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Guerrilla marketing is often overlooked in the real estate industry, and many think that only more prominent brands can do it. 

This is understandable because the campaigns that get large media coverage often look pretty elaborate.

But guerrilla marketing is also an affordable advertising option for 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 it 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 Guerrilla Marketing?

Guerrilla marketing comes with three key elements, with the distinctive feature that the first two are connected. 

A successful guerrilla marketing campaign needs firstly to surprise the target audience, and to do so, it requires the second element, which is creativity.

The above-average creativity that must be used to create such a campaign helps generate this element of surprise. 

How does the element of surprise help?

It increases engagement with the promoted products or services and creates a memorable experience.

In contrast to other rather annoying advertising experiences, people usually react positively to guerrilla marketing because of the 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 brand differently 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, you will need creativity, imagination, and energy instead of money.

It is, therefore, especially suitable for smaller businesses.

A Comparison Between Traditional and Guerrilla Marketing

Traditional MarketingGuerrilla Marketing
Suitable for big businessFor small businesses
Money is requiredMoney can be beneficial, but not much is necessarily required
Aims at larger groupsIdeal 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 benefitsMore focused on people's problems and solutions
More focused on sellingMore focused on giving
Larger emphasis on promotional approachesLarger focus on pleasing customers and getting their approval

(source)

Facts & Stats About Guerrilla Marketing

Let’s take a look at some of the facts & stats about guerrilla marketing:

  • According to guerilla marketers worldwide, it can reduce 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 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 regarding making a purchase decision has relevance, with 33.6% (source).

4 Different Types of Guerrilla Marketing

Because of the significant element of creativity, the sky’s the limit regarding different types of guerrilla marketing.

Nevertheless, some established types of guerrilla marketing have already 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 carries out a guerrilla marketing campaign to hijack it a bit.

This happened in 1996 when the summer Olympics 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, most people believed General Motors sponsored the Olympics after the event, 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 expected. 

The important part is that it needs to appear and be perceived as spontaneous activity.

Hence, the potential customers are not immediately aware they are being marketed. 

This aims to get people talking about the product or service.

3) Ambient Marketing

In my article about the 7 best colors for real estate signs, you might have already read about an example of ambient marketing.

There, I mention a rather unconventional sign, where a small mobile home 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, and 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 essential 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 Guerrilla 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 precisely what the title says – a “Wiener-Mobile”.

The campaign included a car shaped like a giant hot dog traveling nationwide.

It was a successful campaign since it received a lot of attention.

There have been songs written about it, and it has been covered in movies and TV shows.

3) The Crashed Nike Ball

This one definitely grabbed my attention. It was an oversized soccer ball lodged into the side of a building.

It looked as if it was shot into 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 the action involved in a pit stop in this crowded place in 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 vehicle similar 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 of decorating 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 this article covers, some guerrilla marketing methods can be risky and stand on legally shaky ground.

real estate guerrilla marketing

Is Guerrilla Marketing in Real Estate for You, and If Yes, How?

By now, you might wonder if you could use guerilla marketing in real estate since the above examples were unrelated 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.

It is probably not for you if you are reluctant to put some work into it and get creative. 

It needs a lot of research and knowledge about your potential target audience. This includes understanding the real benefits your real estate services or products (e.g., 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 suppose you don’t identify yourself with the reasons that speak against doing it. In that case, 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, whether conventional digital marketing or guerilla marketing.

To brainstorm and find ideas for a real estate guerrilla marketing campaign, I highly recommend 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 of comparing your product or service with something from a different field?
  • What could be extremely reduced or made smaller 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 about 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 so that it becomes a toy?
  • How could you actively embed the advertising medium into the 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 funnily or excitingly?

This was, of course, just a tiny excerpt of questions the book provides, but I hope you get the idea.

8 Guerrilla Marketing Ideas for Real Estate

Unfortunately, many guerrilla marketing ideas for real estate that you can find I wouldn’t count as guerrilla marketing. This is when you consider the above definition and criteria for having a successful campaign.

So, I researched some already existing ideas, selected the right ones, and brainstormed some myself. 

You might find them helpful as a real estate agent or investor.

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. It could include yard sale signs, for sale stickers, and more, and adding an 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 “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 provocatively, 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 using 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 extra small pizzas in the shape of a house and let them deliver that on top of the ordered pizzas. 

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, “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 a treasure hunt for kids. 

Ideally, these are homes in the same neighborhood. 

The treasure hunt could occur 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 people will call you to tell you the envelope is empty. 

This can be a conversation starter so you can discover their needs and convert them into potential clients.

How to Track the Performance of Guerrilla 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 about campaign performance tracking in this article, which focuses on digital marketing and Google analytics.

The situation for guerrilla marketing campaigns is similar, with the only difference being that the focus is less on digital marketing.

The metrics you want to track are:

  • Response rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Sign-ups
  • Referrals
  • Social Media Mentions
  • Traditional Press Mentions
  • Cost per lead

The most important ones I consider are those closest to conversions. 

Social media mentions don’t pay your bills if they don’t somehow lead to conversions.

The cost per lead will be the most feasible for guerrilla marketing campaigns, which I will come to later.

Let’s use an example of how you could track the performance by using one of the above real estate guerilla marketing ideas.

Tracking the Toilet Campaign for Property Management Companies

Your tracking capacity will significantly depend 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 are 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.

Use a dedicated phone number exclusively for that campaign.

Why?

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 on 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 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.

Suppose you have a dedicated website for the campaign. In that case, you will automatically know that the leads generated there resulted from the campaign.

This is similar to when you show a dedicated landing page with a contact form on your sign. 

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 your contact forms so that people contacting you are asked where they heard about you.

What to do when people do not answer this question?

You can always ask them 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 visiting your site could enter the coupon code as part of your contact form. 

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 similar.

All the leads you collect should be entered into customer relationship management software. 

By the way, I have an in-depth article about several ones here), 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, considering your total costs for the campaign. 

Once you know the cost per lead, you can compare it to other marketing methods you are using.

You can then decide if the guerrilla marketing campaign was an effective way for you to generate leads or not.

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Tobias Schnellbacher

Tobias Schnellbacher