If you give a quick google search, there are PLENTY of really fun and creative guerilla marketing tactics done by big companies with big budgets. These guerilla marketing ideas for events may not be the most creative but are meant to be real ideas you can use to get scrappy with your marketing with little to no budget needed.
Have people or performers walk around high-traffic in their costume passing out flyers or small novelty items related to the show
If you do not have performers because you are a 5K or a lantern festival – don’t exclude yourself from this tip. Think about it – if you are a mud run, get yourself muddy and pass out flyers at local gyms. If you are a color run, get yourself dusted, put on a tutu, and pass out flyers or color packs at a park or area where families are hanging around. If you are more of a festival-type event like lanterns or beer fest, think of little, inexpensive novelty gifts you can pass out – thing you are probably going to pass out anywhere at the event, such as a koozie, sticker, magnet, etc.
FUN FACT: Once I did a guerilla marketing campaign at SXSW and we hired 40 brand ambassadors to wear “nude suits” and run around the city looking naked. It certainly generated plenty of buzz and PR with the media.
Bonus points if you can turn this into some sort of flash mob 😀
While walking around downtown Houston a few months ago, I saw that Cirque du Soile had stenciled the sidewalks with their show logo. Simple. Inexpensive. Order the stencil and get out there on every street corner. Just be sure to use a paint/chalk that easily washes away. Their stencils were subtle – a soft gray/white. Just enough to capture your attention – but not too much attention to upset anyone or cross the line of graffiti.
Get on Instagram and research each city market you are going to. Identify 10-20 “influencers” that you could offer free tickets to in exchange for a social post. I wouldn’t spend too much money on this – many influencers will, of course, want to be paid sometimes for this promotion, but as an event on a scrappy budget, I would spend too much of your marketing budget here unless it ties in as a tactic to a well-thought-out marketing plan that includes Whitelist Advertising.
If you are having a difficult time identifying who to work with on social media – think about who would want to attend your event. Is it families? Would it help to get in front of moms? Try teaming up with local PTAs and offering tickets at discounted prices or a kickback to support their school for every ticket purchased through them. If you are an obstacle run race, think of local gyms – what kind of group discount can you offer them? Reach out to those local gyms and see how you can work together on something that benefits everyone.
You may not consider this “guerilla marketing” but when it comes to getting scrappy and finding ways to get your event out on the internet at little to no cost – event directories are a great way. Event directories can offer search engine optimization value as well as discoverability by its website users. Check out this post I wrote with a full list of directories you can submit an event to, as well as what to google to find local event directories.
Flyers inside of local businesses
This sounds simple enough, right? I’ve seen this work VERY well for circuses who I would consider experts in this category of local guerilla marketing. The circuses I’ve worked with create beautiful flyers that actually look like tickets. They go into local businesses and ask if they can keep them at their counters or at cashier checkouts and in exchange, they will give them some comped tickets for opening night.
Local Facebook Groups
This tactic is similar to event directories or working with local influencers. Try doing a simple search on Facebook to find Facebook Groups for local communities. Type in the city name on Facebook and choose the Groups tab to find local groups. Or you can type in your target audience “i.e. Mom Groups” and search for groups related to parenting in certain cities. Join these groups and share your event. Try not to be spammy though. This tactic, in general, is spammy – but could be effective if done with some class. Offer them a promo code and talk about how you plan to give back to the community if you are teaming up with a local charity? You could even ask these groups if they know of a good local organization or PTA you could team up with. Ask them how you can bring value to their community during the short time you are in town. Maybe if your event involves hiring local vendors for food, they could have great suggestions for you. Let them almost take part in being an active participant in planning your event. After all – it is their community and they can tell you what they want, and if they feel a part of the event, they are more likely to share with friends and family.
Tweet to Bored People
On Twitter, you can search for people who are looking for something to do in their city. Maybe they tweet something such as, “I’m bored” or “What is there to do in Knoxville?” Simply spend some time each day tweeting back to these people, “Hey, if you’re bored, come hang out. We go on at 7 pm – here’s a promo code for $5 off.”
Create Spotify Playlists
Create Spotify Music playlists that have a similar vibe to your event. Now, unless you have a large following, this Spotify playlist isn’t going to bring in all the customers for you BUT, it does give you fun content that you can share in those local Facebook Groups you joined or Tweets you are sending. This content can be a nice break between the promotional content and can be a great way to get people pumped up (if you curate the songs just right) and wanting to buy tickets to your event. A little reminder on their morning commute.
Think about it, we often tie certain songs to special memories in our lives. Make a playlist that leaves them wanting to create memories that will last a lifetime. You are selling an experience after all.
“Wish You Were Here” Postcards
Postcards are fairly inexpensive – you can get 1000’s for less than $100. Now, mailing them can get a little more costly – but this is a unique tactic that I can work really well. Even if you are not ready to shell out the cost to mail them, you can have someone do the good ole fashion door to door drop off in mailboxes. On the front side of the postcard, put a FUN picture of your event. On the back right something such as …”Sorry, we missed you last time, but we will be back in a few weeks. See you soon?” Even if the last time you were in that city was years ago, use a photo that leaves them feeling like they really missed out last time. Put a call to action for them to buy tickets on your site now with a promo code (unique promo codes can help you gauge as to whether or not this tactic worked for you).
Add Photos to Royalty-Free Websites
Websites such as Unsplash (my favorite) allow you to upload photos that people can use essentially as free stock photos in marketing when needed. Let me give you a great example, I needed a picture of a person working on a laptop. I searched for it, then found an image of a man working at his computer – and just barley you could see what was on his screen. A website called Bench Accounting. The beautiful photo was uploaded by Bench Accounting. Now that’s some clever guerilla marketing. Go ahead, check out the website and type in your type of event. I.E. “Circus” or “Festival” or “5K run” and see what comes up. Imagine someone needing a photo for marketing and using something that has your business name in it?