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4 Guerrilla Content Tactics (with examples) for your Content Marketing Strategy

by Sasha Krsmanovic

Every so often you need “guerrilla activity” to boost your content marketing results. Of course, having a sound and well-coordinated content marketing strategy is a must for just about any company these days. And a great guerilla tactic will only benefit you if it fits into the larger strategic plan. Yet, everyone needs fun ways to capture extra traffic and boost excitement. Here are a few tactics to consider.

Guerilla Marketing That Works

Marketing Schools provide a good, quick, refresh on Guerilla Marketing. The usual reason why companies big and small, attempt to execute them is that they are low cost and high impact. Music to everyone’s ears, right? Where do I sign up?!

If you think you can use at least one of the below tactics, I expect you to spread the love and share it with your network! :)

Here are four tactics you can use:

1. Give exclusivity to big influencers. Amplify with free stuff.

This is especially usable for product launches. If you have a product release coming up, then use an established influencer to launch it for you—all while giving out free product (i.e. first 1,000 to act). A few things to note here to make this work. First, “influencers” know they are influencers. That can make them harder to approach and get a response (they know “what they are worth”). But make it a win-win proposal and the influencer may go for it. “Win-win” doesn’t have to mean cash. Influencers ultimately care about traffic as much as you do, so do your best to ensure they win additional traffic they wouldn’t get otherwise—essentially you’re employing your marketing muscle to promote their blog.

Example here is our own Icenium, that later became Telerik Platform, and the TechCrunch-led launch initiative we did by giving out 1,000 licenses. You *do* need that free giveaway. As Chris Anderson argues in his book on freemium, free offerings make people act irrationally. Another key is to give out enough product so that someone reading the announcement a few days after still thinks can be part of the initiative and to continue sharing it. You don’t want people to feel like they’ve “missed the boat” and take no action.

2. Extend your “offline” guerilla activity for even bigger reach

If your offline guerilla gig was really successful you *should* be able to make it into content that will be talked about. You will benefit from added links to your company site and all the good SEO juice that comes with it. It really doesn’t matter if you are hitting your core market. Any publicity counts. Just ask Madonna or Justin Bieber.

My favorite example here is TestFlight guerilla strategy during Apple WWDC 2011. TestFlight provided a food truck during Apple’s WWDC and an app to help hunt it down in order to score a free meal. Conference food is usually borderline horrible, so this offer really resonated with the audience. While that conference activity in itself was brilliant, TestFlight took that campaign farther. The content that followed the guerilla execution, you see TestFlight getting coverage on the likes of Business Insider and dozens of others.

I’m a big fan of guerilla activity. As Ben Satterfield, TestFlight's CEO explains, “Successful guerrilla marketing is predicated on creativity and clever execution, not a huge budget.” I’m going to add one more thing to it: if the idea is yours then you got to be there in the trenches to see it through. 

3. Trolling works. Troll a competitor. Especially if you are the smaller competitor.

Product positioning is probably one of the most important things we do as marketers. One of the ways you can position your product is by using a competitor. So you are using Avis’ “We try harder” kind of approach. There are a number positioning tactics you can use at this OTM marketing article.

To that point, every time you position your product on the same line as your bigger competitor you win. It’s true. EVERY TIME you position your product on the same line as your bigger competitor you WIN.

Even big companies do it. Take Microsoft trolling Apple. Everyone wants to rub off that Apple cool. Especially if they have a few products that are bit ahead of yours (read: tablet, watch). Microsoft is often seen as the un-cool tech giant. So, yes, they trolled Apple. And it's pretty cool to troll a big cool kid, right? So, all the headlines read exactly that: Apple and Microsoft on the same line.

4. Being funny pays off. But funny is hard.

Looking at AceMetrix reports and analysis of Super Bowl ads that air during the Super Bowl measure nearly 3 times as funny as ads that debut at other times, but are no more effective when it comes to pulling in revenue from ads. There is no surprise here, but in addition to being funny (or sad, or anything else that will make the viewer stop and pay attention), the ad needs to be informative and have a great mechanism for converting that interest to sales.

But remember: we are after viral content here. Those big brands with high-paid ad agencies must be onto something when they invest so much into humor. The true indicator is in your own inbox, Twitter or Facebook feed. How many funny Super Bowl ads were forwarded to you by your social circles? Agreed? Read on.

Once I watched a YouTube exec talk about what videos work best on YouTube. To quote that YouTube product manager (whose name I sadly forgot), “if there was a prescription for a good video, every Hollywood movie would be a blockbuster”.  It is not easy to come up with a “World's Toughest Job”-like campaign which pulled in 26mil+ views. You’ll need an agency for that. But you can do well on your own and your content will be shared.

My favorites from our own software industry, like Atlassian’s Bitbucket “Spooning” campaign or Pluralsights “Gagnam Style” or “Call me Maybe” parodies.

There are three keys here:

  • Do not to stop trying. You are guaranteed to fail a few times. But once you do, it will pay off ten-fold.

  • Be prepared and wait for a trend. We’ve seen many trends come and go.  “Call me Maybe,” “Gangnam Style” parodies or the “Harlem Shake.” Be first in your industry to do it so you are not seen as me-too company. 

  • Be in tune with your audience and what they think is acceptable. Look for your own ranks in case you are advertising to similar target market (i.e. software developers, young mothers, etc.) to validate the idea and see how much can you push the envelope. You need to be edgy to be viral, but you also don’t want it to backfire on you.

I’d love to hear about your favorite guerilla content activities; drop them in the comments below.

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