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Guerrilla marketing is often overlooked in the real estate industry, and many think that only larger brands can do it.
This is understandable because the campaigns that get large media coverage often look quite elaborated.
But guerrilla marketing is actually quite known for being an affordable option to advertise as a small or medium-sized company.
Yes, these campaigns need some extra effort and are often elaborated. But effort and elaboration don’t automatically mean high amounts of money.
To get you some clarity about this topic, I will discuss in this article…
…what guerrilla marketing actually is
…the facts and statistics
…four different types of guerrilla marketing
…six examples of successful guerrilla marketing campaigns
…if it is something for you and real estate in general
…eight guerrilla marketing ideas for real estate
…how you can track the performance of a guerrilla marketing campaign.
Sounds interesting? Keep reading.
What Is Guerilla Marketing?
Guerrilla marketing comes with three key elements, with the distinctive feature that the first two are connected with each other.
A successful guerrilla marketing campaign needs firstly to surprise the target audience, and in order to do so, it needs the second element, which is creativity.
The above-average creativity that needs to be used to create such a campaign helps create this element of surprise in the end.
How does the element of surprise help?
It increases the engagement with the respective promoted products or services, and creates a memorable experience.
In contrast to other rather annoying advertising experiences, people usually react in a positive way to guerrilla marketing because of this creative element of surprise it carries.
This will also increase the chances of people recommending your products, services and/or your brand to family members and friends.
It is about getting people to remember your products, services or your brand in a different way than they are used to.
The third but not necessarily mandatory element is its affordability.
In contrast to TV, radio, print or direct mail advertising, guerrilla marketing is usually less expensive.
But again, what you will need instead of money is creativity, imagination, energy and often time.
It is therefore especially suitable for smaller businesses.
A Comparison Between Traditional and Guerilla Marketing
Traditional Marketing Guerilla Marketing
Suitable for big business For small businesses
Money is required Money can be beneficial, but not much is necessarily required
Aims at larger groups Ideal for targeting smaller groups
Is often a “monologue” Puts more emphasis on dialogue
Motivates people to take advantage of the product’s or service’s benefits More focused on people's problems and solutions
More focused on selling More focused on giving
Larger emphasis on promotional approaches Larger focus on pleasing customers and getting their approval
Facts & Stats About Guerilla Marketing
Let’s take a look at some of the facts & stats about guerrilla marketing:
- According to guerilla marketers around the world, it can reduce the ad spend by 90% (source).
- According to Bushra Azhar, the ROI of campaigns can increase significantly when education and entertainment are combined in guerrilla marketing campaigns (source).
- It helps you form a business and human bond with potential customers (source).
- It has a 33.9% impact on potential customers’ purchase intention (source).
- Using novelty in guerilla marketing has a 12.9% impact on purchase intention (source).
- With a percentage of 9.6%, aesthetics seem to have the least impact (source).
- The highest factor with regards to making a purchase decision has relevance with 33.6% (source).
- With 29%, emotional arousal has a higher impact than the element of surprise (18.8%), novelty, and aesthetics (source).
4 Different Types of Guerilla Marketing
Because of the large element of creativity, the sky’s the limit when it comes to different types of guerrilla marketing.
Nevertheless, there are already some established types of guerrilla marketing that have been proven to work in the past.
1) Ambush Marketing
Ambush Marketing is also called stealth marketing. Here, a brand takes advantage of a large, global, or national event for promotion.
But this should not be confused with sponsoring an event.
There can be other official sponsors but the brand itself carries out a guerrilla marketing campaign to kind of hijack it a bit.
This is what happened in 1996 when the summer Olympics actually had Toyota as the official sponsor.
But there was also General Motors, and they slightly hijacked the event by offering a Golden Holden car to all gold medal winners.
Unfortunately, after the event, the majority of the people believed that General Motors sponsored the Olympics, which it didn’t.
2) Undercover Marketing
Undercover marketing is a bit similar to “Ambush Marketing”. It focuses on “hidden” marketing activities.
It happens when a representative of a particular company uses or talks about its services or products in places where potential target customers are to be expected.
The important part is that it needs to appear and to be perceived as a spontaneous activity, so the potential customers are not immediately aware that they are being marketed to.
The aim of this is to get people talking about the product or service.
3) Ambient Marketing
You might have already read about an example of ambient marketing in my article about the 7 best colors for real estate signs.
There, I mention a rather unconventional sign, where a small mobile home that you can enter is used as a real estate sign.
This example explains already the importance of using visually entertaining ideas.
So generally speaking, in this type of guerrilla marketing, brand logos and/or signage are put on unusual items that aren’t the usual and expected backdrops for advertisements.
The key here is that the combination of the item and the backdrop communicates the benefit of the respective company’s offerings.
4) Experiential Marketing
This type of guerrilla marketing is the most abstract one. Part of its definition already contains the term “experiential”.
It is a guerrilla marketing method that creates experiences between brands/companies and potential customers or consumers.
