You might laugh at this, but I’ve heard small business owners—even successful ones—say they don’t do marketing. They claim they just sell their product or service and leave the marketing to the Mad Men.

The reality is such owners often turn out to be good guerrilla marketers. They have intuitive, do-it-yourself ways of connecting with customers. They might not know it, but that is marketing.

Below are ten guerrilla marketing tactics guaranteed to generate more leads and get more customers. I’ve seen all types of brick and mortar stores, manufacturing businesses, professional practices, and service businesses use these. I’ve used many myself.

In its broadest sense, marketing is any technique that helps you to find your ideal customer, start a conversation, and get them to trust you enough to buy. Guerrilla marketing tactics are creative, unexpected, and cost little or nothing.  They’re the kind of techniques that let you compete against bigger, better financed competitors.

A good guerrilla marketing campaign can take a small business owner far beyond his or her limited budget. The power of the creative mind is unlimited.

When we tap it, and allow it to inspire our marketing, we can compete with billion dollar companies and succeed. I’ve included a priceless video example at the end of this article.

10 Ways to Become a Guerrilla Marketer

Here are ten ideas to get you thinking like a guerrilla marketer.

1) Pick Up Old Phone Numbers

This one always appealed to me because of its beautiful simplicity and effectiveness. When a competitor goes out of business, get their phone number. You’ll have to talk to your local phone company and there is usually a waiting period. When you get the number, have it forwarded to your regular business line.

If your competitor was in business for any length of time, there will be regular phone calls coming in for a long time. This is true for any kind business. For the small monthly cost of a phone line, you’ll have a regular source of hot leads. When they dry up, you cancel the phone line.

2) Turbocharge Your Business Card

Drop your business card everywhere—at restaurants, businesses, the library, events. Most importantly, put a compelling call to action on it.

For instance, if you own a restaurant, you could offer a free drink with dinner when you present the card. If you have a plumbing business and sell water softeners, offer a free water test. An electrician could offer a free wiring inspection with any repair. Or you could create a compelling free report that they can download online so you get their contact info.

Use QR codes to lead the reader to a landing page, video, or other relevant web page that has compelling content.

The point is to compel the finder of the card to keep it and use it. A coupon, offer, or valuable download gives the card value and encourages engagement. Then leave cards wherever you go.

3) Do a Sticky Note Campaign

If you run a retail store that delivers a product such as pizza, flowers, or other food, start a sticky note campaign. Every month put a sticky note on every door in your delivery area with a coupon or compelling special offer. Make it look similar to (but not exactly like) a UPS or FedEx delivery note. It WILL get noticed. If your offer is good, they’ll probably stick it on the fridge until they’re ready to use it.

4) Become a Local Columnist

Approach editors at your local newspapers and offer to do a column on your area of expertise. If you’re already blogging or doing a newsletter, this is an easy extension.

Local newspapers don’t have big staffs. A free source of content might be most welcome. The regular exposure gives you credibility and a free source of leads.

5) Do Local Events

Do free in-house events at your business. People are always looking for something to do, every day of the week. If you don’t have a place of business, you can partner with another local non-competing business who does. Don’t be boring. Make it creative and fun. How about a speed dating event at a grocery store?

6) Public Relations

Newspapers and magazines are always looking for interesting content and stories. The key word is “story.” They’re not looking for product announcements and self-promotional releases. But if, for instance, a new employee speaks five languages and offers free language tutoring to high school students as a personal charitable effort, you’ve got a story.

Newspapers also have events calendars to fill and you can usually get a free listing for every event you host.

PR is one of the oldest, most effective ways to get publicity for nearly anything. It’s important to get to know what the local editors need and give it to them in the format they require.

7) Use Free Social Media Apps for Your Business

Set up all the free social media apps available for your business even if you don’t plan to use them right away. At the very least, get a business page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. (Click the links to connect with me today. I welcome all connections!)

As a true guerrilla marketer, there will be a day you’ll be inspired to use your new pages in an engaging way. You’ll be ready to roll. If none of your competitors use social media, then so much the better.

Social media sites are now an important part of your online presence. Potential clients look for them to get to know and trust you. It’s as essential as a business card once was.

8) Try the “Drive Around and Look Method” of Lead Generation

I know a roofing company owner who drives around and looks at roofs to generate leads. During the course of his day he’ll make notes of homes with roofs in need of repair or replacement. Then he sends the owner a simple letter (not a brochure) with an offer for a free, no-obligation inspection.

A snow plow service can drive around and look at unplowed driveways or parking lots and knock on doors. They might get to plow and maybe even get a new customer for the season. It just happened to me. I recently fired my snow plow service  and a fellow knocked on my door after the latest snowfall. Now he has a customer.

Do you sell tires? Walk around a shopping mall parking lot and look for worn tires. Leave a flyer on the car.  Watch for more on the “drive around” lead generation method in a future article.

9) Use Publicly Available Information

Here’s one example of how this works. If you have a product or service that relates to the upkeep of a home, you can find prospects by the age of their home. Roofs, heating and cooling systems, plumbing, lighting, driveways, appliances, and garage doors start to need replacement in the 20 to 25-year range, if not sooner.

Where do you find these homes? That information is available online at your local tax appraisers office. Search for a subdivision that was built in your desired time frame and you’ve instantly found an entire neighborhood of good prospects for any of these niches. Next you copy the names and address of those prospects. (More on this too, in an upcoming ebook.)

10) Offer a Guerrilla Marketer Guarantee

If you have a great product, don’t be afraid to stretch the guarantee further than anyone else in your industry. Think about it. If your product is exceptional, customers will want to keep it and use it. Why would they ever return something that is making them money?

For instance, when I started selling products at Technifold USA, we offered a one year, 100% money-back guarantee. The customary guarantee at competing vendors was usually around 30 days. The net increase in sales because of the guarantee far outweighed the increase in returns. In fact, the product return rate didn’t increase at all, even though sales volume increased dramatically.

Yes, it’s a scary thing to offer a guarantee that bucks your industry practices. Yet you’ll stand tall amidst your competitors and it costs you zero to implement. Scariness? It’s only in your mind.

What’s the downside? There is none. In the unlikely event your product returns outweigh the increase in sales, that’s a signal there is something amiss with the product. In that case, use the feedback from dissatisfied customers to improve the product. Stick with your outrageous guarantee.

So you see, you probably ARE a guerrilla marketer.

Use these tips to amplify your efforts. If you’re not a guerrilla, pick any one of these tips and start today. You’re only limited by your imagination.

For dozens more ideas, pick up these books by Jay Conrad Levinson, the originator of the term.

The current edition of his 1983 book is  Guerilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business.

Also The Best of Guerrilla Marketing: Guerrilla Marketing Remix.

And for social media marketing, you’ll want Guerrilla Social Media Marketing: 100+ Weapons to Grow Your Online Influence, Attract Customers, and Drive Profits.

And check out the marketing video below. It’s a brilliant example of how to implement this effective marketing tactic to get more sales.

Share your marketing stories below. If you like the article, please be sure to share it with your friends and colleagues using the social buttons on the left.

author avatar
Andre Palko Owner
Andre Palko is founder of the Small Business Rainmaker™ and its free weekly e-newsletter. He is dedicated to delivering award-winning marketing and content that helps business owners thrive in any economy.