When you think of guerilla marketing, you might picture a team of people in costumes hitting the street, ambushing unsuspecting passersby with flyers and gifts. While there are businesses that market that way, it doesn’t paint the whole picture.

According to Tweakyourbiz.com, guerilla marketing is “behavior [that] delivers publicity via local unconventional marketing activity that makes people sit up and notice… think “Shock & Awe.” Certainly, wearing a costume to hand out flyers can be shocking, but that tactic is missing depth needed to sustain interest or get people to take further action.

Your ability to generate an immediate response in person is like keeping your call-to-action above the fold on your website. It’s the only way to capture immediate attention.

If you want to use guerilla marketing tactics successfully, you’ve got to think beyond “Shock & Awe” and capture attention in a way that makes people feel good. First, let’s talk about the importance of humor.

Why add humor?

Humor is one of your best chances at developing rapport with somebody you’ve just met out on the street. If you can make somebody laugh or smile, you’ve got their attention. They’re going to be more willing to make your suggested call-to-action.

Shock and awe is not always appropriate

Shocking advertisements are used often by organizations that are working to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. For example, these 40 advertisements are simple images that convey messages designed to elicit intense emotions from viewers.

One World Wildlife Foundation ad features a bear on its hind legs with its fur removed and muscles exposed with the caption, “they weren’t born to be worn.” Lung Cancer Foundation ads feature images of children holding a cigarette, and the arm they’re holding it with is that of an adult. Another ad shows a UK bridge nearly covered in trash, the scene looks like a landfill, with the caption, “just when will you start recycling?”

These types of ads are powerful. They’re shocking. Some are even heart wrenching. They’re effective in getting the message across, but for some people it’s too much. When an advertisement is too shocking in a negative way, even if it’s true, it can cause people to immediately shut down.

When your organization is fighting for animal rights, human rights, and ending violence against women, it makes perfect sense to shock and awe people. However, if you’re not tied to such an organization, humor is a better medium.

People want to feel good – make them smile

There are enough negative messages in the world coming from advertisements. People want relief from the stress of everyday life. They want to feel good. The best guerilla marketing campaign you could possibly employ is one that makes people smile.

Here are some slightly unconventional ideas you could incorporate into your guerilla marketing efforts:

  • If your product is family-friendly, stand on a busy corner where families walk by and make balloon animals for the kids. Even some of the most complex balloon animals are easy to make once you master the basics.

    When you’re done with the balloon animal, tie a ribbon around its neck with your business card attached to the ribbon. To add some humor, dress up like a mime and use your facial expressions to communicate.

  • If you’re creating YouTube shorts, short films, or anything in the entertainment industry, load up some USB drives with your trailer and a link to your website. Put something funny on the drive, like a meme related to your industry that also directs people to your website.

    To get people to take the drives, all you need to do is put something valuable on a few of them and let people know they might be the lucky winner. The prize should be something universal like a loaded Bitcoin wallet, or a virtual Visa gift card.

Be loud but not obnoxious

Some companies create large 3D advertisements in the middle of sidewalks. Though the ads are loud, they’re not obnoxious. They draw more curiosity and giggles than anything else. For example, Bounty created two of these ads with the caption, “Makes small work of BIG spills.” One featured a giant popsicle lying on its side, melting in the street. The other featured a giant coffee cup spilled on the side of the street. Countless people took selfies with these ads.

Hubspot gives great advice for implementing this type of ad, “identify the biggest problem that your product or service solves. Then, find an unconventional way to broadcast that to the public – preferably without words.”

That’s exactly what Bounty did, and you can do the same.