While no publicity is bad publicity, certain types of publicity are more effective for building brand awareness. Very effective types of publicity also don't have to cost very much money at all (**GASP**). One of the best types of marketing strategies for the lowest cost (if any) is guerilla marketing. Guerrilla marketing marketing has to grab the intended audiences attention in a quick way whether through humor, shock, amazement, etc.
Wikipedia defines Guerrilla marketing as "an advertising strategy in which low-cost unconventional means (graffiti, sticker bombing, flash mobs) are used, often in a localized fashion or large network of individual cells, to convey or promote a product or an idea." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerrilla_marketing
I'll talk about two instances that I noticed a few months ago where the timing of the marketing effort is critical. One was via a customer service tactic going viral while the other was making a statement about society that made the headlines. Both techniques got the respective brands' name on the front pages of news sites for little to no money!
Guerrilla Marketing via Customer Service
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- Making sure that customer service still meets the high standard with the fun added (0% added time on the customer side)
- A programmer/customer service rep to initiate the campaign either for a specific # of people or a random sampler
- A creative customer to act as a catalyst for viral-ness
- Someone(s) to share the creative customer's interactions in a very public way (Reddit, twitter, instagram, facebook, etc)
- Achieve the same result for the target audience as if the campaign had not existed (same steps from point A to point B unless its an option by the customer to take things elsewhere)
- Don't be offensive
- Make it appropriate for all ages.
- This doesn't mean you can't target audiences with obscure 80's references. The cartoon comedy series The Simpsons does this well as over half the crowd doesn't get some of the references anyways.
As another example of effective guerrilla marketing, the popular underground artist Banksy recently had some of his spray paint art (often going for premium prices) sold by someone else pretending to try to make it through college by selling art for $60 a piece on the streets of New York for a day. Nothing sold until 4 hours later with one person haggling 2 pieces for $60. The perception of who made the art and what it was going for overshadowed the art itself. On the other hand, adding Banksy's name to the art would do the same thing to the art causing it to go for ridiculous prices.
Upon the news articles hitting the web, people were able to see the point above. This was a great way for people to read an interesting article making an insightful statement about someone who they may not have ever heard about. This in turn makes Banksy's brand more recognizable in a marketing effort that didn't cost hardly anything.
- Make sure no one knows what is going on until the marketing effort is complete.
- Successfully demonstrating a societal trait which is 'shocking' (e.g. people associate cost of art to good art)
- Insight a 'missed opportunity' feeling for the audience.
- If only they had been there to buy one, they could have turned a $60 investment into $6000 overnight.
- Have media outlets pick up this marketing effort and portray it as a 'interesting news' type article.