Pros: Fascinating, informative, thorough
Cons: None that I can think of
Rating: 5 out of 5
Susan Drake and Colleen Wells have produced a marvelous resource in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guerilla Marketing. The book’s purpose is to teach readers how to creatively market their products and services, particularly when working within a limited budget. It’s a small business’s dream come true.
Since many small business people aren’t already familiar with the process of marketing, the book begins with the basics: what marketing is and isn’t, why it’s necessary, what the traditional techniques involve, and what ‘guerilla marketing’ implies. Today’s consumers are jaded by decades of traditional advertising, and traditional advertising is also very expensive, often out of the reach of those with a limited budget. Guerilla marketing is all about coming up with creative ways to reach your target audience, at a cost you can afford. Drake and Wells discuss the difference between influencers, buzz, stunt marketing, experiential marketing, ambient marketing, and ’stealth’ marketing.
One of the things that particularly pleased me was their attitude toward stealth marketing, in which companies deceive their customers, usually by faking actual buzz or consumer interest in the hopes of artificially stimulating the real thing. Allow me to digress for just a moment. Back when I belonged to the Horror Writers’ Association (years ago), I subscribed to an email-based trade magazine that often tackled the difficult topic of how to get attention as a niche writer. The author who ran the zine had the attitude that anything goes, and regularly recommended such tactics as calling a bookstore pretending to be a fan who wanted to buy your book, so the store would order more copies. Or going into a bookstore and rearranging their displays while they weren’t looking so your books were face-out. The prevalence of the belief that simply being ’starving writers’ justified such underhanded tactics was one of the reasons why I ended my subscription to that zine and left other, similar discussion lists in disgust. So I was extremely pleased to see Drake and Wells make a case for avoiding stealth marketing.
They provide plenty of logical reasons in case the ethical ones don’t sway you. Customers today are pretty savvy, and good at sniffing out fake enthusiasm. If you engage in stealth marketing you could create a backlash that hurts you more than any of the publicity helps. Also, creating a lasting relationship with your customers is about connecting with them, and it’s hard to create a genuine connection if you’re lying to them.
The book goes on to discuss viral marketing, social networking sites, blogs and message boards, podcasts, mobile marketing, e-mail marketing, and so on. They mention a few specific sites and services related to these areas, but concentrate on the why’s and wherefore’s. They teach you all the do’s and don’t’s of creating a company presence in these electronic media, and it’s great advice.
Finally they delve into issues that are less about the mechanics of marketing and more about your company. It’s all well and good to know how to conduct an e-mail campaign, but that won’t help you if you don’t know how to show off your business to best advantage, identify and reach your target audience, and stay within your budget. This section is absolutely invaluable to the kind of entrepreneurs the web environment is creating in all of us: whether you’re an author trying to promote your books, an eBay seller marketing handmade crafts, or a coffee shop owner wanting to attract local foot-traffic, you’ll find plenty of guidance to turn you into a more savvy businessperson and marketer.
Drake and Wells have produced a remarkably detailed and thorough resource that’s adaptable to the needs of almost any business. Whether you’re a traditional businessman looking to delve into the new areas of marketing, or a web entrepreneur suddenly forced to realize you have to do more than create a quick web page if you want steady income, you’ll definitely find what you need in this book.