Five New Guerilla PR Techniques for Small Businesses

By Eileen O'Shanassy

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Guerrilla marketing, named after guerrilla warfare, helps small businesses with small budgets leverage surprise, creativity, and unique visuals to market their product or service to a larger audience. The idea is, companies can spend significantly less using guerrilla tactics compared to more traditional methods of marketing. Wondering where to get started? Here are a few standout guerrilla marketing techniques small businesses can use to get a leg up on the competition. 

Public Art 

Probably the most common (see: most successful) form of guerrilla marketing is public art like graffiti or other urban art. One of the best examples of this is from back in 2008 when Shepard Fairey was contacted by the Obama administration about his original artwork featuring the president’s face. If you’re apprehensive about graffiti or public art, consider reverse-graffiti. Sounds made up, but it involved removing dirt and other debris from a wall to create an image. Make your image known to the public in some way. It doesn’t have to be grafitti, just some avenue of getting your logo and image out there.


While performances can be more challenging to organize, you can repeat them often to gain more exposure and post videos and photos online to maximize your efforts. Consider hiring someone to choreograph a short but impactful flash mob. Or, piggy-backing on the mannequin challenge, do a freeze for marketing purposes. The internet loves a good effort, so put your best foot forward, sit back, and watch your video get shared again and again and again. 


If your business has a storefront, don’t be afraid to use it in a unique way. Consider what would catch the attention of people passing by—a neat mural, an unusual seasonal display, or a clever or punny image—and consider hiring an artist to help bring that vision to life. Turning your storefront into eye-catching art will help you stand out on the block as well as among the competition. 


Don’t underestimate effective web campaigns as a solid form of guerrilla marketing. When you launch a web campaign, you control the content. Consider a YouTube commercial, or building a separate website that ties into other guerrilla efforts like stickers, fliers, or performance art. Have a third party manage your reputation online to get the best out of your website and online presence.


But not to be unkind. When employing sabotage as a marketing or PR tactic, the point is not to just bash your competition. You should always take the high ground and circle around to what makes you a better choice. Often, humor is used for relief, especially when poking fun at a fellow competitor. A great example of sabotage in action is Salesforce. When a competitor held an annual conference, the CEO of Salesforce rented all of the cabs closest to the airport, which was a 45-minute drive to the conference. When people got into the cab, Salesforce used that 45 minutes to pitch their product and what made it superior before attendees ever got to the main event. 

Most people naturally tune out advertisements and are wary of blatant marketing, especially on social media platforms. The key to making your guerrilla campaign a success is to be creative and catch people off guard, whatever the channel you choose to use. A few other guerrilla marketing rules to live by:

- Engage, don’t annoy, your audience – You may have a genius idea, but if there’s a chance it could go awry or annoy the people you want to attract, let it go. 
- Don’t scare your audience – If you plan any big public display, make sure it won’t raise public concern and lead to unforeseen consequences or even authority intervention. 
- Choose temporary options – When taking the public art route, be sure your whatever you’re doing can be reversed, which can help prevent the build up of costly fines. 
- Share and share again – Your campaign will only be successful if it gets your name out there. Once you’ve executed a brilliant guerrilla marketing plan, share whatever you did on as many mediums as possible. 

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