2 Mar 2019

It Is Time for Iraqi Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla Marketing (G.M) is an advertisement strategy that mostly depends on human creativity to minimize costs of advertisement and maximize results; in other words, “thinking outside the box.” It is basically effective and cheap marketing strategy that could serve Iraqi small businesses, startups, and NGOs if they use it creatively.

Usually, marketing people, use GM strategy in various locations to send ideas and images to consumers and audiences in public places such as streets, parks, festivals, concerts …etc. Sometimes, it depends on the word of mouth that spreads quickly and for free, but It has to be done in right times and places to target specific audiences.

In fact, GM is a part of the advertisement strategies but a more innovative and unexpected way. It would entertain audiences and target their mindsets through various unusual, but interesting ways. The Iraqi GM does not deliver serious pictures, information, and slogans as traditional advertisement does. It would rather entertain them by unusual images, and creatively-shaped objects.  

Ary Hamed
Ary Hamed

is business and market analyst at ICPAR. His research focus is on KRI‌s private sector, startups, and business challenges. He holds MBA from The American University of Iraq-Sulaimani.

In the current globalized market and booming communication networks, needs to advertisement increased as well as its costs. To avoid paying these expensive costs, GM is the best strategy for Iraqi startups and small businesses. 

Likewise, humor could be used in this marketing strategy since it is one of the easiest ways to get hearts and minds of people. It helps breaking down the barriers and ice between the consumer and the marketers, creating a friendly environment, to a point where convincing the consumer becomes much easier. Humor largely increases the efficiency of any campaign in GM.

What Guerrilla Advertisement Brings to Iraqi Market?

Having a high advertisement-budget is a key factor to increase sells and promote goods and services. For those who do not have this high budget, GM is the solution. This is where Iraqi startups and new business people should invest their marketing resources while lacking financial supports and facilitation they can find in the country.

This unconventional marketing tool is basically invented by those who use their talents and creativity instead of financial resources to promote their goods and services. Very feasible incentive for Iraqi startups who actually have talents and creativity but not financial resources.GM allows them to pay minimum but get maximum at return. That is what guerilla marketing is all about.

However, minimum cost does not necessarily mean minimum effort; contrary, GM often involves innovative, creative, and intelligent approaches and efforts. It perfectly follows the famous catchphrase: “Work smarter, not harder.”

 Moreover, Iraqi entrepreneurs and business owners still need to spend some amount of money for those who work in the GM industry; however, the spending would be higher if they were depending on conventional advertisement strategies. 

Cheap But Not Easy

 Nevertheless, GM strategy is not that easy compared to its low cost. The important resources used here (creativity, imagination, and innovation) cannot be used twice in the same market. If so, it is going to lose its surprising effect. The concept must be strict to one time for a specific period of time. It also can‌t be just copied and pasted from somewhere else.

To have creative GM people promoting their services and goods, business owners need to support Iraqi artists, designers, and creative people in this advertising industry in order to keep it supplied by creative labors. 

This marketing strategy basically depends on energy and imagination. It is an effort to take the consumer by surprise and shock, making an unforgettable impression and creating high amounts of social buzz. It is to leave a big and strong impression on consumers, aiming to strike them at a more personal and memorable level.

Guerilla Marketing In Iraq

Some companies have used GM as a marketing strategy in Iraq and in KRI as well. For instance, in Sulaymaniah City, on a busy road, Mahmood Company created a very big teapot like packaging to advertise for its tea-products. 

 Generally, there are not enough creative GM advertisements in Iraq. Very few companies and almost none of NGOs have used this effective marketing strategy. Rich and big companies are mostly depending on traditional advertisement strategies, new and small ones probably have not been guided to depend on GM. 

Unfortunately, lack of reliable data does not allow to empirically analyze how much profit has been made, or lost, in a certain company due to using (or not using) GM in Iraq.

Effective But Risky Strategy

GM targets emotions of consumers and audiences in order to create surprising and shocking images. It has to create unforgettable memories by putting usual objects in unusual shapes. It basically aims to grab the audience/consumer’s attention to the goods and services being promoted for. However, its effects do not necessarily and positively attract consumers‌ attention.

The GM strategy can act as a double-edged sword since it can trigger emotional rejection also. It can badly affect consumers if it is not smartly designed and prepared. 
Therefore, GM advertisements have to be carefully created, delivered, and put in right times and places; otherwise, it will turn back to push away consumers instead of attracting them.

For NGO leaders, they should know that almost all causes can be promoted by the GM strategy. They can always use pictures and unexpected drastic slogans to get people‌s attention. 

For instance, NGOs would have hard time to address honor-killing by a traditional advertising, (which is still a resilient issue in Iraq). But with the help of creative ideas and GM strategy, they can promote their messages. 

In Social Networks Era, What Guerrilla Marketing Can Do?

Millions of Iraqi people are using social networks. Many business owners and NGO leaders have used these networks as fast and effective ways of advertising. Due to the fact that GM is mostly created by images and unusual shapes, it can be very interactive with the social media users. The GM crazy images and unusual shapes could spread out brands among social network users faster than other conventional advertisement ways.

Given the unusual images and messages, Iraqi social networks could be the most interactive environment for the GM advertising. Nothing can spread faster than unusual pictures and crazy shapes.

Again, the social networks are useful to send messages and images. The ways the images and messages are created is also important to determine how the GM strategy can affect. 

Main Takeaways for Business People and NGO Leader 

The first and most important lesson business people and NGO leaders can get from GM is the fact that spending too much money on advertising is not necessary in all cases. GM, combined with creativity, can help promote goods and services sometimes with very little money.

Regarding how important advertising is for success of any business, Iraqi companies and NGOs can really use GM as a strategy for promoting their goods, services, and messages. Plus, NGOs also should benefit this marketing strategy to promote their causes and spread their messages.

Advertisement companies need to reach out to all small companies, startups, and NGOs in order convince them to invest in GM. Many business people and NGO leaders still can‌t understand how effective this cheap marketing strategy could be to promote their products and spread their messages. It is time to bring all stakeholders together and show them what can GM brings to the table.

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