April 21, 2011
Case Study

Guerrilla Marketing: Seven tactics to promote a book


Just in time for Earth Day, here's a case study on the tactics used to market a book about green marketing. Green marketing is trending upwards, and analysts believe green marketing investment could reach $3.5 trillion by 2017.

We had the chance to speak with the book's primary author, a green marketing consultant, and look at a campaign that involved social outreach, traditional media and -- naturally -- green guerrilla marketing techniques. Read on to learn what did, and what didn't, work during this promotional campaign.

by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter


Earth Day is Friday, April 22, 2011. With the rise of green marketing (investment in green marketing is set to reach $3.5 trillion by 2017, according to Global Industry Analysts), we thought it appropriate to provide a case study about the promotional efforts for a book on green marketing.

MarketingSherpa had the chance to speak with Shel Horowitz, green marketing consultant and primary author of Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, along with co-author, Jay Conrad Levinson.

This case study looks at the various marketing efforts Horowitz used to promote this book after its release in January 2010, eventually achieving the number one position in the environmental category on Amazon. The campaign involved a variety of social efforts, outreach to traditional media, and -- of course -- green guerrilla marketing elements. Horowitz shares his successes and his failures, from the marketing campaign for this book to help you learn how to improve your own guerrilla marketing efforts.


Horowitz used a number of tactics to reach a wide audience and to create buzz after the book's release. Wiley, the book's publisher, added promotional muscle of its own, but Horowitz was very hands-on in the marketing of his book.

Tactic #1. Develop and leverage your social influencer group

Before beginning a social media campaign to create buzz, it's important to have a list in hand for outreach. This requires some level of interaction before the campaign begins. Bloggers are more likely to be responsive if you've had previous contact with them, and your Twitter and Facebook followers are more likely to react if you've provided value to them in the past.

In fact, the MarketingSherpa 2010 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report found blogger relations to be both the most effective, and requiring the most effort of social marketing tactics.

Horowitz explained how he created his list:

"When I wrote the book proposal, I went through my mental Rolodex and thought about: Who are the people whose stuff I read? Whose stuff I comment on? Who are the people I know personally because I met them at a conference, or reviewed their book, or something? I put together a very large list of who I can reach two or three years before I actually reached out to them."

This resulted in a list of approximately 80 bloggers and e-newsletter publishers who received a blanket email (see creative sample, "Outreach email") written in the form of a blog post. He also made the appeal to his social media network.

In his book proposal, Horowitz stated a goal of reaching five million people with the book's launch. This goal was set by adding the number of people Horowitz expected to participate in his outreach and multiplying by an average number of names per list.

While he didn’t invest the time or money in hard data collection, Horowitz feels this effort reached this goal based on a Google search with the book's title in quotes receiving more than one million hits less than one month after the launch.

On possibly reaching the goal, Horowitz stated, "If you average only five people each looking at those million Web pages, you get the five million. My suspicion actually is quite a bit more than that because, in most of those Web pages, we were going to attract more than five viewers one hopes."

He also added in retrospect he would set a sales goal, rather than a goal for market reach. Horowitz explained, "I got what I wished for. I said I wanted to reach five million people. Had I said I wanted to sell 3,000 or 5,000 books, it's possible the law of attraction might have kicked in and sales would have been higher."

Reaching out to social influencers can be very effective even if the response isn't terribly strong. You can get some unexpected and powerful exposure.

For example, Horowitz said some of the people he reached out to "went way beyond the call of duty." He cites one blogger who lives around an hour away from Horowitz and actually came to see him, and interviewed Horowitz on video, along with his co-author who joined by phone. They then shared the video online.

Tactic #2. Learn from failed efforts

One major part of Horowitz's outreach to social influencers was a failure. Along with promoting the book, he also offered his list the chance to make commission on an upsell to a membership program. The membership program was, in Horowitz's words, "a flop."

The program was priced at $99 per month and consisted of a monthly content package, including an open coaching call where members could ask Horowitz questions, interviews with accomplished green marketers, a newsletter and access to a newsletter archive dating back to 1997.

His reasoning for the idea was membership programs were very popular several years ago at price points ranging from $5 to $500 per month.

He believes his price point was too high, especially given the economic conditions during 2010. He has plans to revisit the membership program with a price in the range of $20 per month. His informal research found most membership programs fall into three price points:

o $5 per month for a very limited program
o $20-49 per month
o $99 per month and higher

To relaunch the program Horowitz is planning on hitting the low end of the middle range for membership programs.

