When Guerrilla Marketing Fails

"Guerrilla marketing is overrated", I heard him say to the colleague sitting next to me. The three of us were seated together in one row of an aircraft on a 90 minute journey. I chuckled - understanding much more than he knew about marketing. We had boarded the plane several minutes earlier and I had noted that his bag had the logo of an eye wear franchise that I knew very little about. I had noticed one in my local neighborhood but had not yet scoped it out.

When I noticed the logo on the bag and saw that its owner was wearing glasses, I took the chance and asked him if he worked for the company. I had his attention immediately. He was an optometrist who owned one of the company franchises. Since I knew little about the company I asked him to tell me more about his company.

I learned we were both living in Calgary and that he had a store located there. I asked him about his product and services - and his answer was interrupted by the woman on the other side of him.

"Do you work for Eyeglasses International?" (not their real name) she asked and then blurted out - "So do I". That comment ended the conversation I had been involved in. The two - who now began talking in depth about company policy, their recent convention, and office dating - completely ignored me and my curiosity about their company and products. The funny part about all of this - I was wearing a pair of outdated glasses!

Their conversation progressed to marketing strategies and how the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on items they rarely used and clothing that bore the insignia on it. They felt that this strategy was a waste of time. "Guerrilla marketing only increases brand awareness" one of them said. And they concurred on many levels about the waste of money on this strategy.

This is a typical attitude for people who are still mired in archaic business strategies. It was clear that they did not even recognize a potential client or customer. And it was also clear that they did not understand the value of building a relationship with that potential customer.

Guerilla marketing must be followed up with relationship building. You can use Guerilla marketing strategies all you like and not sell a thing if you fail to understand how to recognize a client - or the value that name recognition brings.

So could Guerilla marketing work for the traveling optometrist with the company logo on his business bag and shirt? Absolutely. Next time he encounters someone who asks about his product - and he has the choice to speak with a colleague or a potential customer - he could choose the ‘customer-to-be'. (that's what I would have been - a ‘customer-to-be')

When someone asks about your company or business be sure to:

-Tell them why they would benefit from using your product

-Offer them information about how you stand out from others

-Give them free tips - eg. "we even have frames identified that look best on certain shaped faces - in fact I have a red pair you would love"

-Get excited about your company

-Do not use corporate or industry jargon

-Offer them a coupon you may just have with you

-Ask them if they would like you to follow up with them

-Ask them what they know about you

-Ask them about themselves

-Ask them if they would ever want to purchase your product.

You get the drift. As it stands - I will not likely visit the optometrist's store. You know - the one who sat beside me on the plane. What was his company's name anyway? He never gave me his card - and well, I forgot. I guess he was right. Guerilla marketing doesn't work.


Mandie Crawford is a marketing expert, business coach, trainer and motivational speaker who was recently awarded Calgary Business Woman of the Year for her contributions to the business community.

Mandie also has skills and expertise in providing high quality guidance in time management and system implementation for small a medium sized businesses. Her passion as a business and professional development coach is to helps women recognize their value and self worth.

She is the Preside...

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