GUERILLA MARKETING -
A Word of Caution



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(Please note: In this article, Guerilla Marketing is sometimes spelled with one 'R', sometimes with two. This is for keyword optimization purposes, making this article available to more people.)

The book Guerrilla Marketing was written by Jay Conrad Levinson and first published in 1983. It has been recently revised, and is still a popular seller. In addition, Mr. Levinson has used the Guerilla Marketing theme in books about internet marketing; multi-level marketing; public relations; and others.

Guerrilla Marketing Graphic

In Guerilla Marketing, Mr. Levinson, defines marketing as “every bit of contact your company has with anyone in the outside world.” A statement with which I agree, though I prefer to frame marketing within the context of strategy by saying that:

“Marketing is the communication of every aspect of your business. Because such communications must be guided by strategy, marketing is strategy .”

I am happy to refer to the book here because the strategies outlined in Guerilla Marketing are, for the most part, in alignment with mine. For example: Mr. Levinson's emphasis on servicing existing clients, even prioritizing them, over obtaining new clients makes good strategic (and economic) sense.

In Guerrilla Marketing, Levinson outlines “200 Weapons of Guerrilla Marketing” and encourages business owners to test each of them for effectiveness, then implement the ones that work. His list includes some conventional tools, such as yellow pages, trade shows, and television advertising, though he shows you how to use those conventional tools in unconventional ways. Good advice.

His list of 200 also includes some unconventional tools including viral marketing, affiliate marketing, and more. Some of these unconventional tools are available as the result of strategic thinking, and some as the result of new technologies.

The overall purpose of Guerilla Marketing, says Levinson, is “getting people to change their minds – or to maintain their mindsets if they’re already inclined to do business with you.”

For the most part, I agree with all of Mr. Levinson’s recommendations, but as I point out in one of my 5 for 5 Business Consulting on Video episodes, there is one with which I strongly disagree. In Guerilla Marketing, Mr. Levinson suggests that when times get tough, the tough get on the telephone I advise my clients against telemarketing in any form unless customers have given them explicit permission to call.

Interestingly, Mr. Levinson endorses the use of telemarketing, while at the same time unwittingly giving evidence that telemarketing should be avoided. For example:

1. In Guerilla Marketing, Mr. Levinson admonishes business owners to be aware of the legalities of calling numbers that may be on the National Do-Not-Call list. This is a list that anyone can register their phone number(s) on. Thirty-one days after registering, you can file a complaint against any telemarketer who calls.

What Mr. Levinson seems to overlook is that this list grew out of the frustration, anger, and annoyance we all feel Guerilla Marketing Graphic when disturbed at home (or at the office) by a telemarketer. Mr. Levinson completely misses the implication of the list, which is that people do not like being telemarketed.
Do you?

2. Mr. Levinson advises marketers to never send e-mail advertising to anyone who hasn’t agreed to receive it (spam). He recommends the use of an ‘opt-in’ option which allows people to request information be sent to them by email.

But if it isn’t o.k. to send e-mails to people who don’t request them, then why is it o.k. to make phone calls to people who don’t request them?
I've coined a phrase for it: "Tele-Spam".

What’s worse, since a telephone call is a more intimate form of communication than an e-mail, the violation is seen in even harsher terms.

In addition to Mr. Levinson’s apparent contradictions on the subject, there are other good reasons for not participating in "Tele-Spam".

1. According to Joe Vitale’s book “Buying Trances”, the decision to purchase is dependent on a customer’s state-of-mind. Companies attempt to create that state of mind in everything from the décor of brick-and-mortar operations, to the creation of emotional context for products. Not only is there no “buying trance” when people are at home involved in other things, but by jarring them from the state of mind they are in, you create a negative state of mind – toward you!

2. A person’s home is sanctuary to them. Trespassing there is a violation of personal space. Is that the way you want to approach your customers?

As you can see, I agree with most of the suggestions in Guerilla Marketing and recommend the book. But be advised, tread cautiously when picking up the phone to solicit business.

-by Andrew Sokol
Andrew Sokol is a Business and Marketing Strategist.
He is also the publisher of this website.
Andrew is available for private consulting and public speaking.
He can be reached by clicking

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