Go Guerrilla! Speaking, Coupons and Contests Use these creative methods to grow your business--your bottom line will thank you.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This article has been excerpted from Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al J. Lautenslager, available from Entrepreneur Press.

Jeannie Triezenberg, a professional organizer and president of Hire Order, a professional organizing company in suburban Chicago, used a messy desk contest to generate publicity. The entrants sent in pictures of their messy desks. The winner won free organizing services from her company. Press releases announcing the contest caught the attention of a few editors. As the time approached for the winner to be announced, the media got involved. They wanted to communicate the winner to the public. Hire Order then publicized the unorganized before situation and the organized after situation and gained significant PR just by having the contest. In this case, the PR bang was double: PR announcing the contest and PR announcing the contest winners. In guerrilla fashion, the cost of this contest was zero. The time donated to the winner was considered a sampling and resulted in paid work subsequent to the contest, all guerrilla feats. Contests, however, are just one way to get you a bang for your marketing buck. Here are a few more:

While the name guerrilla marketing was conceived in 1980 with the first guerrilla marketing book, there is evidence of guerrilla marketers way before that. In 1895, C. W. Post, the cereal manufacturer, offered the first money-off coupon ever issued in the United States. The one-cent-off coupon came with Grape Nuts® cereal. By turn of the century standards, this was very guerrilla-ish, and a lot of money. Today the use of coupons has grown so much that consumers have saved over $4 billion dollars since coupons were invented. Not bad for just a little clipping and redemption. Coupons bring a consumer to a business to spend more than the incentive cost of the coupon. That's the basic concept of using coupons. That's guerrilla marketing.

When you think of coupons, you basically think certificate of redemption. Coupons for guerrillas are used mostly in newspapers and magazines. Sometimes fliers and handbills can include a coupon.

Coupons are viable marketing vehicles for increasing product sales. Couponing is another way to commit people to brands that interest them the most. In the spirit of guerrilla marketing, use coupons in conjunction with other supporting marketing. Coupons are best used to create a short-term blip in traffic to a particular establishment, focused around one simple product or service.

The primary idea behind coupons is for the user to save money. Obviously saving money is an opportunity cost to a coupon, which might not have received the business if it weren't for the coupon. The lifetime value of that customer is well worth the coupon cost if the customer returns to buy more products.

Coupon marketing is easily measured, a valuable component in any guerrilla program. Seeing who redeemed the coupons, where the user found the coupons, and tracking print coupons can pinpoint what ads, marketing vehicles, and communication are working best. All that is required is using different codes for different placements. This can be printed on the coupon itself or coded online with coupon codes or web page tracking. As more internet technology is used in marketing, consumers continue to respond to value online, as well. Those coupons, which can be printed on a desktop printer from an online website, add value by being convenient and easy.

Coupon use is very prevalent in the grocery market. Shoppers who use them consistently pay for a significant portion of their groceries. The same can happen for the purchase of nonretail and non-grocery products or services. Including discount coupons in packaging or thank-you cards for redemption against your service is one way to offer the same value to a potential purchaser of your products or services.

Many non-grocery stores publish their own store coupons both online and in newspapers. You can get coupons for haircuts, shoes, movies, oil changes, and clothing, to name a few. Be creative for your products or services. Consumers are used to the coupon craze. Adapting it, in guerrilla fashion, to products and services typically not associated with coupons and the grocery aisle is an opportunity in front of all guerrillas.

One of the best ways for people (potential clients) to find out about you, your company, and your products and services is public speaking. It is a chance for them to get information straight from you. You are your best marketing vehicle. Speaking to groups is nothing more than a large conversation. It is powerful marketing--and efficient marketing.

A number of dynamics take place when you are in front of a group of people. First, you are the center of attention. Each audience member feels as if you are speaking directly to him or her. You're not an envelope that goes unopened. You are not a telemarketing call that comes at dinnertime. You're not a television commercial that gets fast-forwarded. Speaking to a group puts you at the forefront of message delivery and effective communication. You are having a conversation with an audience. Sure, members of an audience can walk out of the room, but of those present, you have their undivided attention. If all marketing could be delivered to "undivided attention," we wouldn't need as many guerrilla marketing strategies and tactics.

As you speak, you are also establishing credibility with an audience. Hopefully, this audience has potential paying clients. If they don't, you shouldn't be speaking to them. You establish yourself as an expert in whatever you are talking about. People like buying from experts. They feel comfortable in their buying decisions.

There are many types of potential audiences. These include community organizations, professional groups, trade associations, or civic groups.

