Does Guerilla Marketing Still Matter?

January 30, 2014

The term “guerilla marketing” has taken on a life of it’s own since it was first coined in the early ‘80s.  As a student housing marketing practitioner, I describe guerilla marketing as any creative, out-of-the box tactics that go beyond passive, traditional marketing. It’s a way for your brand to make real-life connections with students, provide them a memorable experience and let them know that your brand gets them.

When done correctly guerilla marketing can be the silver bullet of your marketing plan. But when done poorly, it can be an epic failure and get your property on the news for the wrong reason. The question begs in our digital world does guerilla marketing still matter? And is it something your community should consider?

The answer is yes.

By creating a memorable experience with your audience, you’ll be on the forefront of their minds when they make their housing decision.  That experience will do more for your brand than the most well designed direct mailer.

It’s no secret that the web is crowded, student newspapers are full of housing ads, and all your comps are posting daily on Facebook. Your marketing plan needs that one thing to differentiate your brand.

Incorporate your guerrilla marketing into your social media campaign. As the saying goes, content is king with social media. And when guerilla marketing is done right, students will share their memorable experience on social media sites, generating organic content that benefits your brand.

And here are some of my favorite guerilla marketing tactics I’ve seen used in student housing:

Literal Interpretation Street team marketing is nothing new, but some communities are upping the ante with costume mascots (Gorillas, sharks, lions, school mascots) joining their street teams. It’s definitely an attention getter. Consider focusing your mascot efforts to key on campus events (new student orientation, housing fairs, sporting events, etc.).

Market Specific At bicycle-centric Colorado State University, one community ordered promotional bike seat covers to place along bike racks throughout campus. The students get a dry bike seat and you get positive exposure – way better than flyering cars on campus. Discover what activities are popular in your market and select a promo item or idea around that. Students will connect with your brand, because you’ve connected with them.

Quench Their Thirst You probably already give out bottle water during tours. Why not give it to them when they really need it? Take a cooler to campus during a hot afternoon and pass out water bottles with your logo.  You can also do this during on campus events (orientation, dorm move-in), after athletic events, concerts or even when the bars close.

As the leasing season shift into overdrive, brainstorm with your on-site staff members to consider which tactics fits your property. You’ll still need to provide the right amount of oversight to make sure your property doesn’t end up on the news for the wrong reason.