Archive for category Guerrilla Marketing

Competition and the Consumer’s Mind


Formulas, Goals, and the Battlefield

I usually agree with Seth Godin on most things, but this one is a bit too far out for me.  I’ve included the entire post on his blog below, it short, and also a link to his blog if you want to read any of the comments there.  So take a quick read and I’ll continue below:

Compared to magical

The easiest way to sell yourself short is to compare your work to the competition. To say that you are 5% cheaper or have one or two features that stand out–this is a formula for slightly better mediocrity.

The goal ought to be to compare yourself not to the best your peers or the competition has managed to get through a committee or down on paper, but to an unattainable, magical unicorn.

Compared to that, how are you doing?

– Seth Godin

Formula: Short Sale

I do agree with Godin that many companies sell themselves short.  Always trying to lower the bar in the hope of gaining a few customers.    Where I disagree with Godin on this is that it’s not because of the comparison to competitors, but rather a poor strategy for taking consumers away from those competitors based on the tactics that are short sighted.

Goal: Long Term Relationship

The tactics you use should be based on the principle that your company is seen as the better choice.  There are many areas a consumer could focus to answer this question.  It is your job to make the answer self-evident when it come to comparing your company to your competitors.

The Battlefield

We fight on the battlefield of the consumer’s mind.  It’s one of the smallest battlefield you will ever find yourself on, about 6 inches.   You should create campaigns that, hopefully, take up territory.  And if you do it well, you should hold more ground then your competitors.  The strategy is different for each company.  It is based on the position of your product in the market place and how our competitors currently stand.  We recommend following the “Marketing Warfare” strategies laid out by Ries and Trout.  So make sure your strategy fits your goals.

Because the last time I checked … your consumers aren’t looking to buy Magical Unicorns … and I’m fairly certain you haven’t hired anyone with unicorn making skills recently.

Good Hunting and would love to read your comments on this topic.

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Google+ Local: Taking over Places?

English: Google+ wordmark

Mobile + Social Saturation

Here are some key things to remember when thinking about this topic.  The saturation level for smart phones is on the rise is all areas of the world.  In many parts of the word, people own more smart phones then PC’s in their households.  Phone books are becoming museum pieces (and catalogs are not far to follow).  I believe there is a big push in the industry to move consumers to tablet computing, making the desktop and laptop less dominant is the purchasing process.  Now with all that said, let’s look at the new shifts that are right in front of us.

Leverage Equals Change

Companies are working hard to get their data in the hands of mobile users.  Google consolidation or leveraging of applications and data into the Google+ platform is no different.  Right now Google+ is also providing mobile apps to access this information.  In my opinion, Google+ has been doing a better job then Facebook in this area.  It is yet to be seen if this latest change can be classified as an improvement, but Google’s actions are consistent with their past performance in removing older apps in place of newer ones.  For instance, we are seeing similar work being done to fold the Orkut users (still a large user base in Latin American countries)  into the Google+ platform so another app could be retired.

Lessons Learned

So what can we learn from this turmoil and churn in the social media and mobile space?  Below I have some thoughts for you to consider.  They all focus on the fact that life cycle of applications and the data of those applications are extremely volatile and need to treated as such.

Stay Flexible

Let’s face the facts, we are not talking about Yellow Page ads were we talk to a sales rep once a year and then mark in our calendars to review the purchase plan 11 months out.  We have to take a Guerrilla Marketing approach to this area of our marketing plans.  Be willing to invest in something, and leave it alone and move on if the situation changes.  Never holding on to something more then is absolutely necessarily.  Always attacking the mind of the consumer where ever it is found, and when gone, move on.  There is a reason why we are talking about Facebook and Google+ right now, and not MySpace, AOL, or Prodigy.

Be Vigilant

Stay on top of the trends.  Notice where your battle field (the mind of the consumer) is.  If the consumer moves to a new area, be aware of the change.  Stay on top of your stats.  If you start seeing a drop, find out why.  Never stop reading about what is happening in the mobile space.  Pay attention to the mobile app scene.  If this seems to much, then hire someone to do it for you.  Find an agency that will keep you in the right place so you can keep attacking the mind of the consumer.

