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  • Writer's pictureOfer Zeevy

Voice of customer counts as pandemic-recovering businesses eye Guerilla marketing initiatives

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

What do you do when you want to attract young and web-savvy customers to a museum? How do you increase tourism to a city in times of a pandemic? And how do you keep in touch with your quarantined customers? Those three cases all share the same solution of “out-of-the-box” and creative initiatives called “Guerilla marketing”. While usually considered to be an effective tool for small businesses, apparently large companies add this type of marketing to all of their regular activities.

Guerilla marketing refers to surprise or unconventional actions and tactics that companies take in order to promote their products. Such campaigns need almost no budget to carry out and they can bring plenty of word-of-mouth and publicity engagements. On the downside, such campaigns are usually short-lived, and due to their uniqueness, can’t be repeated for long periods of time. Results-wise, various KPIs indicate whether those campaigns are successful, such as increased sales or online reactions, but a comprehensive analysis of customer feedback may give a more in-depth understanding of their performance. And for marketers, it is always interesting to derive ideas from such guerilla marketing examples as well as from the next three stories.

In the summer of 2010, the Chicago Museum of science and industry decided to market its exhibitions to a more younger and web-savvy audience, the type that may not consider visiting such a place to be a cool thing. They started a "Month at the museum" campaign, promising one person to live inside a hotel-style transparent room inside the facility. The winner was promised a $10,000 reward for staying there and for writing a blog to be shared on social media. In phase A of the campaign, which was all about selecting the winner, more than 1,500 people submitted essays and videos that they also shared on their social media accounts. That by itself generated renewed interest in the museum.

In phase B, the winner, Kate McGrathy, lived in the special bedroom for 30 days while having free access to all of the place’s attractions, and wrote a daily blog about her experiences there. That phase resulted in over 1,100 iterations in traditional media (tv, radio, printed press) exposing the story to more than 400 million people. And Kate’s reporting on Facebook and Twitter gained tens of thousands of followers for her experiences. As a result of the two campaign phases, ticket sales to the museum went through the roof. 60% of visitors cited that they were aware of the campaign.

The city of Chicago is highlighted also in the second story about guerilla marketing. As tourism to the city took a huge downturn, going from 61 million visitors in 2019 to only 16 million in 2020, mainly due to the pandemic, a more “out-of-the-box” solution was required to improve the situation. “Choose Chicago”, the city’s official tourism unit, initiated a "Chicago not in Chicago" campaign, reintroducing the town to the world and increasing awareness to tourists for the post-pandemic era.

The campaign claimed one simple truth, as is shown on the special website created for it: many world-famous innovations in other cities, such as the cell-phones or the skyscraper, actually owe their existence to the city of Chicago. But since the city never received credit for the origination of such innovations, it was about time to show the world just how Chicago has inspired many famous inventions and locations. The first video on the website showed an artificial bus riding on the streets of New York and passing by skyscrapers, reminding everyone that the first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building from 1885, was actually invented in Chicago. The bus later passed near a famous NY dance club, indicating that house music was also invented in Chicago. Coffee makers and cell phones also made the list. The campaign would later cover more world-famous cities and continue under the premise of “It all started in Chicago”.

The third and final example of “guerilla marketing” has to do with Nike, which started an Instagram photo contest, inviting customers to share stories and videos of them exercising and doing sports activities while guaranteeing at home. They later presented a collage of their users’ home videos for emphasizing both the importance of doing sporting activities as well as wearing Nike’s sportswear.

Measurements of all campaigns combine, as usual, quantity results such as sales, likes, and shares, with qualitative aspects such as an analysis of customer feedback. Affogata’s tracking and monitoring of millions of customer comments and conversations enable marketing teams to figure out the aggregate data of the public with regard to the effectiveness of such campaigns. Analyzing such discussions may result in understanding what worked and what didn’t, how the “guerilla factor” stands against advertisements and other marketing efforts, and how those initiatives contributed to the company’s overall brand sentiment.

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