Guerrilla Marketing Events: The Psychology Of Staffing

23 Feb

Jay Conrad Levinson created the term “guerrilla marketing” in 1984, writing a bestselling series of books on the subject that have been translated into 62 languages and sold more than 21 million copies worldwide. Originally guerrilla marketing was intended to draw attention to an idea, product, or service using less-conventional means like graffiti, sticker bombing, flyer posting, etc. Today, the scope of guerrilla marketing has expanded to include flash mobs and viral marketing campaigns.

Over the years, guerrilla marketing has split up into a number of different strategies and subsets, including ambient, ambush, stealth, viral and street marketing. Ultimately, the main point is that the activity should be in a public place; whether that’s a high street, shopping centre, park or beach, in order to attract an audience and generate a buzz.


Removing the guesswork

Jay Conrad Levinson recognised that guerrilla marketing shouldn’t rely on expensive guesswork but use the recognised laws of human behaviour to ensure success. He identified some psychological insights that could transform guerrilla marketing from guesswork into a science.

We believe that it’s important to recognise these when recruiting staff for a promotional event that uses guerrilla marketing techniques. Here are our thoughts on how these psychological insights can be used to find the right person for your next event:


1. Purchase decisions are made in the unconscious mind

Staff at an event need to be aware that people have unconsciously made a decision about what is being promoted and if it’s relevant to them. It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to change their mind, so they can’t badger or pester people.


2. Access the unconscious mind through repetition

This doesn’t mean that you mindlessly repeat a brand’s message. Instead, each event should have a consistent element to its message and any staff should be aware of the brand values that need to be reflected repeatedly at each event.


3. People are either left-brained or right-brained

The best staff will instinctively know how to approach an event depending on which target market it’s aimed at. A logical left-brained event will give ten reasons to buy a product. An emotional right-brained campaign will tug at the heartstrings or go out of its way to impress through its visuals.


4. Form two bonds with customers; a human bond and a business bond

An event is about forming a strong human bond with consumers and customers; the business bond comes later. Staff your event with human beings, not sales people. It’s more important than ever to give brands a friendly, approachable personality. One of the easiest ways to do this is by having people with these qualities as your brand ambassadors.


5. All marketing has a stated message and a meta-message

The stated message is what you say. The meta-message, which is often stronger, is about the look and feel of a campaign. All staff will have a scripted element to their role, but they need to present it in a way that matches the look and feel of the brand.


6. Increasing share of mind increases share of market

Share of market relates to the position of a brand in its marketplace. Share of mind however, is a lot more powerful since it results in brand loyalty. Because of its unconventional nature, guerrilla marketing is all about winning share of mind by being memorable and offering something that’s worthwhile and, more often than not, fun. All traits that you need to look for in the staff for an event.


7. Freudian marketing and Skinnerian marketing

Freudian marketing suggests that unconscious desires like touch, taste and smell drive the purchase decision for consumers. Skinnerian marketing is based on using rewards and punishments – guerrilla marketing will use both approaches. Staff at an event should be well briefed on the profile of customers so that they can reward them with the most relevant information or offer.


8. Take soft steps

Convincing someone to buy something takes time. From their point of view, parting with cash is a hard step. Guerrilla marketing tends to use soft steps like offering something for free to tempt customers towards making the hard step further down the line. This is another example of why staff need to be approachable and friendly rather than focused on sales.


9. Non-verbal communication

They say a picture paints a thousand words and it’s true that sometimes a visual will be a lot more potent than written or spoken words. Any campaign should consider the psychological use of colour, images and photography, colour psychology alone being a huge subject. While the staff at an event will undoubtedly need to speak, it’s important to make sure that they match the look and feel of the campaign and won’t exclude the intended target market.


10. Empathise with your customers

This holds true for any style of marketing, with both customer and product insight enabling you to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and promoting a product or service that helps them solve a problem. Recognition of your customers gives you the perfect insight into the kind of people you should use to staff your event. Once they’re briefed about your clients’ needs they can use that knowledge to understand what they want and communicate it to them on the streets.


As you can see, understanding the psychological needs of a brand’s customers and consumers can be important when staffing a promotional event for a guerrilla marketing campaign.



If you need promotional staff or experiential support, just contact us and tell us all about it!

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