Call it what you will – Guerilla Marketing, street-smart marketing, or just plain low-cost marketing – can be a great addition to your marketing strategies and overall marketing communications mix.
It doesn’t matter if you sell gourmet cupcakes from a vending truck, run a Credit Union or own a CUSO, guerrilla marketing is used at the grassroots level every day by many of the country’s largest companies and smallest entrepreneurs. Around 1980, McDonald’s founder Ray Croc announced on NBC’s ‘Today Show’ that, the restaurant business wasn’t “dog eat dog,” it was “rat eat rat.” Sounds like the old school version of guerilla marketing to me!
You know the financial industry is competitive. Just look at the battles taking place on Capitol Hill to get U.S. Senators to side with either banks or credit unions on the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Act, Senate Bill S. 2231, which would increase the Member Business Lending cap to 27.5% of a credit union’s assets, up from 12.25%, under certain conditions.
Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy in which low-cost, unconventional means (example: flash mobs) are utilized, often in a localized fashion or large network of individual cells, to convey or promote a brand, product/service, or an idea. Basic requirements are time, energy and imagination; not money or a big budget. Typically, guerrilla marketing tactics are unexpected and unconventional; consumers/members are targeted in unexpected places, which can be memorable, generate buzz, and even spread virally.
With the economy sputtering along, now is the perfect time to try guerilla marketing in your community. Embrace two words from that definition: Unexpected and Unconventional. Let’s add Inexpensive (not free), because “inexpensive” has a pleasant ring for any business looking to do more with less.
Examples of the Unexpected, Unconventional, and Inexpensive Guerilla Tactics:
► When driving to or from work, pay the toll for the person sitting in line behind you, and ask the attendant to hand him your business card. On your card write, “We’re just friendly like that at my credit union. Have a good one!” This works for parking meters or parking garages, too.
► Make a stand at the coffee shop or popular lunch-time cafe near your credit union; preferably the establishment of one of your business account Members. Take your CEO or lending officer with you, and a debit card. Let the manager of the eatery know that the next 30 people will have their order paid by your credit union, and you’re going to let those people know who paid for it. Have a blast! Introduce yourself and get to know everyone that orders with a smile and a handshake. Invite them to come see the credit union difference in action; mention the credit union philosophy, “People Helping People.” They’ll remember the nice credit union people that paid for their food or drink, rather than charging them for
► Before a national holiday, e.g., Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, take a stroll down Main Street. Pick out someone up ahead. Perhaps a family just window shopping. Hand them a brand new American Flag, or flag and pole kit, with your business card attached. Wish them a happy holiday with compliments from your credit union, and move on down the street.
Tips from fellow Guerillas:
1. No Rules.
2. No Boundaries (keep it legal and moral, please).
3. Go for the surprising and pleasant impact.
4. Connect with one person, or more, at a time. It all adds up.
5. Try it, and keep after them. Practice makes perfect.
6. Make it fun for you and your target audience, even helpful.
7. Take someone with you that can help you out and learn from you.
8. Use the K.I.S.S. method; avoid children.
9. Give. Don’t take.
10. If all else fails, join your Chamber of Commerce and get involved.
The secret is to use your imagination and try it out. You may find that your co-workers would love to form a team to plan some Guerrilla Marketing strategies and tactics on a quarterly basis. Remember to have fun, and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air, away from the office.