Parts of such campaigns are often immersive experiences, stunts, events, product sampling, festivals, social content, PR stunts, digital campaigns, roadshows, partnerships, and more.
The aim is to make it possible for the brand or company to interact directly with potential target customers.
Here, it is again important that as part of the experience, the potential target audience or customers can experience the features and benefits of the respective products and services.
6 Examples of Successful Guerilla Marketing Campaigns
1) Folger’s Steaming Coffee Cup
In this example, the company Folgers created an optical illusion of street art for pedestrians.
The optical illusion was a coffee mug embedded into the ground. There was even steam emitted in the direction of the pedestrians.
You can see the example here.
2) The Oscar Meyer Wiener-Mobile
This example was exactly what the title is saying – a “Wiener-Mobile”.
The campaign included a car shaped like a large hot dog traveling across the nation.
It was a successful campaign since it received a lot of attention.
There have been songs written about it and it was covered in movies and TV shows.
3) The Crashed Nike Ball
This one definitely drew attention. It was an oversized soccer ball lodged into the side of a building.
It looked as if it was shot in the building and damaged parts of it.
The benefit the company probably wanted to communicate here is that some magic power came from using Nike balls. (source)
4) The Red Bull Pitstop
A great example of the experiential type of guerilla marketing was the Red Bull pitstop in the middle of Times Square in New York, which is usually overcrowded with billboard signs.
The company showed literally the action involved in a pit stop in this crowded place of New York.
This campaign created a lot of word-of-mouth (source).
5) The MeowMix Mobile
Inspired by the “Wiener-Mobile”, the cat food manufacturer Meow Mix created a similar vehicle to the “Wiener-Mobile” and traveled around to increase awareness for their brand.
Additionally, they produced a reality TV show where a house full of cats was filmed, so the public could see what cats did when no one was around (source).
6) Sony Playstation Graffiti
This one had some mixed results.
To announce the new Playstation, Sony put different graffiti artists in charge to decorate brick walls with Sony-themed images all over New York City.
The reactions were mixed and this campaign was borderline illegal. Well, it actually was illegal.
So, similar to bandit signs as covered in this article of mine, there are some guerrilla marketing methods that can be risky and stand on legally shaky ground (source).
Is Guerilla Marketing in Real Estate for You and If Yes, How?
By now, you might wonder if you could also use guerilla marketing in real estate, since the above examples were all not related to this industry.
But what I wanted to show you were just the main principles of guerrilla marketing applied which I mentioned at the beginning of this article.
Let’s just answer the question when guerrilla marketing is not for you.
Should you be reluctant to put some work into it and get creative, then it is probably not for you.
It needs a lot of research and knowledge about your potential target audience and, of course, of the real benefits your real estate services or products (usually properties) can provide.
Also, if you are afraid of taking a bit of a risk when carrying out a guerrilla marketing campaign, you might not want to do it.
Because stepping out of the conventional ways of doing marketing and advertising involves the risk of failure and can also backfire if not done right.
But if you don’t identify yourself with the reasons that speak against doing it, it can be beneficial for your real estate business.
Remember, with the right creative ideas, it won’t need much of a marketing budget.
But again, with every new marketing campaign, you will need to test different versions until you get a winner, no matter if it’s conventional digital marketing or guerilla marketing.
To brainstorm and find ideas for a real estate guerrilla marketing campaign, I highly recommend you the book “Creative Advertising: Ideas and Techniques from the World’s Best Campaigns”.
Although from 2002, it’s a timeless book that helps you ask the right questions to get your creativity going.
I read it several years back and I will provide you with a small excerpt of questions from it, that you can use to get inspired:
- With what could you compare your product or service to make the benefit visible at one glance?
- How could you communicate the benefits by comparing your product or service with something that comes from a completely different field?
- What could be extremely reduced or made smaller to be able to illustrate the benefits?
- How could you show the benefits from the perspective of affected things or beings?
- How will your product or service change the future of your potential customers? What possibilities come with that?
- How would your customers have had to solve their problems before without your products or services?
- What has never been shown in relation to your products or services?
- What would nobody dare to say about your products or services?
- What kind of games could you use to involve your potential target customers? Think of folding techniques, quizzes, handicraft instructions, something to assemble, to stick together, etc.
- How could you design the advertising medium in a way that it becomes a toy?
- How could you embed the advertising medium actively into the advertising message to communicate the benefit?
- How could the environment of the advertising medium be integrated into the advertising message?
- How could you use an oversized installation outdoors or in rooms to tell a story about your product or service?
- Which everyday life items could be used as an advertising medium, to promote your product or service in a funny or exciting manner?
This was, of course, just a very small excerpt of questions the book provides, but I hope you get the idea.
8 Guerilla Marketing Ideas for Real Estate
Unfortunately, many guerrilla marketing ideas for real estate that you can find I wouldn’t count as guerrilla marketing according to the above definition and criteria for having a successful campaign.
So, I researched some already existing ideas and selected the right ones, and additionally brainstormed some myself.