Act Quickly

Back to the Guerrilla Marketing theme,  move into the space quickly.  Move out just as quickly.  Take over the areas you can master as fast as you can so you reap the rewards of being first, when the benefits begin to lose to the increasing costs, evaluate your position and consider making changes quickly.  Are you sensing the quick theme here.

The enemy advances, we retreat.  The enemy camps, we harass.  The enemy tires, we attack.  The enemy retreats, we pursue. – Mao Tse-Tung

Wrap Up

So for right now, you should be using both Google Places and Google+ Local (i.e. Pages) to drive people to your business or service.  Google is using both in search engine results, and I have evidence they are giving preferential scoring to them.

Would love to read your thoughts on this.  Please leave a comment.

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Social Media Busyness Doesn’t Equal Business Value

Infographic on how Social Media are being used...

Image via Wikipedia

Lately, I  have been pounded with a theme of challenges around the question “Why take part in Social Media if it takes up so much time and has such poor tangible results?”  And my general response is, it should take as much time as needed to accomplish your business objectives which have been created to help you reach your goals.

I also have to explain that social media, executed poorly, is far more expensive then doing nothing at all.  The below article caught my:

Top Five Social Media Marketing Mistakes?

You know about all the wonderful things the blogosphere can do for your business. But how can you prevent the not-so-wonderful stuff?

Social media initiatives have become standard components of companiesmarketing and communications strategies. Large or small—from the local bakery to General Motors (GM)—businesses see the value of engaging in online conversations already taking place about their brands. While social media best practices have emerged, brands still struggle with how best to engage with their consumers. Here are five common mistakes:

1. Not (or Barely) Monitoring:

2. “Down-sourcing” to Interns or Junior Staff:

3. Fast Beats Perfect:

4. Faking It:

5. Having an “Off” Switch:

At the end of the day, brands must earn their “social currency.” There are no shortcuts or substitutes to authentic engagement in the realm of social media.

via Top Five Social Media Marketing Mistakes – BusinessWeek.

Busy-ness vs Business

Unfortunately, I see many small or medium sized companies try their luck with social media and treat it like some shiny new toy that consumes all their attention, as they forget about all the other things they could be doing.  I find they over tweet, over post, and over blog themselves to the point that they justify leaving the scene altogether because it’s not worth the effort for the little results they see.

This is where I come in.  I sit down with them and ask some simple questions.  What activities, events, promotions, or other marketing objectives are coming up in the near future?  After I have that list, I can then sit down with them and explain the role of each of the social media tools and how they can fit into the marketing plan for the upcoming several months.  We also start by setting up measurements so that they understand where their leads are coming from.  As a simple example, this may include a unique 800 number for each channel (print, tv, radio, and each site they are using – it’s not that expensive really)   I explain how their phone bill or on-line phone records can then be used to measure campaign success, if inbound calls are one of the means by which we will measure the campaign success.

Social media can be a valuable tool for small and medium sized companies.  It can level the playing field quickly for a company that is dealing with a regional or national player, especially if these companies have their marketing and advertising plans controlled by corporate.  Often these larger companies are incapable of adjusting to local pressure applied by small companies and their ideas.

I’d love to hear of examples in which small companies attack the larger companies by using social media.  Please share them in the comments.

Good Hunting.

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Exceptionalism: Focus on the Never

Firstly, I need to apologize up front that I don’t remember where I got this idea from.  It is not my idea, I have used variations of this exercise in my consulting practice,  but I wanted to pass it along.  One of the problems I have when listening to a host of podcast products  is that at times I am not in a good position to stop and take notes.  This idea I found on either Phil McKinney’s “Killer Innovation” or on a “Venture Voice” interview, but that is a guess at best.

We all need tools to help us think of new ways to solve old problems.  We have a lens that we use to evaluate data as it comes in.  Every so often we find a new lens which helps us provide a breakthrough in performance or understanding.  In this case I wanted to share with you a new way of looking at things with a hope that it produces exceptional results.

