Guerilla Marketing is Not for the Timid

Do you want to be a guerilla marketer? Do you have the temperament to be a guerilla marketer? Are you ready for battle? Jay Conrad Levinson popularized the term with his 1984 book, "Guerilla Marketing". He describes it as unconventional marketing. Some industry experts even questioned the ethics of this new form of marketing. Considering that this book was published more than 20 years ago can we really consider Jay Conrad's Guerilla Marketing new and unconventional today?

And more importantly should you consider using guerilla marketing tactics in your business today? Maybe - if you have the mind and heart for it.

Guerilla Warfare

To really understand guerilla marketing we need to examine the concept that it is based on - guerrilla warfare. For this lesson in warfare there might be no better book than "Guerrilla Warfare" (1961) by Che Guevara. Yes, that Che - the South American revolutionary who fought alongside Castro in Cuba and later died in Bolivia.

In his book Che clarifies some fundamentals of guerilla warfare that might help with modern marketing. Perhaps this is where Jay Conrad Levinson found the inspiration for his book. Let's see what lessons we can still apply.

Mobility and Flexibility

Che points out that the most important equipment for a guerilla army is boots. The guerilla army needs to move quickly on a moment's notice and be prepared for a long march over difficult terrain. A good supply of boots enables that mobility.

The guerilla marketer needs good boots. You need to be flexible to move and adapt to deal with threats and take immediate advantage of opportunity. A guerilla marketer takes mountain paths not the highway.

Unfair Competition

The guerilla army is massively outgunned by the opposing forces. The size and resources of the opposing forces grant them an unfair advantage over the guerilla army. The guerilla army learns to bob and weave instead of fighting toe-to-toe.

The only way for the guerilla marketer to win is to find and use an unfair advantage over the competition. You will not win when you fight head-to-head with your bigger competition. Instead, pick on their weakness. If they are big then emphasize your more personal service. If the competition has annoying return policies promote your no-hassle returns. Even their strengths can be used against them. For example if the competition advertises lower prices you promote greater value. Attack your competition where they are weakest.

Word of Mouth Marketing

A guerilla army cultivates popular support from the locals. The locals provide food, shelter and information to the guerilla army.

A guerilla marketer cultivates popular support from the marketplace. Word of mouth is often the most powerful form of marketing. The guerilla marketer builds relationships with clients and prospects to survive the ups and downs of the market.

A guerilla army is lead by popular leaders that spawn legends of their deeds. The guerilla marketer tells stories to inspire the guerillas and offer hope to the locals. The locals spread the legends of the great leader and hope for victory.

Legends and Story Telling

A guerilla marketer spawns stories and legends of the new exciting brand. The stories of going above and beyond normal expectations are spread by clients, prospects and the media. The guerilla marketer is not normal. She is controversial, unique and outspoken. She will infect staff and advocates with her passion and vision. Consider the guerilla marketing tactics and legends of Sir Richard Branson.

Strategy and Tactics

The guerilla army has a clear objective and supporting strategy. All tactics correspond to the strategy. The opposing forces often follow an unclear or outdated strategy. Tactics are prone to be the fad of the month.

The guerilla marketer takes the time to plan a clear strategy. Tactics are evaluated on congruence with the strategy. When you have a clear and solid strategy tactical decisions are easier and quicker.

The guerilla army is prepared and committed for a long fight. On the other hand the opposing forces are looking for a quick fix.

The guerilla marketer focuses on her goal beyond the horizon. She knows that there might be some bumps along the way. She is committed to her vision and gathers those about her to help reach the goal. She plans for the long win not the temptations of immediate gratification.

The guerilla army strikes and runs away. They could not survive a major toe-to-toe battle. They accept the small wins, regroup and move to fight another day.

The guerilla marketer never invests all her assets on one fight. She knows to take her gains and minimize her looses. It's not necessary to win every battle. The guerilla marketer understands that the real goal is to win the hearts and minds of the marketplace.

If you are ready to be an effective guerilla marketer, get yourself a good pair of boots.


George Torok coaches entrepreneurs and executives to deliver million dollar presentations. He trains managers, professionals and experts to deliver superior presentations. Arrange for presentation skills training at

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