5 Guerrilla Marketing Tactics That Will Generate Publicity For Your Startup
Updated: Jul 10
Aah!…Guerrilla marketing. The term that makes every CEO in the United States' ears perk up whenever they hear it for one reason or another. Some love hearing the term and you’ll have their full attention whenever you mention it in a marketing meeting. While others will stop whatever it is that they’re doing in a meeting just to chastise you for even suggesting applying it in their brand’s marketing campaign (from my experience, most love it though).
I must confess, I absolutely love every aspect of guerrilla marketing. In fact, the book that really convinced me that I could actually have a career in marketing is the book, Startup Guide To Guerrilla Marketing, by Jay Conrad and Jeannie Levinson.
The book really resonated with me because it confirmed and expounded on what I always believed were the core principles of marketing. Those principles ultimately consist of creating concepts to connect with consumers. And out of those principles, the one that the book focuses on the most is creation.
For those of you that may be unfamiliar with the concept of guerrilla marketing, Guerrilla marketing is a marketing philosophy that was created by marketing guru, Jay Conrad Levinson. In Startup Guide To Guerrilla Marketing, Jay Conrad and Jeannie Levinson describe guerrilla marketing as, “Going after conventional goals using unconventional means. It means that in marketing, your main investment should be time, energy, imagination, and information—not money.” Pretty cool description by the Levinson’s, right?
But enough of me ranting about how much I love guerrilla marketing. Here’s five guerrilla marketing tactics that you can utilize to generate publicity for your startup—which will lead to the most sought after commodity that every marketer covets—brand awareness.
1. Declare Distinction
Have you ever been on a job or college interview and the recruiter asked, “So, can you tell me something about yourself that makes you different?” Kind of a complex question, wouldn’t you agree?
The reason recruiters ask that question is because they’re hoping that you’ll help them make the best decision on whether they should select you or not. And the way that you answer that question could determine whether they'll advance or eliminate your candidacy.
Which means that it’s a pretty important question in the interview process that you’d probably want to nail whenever it’s asked. Well, that same logic applies to brands aiming to generate publicity—there has to be something distinct about your brand that'll help publications choose to feature you or your brand.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for a brand to be different from its contemporaries when it comes to generating publicity, and here’s why. In order for your brand to be able to stand out, it has to be distinct from every other brand that’s out there in order to be considered newsworthy.
I'm sure you're probably thinking, "How in the heck is declaring distinction a tactic?," Which would be a great question. Declaring your distinction is a tactic because a tactic is defined in Oxford's Learner's Dictionaries as, "The particular method you use to achieve something." And what we're out to achieve is getting your brand publicity (which starts with declaring distinction).
If you want to know how to make your startup distinct, here’s a few ways to do it. Once you’ve identified what makes your brand different, declare it by reaching out to reporters and the “gatekeepers” in the media that decide which stories get featured on their respective platforms.
Once you contact them, articulate exactly why it would be in their best interest to do a feature on your brand. If you’re wondering how to do that—it’s all in your pitch, which I’ll break down next.
2. Pitch a perfect game
When speaking to reporters or gatekeepers in the media; it’s best to speak a language that they'll understand—and that language consists of views and higher ratings.
While making your pitch, focus on an angle in which a potential feature of your brand on their respective platform would result in grabbing the attention of their viewers.
To give yourself the best chance at securing a feature, be sure to reach out to the media companies that are most closely associated with your brand’s niche.
In their book Free PR, authors and public relations experts, Cameron Herold and Adrian Salamunovic, stated, "A good story angle that will grab both a journalists' and an audiences' attention, will make you stand out; is timely, and offers new or interesting information. That information will specifically appeal to a certain audience. In short, a good angle answers the questions, 'So what? Who cares? Why you?,' Getting your story angle right is the single most important element of capturing media interest.”
So, let’s break down how to answer the three angle questions that Cameron and Adrian posed:
So what? - This question can be answered by simply stating what it is that makes your product or brand distinct from the others out there.
Who cares? - The people that care will always be those that’ll have a vested interest in a particular outcome that a product or a brand has to offer. And most people only really care about things that they either love or hate.
So focus your pitch on how it’ll make a particular audiences' lives better by either getting them what they want (love) or by alleviating something causing them a problem (hate). Here’s something to remember, the more shocking that something is—the more likely people will share it. And shares equal views and ratings.
Why you? - The answer to this question is the reason why I emphasize distinction so much. The rarer that something is, the harder it is to replace. So, if your brand is offering something so distinct, so important, so compelling, so superior than anything else out there—instead of asking why you? The question that reporters will ask is, “Which day is best for you?”