Always / Never Brainstorming

This is an excellent team exercise.  I would expect at least two large hanging paper sheets and a pile of sticky notes and some felt tip markers would work nicely.  Here are the steps:

  1. Define the topic or focal point.  Try to be specific.  I prefer these questions NOT be open-ended if possible to make sure you are focused as possible. Here are some example:
    1. “What are the first impressions of our company/organization/church?”
    2. “What’s the last thing people remember about ?????”
    3. “What do people expect when they ????”
    4. “What happens when a person doesn’t ????”
  2. Have the team brainstorm things that ALWAYS happen (Time limit 10 minutes or until the ideas dry up)
  3. Now, have the team identify things that NEVER happen for this topic (Same time limit, and keep the answers relevant)
  4. Take a break – you just spent 20 minutes hurting your brains! (5 minutes)
  5. Nominal Grouping next – spend 5 to 10 minutes  moving the stickies together that are talking about the same thing (duplicate stickies if the idea is relevant to two groupings)
  6. Focus on the Never – now ask the team to come up with ideas that would make the never become a reality and be considered exceptional. (20 minutes)

Innovation Bonus Exercise

Now I did get this great idea from a Phil McKinney podcast as I was driving back from a State Cup soccer tournament.  This is the first time I heard this exercise described this way and should provide you some great ideas and insights.

Our brains are programmed to stop thinking once we think we found the right answer and often we leave ideas in our head and never share them because of this reason.  You as the leader or facilitator need to force your team past this creative barrier.    Here is the bonus exercise:

  1. Have all your nominally grouped ideas placed on a grid.
  2. Each idea group should run across the top of the grid
  3. Each idea group should run down the left side creating a matrix.
  4. In each matrix box, FORCE the team to come up with a new idea.
  5. Use this Hybrid list of ideas for innovative ways to move forward.


This list represents the performance bar that all expect from any organization in the specific category examined.  This list becomes the managers performance list.  The manager will use this list to help identify talents and skills needed by the staff to accomplish these objectives.    Mentoring, training, feedback and possibly team reconfiguration (fire/hire) might be needed to help the team reach the Always Base Level, if they are not already there.  It is imperative that the manager get his team to this level and make sure they stay there.

The NEVER List

The Never list (and Innovation Hybrid List) is used by leadership to determine what the group will take on next.  An assessment needs to be performed first.  Do we have the right talents?  Do the correct skills exist at the right level to take on the new item?  What do we gain by taking on the new item as it relates to our competitors?  How long can we have an advantage before the competitors catch up to us?  And let’s not forget, how much will this cost us?

Marketing Warfare Correlations

Now before I get emails asking me how this relates to Marketing Warfare let me break this down quickly.  This exercise will work for three of the four areas of the strategic squares.   I’ll try and break this down by market position:

Market Leader – you are using this exercise to create a Defensive Marketing Plan.  The goal is to create a moving target for the competitors in your space.   The ultimate object of these  repetitive successes would be to discourage your competitors from attempting direct attacks on your position.

Market Non-Leaders – since you are not using this exercise to attack the leaders weakness within their strength, this exercise should be used in creating a flanking attack and would work best if you focused on an area in which the leader is currently not focusing on.

Local or Regional Leaders – this exercise will produce great ideas for guerrilla marketing warfare plans.    Many of these ideas will place you in a strong competitive advantage to the national companies that cannot respond to the dominance you hold in your local or regional spaces.

Please let me know what you think of this post.  I hope it helps you and your organization.  Your feedback is most welcome!

Good Luck and Good Hunting!

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Community Marketing Tactic

While out to dinner with the family, we ran across a ‘boat map’ which suggested we find the 30 boats in the city of St. Joseph. It’s a beautiful little town, trying it’s best to bring in tourists considering the rather large number of Lake Michigan harbor towns along Michigan’s west coast.

We decided it would be a great photo hunt for the boys and planned a day trip. I took my family for the afternoon and preceeded to located the boats marked on the map of downtown St. Joseph Michigan. I have included the photo link to

Boats 'n Beaches Hunt

Not Bad – Could be better

As I was traversing the 8 block area the street art had been placed in this picturesque downtown, it occurred to me that this could have been planned out better. I’m sure the “Mommy, Mommy, we need to go to St. Joe and find all the boats” drove some families into the heart of the tourist town and thus into stores located near the displayed boats. But with a little more thought, we believe we could come up with some better ways to drive people into the stores.

