Underground Marketing, also known as Guerilla marketing is promoting a product, whether it is goods or services, in an unconventional, usually inexpensive way (Reeves, 2006). This is a marketing strategy which commonly leaves the target audience unaware that they have been marketed to, in such a way that they are approached in a very normal, casual way, without noticing the marketing strategy. Underground marketing proves to be very efficient and helpful, especially for small scale businesses, since it may not require great expenses.
The usual concern that arises with Underground Marketing is its ethical issues, wherein it is questionable for deceiving or misleading the target audience that it has been brought up to. The success of the Underground Marketing strategy depends on the marketer himself. He needs to come up with several unconventional methods of promoting the product he is tasked to market to the target audience. This can be achieved by carefully analyzing his company and the products it offer, to which these products would possible sell, and to have various contacts in the business community as well as the streets.
His goal is to look for possible sources of publicity, which at times can be very expensive and sometimes be actually free of charge. Underground marketing is advantageous to small scale businesses because they are the ones that get publicity easily as compared to large scale, already established companies. This is because they can be closer to their costumers, since they are not that known yet. They can be on the streets or in private institutions, as long as the underground marketer is able to devise an unconventional way of marketing the goods or services.
It is important to get close to the target audience, because in underground marketing, you need to establish a relationship between the product and the audience. They should be the ones to realize how efficient or how user-friendly a certain product is. The Underground marketer is merely bridging the products to the would-be buyers. There are a lot of underground marketing scheme which an ordinary person may be unaware of, since he sees it daily at home or in the office. This includes sticker campaigns where no matter where you turn a sticker about a product, service or event is posted.
Another is through the word of mouth, where rumors about how effective a product can be, which is spread amongst office workers or store owners, making them curious to try the product for themselves. Another is putting signs or advertisements in the sides of public vehicles like buses and cars, though it would require spending some money in order to pay for the vehicle’s services. One effective form of acquiring publicity is by distributing inexpensive freebies, usable items like calendars, contacts notebook, t-shirts, mugs and more which contains the brand of product you are endorsing, like beers, hotels, restaurants, and so much more.
A subset of underground or guerilla marketing is the undercover marketing. It is also known in other names like buzz marketing, stealth marketing, and negatively, roach baiting. The target audience, the consumers again, don’t realize that they are being marketed to because it is tailored to be subtle and discreet as much as possible for it to be effective. This is often employed by known companies who wish to launch a new type of product, like its latest line of camera phones which has added features.
Through this, they give the customers a first-hand experience of trying out the new product. Consequently, they expect that these consumers would spread the word about that product to a larger number of people, giving them instant publicity. Another way of creating a buzz would be to hire an actor and give out free samples to people while befriending them. He can tell them the benefits of the product they are trying, or how economical it would be if they would opt to buy that certain product.
With the actor pretending to be another local bystander sharing his views about how healthy a certain drink would be, the consumers are unaware that they are being marketed to, and out of curiosity, would try out and buy the product to. It is a simple, easy, economical, yet very deceptive way to sell something. The real reason of this undercover marketing is to create a buzz, word of mouth transfer from the undercover marketer to the target audience, to another consumer, then to another. It is an almost free publicity, something that has a high chance of convincing buyers to purchase the product that they offer.
There is a very small financial risk, since the expenses would not be very high. This however, is the last resort of investors, especially if the traditional marketing techniques have little or no effect at all in the sales of their products or services. Even though it is very cost-effective and considerably easy to execute, Underground Marketing as a whole is a very risky marketing strategy. The deception and subtle nature of underground marketing could backlash or the investors or the companies employing the method.
If the consumers find out that they have been deceived or manipulated into trying the product, even if it has no negative effects on them, they could be angry at the marketer and would not support the product at all. What would have been a positive publicity would become a spread in negative comments regarding the product, as it is transferred through the angry consumers’ word of mouth.
Reeves, S. (2006). Go Ape Over Guerrilla Marketing. Retrieved September 8, 2007, from http://www. wired. com/culture/lifestyle/news/2006/06/71141