Speaking to a group is marketing, not selling. Your speaking should offer something of value, not a direct pitch. Potential speaking topics that are marketing and value-oriented are things such as (fill in the blanks for your industry or business):

  • Top ten mistakes made when buying ________.
  • Seven insider secrets of _____________.
  • Three points to consider when __________.
  • The four B's of __________.

Another topic that is not only highly marketable, but also highly memorable, is speaking about a system you invented around an acronym. Each letter of the acronym stands for a value point of your message. For instance a speaker that presents the Opportunity RADAR offers content related to:

  • R - Re-engineering
  • A - Attitude
  • D - Drive
  • A - Aspiration
  • R - Relentless pursuit

A trainer speaking about goal setting talks about SMART goals related to:

  • S - Specific
  • M - Measurable
  • A - Actionable
  • R - Responsibility
  • T - Timing

Speaking to audiences doesn't mean you have to be a paid professional speaker or hired through a speaking bureau or even famous. There are many guerrilla tactics that put you in front of potential targets:

  • Seminars. You can put on a seminar to teach prospects how to do something that you have expertise in.
  • Demonstrations. Showing how a product works is beneficial, or a service is always valuable to an audience.
  • Panel discussions. Being a member of a panel discussion at a forum, public event, or business meeting establishes expertise quickly and generates very good exposure.
  • Coordinating team exercises. Volunteering to coordinate groups, whether within or outside your company, puts you at the forefront.
  • Reporting from a committee. Be the one responsible for reporting committee actions to a larger group.
  • Teaching. Some community colleges, extension programs, and other educational organizations are always looking for experts and those willing to share experiences with their audiences.
  • Presenting an award at a conference. Presenting an award will get you recognized and is a form of public speaking.
  • Sponsorships. Sponsoring an organization, meeting, or conference usually gets you a few minutes in the limelight. Take advantage of it, practice what you will say, and knock some socks off.

When members of your audience receive something of value from you, even if it is information, they are grateful. When someone is grateful, you have the beginning of a great relationship, and you already know how guerrillas and relationships go together. Once these relationships turn into long-term buying relationships, you will know the true value of speaking to groups.

Now, here comes the good part that makes every guerrilla stand tall. The cost of using speaking as a marketing weapon is free. The more you can use this weapon, the more audiences you can touch, hook, and start relationships with, and the more trips you will make to the bank with deposit slips in hand.

There is no free lunch . . . unless you dropped your business card in one of those fishbowls on one of your frequent restaurant visits. Why are restaurants so inclined to always give away a free lunch and push to get those business cards? The answer is that they are guerrilla marketers using their imagination and energy to collect your name at no cost. The purpose of that fishbowl is to accumulate names that will be marketed to later on. This little contest for a free lunch is nothing more than a lead generator. Because the winners will surely brag and talk about how great the restaurant is because they won a free lunch, word-of-mouth advertising and referrals are possible.

The primary purpose of the contest is to gather entrants. The cost for you to get these names is the cost of what the contest winner receives. This price for a targeted, permission-based list is a small investment compared to the potential return. That's the way all guerrilla marketing should be.

Contests work at trade show booths: "Stop by our booth today and enter to win a free Palm Pilot or PDA." All entrants are now permission-based prospects that will be marketed to after the contest.

Another benefit of contests is that they can generate PR.

GUERRILLA HINT. Have more than one winner. The more prospects that can spread the word about how you delight customers, the more potential business you will gain. Sometimes restaurants do this if they spot a key card in their fishbowl of entries. You should, too, if you see hot prospects swimming in your fishbowl.

Jay Conrad Levinson is the father of Guerrilla Marketing, the bestselling marketing series in history, selling more than 14 million copies worldwide. He is the chairman of Guerrilla Marketing International and the co-author of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days with Al Lautenslager.

Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing/PR consultant, direct mail promotion specialist, bestselling author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He is the principal of Market For Profits and former president and owner of The Ink Well. He is the co-author of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days with Jay Conrad Levinson.

The late Jay Conrad Levinson is the Father of Guerrilla Marketing. His books have sold more than 21 million copies worldwide, appear in 62 languages, and have become the most powerful brand in the history of marketing. He was the chairman of Guerrilla Marketing International. Learn more at gmarketing.com.

Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing expert, best-selling author, highly sought-after speaker, consultant and entrepreneur. He is the principal of Market For Profits, a Midwestern-based marketing consulting firm; former president and owner of The Ink Well a direct marketing, printing and mailing company; and a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach.

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