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Guerrilla Marketing Redux

June 27th, 2007

Recently I found myself isolated from the digital world for a couple hours, courtesy of Idaho Power. After a brief period of anxiety, I picked up an old book I hadn’t looked at in many years—Guerrilla Marketing Weapons by Jay Conrad Levinson.

My first observation was how antiquated some of the strategies are. 1990 does not seem that long ago but from a business and marketing perspective it’s a world apart in many ways. Regardless of the era, I question some of the council he provides in his promotion of advertising as “affordable” and a “necessity”. The author was an advertising guy in a bygone era…can’t blame him for pushing his industry.

While some of the info was off base (should I really consider promoting my business through matchbook advertising?) most of the “weapons” are still spot on. One point the author made that really resonated with me was under the heading, Identity:

A word to strike from your marketing vocabulary is image. An image is a facade, something phony…prospects come in…and learn that the company is not, indeed, what it held itself out to be in the first place. Instead, it is different—not bad, but different.. This makes the prospect unconsciously feel ripped off…because you communicated an image that had little basis in reality, only in hope. A far better
i word than image is identity. An identity is automatically honest.

This timeless insight is the essence of the social revolution that New Media / Web 2.0 have brought to bear in the last 15 years and in fact it’s the catalyst that established RisingLine.

In the past, many companies could trick enough people (mainly through advertising and gimmicks) to keep a sustainable level of demand generation to feed their habit. In the New Media world, consumers have the power to cut through the phony facade of images and create their own expose of each company. We see it well established already on such outlets as Amazon’s star ratings and user reviews and are seeing it trickle down to even small businesses through the
local business rating systems of SuperPages.com and Google. It’s at an accelerate pace now that social media will continue to drive out the fakes and increase quality across the board.

It’s ironic that this sage advice is given in a book promoting advertising and gimmicks. I believe the important take away is that more than ever, prominence should be given to building real quality into your product or service and developing a marketing plan to empower your customer evangelists who will be the authenticators and communicators for your marketing message. While advertising and marketing “weapons” may plan a part, their role has been significantly depreciated in today’s business environment.

As a post script, I notice that on the Guerrilla Marketing website Guerrilla Marketing, New Edition is being promoted as an updated version including “strategies for the Internet.”

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