Guerrilla Marketing for Startup and Music Brands

Being the storyteller that I am, I’ve decided to offer up three stories aimed to provoke rebellious creativity.

First, the Godfather of Artist Management, Shep Gordon: the man who made all of your parent’s favorite artists famous. His career in Talent Management started with making the man every parent in America hated, Alice Cooper, the most hated musician in the UK too.

His music influenced a generation of teens and pop culture references, from Richard Linklater’s opening montage in Dazed and Confused, to Mike Myers’ ‘WE’RE NOT WORTHY!’ moment in Wayne’s World. Shep has dozens of case studies in seizing opportunity and leveraging his ever-expanding network of influencers with rebellious vim and vigor. Check out his memoirs, They Call Me Supermensch, for all the stunning backstage stories.

The next two stories are rooted in my first startup adventure, Jellifi. Jellifi was an online event planning tool that allowed event producers to connect and organize events with artists, venues, and sponsors. Naturally, we threw some insane pop-up events that people still reminisce with me to this day.

My team jumped at every potential brand-building opportunity with relentless enthusiasm—from gathering 300+ people for a Gangnam Style Flashmob on West 6th Street, to garnering national attention just in time for our product launch by securing a documentary opportunity on MTV, we proved to be a massive brand force that pulled everyone willing along for the ride.

I won’t go into the details here; you can scroll down below and watch a full hour-long talk I recently gave with MediaTech Ventures, at Galvanize in Austin, TX.  There, I dive into the nitty gritty of Guerrilla Marketing through each story.

If you’re interested in learning how the team, my team, at A-Player Media can help you execute your story through brand, creative, or event production, drop us a line and let’s chat.

Rather, I’d like to explore the fundamentals that each of these stories adhered to that created Guerrilla Marketing success. Without first understanding how to break down a Guerrilla Marketing opportunity, each of these stunts and events would have failed at launch.

Guerrilla Marketing Ground Rules

Know your story

If you understand your story and are able to tell it 1,000 different ways to 1,000 different people, everything else will fall into place. Don’t let other people tell your story first. Know what you want to get out of that story when you tell it, have passion when you tell it, and others will follow you on the mission that you’re planning to execute. For Alice Cooper, it was being your parent’s the most hated musician, because if your parent’s demanded you not see his concerts, you’d definitely go as an act of rebellion.

Know where your audience is

This is Branding Marketing 101: if you’re telling that story in front of the wrong people, it won’t translate into Guerrilla Marketing success. My team at Jellifi understood we wanted to get in front of people who love events, work in events, and perform at events. This was a the fuel that generated our Guerrilla Marketing engine.

Keep your network hyper-aware

A brand is a story at scale, and to do that, you must not be alone in telling it. The people that are around you and believe in the mission behind the story are your teammates on getting it out at scale. The more you keep them in the loop about your next stunt or event, the easier it is for you to get that critical mass out to support and witness and document it.

Always be ready to seize opportunity

“Losers look stuff up while the rest of us are out carpin' all them diems.”“Losers look stuff up while the rest of us are out carpin’ all them diems.”

Opportunities arise quickly and things can change and the drop of a dime — don’t get caught flat footed. Always be plugging into the pulse wherever your audience is. For me, it involved trawling social media feeds 24/7 and connecting with local event and entertainment channels to gauge what in the pipeline our budding brand could leverage. This is how both our Flash Mob and our MTV opportunity were discovered.

Now that you understand the mechanics, you need to then set your plans into motion.

How to Execute

Mobilize the network

Get that hyper-aware group of friends and brand champions ready to go at a moment’s notice. Ask for their feedback on how to execute your stunt or event, and see what they might be able to contribute to the cause. Give them as much credit as you can while still maintaining ownership of the brand opportunity.

Leverage everyone’s strengths

Once you have your team mobilized, let them do what they’re best at. If they are great video/photo people, let them run free to document the event. If they have connections with local influencers or press, give them the credit for securing the connection. Make it their idea.

Get in front of a large amount of people

My general rule is to always engage at least 100 people in these creative marketing stunts or events. Our Flash Mob bought over 300 people together. Our Beta Launch party had 1400 attendees. The momentum from the first carried over into the second, and we built that brand to the point that 30,000 users signed up on the first day of our full product unveiling.

Get noticed by the right people

Once you hit a certain critical mass of people, the right people will start to notice. Maybe this is an investor, or a promoter, or a producer. Whoever that person or group is, you need to first show them that you can generate substantial buzz simply by telling your brand story. Guerrilla Marketing with creative stunts or events is a fastest way to do that on with limited budget and a rebellion for authority.


Even the negative coverage can be helpful in fulfilling your brand mission, just look at Alice Cooper’s infamous Piccadilly Circus stunt as the epitome of this very thing. When you own all facets of the story, the only person that can control the narrative thereafter is you.

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Guerrilla Marketing for Startup and Music Brands

by Martin Martinez time to read: 4 min