Go Guerrilla at Your Next Trade Show (Without Breaking the Bank)

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Before the late 1970s – early 1980s, advertising tactics were almost always exclusively for those with a large marketing budget. It was harder for startups, local businesses, and smaller businesses in general to find ways to spread their brand awareness without exhausting the entirety of their resources. In 2018, there are countless opportunities for advertising space; the rise of social media and web advertising combined with smaller-scale physical ad space makes it possible for just about anyone to afford an advertising campaign. Possibly the most important thing to happen for low-budget marketing was in the 1980s when Jay Conrad Levinson coined the term “Guerrilla Marketing” in his 1984 book of the same name.

Guerrilla marketing is heavily based on two concepts;

  • A statement can be made by a brand to a target audience through unexpected tactics.

  • These tactics can be actualized at little cost, hence the appeal of guerrilla marketing to smaller businesses and startups.

Guerrilla Marketing has gained popularity not only in standard, longer-term campaigns but especially in shorter-term marketing campaigns during events like conferences or trade shows. Due to their high-traffic nature and highly specialized audience, trade shows are an ideal opportunity to build relationships; Brand awareness is a key factor during these events. Being responsible for something as small as a water and snack giveaway to complimentary transportation can provide the ideal circumstances to double your booth traffic.

Mixing and Matching to create a powerful campaign

Guerrilla marketing embodies the elements of surprise and creativity and can either be integrated with traditional tactics like billboard advertising, digital tactics, or a combination of all three to build out a custom experiential campaign. The importance of utilizing experiential tactics in guerrilla-centered campaigns is not to be overlooked.

Choosing your tactics

While choosing the tactics, you’ll be using to build out your campaign; it’s crucial to have a strong profile of your audience and have an accurate understanding of what type of campaign will best suit that audience. This profile dictates not only the design of ads and copy but also how experiential tactics, if any, will factor into the campaign. For example, if you’re considering implementing brand ambassadors into your campaign, how will they interact with your audience? Will they distribute giveaways, coupons, etc.?

The best tactics to implement

When moving forward with Guerilla marketing, it’s best to consider tactics that are atypical. Tactics that are out of the ordinary are most likely to keep and hold audience members’ attention, as well as build your online presence if you integrate technology by advertising your company’s Facebook, Instagram or other social media. To implement guerrilla marketing tactics during trade shows, don’t just think about the space you have inside the venue. Choosing to expand your brand beyond the venue is where experiential marketing tactics shine. If your team members are spending most of their time making connections at the booth, it may be in your best interests to hire a team of Brand Ambassadors for the duration of the event.

Go Local

If you’re looking to stay within your budget without compromising quality, it will benefit you to find a company local to the city in which your event will be hosted. Buying directly from local media providers often eliminates a middle-man, which cuts costs and also makes the process easier. Also, booking with a local media company will make it easier to manage your campaign while attending an event, as well as make the delivery of any tactics or marketing materials simple.


Remember that by nature, guerrilla marketing tactics don’t have to use up your entire marketing budget. Creativity and spontaneity are key attributes when considering your guerrilla campaign, and you should also consider implementing experiential tactics to increase your brand’s value and presence.

Basak Atac