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How guerrilla advertising can build business without breaking the bank.

If you're like most small businesses, you know you need to advertise to build business, but it's hard to advertise when money is tight.  That's where guerrilla advertising comes in.  Guerrilla advertising (sometimes known as "guerrilla marketing") is about using the resources you have at your disposal to build business. This article gives you some great ideas on how to utilize what you have on hand to help grow your sales.

If you’re like most small businesses, there’s never enough time or money.  Especially when it comes to advertising.  You know you have to advertise to build business, but it’s hard to advertise when money is tight.

That’s where guerrilla advertising comes in.  Guerrilla advertising (sometimes known as “guerrilla marketing”) is about using the resources you have at your disposal to build business.  These are things that may be a little off the beaten path of mainstream advertising, but they still prove highly effective if done properly.

Whether you want tell customers about a sale or special event, or just want to let people know about you, flyers are easy and relatively effective if you’re trying to advertise on the cheap.  If you have a computer and access to clip art or photos, then you can probably put together a professional looking flyer.   Some do’s:  1) Try to come up with a good offer, if possible.  2) Use a catchy headline and visual.  3) Keep your copy short and to-the-point.  4) Remember your address and phone number!

Some places you might think about putting your flyers include
-    Cars in parking lots
-    Coffee shops
-    Windows of local businesses (like grocery stores)
-    College bulletin boards
-    Library bulletin boards
-    Apartment buildings
-    Non-competing office buildings
-    Fold, tape, and send to your mailing list
Think about paying a college or high school student to pass out your flyers at busy gatherings like Farmers’ Markets, sporting events, etc., or to take them door-to-door.  Be sure to check the legalities in your area regarding the above, and always ask permission before you post or pass out flyers. 

Vehicle Advertising
Go to your local sign shop and have your logo, phone number and/or website made into a decal and place it in your car window.  Viola!  Marketing on the move!  In fact, have several printed up and ask family and friends to consider putting them on their vehicles as well.

Social Media
I’ve been monitoring this trend for months now, and in that time, it has spread like wildfire.  And from everything I’ve seen and everything I’ve read, the trend will continue.  There are many of these sites out there, but my favorites are Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace.  These social communities let you set up “house,” invite your friends over, and meet lots of new people who may have the same interests as you, or may be potential customers.  Don’t be shy about touting your services and products! 

Everyone is on the Internet.  Seriously, everyone.  (Okay, maybe not your grandma.)   So these days, it’s almost a given that you need to have a web presence.  Your potential customers want to be able to take a closer look at your company at their convenience.  And it’s a perfect opportunity for you to let your customers see you at your best.  It’s a win/win.   And surprisingly, it’s relatively cheap and easy to put a simple website up.  There are many wonderful hosting companies (I use that not only provide web hosting services, but templates that you can use., are just a couple of good ones.   Depending on your company, you can put up a simple info web site, or one where your customers can buy from you directly.

Sports Team Sponsorships
Does your child play in a sport, or do you know a child who does?  Or are you simply interested in getting your name in front of hundreds of proud parents every week?  Sports team sponsorships are fairly cheap and most of the time you get to put your logo on all the jerseys. 

Online Video Marketing
YouTube, TubeMogul, et al
Did you know that YouTube now represents over 12 percent of web traffic?  In fact, many marketing experts are recommending their clients add this type of tool in their marketing mix because of all the free traffic you can generate.  What should you post?  Consider doing a 3-5 minute informational video about your product or service, or a video testimonial from satisfied customers.  “How-to” videos can also be incredibly successful.  Does your service or product lend itself to an instructional how-to?  If you’re an accountant, how about “how to” maximize your tax deductions?  A florist…”how to” make your flowers last longer.  The possibilities are endless!  You video doesn’t have to be Oscar-caliber, but make sure it looks professional.  And, the more creative, the better.

Dedicated Press Release Campaign
Honestly, just about anyone can write a press release.  (I’m currently putting a section on my website for this, so you’ll have a template there soon.)  It costs next to nothing to create and send out press releases, and the benefits can be huge. 

First thing to do is to make a list of media contacts and addresses.  These are the people you’ll send the releases to.  If you don’t know where to start on this, call your local media (newspapers, publications, magazines, radio and television stations) as well as the trade publications in your industry and ask who receives press releases.  Update this list regularly.  Next, determine that you will send X number of press releases out per month and stick to it!  Don’t just wait for the big stuff…create happenings if you need to.  Some of the things you should send press releases out for include:

-    Awards
-    Grand openings, sales, events, etc.
-    Conference attendance
-    Seminars
-    New equipment
-    New employees
The list can go on and on!  The idea here is to keep your company up front as much as possible.

Put your logo on t-shirts and wear them everywhere you can.  Encourage employees, friends and family to do the same.

Banners are fairly inexpensive.  Next time you have a sale or special event, have a banner made and display it proudly and prominently on your building, or in front close to the street.

Offer your current customers a “referral” bonus (a discount on your product or service perhaps) when they refer someone to you.  One of the most effective ways is to have some cards (business card size) printed up with your logo, address and phone number, plus a blank line for your current customer to print his/her name.  Give your best customers several of these and ask them to hand them out to friends and family.  Whenever you get one returned, send your customer a postcard (or an email) telling them about the referral and reminding them to come in to claim their discount (or free whatever).

Guerrilla advertising takes a little more effort and work on your part, but the results can be well worth it.  Instead of the scatter-shot that many of the traditional media outlets give you, going guerilla forces you to be more creative in targeting those customers that you can reach with the budget you have.

(c) Copyright 2008Business Management Articles,  All rights reserved.

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Donna Williams is the founder and creator of - a website dedicated to helping small businesses grow to their maximum potential.  She is also a 25-year advertising / marketing executive, creative director, writer, and producer.  Together, Donna and her husband currently own and co-own five small businesses.  To read more of her articles, or to sign up for her free e-newsletter, visit her website at

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