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Creating a Unique Experience: Guerrilla Marketing 101

Guerrilla marketing is about live disruption; it’s about stopping people in their tracks and getting them to directly engage with your client’s product or service. You can do this with anything — kitchenware, sweaters, banking services … the list goes on. We recently had the distinct pleasure of doing it with something inherently flavorful: an arts events app.

Our client, The Regional Arts Commission, created the area’s first-ever arts and culture events app. With something as localized and interesting as arts events, we figured that experiential event activations would be the most direct way to connect our target audience with the reasons they’d benefit from using the app.

To bring the app and the RAC’s color to life, we created Team Orange, an enthusiastic, orange-clad group of local performers and creatives who shared the app at arts and culture events. These guerrilla marketers encouraged event attendees to interact with live art on site. Attendees were led to press a large orange button that read PRESS FOR ART in order to activate a team of breakdancers, a musician and even a 3-part orchestra ensemble. If you love art experiences, you’ll love the STL Arts app, Team Orange suggested, as they showed you how to download and navigate the app to find more of what you love.

What we learned

  1. Go where your audience goes. Who are you targeting, and where might they congregate? Bring an activation directly to them rather than targeting a too-large event where you might get lost in the crowd. For example, if we are targeting people interested in arts and culture, it wouldn’t behoove us to stand outside of a healthcare convention, but it would make sense for us to integrate into a jazz festival. You want to create an activation that is contagious. If you’re in front of the wrong crowd, your energy will be hindered. When amongst the right people, the excitement of what you’re doing will build and build, often taking on its own life.
  2. Pull people in by making them DO rather than OBSERVE. By asking the audience to press a big button or grab a paintbrush or take the hand of a swing dancer, they became direct participants. Instead of seeing you as a solicitor, you’re seen as someone who is offering something valuable and beneficial to the individual. They are much more predisposed to hear you out, having already felt a benefit of the product or experience.
  3. Design for the site, and consider context. Your activations won’t be identical from site to site. Consider the audience, the occasion and the space for each activation. When we were at Saint Louis Fashion Week, we brought Team Orange manikins. When we were at an outdoor sidewalk chalk festival, we had a team of breakdancers engaging the crowd. As your activation series travels, tweak it as needed to fit each location.

The best thing about this guerrilla marketing campaign? People had fun, and they realized what joy the arts brought to their lives. But it didn’t hurt that, on average, the app downloads exceeded our monthly download goals by more than 40 percent.

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