Tactic #3. Don't forget about traditional media

Any campaign to create awareness and buzz should not overlook traditional media. Email and social media outreach is an important element to any campaign, but too often some of those old tricks -- like sending out a press release to news desks -- are either brushed aside or forgotten.

Remember, news organizations still have column inches to fill, and with newsroom cutbacks and reliance on wire services, a solid pitch with a hook can still grab some ink, real or virtual.

Horowitz had an advantage with his outreach to traditional media in that his book was about green marketing, and similar to this case study, news outlets look for interesting green stories around Earth Day each year.

Of course, just getting a press release out there isn't necessarily going to be enough to grab the attention of an assignment editor.

"Publishing a book isn't news," said Horowitz. "So if I put out a press release that says, 'guerrilla marketing expert publishes new book,' it's going to fall right into the recycle bin. It's not going anywhere. But if I talk about the specific problems I can solve, the specific goals that
I can help people achieve, some of the marketing heresies in the book, those are newsworthy."

Tactic #4. Tie discounts to relevant newsworthy events, such as Earth Day

The book's publisher promoted the book by taking a white paper by Horowitz and releasing that material in seven parts, and it also worked with Amazon in creating interest in the book.

The deal with Amazon was to sell the book at a discount around Earth Day last year, and the result of this effort was to get the green marketing book to number one in the environmental category at the online retailer.

Tactic #5. Track social mentions

This tactic works on two levels. It provides the opportunity to find out if buzz is positive, negative, or in the case of Horowitz's book, possibly illegal. It also gives you the opportunity to engage with your audience and create deeper relationships. This more personal touch can increase trust and create stronger response to future calls-to-action with your social network.

Horowitz stated he is aggressive in checking on what people are saying about the book on Twitter. His first step is to check the link and make sure it doesn't lead to an illegal download site. If it does, he alerts the publisher and they shut down the site.

But, he added, many times people will just comment on the book and he'll engage them in conversation. At that point they go from someone who just read his book to someone who has a relationship with him, and are people he can add to that "mental Rolodex" to go to in his next social media outreach.

Tactic #6. Make your call-to-action prominent in the campaign

In this case, Horowitz was looking to expand his email list by including a call-to-action in the book where readers could sign up for a bonus package of material in exchange for a sign-up. Disappointing for him, so far the number of people who have actually signed-up is very small.

He attributes the problem to the fact that this call-to-action comes very late in the book and he believes many readers just simply never see the offer. He said in the future he plans on making sure this call-to-action comes much closer to the front to help ensure more readers actually see the call-to-action.

The lesson is that no matter what your offer or call-to-action might be, make sure it is visible and easily accessible to your target audience. If they don't see the offer, they don't even have the chance to reject it, much less take action.

Tactic #7. Don’t forget to do what you do best

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in some aspect of a marketing campaign and forget to implement whatever it is you do best. Maybe you have been very successful in direct mail, but are so involved in an email campaign that you ignore a potential successful direct mail aspect to the overall effort.

For this book, Horowitz included a number of green and guerrilla marketing techniques:

- Green messaging

- Speaking and attending non-local green events

- Printing on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified recycled paper

- Building win-win marketing partnerships via networking with zero carbon impact (all electronic)

- Using social media and traditional press

- Marketing via expertise (articles, blog, interviews, speaking, etc.)

- Social proof (testimonials, awards, foreign rights sales, celebrity co-author)

- No high-carbon impact aside from two flights

The book was published January 23, 2010

- On February 17, 2010, a Google search for an exact match of the book title returned 1,070,000 results

- On April 30, 2010, the book hit number one on the Amazon environmental list (see creative sample)

- Horowitz was quoted in 131 news stories in 2010

- Response to his social media influencer list was about 15%

Useful links related to this article

1. Outreach Email Part 1
2. Outreach Email Part 2
3. Outreach Email Part 3

Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green

Members Library -- Going Green: How to Transition Catalog Users to Email & Lift Conversions 19%

Members Library -- Don't Make These Common Green Marketing Mistakes

Conversion diagnosis: Nature.org’s carbon footprint calculator

Backing Up Green Messages -- Part I

Back Up Your Green Messages by Flexing Your Muscle


Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly case study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions