In 2021, organizations spent a grand total of $3.6 trillion on marketing worldwide. The adage, “You’ve gotta spend money to make money,” has never felt more true!
Fortunately, not all marketing strategies break the bank. Some low-cost marketing strategies reliably get smaller businesses a lot of bang for their bucks.
One underrated strategy? Guerrilla marketing.
Guerrilla marketing is a tactic that gets a message to your audience in unexpected ways. But, it requires creativity to work. Creative guerrilla marketing ideas cut through the noise and stick in the audience’s mind.
Lauded tactics use public events, installations, and social media influencers to raise awareness of a brand, product, or social cause. Can this low-spend, high-reward strategy work for you?
Read on to learn about what makes guerrilla marketing work. Then, get inspired with 15 ideas that take marketing with embroidered patches to a whole new level.
What Is Guerrilla Marketing?
Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that uses elements of surprise or convention-breaking to your advantage. It’s a type of publicity.
Typically, guerrilla marketing tactics create unexpected opportunities for engagement or interaction in public. These opportunities break the public out of their routine and get them to notice the brand. Popular strategies include:
- Public installations or constructs
- Public events
- Live online events
- Stealth advertising through products
- Contests or giveaways
How Effective is Guerrilla Marketing?
Recent studies have analyzed the impacts of guerrilla marketing campaigns on the organizations that run them. The results are largely positive!
A 2021 study published in The Journal of Asian Finance reviewed international studies of guerrilla marketing campaigns. Researchers found organizations’ guerrilla marketing campaigns proved beneficial in a range of ways:
- Campaigns left a lasting impression on consumers
- Humorous and creative campaigns influenced the intent to purchase
- Brands’ image among audiences improved with campaigns
- Campaigns increased overall organizational marketing productivity
- Guerrilla marketing with “joyous” emotional appeals had significant, positive effects on company returns
That last point is explored in greater detail in a different 2021 study. That analysis, “The Effect of Guerrilla Marketing on Company Share Prices,” was published in the Journal of Advertising Research.
As it turns out, guerrilla marketing is great for your bottom line!
What Makes an Impact?
Not all grassroots marketing campaigns are equally effective. It’s essential to focus on the factors that make an impact to get the best results. Here are five key points of focus.
First, define your goals. What does your organization want from this campaign? How will you measure the degree to which the campaign succeeds or fails? Choosing the right metrics is critical.
Second, understand your audience. Emotion, particularly joy, humor, and surprise, is the center of excellent guerrilla marketing. What surprises your core audience? What makes them happy?
Knowing this lets you connect with your audience on an emotional level. If a campaign involves building on an audience whose trust a celebrity or influencer has already cultivated, choose wisely.
Yes, the best guerrilla marketing campaigns trigger a strong emotion. They also compel further investigation. Once someone is intrigued, make it easy for them to find more information about your brand.
Ensure your campaign highlights a website with a compelling landing page, a way to sign up for more information, or a phone number to call.
Campaign > Stunt
Fourth, ensure your guerrilla marketing strategy is a campaign, not just a stunt. A campaign is an ongoing, coordinated messaging effort. To do it well, you’ll need to invest time and research.
A guerrilla marketing event can be part of a campaign. Or, a campaign can use a series of events as “tentpoles.” The key is that it’s not a “one-and-done” marketing effort.
Legal, Safe, and Ethical
Finally, make sure whatever you do is legal, safe, and ethical. Guerrilla marketing events have gone dangerously wrong when these three tenants are ignored.
In 2005, Snapple made headlines with a guerrilla marketing event: creating the world’s largest popsicle. Unfortunately, those headlines were “Disaster on a Stick!” The giant treat melted, flooding Union Square with strawberry-kiwi juice.
The most common legal violation is vandalism. If you’re installing something in public, it’s wise to get permission from the building owner or city council.
In terms of ethics, remember what your audience cares about. Any event that risks minority people, animals, or the environment is probably a no-go. Stick with positive, eco-friendly experiences.
10 Guerrilla Marketing Ideas With Embroidered Patches
The best guerrilla marketing campaigns leave your target audience with a positive impression. Ideally, some in the audience are influenced to buy your product (or donate to your cause).
Even more audience members find your brand sticks in their memory—and it comes to the forefront of their minds at an opportune time.
Can you create that kind of memory with embroidered patches? Absolutely! Take inspiration from the guerrilla marketing tactics of popular brands—then give them an embroidery-patch twist.
1. Go Viral With Influencers
One guerrilla marketing strategy that’s very “of the moment?” Connect with popular online influencers.
Use surveys, focus groups, or other market research strategies to learn which influencers your ideal audience follows online. Influencers might be models, storytellers, comedians, or musicians who’ve built up a following on an online platform.
YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are popular spaces for influencers.
You can advertise your brand with influencers using embroidery patches in a few different ways. Some influencers accept gifts like patches or stickers and wear them on their show. Others do “unboxing” review content.
Collaborations, sponsorships, and reviews are the most common ways brands partner with influencers. In a collaboration, you and the influencer may create a fun event or video concept.
Sponsoring content means the brand pays the influencer to advertise the product during their show or live stream. If the influencer wears your brand’s patch throughout a video, it can re-emphasize your brand to their viewers.
2. Organize Sew-On Patch Flash Mob Event
A “flash mob” is a seemingly spontaneous event that is actually organized. Flash mobs step out of crowds and perform dances, plays, or interactive art. Any type of short event can be held as a flash mob.
To conduct a sew-on patch flash mob, coordinate “mob” actors ahead of time. Then, on the signal, they can gather in public, simultaneously sew patches on hats, jackets, or belts, and excitedly distribute the garments to random crowd members.
Or, for a more daring alternative, mob actors can ask crowd members for their hats, bags, or jackets, then attach patches quickly and return the apparel.
Speed is key to a flash mob. The entire event is typically held during the length of a song.
3. Use Undercover Agents
This involves “undercover agents” posing as run-of-the-mill pedestrians or students. They interact with other members of the public. In conversation, they often give away free merch and extoll the brand’s value.
This guerrilla marketing tactic relies on the agents’ acting skills. And it never hurts to give away quirky, memorable merch—including embroidery patches!
4. Install Patch-Based Graffiti
Graffiti is a classic guerrilla marketing tactic. Embroidered patches are a great way to make this kind of organic marketing stand out.
Sticker graffiti is easy. It doesn’t require a projector, painting skills, or even an installation strategy. Sticker graffiti can involve placing stickers around a neighborhood to create a sense of mystery through a repeating symbol.
Or, you can combine stickers into a larger display, using a mosaic effect to create a mural or installation.
To turn embroidery patches into stickers, apply adhesive to the back. Check out YouTube tutorials for different application methods.
Unlike flat vinyl stickers, the thickness and texture of embroidery patches make them stand out. This makes adhesive patches a memorable alternative to vinyl stickers for a “sticker graffiti” strategy.
Just be careful! If you get caught or don’t have permission, sticker graffiti can get you arrested for vandalism. Just ask Rich Tu: the artist and marketer spent 24 hours in jail for his sticker-based guerrilla marketing stunt in NYC.
5. Patch-Up Quirky (Free!) Products
Setting out quirky, free products is a popular strategy for multiple guerrilla marketing campaigns.
For instance, in 2009, the non-profit Friends of Cancer Patients laid out free beach towels on the beach. The catch? The towels were shaped like coffins.
When someone gets up from lying on the coffin-towel, passersby can see the message in its center—one raising awareness of skin cancer risks from sun exposure.
Another example is a drawstring bag created by the weight-loss brand GNC. The bag shows a woman’s waist and butt. The waist cinches when you draw the string, creating a skinnier silhouette.
What product is particularly well-suited to deliver a message about your brand? Try thinking about a product’s shape or utility from unexpected angles to devise an out-of-the-box take.
To make the product memorable, consider using embroidery patches to alter its appearance or play visually with assumptions about what the product is for.
For instance, patches that look like eyes can turn a generic handbag into a face. Push yourself to see beyond the obvious in everyday objects!
6. Alter the Environment
A regularly popular guerrilla marketing strategy involves altering the environment to turn an everyday space into something unexpected. These alterations can be of all sizes.
For example, in 2014, the cleaning products company Mr. Clean altered crosswalk stripes. The alterations made the stripes brighter and “cleaner” than the neighboring stripes—literally creating a bright spot on an everyday street.
To give intrigued audiences a lead, each “clean” stripe incorporated the Mr. Clean logo at its base.
Alterations can also give everyday objects a new context—completely transforming them.
Guerrilla marketers have used door hangers or background stickers to transform door handles into beer mugs and noses. In 2013, Duracell transformed turn car brake lights and urban lampposts with flashlight stickers.
You, too, can transform objects and spaces around you. Embroidery patches can come in all shapes and sizes—ready to give any object some new context.
7. Set Up an Interactive Game
People love taking a break to play games, making games an exciting guerrilla marketing event.
Scavenger hunts, trivia-giveaway contests, and even silly games like “reverse strip-poker” can create fond memories for the audience.
Some games work better when the audience signs up ahead of time. Others can be held publicly, and you can pull enthusiastic volunteers from a crowd.
Embroidery patches can help make a game a hit. They can be prizes for giveaways or symbolize clues in a riddle-solving game. You can even get creative and use them as poker chips or board game pieces.
8. Hide Free Patches With Other Merch
Merch is always fun, but it isn’t necessarily guerrilla marketing. With embroidery patches, you can take merchandise up a notch by adding the element of surprise.
Hide patches in merch unexpectedly: in wallets, hats, or even mugs. Discovering the patch might just spark joy.
9. Unique Product Packaging—or Parts!
Guerrilla marketers might alter a popular product that they then give away. Or, they can partner with another company that sells that product. The catch? The marketers change up the product’s packaging or components.
In 2009, toothpaste company Colgate created ice cream bars and lollipops. But, it changed out the stick of those sweet treats with a toothbrush.
The surprise toothbrush included a reminder to brush your teeth and the Colegate logo.
To play with customer expectations, other guerrilla marketers have changed product packaging, including ketchup packets and bottles.
Embroidered patches with a brand message or logo can similarly subvert expectations when they’re unexpectedly part of a product. Consider incorporating the patch into products like shoes, wallets, or hats.
10. Button-Press Installation
Public installations are a time-honored guerrilla marketing strategy. Installations can be structures or sculptures, and they’re nearly always interactive.
An embroidery patch can highlight a button members of the public are meant to press to set off the installation. Maybe when they press the button, your sculpture plays music or reacts in some way.
You could even set up an embroidery patch dispenser. Like a gumball machine, a dispenser lets audiences turn a dial or press a button and get a prize. All prizes can be related to your brand or brand message.
Go Viral in Real Life With Artex Group
Ready for your brand to go viral in real life? Work with Artex Group.
Whether you need guerrilla marketing ideas or style inspiration, Artex is here to help. Our custom embroidery patches and designs make your brand memorable.
Want to discover what our patches can do for you? Contact us today to answer your questions or get a free quote.