We deal with a lot of small and medium sized businesses, and many are looking for the magic rocket that will quickly propel them to recognition, fame and fortune. They’ve heard of some fantastic event or promotion that made a start-up company a household name and driven 500% growth, and they want that. Who wouldn’t? Here are three important questions to ask when considering guerilla marketing.
How Does it Fit Into Your Marketing Plan?
Unfortunately, creating an Internet meme or popular guerilla marketing tactic is not likely; and not a realistic goal on its own. I certainly don’t underestimate the potential power of such a tactic, but the chance of being successful is remote… really, really remote. Before you start playing the marketing lottery, I suggest you invest in a good strategic plan. It sounds boring in comparison to a viral video or flash event, but it will focus your marketing efforts on tactics that will steadily move your company forward.
The advantage of a plan is that, well, its planned. It takes into consideration your current position, resources, your goals and where you want the company to be down the road. Growing your business successfully relies on planning your route to get there, and a strong brand [For more on Branding, check out: I Have a Website, Why Do I Need Branding?; Is Your Brand Relevant?] with structured marketing will accelerate that. True, some wild guerilla marketing would add an octane boost, but without the plan and marketing foundation, you might find yourself out of gas and coasting to the side of the road just as fast.
The benefits of a good marketing plan are numerous:
- Build or support your brand
- Clearly communicate what you stand for
- Expand your market
- Engage new audiences
- Support sales goals
- Improve the user-experience of dealing with your organization
- Strengthen relationships with customers and leads
- Provide measurable results to keep you on track
These are all important aspects in building a strong marketing foundation for your company. They allow you to project a professional image and provide targeted, clear communication to engage with your audience. They help customers to feel good about dealing with you and prompts referrals. They position your organization for growth and stability. And, they just might deliver a run-away successful tactic in the process.
How Much Can You Invest in Guerilla Marketing?
It may seem like success just happens miraculously, and all it took was a simple video. That can happen, but when it does it is a fluke. And, since no strategy is built around it, it is quickly forgotten when the next wave of cool videos and memes flow along the Internet current. Hard to ride the wave if you aren’t prepared for it.
On the other hand, companies have wasted large budgets on carefully crafted, wittily worded, and slickly sequenced videos and “impromptu” events that have gone no where. So budget alone does not determine the likelihood of success. Other than luck, the most important aspects are strategy and understanding. Strategy is main thrust of this article; understanding relates to your audience, social and societal considerations, the chosen media and communication. It’s a lot to understand and requires a team to gather the intelligence, decipher its relevance, integrate this knowledge and align it with your strategy and goals, design, develop and implement the magical event/video/meme that goes viral. Fortunately, both strategy and understanding are inherent in a good marketing plan.
It is a significant commitment of people, process and time, so don’t waste resources on trying to develop the rocket that will propel your brand to stardom, until you have your growth planned and a marketing strategy to get you there. It’s certainly possible that one of your planned and measured tactics designed to move you further along your structured marketing plan may go viral. And it makes sense to try to create such a tactic — as long as it is part of comprehensive plan and budget.
Besides Popularity, What is the Goal?
So, how would you leverage the popularity garnered from a run-away viral hit? Would it dovetail into your existing plan, or would you need new online workflows (landing pages, forms email campaigns, etc.), sales team strategy, PR campaigns, etc., to take advantage of this boost. If you’re fortunate enough to find success, don’t let it plummet away from you.
Be ready to respond promptly and positively. Popularity is wonderful, but usually fleeting. You’ll need to connect it strategically to your brand, processes and sales pipeline to successfully sustain your growth efforts. Again, it’s that boring plan that truly propels you to success, otherwise you simply have a really cool video that everyone watched for three days.
Planning is the key to business and marketing success. The better prepared you are, the more in-tune you are with your audience, media and environment in which you play, the more likely you will succeed. This gives you a strong foundation for sustainable growth, and makes it even more likely that a guerilla marketing tactic could work for you. But if it doesn’t, your organization is still progressing towards achieving its goals.
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