Viral and guerilla marketing is not about advertising germs and apes.

Well it could be, but it does not have to be. What it does have to be is cheap and easy for potential customers to pass along. And those requirements are why viral and guerilla marketing make great publicity tools for small business owners, especially in this economy.

Viral marketing encourages consumers to spread a marketing message on their own, often online. When a promotion “goes viral,” the potential for growth is exponential. Guerilla marketing uses unconventional and unexpected approaches to ambush consumers and grab their attention. These two marketing styles often overlap, as some guerilla promotions are so cool they go viral.

Whether your small business is just starting out, or if you are trying to promote a new product or service, odds are that you don’t have a lot of advertising money in your budget. (Radio, print and television ads can cost a small fortune.) By embracing the principles of viral and guerilla marketing, anyone can get good, free publicity.

Here are five ways you can create a buzz about your business:

1. Make Yourself Newsworthy
Make your businesses the first, the newest, the biggest, the only one to do something and then send out press releases to journalists far and wide. (Try free press release distribution outlets such as, and Example? Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Penn., boasts that it sells the world’s largest burger. Thanks to that promotion, it gets free publicity.

2. Get Social Online
These days, the easiest way for something to go viral is on the Internet. Social media sites like YouTube, MySpace and Facebook are constant sources for viral marketing promotions. Make a kitschy home video for YouTube, or write something interesting on Twitter. It takes creativity to get the buzz going on social websites, but the best part is anyone can try.

3. Keep in Touch
Writing quality, unique content for your website is one way to go viral. Encourage visitors to post or email you content. Make sure your contact information or references to your services are included on all of your content, so you get attention for your work.

4. Do Something Unexpected
Catching consumers off guard is one of the best ways to grab their attention. You may not have the money to pull off a massive marketing stunt like a large business, but even a small stunt, such as hosting a store-sponsored amateur pet fashion show, can get you noticed.

5. Use Freebies
Everyone loves something for nothing. Giving away free services for a day or free products is a tried and true way to trigger word-of-mouth. Make sure you announce your freebies and allow enough time for the word to spread.

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