Guerrilla marketing is all about the unconventional.
Companies have longed look for ways to be a little different so they can get noticed.
I heard a story recently about comedian Larry The Cable Guy.
He had been doing standup for years. Eventually he started prank calling into radio stations. He would pretend to be different people.
Eventually he was calling into 20+ stations.
He never got paid, but he’d ask the hosts to mention his upcoming show in the area.
Around 2000, he got a call from Jeff Foxworthy with an invite to join him on a new tour. There wasn’t much money in it. I think Larry had to pay his own airfare.
But he did it. The tour and DVD that followed introduced Larry to a huge new audience. And from there he’s been one of the most successful comedians in the last couple decades.
Calling into radio stations as a prank caller is not a traditional way to market yourself or a business.
Accepting an opening slot on a tour for negative money doesn’t seem like a smart idea. But it was an opportunity that could lead to something big in the long-term.
If you’re struggling with the more traditional and common forms of marketing for your company then maybe it’s time to try something a little different.
Here are some ideas.
1. Go Through Each Filter
Everyone has filters.
People in high positions have filters.
Derek Sivers wrote about this.
A filter in this context is something or someone that filters information, opportunity, etc.
Let’s say the person that makes the decision to use your software is the VP of Marketing. That person is busy. They don’t have time to review every opportunity available.
They have filters. They probably have actual filters in their email inbox that filters out promotions and outreach emails. They know they might miss a good opportunity now and then, but it’s worth it because they just don’t have time to filter through everything.
And they also probably have employees that help to filter information.
That’s your opportunity.
You could even start by forming a relationship with an intern. Then the manager. Working your way to the VP.
Do things like providing information or offering advice that helps the intern do their job. When they do a good job their manager will notice. Your name will probably come up. Then you can build trust with the manager.
It’s difficult to jump straight to the top to sell. Going through the filters is long-term, but effective if you build it into your normal sales process.
2. Event Effort
A couple months ago I went to this fund raiser event in a nearby town. I was just curious. I wasn’t really a wanted guest or anything like that.
The wanted guests were business leaders from around the area. The city was looking to raise a final chunk of money for a project. So they had all the business leaders there.
For this event the organizers needed various designs. Posters, handouts, signs, etc. All kinds of things.
A local designer offered her services. She did a great job. And she was allowed to promote herself with her logo. Kind of a “Designed by…” note. Nothing crazy, but the business leaders could see it.
She was there too. Getting to meet all these business leaders, her target market.
Where do your target customers gather?
How can you help those event organizers in return for a little exposure?
It’ll cost you time. Maybe free access and use of your software.
But the payoff can be great.
3. Snippet Offers
Can you take a piece of your software, maybe even a really small piece, and give it away for free or for a small price?
Your full software package might cost quite a bit to your target customer. At least when they first realize that you exist and they don’t know the value it offers. That can be a large barrier.
But what if you had another type of product to offer? Some valuable, but at a much lower price.
Let’s say you sell dentist office CRM software. It has a monthly or annual fee. It’s a big change for a dentist office to change to your software.
But many dentists need websites. Nothing crazy, but nice.
You could create a website template for WordPress. A nice one. And sell it for a one-time fee of a hundred bucks or so.
You lower the barrier to entry. You start doing business with your target customers. You earn trust. And that makes it easier for them to buy your big product.
4. Influencer Connections
Who influences your target customers? Who do they work with everyday? Who might refer them to vendors?
Let’s say you have a podcasting software. Your customers are podcasters.
Podcasters often have guests. They spend a lot of time communicating with guests. Odds are good that those guests talk about things they’re using.
Identify 20 or so frequent guests on podcasts. People that are on podcasts all the time. People that might also have their own podcast.
Send them your software for free. Don’t ask for anything in return. Show them how to use it. Set it up for them. Make it really easy for them to start using it.
Now if this person is on guest on a podcast and your software really has helped them they will likely mention you to other podcasters.
5. Referral Incentives
Referral incentives can be tricky, but they can be really effective.
PayPal used to offer users cold hard cash for referring others. When you refer someone you’d get money added to your PayPal account.
Dropbox did the same. Refer someone and you get more space on your account.
Is your software tiered?
Offer users higher levels for referrals. You already know they like your product. They probably want more of it. Give them a way to do it without paying you money.
6. Partner Programs
Chances are good that there are complementary software products to your own.
Find about 5-10 of those.
Not ones that compete with you. Ones that your target customer uses for another task they need.
Go to these companies and tell them that you are willing to give them a unique discount to their customers.
Companies are always looking for ways to help their customers. That can include referrals to other products. And it’s even more appealing if they can offer a discount.
7. Free Tool
This one has been fairly popular with SaaS companies.
HubSpot has a variety of ways that they promote their software.
I remember one day vividly. My boss came to me with a printout. The printout was the company’s website grade via HubSpot Website Grader.
HubSpot had keyed in on a need or want of business owners. The need to see how their website stacked up.
HubSpot didn’t sell the grading service. They created the tool and let people use it for free. All as a way to get exposure and attention from their target customers.
What do your target customers want to know about their business or about their lives?
What tool can you create to help answer those questions?
Guerrilla marketing is all about trying something a little different. Something that others aren’t doing. You can still do the traditional things like advertising and inbound marketing. Everything in marketing still takes work.
But sometimes the guerrilla tactics can set you apart. And it can get you exposure and attention to help you reach a tipping point in your business.