Entrepreneurs are a risk-taking and dangerous breed, always opting for the quick and dirty - yet effective - way to get something done rather than sticking to the tried and true trail that others have blazed before them. This scrappy approach is something that founders should apply to all aspects of their companies, including marketing. In this syndicated blog post, Martin Martinez (Founder of A-Player Media and Director of the Austin Founder Institute) outlines some of the outside-the-box ways that entrepreneurs can use to promote their tech and music companies.
The article, "Guerilla Marketing for Startup and Music Brands", originally appeared on A-Player Media, and has been republished below with permission.
MediaTech Ventures’ inaugural MediaTech Week featured a tremendous lineup of thought leaders and influencers, right smack at the intersection of emerging tech and disruptive media.
Brainchild of Austin’s Favorite Moderator, Paul O’Brien, and a motley crew of creative mavens, MTW brought together dozens of local badasses to share their visions for Austin as the epicenter for innovation in media. Speakers and events for the week featured Serving Social’s Kristie Whites, Dan Dillard’s foundingAustin Magazine Winter 2017 launch, and a blues-infused kickoff party over at Antone’s. What was born out of this week will endure for decades moving forward in Central Texas, that we can be sure.
I had the honor of sharing some of my experience in marketing and event scene for an intimate group of entrepreneurs and music industry veterans over at Galvanize that week. Being the storyteller that I am, I decided to offer up three stories that aimed to provoke rebellious creativity.
We started the storytelling session with a tale on the Godfather of Artist Management, Shep Gordon: the man who made all of your parent’s favorite artists famous. His career in Talent Management started with making the man every parent in America hated, Alice Cooper, the most hated musican in the UK too.
His music influenced a generation of teens and pop culture references, from Richard Linklater's opening montage in Dazed and Confused, to Mike Myers’ ‘WE’RE NOT WORTHY!’ moment in Wayne’s World. Shep has dozens of case studies in seizing opportunity and leveraging his ever-expanding network of influencers with rebellious vim and vigor. Check out his memoirs, They Call Me Supermensch, for all the stunning backstage stories.
The next two stories in my talk were rooted in my first startup adventure, Jellifi. Jellifi was an online event planning tool that allowed event producers to connect and organize events with artists, venues, and sponsors. Naturally, we threw some insane pop-up events that people still reminisce with me to this day.
My team jumped at every potential brand-building opportunity with relentless enthusiasm—from gathering 300+ people for a Gangnam Style Flashmob on West 6th Street, to garnering national attention just in time for our product launch by securing a documentary opportunity on MTV, we proved to be a massive brand force that pulled everyone willing along for the ride.
I won’t go into the details here; you can scroll down below and watch full hour-long talk, where I dive into the nitty gritty of Guerilla Marketing through each story.
Rather, I’d like to explore the fundamentals that each of these stories adhered to that created Guerilla Marketing success. Without first understanding how to break down a Guerilla Marketing opportunity, each of these stunts and events would have failed at launch.
Guerilla Marketing Ground Rules
Know your story
If you understand your story and are able to tell it 1,000 different ways to 1,000 different people, everything else will fall into place. Don't let other people tell your story first. Know what you want to get out of that story when you tell it, have passion when you tell it, and others will follow you on the mission that you’re planning to execute. For Alice Cooper, it was being your parent’s the most hated musician, because if your parent’s demanded you not see his concerts, you’d definitely go as an act of rebellion.
Know where your audience is
This is Branding Marketing 101: if you’re telling that story in front of the wrong people, it won’t translate into Guerilla Marketing success. My team at Jellifi understood we wanted to get in front of people who love events, work in events, and perform at events. This was a the fuel that generated our Guerilla Marketing engine.
Keep your network hyper-aware
A brand is a story at scale, and to do that, you must not be alone in telling it. The people that are around you and believe in the mission behind the story are your teammates on getting it out at scale. The more you keep them in the loop about your next stunt or event, the easier it is for you to get that critical mass out to support and witness and document it.
Always be ready to seize opportunity
“Losers look stuff up while the rest of us are out carpin' all them diems.”
Opportunities arise quickly and things can change and the drop of a dime — don’t get caught flat footed. Always be plugging into the pulse wherever your audience is. For me, it involved trawling social media feeds 24/7 and connecting with local event and entertainment channels to gauge what in the pipeline our budding brand could leverage. This is how both our Flash Mob and our MTV opportunity were discovered.
Now that you understand the mechanics, you need to then set your plans into motion.
How to Execute
Mobilize the network
Get that hyper-aware group of friends and brand champions ready to go at a moment’s notice. Ask for their feedback on how to execute your stunt or event, and see what they might be able to contribute to the cause. Give them as much credit as you can while still maintaining ownership of the brand opportunity.
Leverage everyone’s strengths
Once you have your team mobilized, let them do what they’re best at. If they are great video/photo people, let them run free to document the event. If they have connections with local influencers or press, give them the credit for securing the connection. Make it their idea.
Get in front of a large amount of people
My general rule is to always engage at least 100 people in these creative marketing stunts or events. Our Flash Mob bought over 300 people together. Our Beta Launch party had 1400 attendees. The momentum from the first carried over into the second, and we built that brand to the point that 30,000 users signed up on the first day of our full product unveiling.
Get noticed by the right people
Once you hit a certain critical mass of people, the right people will start to notice. Maybe this is an investor, or a promoter, or a producer. Whoever that person or group is, you need to first show them that you can generate substantial buzz simply by telling your brand story. Guerilla Marketing with creative stunts or events is a fastest way to do that on with limited budget and a rebellion for authority.
OWN ALL THE COVERAGE
Even the negative coverage can be helpful in fulfilling your brand mission, just look at Alice Cooper's infamous Piccadilly Circus stunt as the epitome of this very thing. When you own all facets of the story, the only person that can control the narrative thereafter is you.
Thanks for reading! We hope this post and video are helpful in your understanding of Guerilla Marketing and how to leverage your network for success. Please share with someone who you think might benefit in their brand story by learning more about Guerilla Marketing.