Some Possible Variations:

  • Photo Scavenger Hunt – images would need to be posted on a campaign blog. No worries, a local photo store would help those that didn’t have the computer handy (in the photo store next to all the impulse items of course)
  • Best Community Fact – Each street art piece would require the contestant to find an interesting artifact or piece of knowledge about the art work or author or sponsor. Of course, there would be plenty of material in the shops near the street art work. Entries would be placed on the campaign BLOG.
  • Best Costume – contestants would dress up in something which complements the street art work and have their photos taken. The entries would be posted on the campaign BLOG. Bonus if you are using something purchased from the stores nearby. (not sure I like this one, but didn’t want to lose the thought)
  • Crossword Puzzle Drawing – Each week of the campaign, the contestants would be asked to find words on the street art plaques or displays and posters within the stores nearby the street art work to fill in a crossword puzzle. Persons submitting a correctly completed crossword would be entered into a drawing. A new drawing with a new set of words could be created each week, possibly around a theme or set of stores.
  • Stamp Collecting – contestants would collect a clue sheet and a stamp card from the city welcome center and search for street art based on the clues. Once found, they would enter the nearby shops to get stamped, thus showing they found the correct art item based on the stamp. Each week could be a different set of clues when a different set of winners.

We like the idea of using BLOGS in this case. People can post their submissions. The contest rules would state the ‘right to use’ of the city conducting the contest, which is important for future marketing materials. Who doesn’t have a digital camera, or who wouldn’t love to sell some cheap digitals in a tourist town.

Guerrilla Marketing at it’s best

Since the goal is to drive more visitors to your tourist town from the other nearby tourist towns, you are conducting a guerrilla campaign. Your ability to start or stop the campaigns are very flexible and have little or no overhead because the street art work is already being sponsored by local organizations or companies. With some minor adjustments to prizes and reach, you could push your campaigns into the other nearby towns with little or no cost.

It was a great time for our family and we actually did visit some stores. With a little more campaign effort, I bet we would have visited many more stores.

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Flanking Warfare Example: Battlefield 2 Ad Server

The ROI Hunters had a very spirited discussion the other day about our differing marketing philosophies. The other agency focuses their marketing energies on consumer or product disciplines. While we treat marketing as warfare with the intent of defeating a competitor on the battle field (the mind of the consumer), rendering them incapable of waging war, or simply destroying their will to wage war.

The Challenge

We were asked to come up with an example, which we thought would best illustrate one of the four strategic areas of marketing warfare: Defense Marketing, Offense Marketing, Flanking Marketing, and Guerrilla Marketing.

Flanking Warfare Rules

“Pursuit is a second act of victory, in many cases more important then the first.” Karl von Clausewitz

Taken from “Marketing Warfare” by Al Ries and Jack Trout

  • A good flanking move must be made into an uncontested area.
  • Tactical surprise ought to be an important element of the plan.
  • The pursuit is as critical as the attack itself.
    • This example first started out in my mind as a Guerrilla Warfare example, but I couldn’t justify the expense of setting up the infrastructure and be willing to drop the investment in a moment’s notice.

Uncontested Area

We chose a space which we believe is uncontested: Ad Services for First Person Shooter Gaming Systems. Specifically we are focusing on a very popular on-line game Battlefield 2. There are many maps which include space in which ads could be posted for players to see.

The ad services code would be added into the game to show up bill boards, walls, or boarded up windows. The ads would be geo-specific so that local advertisers to the players who have registered accounts providing all the information for geo-targeting.

Tactical Surprise

We also chose BF2 because it is also several versions out from the lime light of the newer releases of current games. The code could be introduced in a patch to the existing millions of BF2 players and thousands of game servers. The code would be designed to be modular so that other game interfaced would be build from the core used by all First Person Shooter games.

Pursuit is Critical

The team would be prepared before the introduction of the new code to the BF2 gaming system to branch out to other popular gaming systems. This is key to the planning of this project. We would not plan after we realized the success, but rather we would have our resources in place to take advantage of the successful flanking attack. We would make the competitors think twice before trying to enter this now contested space.

Flanking vs. Guerrilla Marketing

You choose which tactic based on your position in the market compared to your potential or current competitors, the resources you have available to you, and your ability to pursue and dominate a new market or successful campaign. In this example, I assumed that the software development, contractual agreements, and investment in time and money was too great to assume a guerrilla attack. But if I were a multi-billion dollar company I might see this little adventure as a guerrilla campaign.

This was a fun brainstorming exercise. Good Hunting.

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