Top Ten Guerrilla Marketing Tactics For Retailers

You hear it all the time, “Guerilla Marketing”. But what is it, really? Guerilla marketing is non-traditional marketing strategies which are typically low cost, unconventional, and often are typically localized in scope. Guerilla Marketing, in short, is the life-blood of small businesses. Through the proper application of an effective Guerilla Marketing plan, every person within your local market (within 3-5 miles of your retail location) should know about your store, what differentiates you from your competition, and how to reach you.

There are as many ideas about Guerilla Marketing as there are small business owners, and there are a lot of books on the subject, too (I recommend Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson). Obviously, every idea isn’t good, and even good ideas don’t work in all businesses or all markets. These ideas should work in most if not all retail stores, however.


Sign spinners visually engage traffic as they pass by your store. They help to raise awareness of the location of your store, and what products/services you offer. Sign spinners are most effective when they are close to an intersection, but, if that is not an option for you, get them on the road closest to your location. Here are some things to think about when you use sign spinners:
Not all spinners are created equal. Some sign spinners will sit out in front of your store and hold a sign. Others will actually spin the sign, dance, and truly engage the traffic in an entertaining manner. Watch your spinner in action, and if they don’t entertain you, they won’t entertain your customers.
Dress them up. Make your sign spinner a mascot. Put them in a Mario suit, a football uniform, a hot dog, or some other costume that has to do with your business or specific promotion.
Consistency is key. Once you start using spinners, keep using them. Have them in front of your store a minimum of Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as for promotions, special events, sales, holidays etc.
Change up the message. Remember, a lot of the same people will be seeing your sign spinner. So every month or so, tell them something new! Tell them about your current sale or something else exciting in your store.


Building relationships with your local small businesses in your area can not only help you build your business, they can also help you feel like you are not going it alone. Mutually beneficial relationships formed with a business with a similar customer base can really impact your bottom line. There are two types of relationships that you should be pursuing:
Secondary Relationships. These are the relationships you should have with literally every business owner within ten miles of your store. You should go into the store introduce yourself to the owner. Give them your elevator speech. Listen to theirs. Find out about them, what they do, what their backgrounds are, what led them into business, what their unique challenges are; in short, become their friend. Explain to them what you hope to do with your business, what your unique value propositions are, and some of your marketing ideas/thoughts. Tell them that you want to form relationships with businesses in the area. Give them a business card with a “special code” on the back, and tell them to come by your store, and you will take care of them and their employees.
Primary Relationships. As you are meeting business people in your area, you will find a few that seem like a good fit for co-marketing ideas. These should be high traffic businesses that interact with similar customers to yours, and owned by people that you “click” with. If you are an ice cream shop, you might consider a pizzeria. If you are a pizza place, it might be a video game store. A florist might want to connect with a hallmark store. Find the business people that you want to create mutually beneficial programs with. Consider co-sponsoring local events. Exchange bag stuffers (and checkup to make sure yours are actually going out to each customer), hold simultaneous sales (if they are in the same center as you), have them sponsor each other’s events and brainstorm other ways you can help to build each other’s businesses.


There are many technology platforms to reach your customers. You should utilize as many of these as possible to get your name out. Remember that your customers may also be reviewing you on sites, so keep up with what your reputation is online. Here are some platforms you should be working with:
Your website. Your unique website is your most important web point. Creating a great website is beyond the scope of this article, but remember that every single page should have a call to action clearly visible. You should be updating your site often with events, deals, and coupons. Ask your customers and friends to make customer reviews. Keep your site fresh, interesting, and exciting.
Social Media. Facebook, FourSquare, Twitter, and other social networking sites are great ways to connect to your hardcore base. Offer special discounts only for Facebook customers, chat with users, reward FourSquare check-ins, and keep all of your social media sites relevant and up-to-date.
Review Sites. Yelp, Google reviews, and other review sites allow your customers to share their experiences at your store. Encourage your customers to give you positive reviews, and make sure that you are proactive with any negative reviews.


