Guerilla (and gorilla!) marketing at its finest

How much must a truly stellar promotion of a new business cost? If you’re a small, scrappy start-up willing to take a few risks, the answer is not much.

Steve Fretzin and a few enterprising friends realized that their Chicago networking events were suffering from a lack of publicity. There was no calendar of Chicago-area events specifically for those seeking business networking.

Instead of cursing the darkness, they lit a candle. They created

Then they realized something else. NetworkingMonkey needed publicity even more than their events.

So Fretzin and company found a sharp PR firm and embarked on an aggressive publicity campaign. He told me, “We wanted to make a statement to the city. So we hired 10 actors and sent them into the streets.”

They didn’t leave unarmed. The came packing fruit.

“We had them dressed up in gorilla suits, and we gave them crates and crates of bananas — each with a card that had our value statement and web address. We gave away 7,000 bananas.”

If you have trouble imagining what that must have looked like, click on the video below. The event was well-documented, thanks to their PR partners, who wisely planned the event to coincide with a local television newscast’s “Dance-off Friday.”

The value of this prime time television (and subsequent YouTube) exposure is hard to measure. But since the buy-in wasn’t much more than the purchase of a medium-sized plantation’s worth of bananas, I’d say the ROI of this clever publicity ploy was definitely huge.

The Take-away:

You don’t need a hefty promotional budget if you choose the right partners and use you imagination.