In recent days marketers and advertisers are hitting a wall when attempting to spread their individual products and messages to the general public. When television commercials, billboard advertisements, and Internet pop-up’s fail where do marketers and advertisers go to promote and sell their brands? This answer is easy; they simply just take it to the streets.

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S T R E E T T E A M S ?

Street teams are a type of promotion that is based on personal interaction through word of mouth and promotion through social media forms. Street teams are a type of guerrilla marketing that promotes using chain emails, and having members physically promoting their products with posters and also face-to-face promotion. Because these tactics are still successful and widely accepted, more customers and consumers are able to grasp a connection to what is being advertised because the promotional tactics are personal and focused on the consumer and their lifestyles. Though most companies rely on the fact that consumers are more interested in advertisements that are focused towards them, how do companies assure themselves that these street teams are the most effective type of marketing? And what tactics do companies use to guarantee that their street teams are the most efficient?

Before the techniques of street teams are discussed, guerrilla marketing is a concept that should be understood before furthering in this research. When comparing street teams to guerrilla marketing one thing to understand is that street teams are a form of guerrilla marketing we are constantly exposed to everyday. In the textbook “Marketing Real People, Real Choices” by Michael Solomon, Greg W. Marshall, and Elnora W. Stuart, these authors describe Guerrilla marketing as a type of promotion that is used when a company or firm “ambushes” consumers with promotional content in places they are not expecting to encounter this kind of activity.


Companies and brands have become very innovative when it comes to the type of work each street team performs. Companies depending on the size and product commonly differ in how they use street teams to reach their audiences. In the article “Lite-Brites, Big City and a Whole Load of Trouble” written by Andrew Hampp, he recalls the guerrilla marketing that both went wrong and right. In 2007 the marketing company Turner Broadcasting used a method of guerrilla marketing that fans of the show Aqua Teen Hunger Force will not forget as well as the city of Boston. What started off as a low budget street promotion for the cartoon network show ended up giving Boston a bomb scare. Turner Broadcasting hired street team members to make “lite-brite” pictures of characters from the show and paste them to various walls and signs all across Boston. Though the company was fined for this marketing plan, this story made headlines all across the country. This story became so popular that it was on 48 hour media coverage and upstaged the hype for the Superbowl. Though Turner Broadcasting did not expect this type of publicity and coverage, they still received some sort of promotion, which in the long run only benefited them in the end.

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In most cases street teams consist of everyday people that are either hired by small guerrilla marketing companies or strictly just volunteers. The basic concept of street teams, like the story external image BB%20Bee2.gifabove, are for these groups to create a buzz for the company or product they are promoting for. In the article “The Hidden (in Plain Sight) Persuaders” written by Rob Walker, he explains what key element street team members and guerrilla marketing have that other marketing companies lack. Companies that focus on guerrilla marketing spread “buzz” around which ultimately puts them in an advantage amongst other companies.

external image Al-Fresco-Chicken-Sausage-Logo.jpgMany smaller companies and individuals are also use these guerrilla marketing schemes to also spread their products and ideas. In Walker’s article, we are introduced to Gabriella an agent that worked for Al Fresco. Al Fresco was in the process of trying to gain more followers for their products. Gabriella was hired to talk up the product that she was selling at supermarkets and social functions so people would buy. Eventually after she asked the manager of the grocery store to hold the item many bought the sausage she was promoted. This story showed how much we trust others opinions and are very swayed by what is told to us which explains how we are more interested in peer-to-peer marketing than something is just produced and repeated.

Street teamers also commonly work on jobs that range from handing out flyers, putting up posters, selling CDs, sending E-blasts, and etc. When comparing it to the “word of mouth” campaign Al Fresco did, street teams are generally focused on personal interaction. Whether that is during the passing of a flyer to posting something on the Internet promoting a product. Regardless of how the message is relayed, the most important factor is that the message is out there and leaving an impression on those who are being directly affected by the marketing schemes. Like Gabriella’s friends and neighbors she encountered were when she was promoting the new brand of sausage. Although “buzz” marketing and guerrilla marketing have a high success rate, this in no means mean that every street team is successful without the right training and motivation.

In Katie VanSlack’s “Building A Street Team,” VanSlack discusses the vital components in having a successful street team in the music industry. Though this article was primarily focused on promotion within the music industry this also closely relates to street teams all over. To start, street team companies need groups of individuals that are willing to work towards success for the label, company, musician, or the goal at hand. “You need to find about five to 10 people who love your music and genuinely want to see you succeed.” Without this the drive, these five to ten people will eventually run out of the drive they once had, especially since most street teams are unpaid. But this does not mean that members walk away empty handed. Many record labels use free merchandise like away free T-shirts, CDs, concert tickets and opportunities to entice new street team members to join their team. For example the record label “Fueled By Ramen” state on their street team webpage that members can Members of the team can “pass out fliers and stickers at tours, put up posters and snipes for albums, assist in online missions for bands, be the first to get news and updates, access exclusive videos and tools, and help promote the Fueled By Ramen bands.”


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Companies use these freebies as incentive to work hard and to continue to work for the company, even though most street team members state that they are only working to support the bands and label. Fans who work for labels and their favorite bands usually feel a connection to the artist that other fans do not hold. In Alissa Quart’s novel “Branded: the Buying and Selling of Teenagers,” Quart describes that this is a common feeling that teenagers and fans feel with their favorite musicians, which only interest them more to join street teams. “Carrie is exceptional in one way: She is a he fan of the Backstreet Boy; such a big fan that she joined a Backstreet Boys street team online. Carrie now felt at one with her gods.” Street teams strive to get fans like Carrie because this only means that these members will have the drive to work for the success of the label and band. Having a street team that is enthusiastic about the work being produced means that this will be contagious to the masses, which will create more of a buzz. And having a buzz factor is key to having a successful street team!


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Throughout the years I myself have been involved in several street teams, including record labels, independent freelance companies, and musicians. Like Carrie, at a external image B9%2Blogo.jpgyoung age I used street teams to be connected to my favorite band and labels. As time progressed my motives have not changed, but I have become fickle on the labels and companies I work for. I have decided to stray away from major labels, but stick to the more independent labels because I feel that my contribution will be more of an impact rather than with a major label or band. Though street teams are clearly a form of 21st century propaganda, I feel that when members choose their companies with research they benefit more from the company than at first glance. So other than spreading the word of what you are told, you can receive experience from the work you did. I have passed out several posters, flyers, CD’s and received little to no compensation for the work I have done, but am content with the results and where I am now.

The key to success for companies that are interested in guerrilla marketing and street team groups is the have the members enjoy what they are working for. Whether that means the street team members are getting compensation with giveaways and free merchandise, or simply because they want to help better the company. A group that is motivated and wants to see success will only drive the company into success rather than nowhere. And if the members are motivated this only means that the “buzz” will spread quickly and only promote the company even more. Guerrilla marketing only is as strong as the members promoting the cause. If the members put effort in the company will go far and exceed the other types of promotion that is out there.