Day 14/30 – The guerrilla marketing tactic that might bring my business to another level

For the benefit of the readers who have no idea what guerrilla marketing is, let’s take a quick look at what it is before I go on about the guerrilla marketing tactic that I employed for my business

The word ‘guerrilla’ is usually closely associated with warfare. In that context, guerrilla tactics usually depends on the element of surprise such as sabotages, unexpected raids, or even ambushes.

The term guerrilla marketing was coined (I think) and popularised in 1984 by Jay Conrad Lavinson through his book ‘Guerilla Marketing”. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend you do it. Although it was written 35 years ago, most of the concepts in the book is still highly applicable to today’s business landscape.

In the marketing context, Wikipedia defines guerrilla marketing as an advertisement tactic to promote products in public places in streets or public places with little money. To me, guerrilla marketing simply means any tactic that is unconventional, out of the box, and costs me little money (cheap is good, me likey likey). Don’t get me wrong, while guerrilla marketing can cost very little money, the real investment is your time. An effective guerrilla marketing tactic requires a very good understanding of your target audience, including their habits

Back to the topic, I operate my travel agency out of a nice little town called Banting. We’ve been there for near to two years now, and in my opinion, our brand awareness is still very weak among the locals. This is because our office is located off the main street, and on the second floor.

The majority of vacationers in Banting are in their 50s and above. The question that has always been on my mind is how do I communicate our brand and products to them effectively? I’ve tried a couple of things but so far the results have been less than satisfactory

Online Marketing

We’ve been doing pretty well when it comes to online marketing, but those are typically the crowd between their 30s – late 40s and out of our area. The fact is, our local target audiences just rarely go online. Heck, some of them don’t even own a smart phone

Outdoor Banners

We’ve practically had a banner (if you remember my post from Day 2/30, that banner has since been taken down) hung outside of our outlet 80% of the time since we started operations. While the banner generates some form of results, I still think that we need to up our game

Flyer distribution

Newspaper insertions, house to house flyer distributions, employing someone to distribute our flyers at all major local markets – we’ve tried them all. While this tactic does net us some customers, its coverage is relatively small. The cost of using this tactic is also on the higher end as it requires consistency. It just doesn’t make business sense for me to invest RM10,000 a month to distribute flyers, I might as well put the money into online marketing and become an online travel agency

Newspaper advertising

We’ve been advertising pretty consistently as we’re part of a consortium. Throughout our 1.5 years of doing so, the number of customers who called up up were less than 20. One of the things that I considered was whether it was because our brand name needs to be displayed as the sole brand name for the advertisement in order for it to work, but again, it doesn’t make sense for me to test it cost wise. Furthermore, IMHO, the number of newspaper readers, even for the elders, are gradually decreasing

So the question that’s on my mind of the past 6 months is how do I increase our brand awareness and get local vacationers to walk into our travel agency? I started researching about my audience, speaking to locals and going about observing them. Few months into doing this, I realised one very interesting thing:

They love (and I mean LOVE) to have coffee and tea (yum cha) in coffee shops. The culture of yum cha is so prominent here that they do it twice a day! The number of people that does that will shock you, and they’re not there for the tea, they’re there for the conversations with friends and often chit-chat for up to an hour and a half!

Then came my guerrilla marketing idea. If I couldn’t effectively reach them via all the varieties of media that I mentioned earlier, I can reach them at coffee shops! I put together a proposal and we spoke to many coffee shop owners

The idea was simple, we’d put a stand-up bunting beside the counter of the coffee shops. The bunting would state our travel packages and feature prominently a free RM100 voucher (remember my voucher tactic?) that could be obtained from the coffee shop staff.

We had to work hard to work out the other small details such as objections from coffee shop owners and concerns about them not being able to explain tour packages (which they don’t have to!) and many other details through rounds and rounds of tweaking our proposal. We also included some incentives for the coffee shop owners (corporate secret, can’t share here, boo hoo) to allow us place our buntings at their outlet for free

After around a month of discussions, we’ve finally got 10 coffee shops all around Banting on board. I’m extremely excited! This project is scheduled to kick-off the middle of this month and it might just bring our brand awareness (and sales) to another level! Wish me luck!

All in cost to run this campaign? RM180 per Bunting stand and some printing costs. Coverage area? All around town and at the heart of the location where my ideal target audience is. Thank you to the God of Guerrilla Marketing!

To my fellow entrepreneurs, one word of advise, you can literally use ANYTHING for your guerrilla marketing if you think hard enough. Another example to share: we had to close our office last Saturday and Sunday because of our travel fair. On Friday evening, we put up a big notice (with pictures and what not) on our shutter door saying that we would be away for a travel fair, the package prices were unbelievable and we left the location address. Yesterday evening, one customer from Banting came over and purchased RM14,000 worth of travel packages from us!

Think hard, and guerrilla marketing hard!

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you if you have similar stories to share!




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