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Guerilla Marketing on Williamsburg Bridge

Basic Marketing We Often Overlook

I was standing in traffic on the Williamsburg Bridge this past weekend and noticed a flurry of stickers along side the railing. Perfectly eye level. To me it was the ideal form of entertainment. During the next half hour that I spent crawling over the bridge in what was usual New York City traffic I had found some pretty amazing things. For example did anyone know that New York has a mobile skate shop? Yep. That’s what TreTruck is. Now I don’t skate – but it was catchy, it grabbed my attention – and now you’re all reading about it. Good Job TreTruck!

Guerilla Marketing on Williamsburg Bridge

Then it hit me. This was basic marketing. Marketing at its core. It was simple yet creative, and it was extremely cost effective. The legality of it might be questionable in this exact scenario however, so do keep that in mind when reading through the post. I will however go into a few legal examples later on in this post. First off though – some quick math to consider.

How much does each sticker cost? $0.50 lets say. Let’s say you use the Williamsburg Bridge twice a week regardless – so it’s already a part of your commute. And if you’re a New Yorker, you know your standing in traffic there, there’s just no way around it unfortunately. That means your cost for advertising here is $0.50 if during your usual commute over the Williamsburg Bridge you stick your hand out the window and place a single sticker. Now how many people do you think will see that sticker? Take a quick look here – that’s the current live traffic feed from the Manhattan side entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge. At most given times – there is a long line of cars, a line significantly longer than what $.50 will get you in most sorts of traditional marketing.

Now, it’s important to note here that the Department of Sanitation does state that “it is illegal for any person to paste, post, paint, print, nail or attach or affix by any means whatsoever any handbill, poster, notice sign, advertisement, sticker or other printed material upon any curb, gutter flagstone, tree, lamppost, awning post, telegraph pole, telephone pole, public utility pole, public garbage bin, bus shelter, bridge, elevated train structure, highway fence, barrel, box, parking meter, mailbox, traffic control device, traffic stanchion, traffic sign (including pole), tree box, tree pit protection device, bench, traffic barrier or hydrant or other similar public item on any street… Every handbill, poster, notice, sign, advertisement, sticker or other printed material shall be deemed a separate violation. Anyone found to have violated this provision, in addition to any penalty imposed, shall also be responsible for the cost of removal of the unauthorized postings. You could receive a fine of up to $200 for each instance where a poster is traced back to you. Second offenses can cost you up to $300″. 

However that aside, this made me think how often we as business owners miss out on simple marketing opportunities. If you run your own business – chances are you know other business owners. I’m sure they won’t mind displaying your business cards in their store if you display theirs in your business. Maybe they would allow you to place a sticker of your business on their window in exchange for you doing the same.

Giving away stickers with purchases also gives you the opportunity for some great marketing. Plenty of people still place bumper stickers on their cars – and we all look at them when were driving behind them. After-all they’re right in front of your face. You pretty much have to look at them.

Picture by William A. Jacobson.
Picture by William A. Jacobson.

These can also be used as giveaway items in exchange for someone subscribing to your mailing list – thus helping you grow an email list to utilize for email marketing and simultaneously allow your customers to take care of the guerrilla marketing for you. See if your customer decides to place a sticker on the Williamsburg Bridge, it’s not you’re responsibility.

Sometimes we overlook the simple things because we just assume we need to spend tons of money for any beneficial marketing. Fact is you don’t. There are plenty off cost effective marketing methods out there that are really worth a shot. Think outside the box. Get creative.

About Michael Boguslavskiy

Michael Boguslavskiy is a full-stack developer & online presence consultant based out of New York City. He's been offering freelance marketing & development services for over a decade. He currently manages Rapid Purple - and online webmaster resources center; and Media Explode - a full service marketing agency.

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  • David Soloman

    Awesome post. Out-of-the-box thinking is what really gets someone’s attention these days. Everyone is used to the same old already, and in any fast-paced environment it just doesn’t fly anymore.

    • Chris Capers

      Definitely. These days this is what it’s all about. Good write up on both parts of this.

  • Cher Kravis

    Some great points here.

  • Annie Marie Peters

    I agree! Marketing plans have become so elaborate, we often overlook the basics. I like your example with the stickers. It’s something so simple, yet so effective.

  • Marianna Elizabeth Beavis

    While the legal side of this may be questionable as you said, it certainly is interesting when you put it into the context of the cost and how many people are actually looking. I personally live in Australia, so while we don’t have a Williamsburg Bridge here, it’s the thought of going back to the basics with marketing that I really find interesting. While the internet is a great tool, I’m sure there are a number of people that you may be missing that are those you could reach in a manner like this. It’s an interesting thing to think about, and something that should motivate people to focus on creating other (hopefully legal) advertising avenues that might be able to reach people in this way. Definitely something to consider.

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