Have your paid ads been converting fewer and fewer customers lately? If so, you're in good company. As fitness industry coaches, we regularly listen as studio owners lament their lack of success with paid ads over the last year. Or they find that their ads are delivered, but the customers that click on the ads don't necessarily convert. Are customers tired of paid advertisements? That's a savvy place to start, as 78 percent of surveyed adults think there are too many ads. If your target demographic is Millennials, that percentage increases to 84 percent. Finally, to add to the confusion, a study referenced by Harvard Business Review found that search ad effectiveness was overstated by 4,000 percent on Facebook. That means that while your reports may appear successful on paper, the margin of error could drastically alter your actual engagement figures. All this goes to show that while paid and boosted posts were a relatively safe bet a few years ago, we've seen an industry shift back to guerilla marketing and creative marketing campaigns. Should you throw out your digital marketing strategy? Not if your ads deliver tangible sales and clients- especially if you use a brand manager who knows the ropes, but it shouldn't be your entire marketing strategy. Let's look at effective alternative marketing techniques that are becoming more mainstream.
The term first was introduced to the marketing scene in the 1980s and, although marketing looks vastly different now, it still features many of the same elements now as it did initially. It's based on the definition of guerilla warfare, in which non-tactical or civilian armies take on a larger force through creative or low-budget strategies. Sounds scary, but in this case, the non-tactical army is your fitness studio, and the larger force is the giants in the industry who have marketing budgets the size of the average local studio's entire annual revenue. The main ideas behind guerilla marketing are unconventional, inventive, and low-cost advertisements that get noticed. Often, they engage their ideal target customer in creative ways and land because of their whimsical, imaginative nature. If you've ever taken a picture of a funny or remarkable ad and sent it to a friend, that was likely a successful guerilla campaign.
Your potential customer is bombarded with marketing and tired of it-especially if they are under 40. If you can get them to look twice and engage with your brand, you've already won half the battle. Better yet, guerilla marketing is usually less expensive than traditional print and digital ads, so your risk is smaller. This marketing style is generally centered around product or brand awareness rather than conversions or clicks. However, executed correctly, a successful guerilla campaign will make sure your studio is front of mind when the customer thinks about your modality. Better yet, it may even send the customer to your social media page or website where they can purchase.
Although this is the fun, whimsical cousin of traditional marketing, it still requires a strategy and a plan. Start with your goal and analysis, as always.
Decide - are you:
Each of those goals will require a different approach, but they'll all start with a customer analysis.
First, consider where your target customer hangs out. There's no point in hosting a flashmob in the mall if your ideal client hasn't set foot in a mall in five years. Grab a notebook and write down anywhere you see your clients hanging out - stream of consciousness style. Although we're not talking specifically about paid ads, social media isn't exempt from this list. An excellent example of guerilla marketing online is the fast-food dueling Twitter accounts. Once you complete your "what" (the goal) and "where" (your clients can be found) lists, you can move on to "how."
Next, determine what your client is most likely to engage with. Are you aiming to make her stop and laugh? Catch his attention, so he pulls his phone out to screenshot? Reshare it on their own social media? You'll also want to consider your brand's personality. If you're a serious yoga studio, slapstick humor will likely feel unnatural or forced, so consider your brand's tone as well as your audience's perception of you. Your marketing voice and your mission statement should align.
Before we get into examples, here are some reminders to keep in mind.
According to the guerilla marketing company Alt Terrain, there are four main categories that your guerilla campaign will fall into.
Like most advertising, it can feel like you're throwing money out into the world and crossing your fingers if you don't know how to track and define your success. Remember, you can tell the viewers what you want them to do, i.e., post a story attempting the plank challenge on their Instagram stories. Based on the goal you chose before your campaign, you'll want to consider the following:
People are often worried about guerilla marketing because of the risk of looking silly or spending their money on an unsuccessful campaign. What would you do if your Facebook ad failed? Would you close up shop and hide your face? Probably not. As you experiment with guerilla marketing, you're bound to learn your voice and what resonates with customers, just like you do for any marketing. Be easy on yourself and give yourself some room to be creative. If even one client comes in from your "failed" marketing attempt, it's a win. Optimize your marketing efforts for your goals, think outside the Facebook ad, let yourself stand out, and you'll soon see your guerilla campaigns create a buzz.