One of the points-of-emphasis in Free PR, is that it’s only your job to think of an angle and convey that angle to the media in an effort to convince decision makers how featuring your brand would be mutually beneficial. Cameron and Adrian warns, “Keep in mind that you are not writing the actual story, but rather packaging it so that the journalist can put their stamp on it and shape it into a final product.”
3. Help a reporter...and yourself out
Another way to generate publicity for your brand is via HARO. HARO is the acronym for 'Help a Reporter Out.' HARO is a great resource for publicity for your brand because it's a website where reporters go to get quotes and insights from experts and professionals from various industries to place in articles, books, news segments, etc. Which is different from cold pitching to reporters. Reporters on HARO are actually relying on you to contact them.
The best part about HARO is that you can reply to reporters inquiries on the website for free and it's standard courtesy for the reporters to give you proper attribution on their respective platforms for your contribution to their inquiry if they use it.
This means they'll mention you, your job title, and your company—without you even having to make a pitch! Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it certainly is true. And those reporters are ready to hear from you.
4. Invoke shares
I’m sure you've probably heard the old adage that, “Sharing is caring.” Well, that adage is definitely true as it pertains to social media. Or as author and marketing professor Jonah Berger, stated in his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, “When we care, we share.” Sharing things on social media could come in the form of a retweet, a share on Facebook, or simply someone copying and pasting a link of any piece of your brand’s content and sending it to a friend on any social media platform.
These days, getting people (especially social media influencers) to share your content or information about your brand is just as important as getting a reporter to give you a feature. Don't believe me? The next time you're waiting in line at a store, look around and see how many of your fellow shoppers are looking down at their phones. They'll probably be looking at their social media page or something that someone text them from theirs.
According to Jonah, the way to get people to share your content is through emotion. “Naturally contagious content usually evokes some sort of emotion. Blending an iPhone is surprising. A potential tax hike is infuriating. Emotional things often get shared. So rather than harping on function, we need to focus on feelings.”
In order to invoke others to share your content, create content that will make people so happy that they’ll have to tell others in hopes it’ll help them as well. Or something that makes people so angry they’ll have to ask their friends, “Can you believe this?,” You could also create content that’s so funny—people will actually feel compelled to share it with others on their timeline because it may boost their social status.
Whatever method used, always remember that emotion invokes action.
5. Podcast blitzing
Podcasts are a great way to generate publicity for a brand. That’s because the audience for the average podcast is geared towards a specific niche. And that niche consists of people that have a high enough interest that they searched for, and found a podcast based on a specific genre.
For example, you wouldn’t need a marketing degree to create a pretty accurate consumer profile for someone that would listen to a Rachel Ray podcast about her favorite recipes. You can imagine that the people that would tune in to her podcast would be people that are interested in cooking for themselves and preparing meals for others.
One way to utilize podcasts to generate publicity for your startup is simply to start a podcast of your own and feature guests that are leaders in your respective industry. By doing this, people who are interested in those leaders will tune in to hear what they have to say.
And by tuning in—they’ll also learn more about you and your brand (because you’ll shamelessly mention it in every episode).
If you’re wondering if industry leaders will appear on your podcast—the answer is that most of them probably will. Why? Because every entrepreneur loves to promote their business every chance they get (myself included). And if your podcast is in the scope of their industry —they’ll likely jump on board to be a guest just so they could get the free promotion.
However, if you really want to maximize your brand’s reach through the power of podcasts— I suggest a podcast blitz. You probably already heard of a media blitz and if not, Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a media blitz as, “A lot of information about something on television, radio, in magazines, etc., all at once.”
A podcast blitz consists of leveraging the power of your platform (your podcast) in order to appear on other podcasts. So, let’s say that you wanted to do a mass promotion for a new product that your company was launching—and wanted to promote it for free—you could do a podcast blitz by reaching out to others who have a podcast related to your industry and offer them an appearance on your platform in exchange for you appearing on theirs.
Don’t you just love it when everyone wins?
The key to guerrilla marketing is utilizing creativity—as opposed to currency. It’s about what I believe is the true definition of marketing—which is creating concepts to connect with consumers.
As a guerrilla marketer, your ultimate weapon is your creativity. The best thing about creativity is that it’s free. Which means that anyone could afford it. The same goes for publicity. In fact, Jay Conrad and Jeannie Levinson defined publicity as, “An unpaid message that is prompted by newsworthy activities…usually prepared by the company itself, but with no guarantee of inclusion in the medium since it is unpaid.”
The tactics above are just that—tactics. It’s on you to use your creativity to create the best strategy to properly execute those tactics. So get used to utilizing your creativity—because you’re definitely going to need it once your brand does get all of that publicity you desire and you start receiving all of those interview requests (I hope I didn’t scare you with that last part).