Chapter One: Getting Started: Planning, Developing and Launching Your Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

Just what is guerrilla marketing?  And how can it help my affiliate or chapter?  That's what this handbook is designed to explain. We'll walk you through the planning, development and implementation phases of a guerrilla marketing campaign.  Then we'll take a look at the differences between short- and long-term campaigns.  So let's start at the beginning.

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

The term "guerrilla marketing" was initially coined by Jay Conrad Levinson several years ago.  It is defined as free and low-cost marketing and promotional methods that can be employed by firms and organizations with very limited budgets that will allow them to compete effectively with other firms and organizations with much larger budgets.  In short, it is the business equivalent of David versus Goliath.
 
ACB at the national level, as well as most all of its affiliates and chapters, have David-sized budgets, and yet, we are desperately trying to compete with various other organizations that have Goliath-sized, deep-pocket budgets.  So, how can we compete?  We can compete very effectively by implementing a myriad of guerrilla marketing methods presented in this handbook.  We can use these free and low-cost strategies and tactics to formulate an ongoing promotional program, centered on a series of campaigns that creates public awareness of who we are and what we do, that promotes our various events and activities and helps us better serve our many stakeholders and recruit new members.
 
Some of the key guerrilla marketing approaches we cover include: the use of free bulletin boards and calendar listings, free placement of flyers and brochures, using public service announcements and media releases, the importance of guest appearances, exhibits and information tables, using newsletters, articles in newspapers, magazines, and other publications, producing regular radio or TV programs, getting the most from web sites, Facebook, Twitter, and much, much more.

Planning Your Guerrilla Marketing Program

To plan and develop your guerrilla marketing program, you must have a very clear understanding about who you are, why you exist, and what you do.  You need to draft a very clear and concise mission statement, which will guide your organization when planning your events, activities, and your entire guerrilla marketing program. 
 
Mission statements are often written like an academic exercise or by committees.  In contrast, they should be written with the intent of using them as persuasive communication message.  Even the Declaration of Independence, though drafted by a committee, was written by a single person with a knack for words, Thomas Jefferson. In like manner, your mission statement should be written with no less thought than the most expensive advertising campaign receives. You wouldn’t expect a Super Bowl advertisement to be written by lawyers, would you? Restating your purpose with a marketing mindset can help you connect better with people.  Ask yourself this: "If our mission statement came up as the results in an Internet search engine, would you want to click it?" What would be the key words people used to find your affiliate or chapter?
 
You need to draft a three-sentence guerrilla mission statement for your organization.  To do it, you need to focus on the three things that will make your affiliate or chapter the most successful.  What are they? 1) Your passion, 2) what you are best at, and 3) a clear sense of what the bottom-line impact you are trying to make really is. So, sit down and struggle with all the data you have.  Reduce everything you know about what your organization does and is down into just three sentences.  Write three sentences that succinctly describe your organization.

  1. Why does your affiliate or chapter exist? (Make sure you are talking about your passions.)
  2. What does your affiliate or chapter do? (This is where you talk about what your affiliate or chapter is best at.)
  1. What difference does your affiliate or chapter make? (Tell about the impact your organization is making.)

They need to be short sentences.  Putting too much information in your phrases will make your targeted audience’s attention start to wander. Imagine you are going to use this as your “elevator speech.” Suppose you have just gotten on an elevator and as soon as the doors close, another person in the elevator asks you to tell them about your organization. You have to tell them in the time it takes to go from the first floor to the second floor what they need to know about your organization. If you can’t say who you are, what you do, and why it is important in 30 seconds, you may be too complicated to become the subject of people’s conversations. You may have bigger problems than marketing.
 
After you have written your 3-sentence guerrilla mission statement, you can enlist help in polishing them. But getting the statements first from your heart will change you forever. These statements become the tools you can use in guiding your events and activities, and your entire guerrilla marketing program.
 
Once you have completed this step in the planning process, you can use your guerrilla mission statement to guide the development of your events and activities, to evaluate whether they fit into and further your mission statement, and to help you identify the focus points of your guerrilla marketing program, the particular methods and tools you need to use to get the word out about your functions. 

Example Guerrilla Mission Statement

  1. Our mission is to actively support equal rights and equal access for a quality life and standard of living for all blind and low-vision people.
  2. We carry out this mission through actively engaging in the legislative process, and by participating in public education and advocacy to inform the public about blindness and the abilities of blind people. 
  3. By working together, our members and volunteers encourage the passage of laws that support blind and low-vision people; develop programs, events, and activities that educate the public about blindness and the capabilities of blind people; raise funds to support our activities, and recruit new members. 

Promotable Events and Activities

Here are just a few ideas for events and activities that your affiliate or chapter might engage in to further your mission with which you can apply the many guerrilla marketing strategies and tactics presented in this handbook.  This list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but to help stimulate additional ideas for events and activities to help you get started.  Most of these can also be used as fundraisers as well.
 
Music concerts
Dining in the dark events
Tournaments, e.g., golf, tennis, fishing, etc.
Audio-described movie nights
Trivia nights
Accessible devices and technology exhibits
High-profile speakers, e.g., ophthalmologist discussing common eye diseases or stem cell research
Texas Hold-'em tournament
Walk-a-thon
Blind/sighted team road rallies
Blind/sighted team horseshoe tournament
Blind/sighted teams mountain biking event
Blind/sighted team cross-country bike ride
Baked goods sale
Hot dog and beverage sale
Blind/sighted teams bowling tournament
Chili supper
Chili cook-off competition
Euchre tournament
Las Vegas casino night
Yard sale, garage sale, or turn trash into cash sale
Auctions – open bidding and silent
Dinner & movie night
Dinner & live play night
Bachelor/bachelorette auction
Eating contest: hot dogs, pancakes, pie, etc.
White Cane Safety Day activities
Louis Braille birthday celebration event
Affiliate conventions and convention-related activities and special events
Vision screening with volunteer eye doctors; donations going to your organization
Wine & cheese tasting – can be paired with an auction
Hot air balloon rides with net proceeds going to your organization
Bingo night
Refurbish computer program
An Everything Chocolate event 
Celebrity bartender night – tips go to your organization 
Grant program to subsidize the purchase of accessible devices
 
The next several chapters of this handbook are devoted to specific guerrilla marketing strategies and methods that you can use to develop your promotional program that will enable your organization with its extremely limited, David-size budget to compete very effectively with other organizations and their Goliath budgets.