By: Drew Neisser
Originally Published: Promo Magazine - October 2003
Made For Each Other
But guerrilla marketing can effectively bridge the offline and online divide, providing the cosmic glue for a successful interdisciplinary marriage. Guerrilla programs break the ice, tantalizing the prospect into wanting to learn more. Such programs refuse to be ignored and naturally provoke conversation. Online programs maintain the relationship, but can extend it to a far deeper level. Online puts consumers in charge, letting them self-direct the relationship, finding out as much as they see fit. Once joined, guerrilla and online are blissfully hard to tear asunder.
When Bluefly wanted to get new customers to its Web site, it put this powerful combo to work. Selling designer clothes at discount prices, the online retailer needed to attract and convert a large number of “fashionistas” at a cost per acquisition below $20. Anchored by an online sweepstakes that offered 12 coveted Hermes bags, it needed an offline guerrilla program that could start the buzz and spread the word in a cost-effective way. Solution? A bevy of beauties strolled the high-fashion avenues of New York, L.A. and Miami, asking women “What would you do for a Birkin Bag?” Because the Hermes Birkin Bag is notoriously hard to get and hideously expensive (between $5,000 and $50,000), an amazing number of women responded on camera. Their answers became the core of a video news release that was picked up in over 200 markets, generating over 19 million p.r. impressions. At the end of the three-month program, over 160,000 new prospects had registered on Bluefly.com. Bluefly was able to convert nearly 10% of the registrants into new customers, at a cost per acquisition well below goal.
In another case, HSBC's BankCab program in New York City proved that it is indeed “the world's local bank”. Driven by the BankCabbie, the winner of a contest for the Big Apple's Savviest Cabbie, the beautifully restored Checker Cab delivered an unforgettable brand experience via free rides. Not everyone can ride the cab, but millions of New Yorkers see it daily, and www.BankCab.com plays a critical role in extending the offline program message. Site visitors learn more about the program, browse the BankCabbie Restaurant Guide (further proof of HSBC's local knowledge) and, natch, find out more about HSBC.
Sometimes, the guerrilla experience sets up for an even more elaborate online relationship. This is the case for the “Save Your Summer” promotion from Panasonic. The offline experience starts with one of three converted ambulances called “Fun Emergency Vehicles.” Attendees perform karaoke and immediately receive a freshly pressed DVD of their performance. Few buy right away, but Panasonic research shows that a significant percentage of consumers visit the Web to review product specs before buying. At www.panasonic.com/sys, consumers can learn more about products and even find themselves in a parallel universe called PeopleAgainstFun.org. The online experience extends the offline one, allowing the consumer to get as much info as they need, further building their relationship with the brand and ultimately helping to close the sale.
If only real-life marriages enjoyed such success.
Drew Neisser is president and CEO of Renegade Marketing Group, NYC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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