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Casual Guerrilla Marketing: Making it Work
By: Ashley Linn
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When you stroll down the streets of any city, you will eventually be forced to engage with a stranger. It may be a homeless person. It may be the friendly hotdog vender trying to sell you cheap, questionable food. While I stumbled across these strangers many times, I didn’t realize I would become one of them. No, I didn’t end up slinging hotdogs. I interned for a comedy club. I was promoting the comedy club by participating in its street team. It was a weekly routine for me to stand on Michigan Avenue in Chicago with a stack of flyers that had to be gone by the time I headed back to the club. I was terrified at first. I remembered I used to think these people passing out flyers and coupons on the streets were freaks! Did anybody actually approach these people? How did this work?

It turns out that being part of a street team wasn’t so bad. Sure, some people ran from me like all guys did in my awkward preteen years. I wasn’t worried about them. I was more focused on engaging with people who loved comedy as much as I did. I had a mission to get these people to the club so they could get sloshed and laugh at comedians. To my surprise, it worked!

How did I succeed in doing this basic guerilla style street team marketing, you might ask? Here are a few factors that helped me. The simple fact that I was actually enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the entertainment I was promoting was the biggest help of all. I always knew the names and credits of all comedians performing that night. I also kept in mind any unique details of the club. Having this knowledge of the event helped give me the confidence to approach people.  

Confidence is the next key to being part of a street team. Nobody wants a shy weirdo coming up to you on the streets babbling about something they are unsure of. Know why you want them at your “event” or “club” and talk to them about it. If others are walking down the street and they see you talking with somebody about something cool, they are going to be curious, too!

I never strayed too far away from the club to pass out flyers. I mostly kept it within view. This helped when people would ask, “Where is it?” I could point them in the direction of the club and they would be on their way to seeing a great show. People walking in the area might have already passed the club. So, by the time they saw me with the flyers, their interest had already been sparked and they were ready to learn more information.

The physical information you pass out on the street is obviously the most important aspect to street marketing. The flyer is that person’s reminder to come see you and your event. The colorful logo of the club, the address and phone number, and a gleaming picture of the comedy stage made for an epic flyer people couldn’t resist picking up.

I started off being nervous doing something that ended up having such a simple concept to it. I learned a lot about comedy and met tons of people. I would come inside from doing street team work and prepare to set up for the shows. Once the shows started, I would see people I talked to on the street earlier that day start walking in to sit down. It felt good knowing I took a part in passing along great information and these folks would have a great experience.

So next time you are walking down some busy streets in New York City or L.A, stop and pick up some flyers from these street marketers. You may end up enjoying a spontaneous event, show, or product that they have to offer.

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About the Author
Ashley Linn is a graduate of Northern Illinois University who studied Communications and Marketing. Shortly after graduating, Ashley stumbled onto the Chicago entertainment scene by marketing for comedy clubs and an event-planning company. The interesting characters she has met have only encouraged her writing and make her excited to see what is next for her in her career.
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