Raking it in without
breaking your soul

Guerilla Marketing

Back in the early 2010s, did you play Dumb Ways to Die? This was a popular game in my household. Don’t swim with piranhas, that’s dumb.

As wildly viral as this game went, it wasn’t developed by Activision or any of the big name gaming companies. It was created as an advertisement for how the Melbourne (Australia) metro is safe.

That’s some serious undercover marketing. And most people would refer to this as guerilla marketing, an idea popularized by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book by that name.

The point is to make a buzz, leveraging your ingenuity more than your ad budget.

The term “guerilla marketing” has origins in guerilla warfare and I’ve been trying to get away from violence-related terminology so I’m switching to undercover marketing for the rest of this article.

It’s bold, but this might just be the thing you need to stand out from the competition.

Undercover marketing would look like:

An aspiring family photographer identifies a local family-friendly festival (here in Kalamazoo that would be the Do-Dah Parade) and sets up a spot nearby where she tacks up a fun backdrop and offers to take a quick photo – with a Polaroid so it doesn’t seem overly creepy – of families walking by. She drops her website on the back of the photo with a Sharpie.

A house painter creates a lawn sign that says “I will make your house so much more beautiful than this. Call me at 123-456-1789.” And puts in the front lawn of the town’s worst offenders.

A survey designer develops the world’s worst survey but masquerades it as one for LinkedIn. Once survey takers get past the second frustrating question, the next item says “Isn’t this survey the worst? I can show you how to make surveys that work. Book a call with me here.”

A taekwondo dojo handing out flyers for a free class outside of the latest Marvel movie.

Undercover marketing doesn’t seek out permission or permits.

It takes some guts. It’s obviously going to massively offend some people. But it’s also going to get a ton of eyeballs and make new people totally fall in love with you. Undercover marketing is a risk.

If you’ve been bumping around in the same circles and not sure how to expand your client list, you need to take a risk.

If your audience growth has plateaued, this is how you can shake things up.

​​​​​​​If you have no marketing money, this is how you get attention.

Do you have the courage to try some undercover marketing? Put on your strongest anti-perspirant, take a deep breath, and try. Let me know what ideas you hatch.

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