“GREAT things have small beginnings,” so goes the saying for guerrilla marketing.

The idea of guerrilla marketing itself has a small beginning.

Jay Levinson, author of the 1984 book Guerrilla Marketing, was invited to teach a class at the extension division of the University of California in Berkeley some years before he wrote his bestseller.

One day in his class, a student asked: “Jay, most of us in this room have long hair, Levi’s, empty pockets, great ideas for business and zero idea on how to market those businesses. Can you recommend a book for us to market our business?”

Levinson said yes and went on to scour the libraries for such a book but none existed. All the marketing books mainly catered for those with large marketing budgets.

This in turn motivated him to write Guerrilla Marketing, which was formerly titled 555 Ways To Earn Extra Money.

His long-haired young students were equipped with great ideas but lacked financial resources and, hence, needed to employ unconventional methods to achieve corporate victories.

They adopted the ideas in Levinson’s book to build their businesses.

He was later invited by some of these students to their corporate headquarters to give talks to their employees and to contribute to their in-house newsletters.

Among the companies were Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and other Silicon Valley leaders.

What is guerrilla marketing?

It is an unconventional promotion system that relies on your time, energy, imagination and knowledge rather than a large marketing budget.

This system starts with research as its first step.

In today’s context, research can be done with one person sitting in front of the computer and augmented with strategic conversations with people you know. It is no longer necessary to rely on costly databases and reports from top consultants.

The second step involves developing a clear benefit list for your targeted clients. Only you can determine what unique benefits your business can bring to your clients.

This step is like taking a decongestant. It clears up your business “sinuses” — many aspiring entrepreneurs are often muddle-headed about what they can really do for their clients.

There are seven more steps to developing a guerrilla marketing strategy and more than 200 methods of reaching your clients.

Over time, larger companies have seen the wisdom of using some of these methods for their own marketing campaigns.

Creating touch points

Guerrilla marketing strategies are used to create different touch points for your clients. Some clients require up to 27 touch points before they decide to make a purchase.

Princeton’s psychology professor George Miller estimated that over 98 per cent of purchase decisions are made on an emotional basis and then later justified by logic. One reason is that emotions stimulate the mind up to 3,000 times faster than rational thought processes.

These psychological effects are incorporated into the strategies of guerrilla marketing, which takes what experts already know about marketing and distils it into an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide that anyone can use to expand their sales.

Why guerrilla marketing works is simply because it is easy to use and does not require a lot of resources.

I have used it to plan marketing campaigns that cost less than $2,000 to execute, and which generated more than $100,000 in sales.

The secret is that it uses what you already have — your business —to leverage it to reach out to your clients in ways that you probably never thought of doing.