In my opinion, most if not all retailers should have a wrapped vehicle. A car wrap can realistically create 30,000 to 70,000 impressions PER DAY. Imagine what it would cost to get that many impressions on a cable buy, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Some things to keep in mind with your car wrap:
Choose the right car. The car you wrap is an extension of your business. Make sure that the vehicle gives the right impression to your car. Also, you want to select a car that has a significant amount of surface space; cars such as the Scion XB provide a good combination of value and advertising space.
Choose the right wrap. You can do a partial wrap which just has the your logo or a full wrap where the entire car is wrapped with a logo and a design. Both are effective!


Valpak and Money Mailer offer a low-cost direct marketing solution that, unlike other “junk mail”, is often read by the recipients. Additionally, they allow the business owner to target a specific geographic audience, by city, zip code, and even carrier route, as well as target specific groups, such as people with upcoming birthdays. Not all areas have Val Pak or Money Mailer. Google search “Val Pak” or ‘Money Mailer” to see what is available in your area. Some things to keep in mind:
Negotiate. A good negotiated rate for these services is $250 for 10,000 impressions. This may be 25%-50% less than the list price.
Strong value proposition. In order for you to see traction, you must give a strong reason for the reader to become a customer. A strong value coupon is necessary for that.
Consistency. As with other forms of advertising, make sure you keep getting your message out there. A strong direct mail piece should see a return rate of 3-4%.


Flyers give you the ability to target the people that are actually stopping in your area. Use these to advertise your business to the people that shop, eat, go to school, and do business in your specific area. These are people that may come to your area but not live there, so this is a great opportunity to introduce your store to them.
Vary the times you flyer. If you flyer the same parking lot at the same time, there is a good chance you may hit the same people over and over, and miss another group entirely.
Strong value proposition. In order for you to see traction, you must give a strong reason for the reader to become a customer. A strong value coupon is necessary for that.


The people that live in your immediate area should be your most loyal customers. Whenever they think your specific offering, the first thing they should think of your business. You must remember, though, that just because they live right behind you doesn’t mean they will often or even ever drive by your store. Door hangers are the way to reach these people, and tell them why they should come see you!
Strong value proposition. In order for you to see traction, you must give a strong reason for the reader to become a customer. A strong value coupon is necessary for that.
Consistency. As with other forms of advertising, make sure you keep getting your message out there. A strong flyer should see a return rate of 3-4%.


The person who shops at your store has already proven that they are your customer base. There is no better demographic for you to present your best marketing to. Bag stuffers allow you to communicate with your customer after they leave your store, and if done correctly, get them back in the doors. Things to remember:
Bounce Back. Any coupons that you use as bag stuffers should cause your customer to come back to the store. They should not be valid on that visit, and, as above, must have a strong value proposition.
Use with relationships. You can use your bag stuffers to promote the primary relationships you have established within your community.


If your offering in any way appeals to kids, school promos provide you a captive audience of one of your core demographics. Additionally, by helping the schools, you are helping the students, and that gets you in good with the parents! Here are some ideas for school promotions:
Sponsor a school sports team
Let the kids use your parking lot for a fund-raiser car wash, and match some of the donations.
If feasible, host a school event (party, tournament, whatever) in your location.


Your real estate is an extension of your store, and there are many ways that you can catch people’s attention, either while they are walking by or driving by or shopping at other stores within your center. Here are just some of those:
Banners. A sale banner catches people’s attention. You should be having a sale at your store at least every weekend, and announce it with a banner. Have the banner printed dual-sided, so that you can change up the promotion.
A-Frame. An a-frame (also known as a sandwich board) gets the attention of people that are walking in front of your store. Use these every weekend to promote sales and events that you are holding in your store.
Yard Signs. Yard signs are another unique and inexpensive way to get the message out about the sale or event that you are holding.
Flex Blades. These vertical signs add color and pop to your store, and draw the eye.