You might find them helpful as a real estate agent, real estate investor, or other real estate professional.
Here they are:
1) Use seed packets to communicate a marketing message such as “Plant your property listing with me and watch your bank account grow when selling your house.”
You can deliver them to the neighborhood you are focusing on and go door to door.
2) You can help people in your neighborhood with their yard sales by providing a free yard sale kit that includes yard sale signs, for sale stickers, and more and add embed on it that it is sponsored by your business.
So, everyone participating in the yard sale will see that it is sponsored by your company.
3) You can rent a bulldozer, park it at a suitable place, and use it as an advertising medium by combining it with a sign of “We buy houses”.
This would be an idea for wholesale real estate investors and draw the attention of motivated sellers that might want to get rid of their properties as soon as possible.
4) Similar to the bulldozer idea for wholesale real estate investors could be a guerrilla marketing idea for direct mailing.
You could send in your mailers a pack of matchsticks as an additional gift.
It could say something provocative, such as “Before you light up your house, let us buy it.”
You could even go craftier by building a little house of the matchsticks and use it as door hangers with the same message.
5) You can do a cross marketing guerrilla campaign with a pizza place and use their pizza box as an advertising medium.
You could also have special boxes manufactured and have the pizza place use them (may in the shape of a house).
Or, you could have the pizza place make some small extra pizzas in the shape of a house and let them deliver that on top of the pizzas that are ordered.
And always add your marketing message somewhere.
6) This idea is for property management companies.
You could have someone sitting on a toilet in a busy street with a sign that says something like: ”We take care of your toilets and tenants also on Sundays!”
7) You could ask several home sellers if they would be up to hosting a combination of an open house and treasure hunt for kids.
Ideally, these are homes in the same neighborhood.
The treasure hunt could take place in just one house (ideally with the parents present) or several houses.
The key is having the parents present, because kids don’t make the buying decisions.
8) Do a direct mailing campaign with empty envelopes, and only your company’s name, phone number, and address in the upper left corner.
A certain percentage of the people will call you to tell you that the envelope was empty.
This can be a conversation starter so you could find out their needs and maybe convert them into potential clients.
How to Track the Performance of Guerilla Marketing
What you don’t want to forget as it’s true for all types of marketing campaigns is to track the performance.
I already wrote a larger article about campaign performance tracking in this article, which is rather focused on digital marketing and Google analytics.
The situation for guerrilla marketing campaigns is similar, with the only difference that the focus is less on digital marketing.
Metrics you want to track are:
- Response rates
- Conversion rates
- Social Media Mentions
- Traditional Press Mentions
- Cost per lead
The most important ones I consider are the ones that are closest to conversions.
Social media mentions don’t pay your bills if they don’t somehow lead to conversions.
The most feasible one for guerrilla marketing campaigns will be the cost per lead, which I will come to later.
Let’s use an example of how you could track the performance by using one of the real estate guerilla marketing ideas from above.
Tracking the Toilet-Campaign for Property Management Companies
How you can track this depends a lot on what contact information you will use in your ad copy.
So the guy sitting on the toilet will use a sign where your brand’s name and your phone number is displayed.
Maybe you will also have space for your website’s name.
Which contact points would we have available where we could start to track the performance?
It’s the phone number, and your website.
If you use a dedicated phone number exclusively for that campaign it will be easier to track which calls came as a response from the campaign and which ones didn’t.
When you use your general phone number, it will be more difficult because the person attending the phone will always have to ask where the caller heard about you.
Should you decide for a dedicated phone number or a local toll-free number with some tracking abilities, you might want to take a look at these providers:
When it comes to tracking the real estate guerrilla marketing campaign with your website, the ideal route would be to have a dedicated landing page or even a dedicated webpage exclusively for that campaign.
If you have a dedicated website for the campaign, you will automatically know that the leads generated there resulted from the campaign.
This is similar to when you show a dedicated landing page that includes a contact form on the sign you are using.
But there is still the risk that someone doesn’t get the name right and ends up on your main website.
In this case, you should modify all of your contact forms in a way that people contacting you are asked where they heard about you.
In case people do not answer this question, you can always ask when they contact you via the form or call you using the phone number provided in your contact area.
Another approach would be combining your campaign with a coupon of some sort.
People coming to your site could enter the coupon code as part of the contact form you are using.
By doing that, you would know where they were coming from.
In the context of the property management company, it could be a coupon that gives the potential customers a discount for the first three months of property management or something alike.
All the leads you are collecting should be entered in a customer relationship management software (I have an in-depth article about several ones here (LINK)) so you can then calculate your return on investment related to the guerrilla marketing campaign.
Generally, it will be difficult to calculate the conversion rates of guerrilla campaigns, because you will never know how many people were actually seeing or interacting with your campaign.
This is easier done online, where you can measure traffic.
But you will be able to calculate your cost per lead taking into consideration your total costs for the campaign.
Once you know the cost per lead, you can compare it to other marketing methods you are using and decide if the guerrilla marketing campaign was an effective way for you to generate leads or not.