Author Jay Conrad Levinson wrote the book Guerrilla Marketing (first published in 1983) for his class at the University of California in Berkeley as his students lacked financial resources and needed to employ unconventional methods to achieve success.

They were in the same situation faced by guerrillas in warfare. Guerrilla Marketing thus became an apt title for the book, which sold over 21 million copies in 62 languages.

Guerrilla marketing revolutionised marketing strategies for the small business owner with big ideas and a shoestring budget. Although it was initially created for small business owners and entrepreneurs, global companies such as Apple Computer and Mercedes-Benz have also benefited from using its strategies.

Key factors

The two main success factors of guerrilla marketing are:

* Many marketing strategies are much too complex for ordinary people. Guerrilla marketing is so simple that anybody can adopt its methods and put them to work successfully. 

* Guerrilla marketing works if you follow its precepts. There is ample information around the world to show people how to do it right.

Success stories

A small apartment complex in Los Angeles had an occupancy rate of 70 per cent whereas another had an occupancy rate of 100 per cent. They offered the same prices, sizes and building amenities.

The only difference was this: The apartment with full occupancy had a sign that read, “Sign a lease and get free auto-grooming” — tenants would enjoy a complimentary weekly car wash. People were attracted to the free gift. It was not expensive, but it took time, energy, imagination and knowledge.

People often wonder how they can take advantage of “word-of-mouth” marketing. In San Francisco, where the food and beverage industry can get very competitive, a restaurant succeeded by identifying hair salons as the nerve centre of the community and making all the hairstylists within a one-mile radius of their restaurant an offer they could not refuse — two free dinners!

As expected, the hairstylists flocked to the restaurant. It received a lot of word-of-mouth business because the hairstylists enjoyed their meals and they recommended the restaurant to their own customers.

Marketing tactics aside, it is important that the quality of your product or service is up to par. If it lacks quality, guerrilla marketing will only speed up the demise of your company because more people will learn about it faster.

Ready to change

One of the major differences between guerrilla marketing and other marketing methods is that it is built to accommodate change.

When guerrilla marketing was first introduced, there were no Internet and social media tools. Today, there are several books about it on the Internet. Guerrilla marketing is made for change because marketing by its very nature continues to change.

Marketing is not a miracle worker. Guerrilla marketing is a way to make marketing work eventually but not instantly. People who expect immediate results will only get disappointed. Thus it is often said that patience breeds the best results in guerrilla marketing.