5 (Nearly Free) Guerrilla Marketing Tactics

You may have heard of Guerrilla Marketing from the book by Jay Conrad Levinson where he describes it as marketing which takes the consumer by surprise to make an impression on them. Some of these types of campaigns can be fairly expensive either in direct costs, like paying someone to spend the day standing on a busy street corner dressed in a superhero costume with your advert, or employing a flash mob to create a buzz that will, hopefully, be shared across social media and may get press attention, or in indirect costs, like paying fines when you’ve fly-posted across town or projected your advertisement on the side of a building without the permission of the unsuspecting owner.

Guerrilla Gorilla Marketing Man

Much as these ideas are fun and can be very successful, my own view of guerrilla marketing is that it should be low key, under the radar, and not bring with it the possibility of legal action or a bad reputation for my business. More Sniper marketing really. I also like to find ways that are really targeted and very low cost. So the following ideas just require your business cards and leaflets.

A word here on business cards and leaflets. Now and again I come across people who have set up in business and haven’t organised their cards yet – this is the first thing you should do before you go out to talk to anyone about it. They don’t have to be perfect first time but, even if you are asking advice about your startup, you will be asked for your card. Secondly, having got your cards, give them away. Have them on you at all times (yes, even when you go out for the evening, go to a party or to a friend’s). People you meet always ask what you do, so there are always opportunities to give them a card (or use one of the tactics below).

On the subject of leaflets, these are one of my favourites for guerrilla tactics. I’ve tried a few different types and my favourite, at the moment, is an A5 trifold leaflet as it is small enough to slip into unexpected places and for people to put in their pockets but has enough space to put quite a lot of information without it getting too overcrowded.

So, that covered, here are my 5 favourite Guerrilla Marketing tactics:


  1. Leave leaflets in cafés, restaurants, pubs etc.

Some will have a place where you can leave them ‘officially’ but if we’re talking guerrilla tactics then it’s time to get ingenious. If you leave one on the table as you leave the chances are the waiter/ress will clear it away as they clean the table, although if they are your target market (for instance, acting classes in L.A!) it might be interesting enough for them to keep. Try leaving one on the seat or in the menu, which will only be noticed by the next customer, or leave one in the toilets.

  1. Place them in hotel rooms, gyms, leisure centres etc.

Again these places often have a leaflet display but these are usually part of a paid advertising contract so you are not supposed to put your leaflets there without paying for the privilege. However, they are usually checked quarterly (rarely, monthly) and sometimes only by the other advertisers who are restocking their leaflets so, if you just leave a few, you may get away with it for a while. Much better to place the odd one in places where someone could have been reading it and left it behind, such as the hotel lounge or the gym changing rooms or the leisure centre bar. It’s really a matter of thinking if there is somewhere that your leaflet may be picked up by a prospective client before it’s cleared away by a member of staff.

  1. Slip them into books, magazines or newspapers

This can be very targeted as you can choose subjects which your target audience is likely to read. Many cafés have a range of books or newspapers for their customers to read so slipping a leaflet into one, like a bookmark is very easy. For instance, I might slip a leaflet for hypnotherapy into a book about ‘improving your golf’ as I know that hypnosis can help and that the person who picked the book up is interested in improving their golf. You can also put them in books in public libraries or bookshops, although be careful that you don’t look ‘suspicious’ here or you may have a store detective following you around thinking you’re shoplifting!

  1. Waiting Rooms

Most waiting rooms, be it your doctor’s, dentist’s, the MOT station or the hire care company, have a seating area with a stack of magazines for people to browse while they’re waiting. Slipping your leaflet in some of these is easy and, as many doctors don’t, or can’t, promote alternative healthcare, it can be a good way of getting your advertising in these places if you are an alternative therapist. I also have some magazines with my adverts in which I add to the stack as these can sometimes stay there for months and be seen by hundreds of people.

  1. The Ultimate Guerrilla Tactic

This is one of my favourites but it takes a little practice to carry off properly; that is slipping it directly into someone’s pocket or bag – sort of back to front pickpocketing! I would generally not do this randomly but if you have had a chat with someone it can be quite easy to slip a business card into their jacket pocket as you part. The key tactic that pickpockets use is distraction so, if I’m shaking your hand or touching your arm as I say goodbye I can drop a card in your pocket without you realising and, if you were to ask for a card I’d tell you that you already have one in your pocket. As a hypnotherapist this can be quite amusing as people start to wonder if you hypnotised them (which I generally don’t do, on purpose anyway!).


These are just a few of the tactics that I use but I’d love to hear some other great ideas – go to my facebook page or tweet me @Dejavieworg to share yours!

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