For as long as marketing and advertising has been the driving force behind big business, smaller companies have tried copying their marketing strategies with results that are less than desirable. This results in the general opinion among small business owners that marketing is expensive and does little to generate business.

These general opinions are true. So true in fact that the majority of small business owners have become so jaded by their own marketing activities that they have chosen not to market their business. Other business owners have heard stories of failed marketing attempts and they too shy away from actively growing their business.


Everything you know about marketing is wrong!

That’s why!

How can I say that everything you know about marketing is wrong? Look around, look at the marketing you see every day. We are bombarded by TV commercials, radio adverts, billboards and print advertising and as a result this is how we have now learnt to market our businesses. This could not be further from the truth as to how we should be marketing our business.

The type of marketing we have become accustomed to has its origins in the 1950’s. This was before TV had been launched in South Africa and the two largest advertising mediums were radio and print, although nowhere near as competitive or costly as it is today. The 1950’s is known as the era of the brand builders. Brand building worked off a simple formula adopted by advertising agencies, used even in today’s era of marketing and advertising. This formula is so simple and yet out of reach to smaller businesses as the cost escalates in to the millions. The brand building formula, ‘C&R’ is how they base all their advertising and marketing expertise. C&R translated into layman’s terms is Creativity and Repetition Advertising. Simply put, develop a creative catchy advert and repeat it so many times that it sticks. Almost like throwing mud onto a wall. If it is dirty enough some will remain behind and leave a lasting impression.

It is frightening how many millions this type of advertising can amount to, keep in mind that advertising is only one element of the vast array of guerrilla marketing tactics at our disposable. Here is a brief example. A number of years ago I was involved with a large corporate advert in the motor security environment. They commissioned a budget of R3 500 000 for the production of their advert. The ad was cute and portrayed the essence of the company and the service provided to the public. Excluded in that hefty production bill was airtime fee across the variety of TV channels in SA. This amounted to a whopping R4 000 000, which delivered three months of airtime. The company then ran short of budget for the second half of the year and decided to rebroadcast the same advert for another R4 000 000, with far less effect. In total R 11 500 000 was spent on the ad campaign and not one sale could be tracked from the ad campaign.

Can you see how you have been trained to believe that TV, Radio and Print adverts are the way to market your business? As a small business you can market yourself for far less and generate generous results.

Jay Conrad Levinson coined the term Guerrilla Marketing in 1984. He is known as the father of Guerrilla Marketing and is considered a pioneer with his take-no-prisoners approach to marketing for the small and medium-size business owner. Jay has authored and co-authored over 35 books, selling more than 20 million copies worldwide. His skills and marketing tactic have become part of the curriculum in many universities worldwide as they recognise that the standards of marketing have changed.

Adopting Guerrilla Marketing Tactics into your business is key to growing your business at an affordable marketing budget. There are over 100 marketing weapons, according to Jay, that should be considered when planning a marketing activity in your business. One of which is database marketing, using technology as a delivery vehicle.

Before any marketing takes place you need to establish the type of business you are in. You may be a service provider, you may sell products, you may be in manufacturing, hairdressing, plumbing or retail. Which ever it may be, know that your primary business is marketing: marketing your products and services. Marketing is one of the only two activities that drives revenue, the other being sales.

The aim of Guerrilla Marketing is primarily to explore the untapped assets within your business. Those assets are your marketable entities that can and should be used to expose the benefits of doing business with you.

Of the 100 Guerrilla Marketing tactics, around 60 will cost nothing to implement into your daily marketing activities. These can be used in their simplest form, and stem from what is known as the ‘inner reality’ of the business.

The ‘inner reality’ of your business is everything you and your business stand for. This could be the based on service excellence, owner and staff expertise, your guarantee (also known as risk reversal), time in business and other elements that make you stand out from the crowed of competitors.

Taking what we now know from your ‘inner reality’ and matching it to the ‘outer perception’, the experiences and opinions your clients have of your business, is the basis for the development of your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Your USP becomes your superior promise to your clients and prospects of that which they will experience with your business based on other clients’ experiences as well as the ethos of your company.

Once your USP has been well constructed and implemented throughout all communication channels, the competition your audience faces is narrowed as they realise that you must be the obvious choice to do business with based on the superior promise you offer. You must be able to back up your USP with testimonials and references that have been blown away by your offer and service. There you have a number of Guerrilla Marketing tactics in place: testimonials, references and a compelling USP.

One of the most obvious Guerrilla Marketing tactic is known as phone demeanour. This baffles most business owners yet is so simple to implement and get right. Your telephone is the first port of call to your business and so often the people operating the switchboard perform so poorly that every caller must wonder why they have called in the first place. Make sure that every telephonic communication presents the best possible experience for the client. This goes for your voice mail as well as leaving messages on other peoples’ answering machines.

One of the most obvious Guerrilla Marketing tactics, which is usually underutilised, is your business card. Many business cards deliver the least amount of detail, which should be considered a waste of paper and print. Your card should inspire and motivate the prospect to take some kind of action. Next time you are at a networking event presenting your business take a good look at the variety of business cards you receive and separate cards those that move you from those that are not grabbing your interest. Then decide what needs to change on your card. Picture your card as a mini portable billboard that advertises your company.

Spot the other guerrilla activity? That’s right, networking. There are obviously the good and the not so good networking events. Choose those that relate closest to your industry and learn the dynamics of effective networking. This will help to grow your list of potential buyers and even suppliers. Keep in mind that there are always sellers at networking events and very few buyers. This is however, a very good way to initiate relationships for future marketing.

That brings us to another guerrilla marketing activity, relationship marketing. People like to buy from people they like and trust. The fact that they entrust their hard-earned cash into your offer means that some kind of working relationship needs to be established to ease the risk of the business transaction. There are many relationship tools available to small business owners that ‘automate’ the relationship process. These tie into other tactics such as email and digital marketing.

Guerrilla Marketing is everything you do, from the way you answer your phone to your dress code and appearance. It is any contact you have, or anyone representing you, with anybody or company.

Your marketing should start and have no end; it needs to been seen as a circle of events that continue year in and year out. These events should be structured on your Guerrilla Marketing calendar for easy reference and measurement. Every marketing campaign should be structured around your marketing plan. Jay developed the seven sentence-marketing plan which delivers direction and accountability to your marketing efforts. This plan outlines the promotion, benefits, audience and budget of every campaign. Following these basic fundamentals of small business marketing will help your company generate sales and profits without spending unnecessary money on advertising.