The term guerrilla marketing refers to inexpensive, unconventional and innovative marketing tactics that are great for businesses to drive massive engagement and buzz on a limited budget. Coined in the 1984 book “Guerrilla Advertising” by Jay Conrad Levinson, the term piggybacks on the idea of guerrilla warfare by the military where they use tactics such as raids, ambushes and surprise attacks.

We’ve gathered some of the best (and cheapest) guerrilla marketing ideas for small businesses so you can shed boring traditional marketing strategies and create memorable campaigns in the eyes of your target audience.

Clever Sandwich Boards

If you follow some of the most popular comedic Instagram accounts such as Beige Cardigan, you’ve likely seen photos of funny sandwich boards. Businesses have used chalk and a sidewalk to make jokes about everything from Tinder and politics to tacos and whiskey.

guerrilla marketing
Image Credit: Refined Guy

Funny sandwich boards can make any passersby laugh, post pictures to social media, and ultimately step through your doors and purchase. Sandwich boards are an easy, fun and inexpensive way to promote your business in your neighborhood.

Unique Infographics

Infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than other any other type of content, therefore they are an awesome way to attract visits to your website and eyeballs to your brand. An infographic usually uses data to visually represent a set of ideas in an interesting manner.

You can either gather data yourself by surveying your customers, or you can take a unique and fun idea that compliments your brand or product and search for statistics on the web to build out your infographic. Then find an inexpensive infographic designer on Fivrr to make your infographic concept come to life.

Smart Coasters

If you own a bar or a restaurant, your customers are likely spending their entire meal with a coaster in front of them. Oftentimes customers will pick up coasters to read them or write on them. Coasters can be a great place to add a surprising or innovative marketing idea that your customers are guaranteed to see.

guerilla marketing
Image Credit: Creative Guerrilla Marketing

If you’re a B2B small business, you can still create guerrilla coasters, like St. Louis-based marketing agency, Spoke, did to promote their client appreciation event.

guerrilla marketing

Landscape Takeovers

Guerilla marketing campaigns are often manipulating urban landscapes in some way — through subway signs, bus stop ads, crazy window displays, yarn bombing, sidewalk chalk or spray paint. Think about the area surrounding your business — how might you utilize it to create an engaging, surprising advertisement that makes people stop and think?  

Surprising Flash Mobs

Flash mobs are when a group of people come together unexpectedly in public and start to perform for surrounding crowds. But don’t stress about performing yourself — your business can hire local high school and college drama or music students to perform the flashmob. Just be sure to think about how you can incorporate your brand into the flashmob through signs, T-shirts or facepaint. If you need some inspiration, check out the 7 best flash mobs of all time.

Attention-Grabbing Business Cards

Think about how many opportunities you have to pass out a business card — whether at a networking event, bar, conference or social gathering, a lot of people might ask for your business card. If you had a snazzy business card that made people laugh or contemplate something they hadn’t thought about before, it would leave an impression. We love this collective of 30 unconventional business cards.

Image Credit: Mashable

Free Stuff

Think about the last time you heard of a business giving away something free — there was likely a line around the door. It seems to be human nature for people to love free things. A lot of big brands have utilized this guerilla marketing technique such as Subway giving away food on National Sandwich Day and 7-Eleven piggybacking on the pop culture “7-Eleven” day on July 11th by giving away Slurpees. Set up a table at a local farmer’s market, rent a food truck or open your business to give away free stuff one day, and you’ll have new customers queueing up to come through your doors.

Take advantage of these guerrilla marketing ideas for your small business, and you could stumble upon an idea that will help your brand go viral at little to no cost to you.