. Leave bags of candies, aspirin, insole pads for shoes or maybe a cloth carry bag to collect trade show information in. Your competition isn't doing this. You'll stand out, you'll be noticed, and you'll definitely be thanked if you put yourself in front of your prospect again.
7. Hold a wacky contest. The beauty of contests is threefold. You can announce the contest to your prospects, customers and the media. You can then announce the winners to the media and hopefully get press each time. Have multiple winners to delight multiple customers. Contests can be fun, wacky and imaginative: a messy desk contest, ugly tie contest, pet/owner look-alike contest, etc.
8. Pass out notepads with coupon offers intermingled in the pages. Even use the back cover stock to print an offer. Use your fusion marketing skills here. I know of a printing company that partnered with a pizza company and placed a coupon for a free pizza as the last page of the notepad. Both companies realized an increase in business with these giveaways.
9. Create a funky holiday. Today is "Orange Hair Day," or "Wear Army Fatigue Day," or "Give Ice Cream to a Friend Day." These are made up and from a brainstorm session. Your holiday that cross promotes your business, service or products is only limited by your imagination. Don't forget to publicize it, announce it, market it over and over, and have fun with it. You'll get noticed and people will grow to expect it if you do it on a frequent basis.
10. Create a unique association. This is a little bit more of an undertaking, but imagine appealing to a target group, getting members, receiving paid subscriptions, offering a set of benefits, and being at the center of attention. Many associations have been created with this in mind and to market a business. Get creative here. I have often thought about creating the National Listeners Association, or the Tagline Association, or the Take Fridays Off Work Association. Remember: You're trying to gain attention and awareness that eventually turns into sales. Also remember you're a guerrilla marketer and are without a blank check book to spend on marketing.
Content developed by Al Lautenslager, the "Guerrilla Marketing" coach at Entrepreneur.com and an award-winning marketing and PR consultant and direct-mail promotion specialist. He's also the principle of Market For Profits, a Chicago-based marketing consulting firm.