What The Hell Is Grassroots Marketing?
And, why should I be using it for my local business?
What Is Grassroots Marketing?
The idea behind grassroots marketing is about the audience and intentions. Some campaigns aim to reach as many people as possible, grassroots marketing is the principle of purposefully targeting a highly niche group of people in an attempt to persuade that group to then propagate your message organically.
Grassroots marketing relies heavily on social media and growing locally viral to succeed for contractors. Since the idea behind this kind of campaign is to encourage people to share a story, it follows that social media is pivotal in making this happen.
Think of the social shares you can get if you held a game for kids at a local event and then handed out small trophies. Would those people go on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and showcase what little Johnnie has won?
Grassroots marketing works by promoting your business to a small group and hoping that your message will spread to a larger audience. The goal is that by doing something that sparks one person’s interest, either because it’s heartfelt, intriguing, helpful or unconventional, you increase the chance that they will share the message.
By thinking outside of the box and venturing away from boring emails or pricey advertisements, you can potentially spend less money while making more of an impact.
This type of marketing can be an excellent way of getting the word out about your business. This can be especially powerful for small, locally focused businesses.
Why Use Grassroots Marketing?
Although grassroots marketing can be highly effective, many businesses fail to see why this type of marketing campaign can be more advantageous than, say, a typical PPC or Facebook Ad.
There are several reasons you should consider using grassroots marketing.
- It’s remarkably cost effective. With smaller, more targeted audiences comes significantly lower expenditure. This is a big selling point of grassroots marketing, particularly for businesses with small budgets.
- It makes smaller, more targeted campaigns viable. Although the audiences typically targeted by grassroots marketing campaigns are small and highly segmented, this detailed targeting often precludes them from larger PPC and paid social campaigns. Grassroots marketing can make new opportunities that may not be otherwise cost-effective.
- It capitalizes on existing social trends and gives audiences what they want – direct interaction with a business.
Here are 10 examples:
- Send dog bones out to our customers with pets along with a thank you card. Not only is this very cheap, but it lets your customers know that you care. Follow up with an email asking if they received the gift along with a link to your review page.
- Be willing to take risks and create buzz in order to create a rallying point for your customers. Sharpen the effectiveness of your grassroots marketing efforts, always be ready to capitalize on trending topics that are emotional touch points for your target market. Try to understand and anticipate the rise of such topics by carefully following the media your customers follow. Supported causes, particularly near and dear to them. Stress community service and social responsibility above profit and commercial gain.
- Demonstrate how your product or service works whenever and wherever possible. Do you have an environmentally safe product? Think local Garden or Home Shows.
- Cross promote your business with a complementary company in a creative way. Partner with a local business with a similar target audience in order to spread your message to more people. Roof soft washers and Roofing Contractors. Painting contractors and flooring contractors. Lawn care and pressure washing companies. (They edge the concrete, you clean it.)
- Set up a game at a local event to draw in crowds and teach people about your product or service. Instead of just having a booth at your next local event, have a game that actively engages people walking by. Painters imagine having a painting booth game,with a color in the line contest for kids. Power washers could have a spray a target clean game. Roofers could have a shingle tab into a barrel like frisbee golf. Get creative and interactive.
- Show up to local events, either personally with your product, or with a flyer or poster. By being a strong presence in your local community, you are increasing the number of people in your area who are familiar with your business.
- Use referral bonuses to get your current customers to spread the word. Exploring the possibility of getting new clients is a great idea as you never can tell who will become a long-term customer. In order to maintain a stream of new clients, one grass root marketing strategy is to give out a bonus to clients who refer new customers. Give out something that is worth the referral effort. You can even run a contest with prizes for clients who refer the most number of clients.
- Use Tear-Off Flyers. Many advertisers dismiss using tear-off flyers in their grassroots marketing campaigns in the mistaken belief that this method of advertising is best suited to people offering guitar lessons and yard sales. However, many major brands have launched tear-off flyer campaigns to great effect.
- Flirt with Controversy on Social Media. Think of how viral a cleaning company could use President Trumps “Sh*t Hole” statement? Or the “Take a Knee” of the NFL, for a lawn care company showing getting on your hands and knees pulling weeds. Since social sharing is a crucial part of a successful grassroots marketing campaign, flirting with controversy can help propel your content to much wider audiences – if it’s handled correctly.
- Support a Good Cause. Philanthropy and charitable giving can be a powerful motivator for many people. The desire to help – and be seen helping – a noble cause can give grassroots marketing campaigns a major push. Think Habit for Humanity, Salvation Army, or any local charitable event or organization that aligns with your target customers or ones that you feel strongly about.
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Ok, so how do you go about making a grassroots marketing campaign?
As with anything marketing, define your goal. What is the outcome you desire. Do you want community awareness, get people to demo your service, create a lead list? You need to have a goal for it to benefit your business.
What channels are you going to use? Social media? If so, what ones? Are you willing to spend on advertising this grass roots campaign? Are you going to cross promote or network with another business? You need to lay out how you are going to make this a success.
You need to track results. See how many shares or likes it gets. If lead capture is what you are after, how many leads did you get. A simple one is to see how many people interact with you at a fair or local event by handing out something free with a number attached. If you had 1000 of them and have 300 left you made contact with 700. You could also piggy back that with a lottery…number 599 won. Like a 50/50 raffle.
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Below is a few example of a grassroots campaign.
I find the irony in this, as it is the Outdoor Adverting Association and they used Social Media to market it. (Think Social Media isn’t powerful) Need help with your social media?
The Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) represents any company that advertises outdoors. Their members include stationary and mobile billboard owners, and companies that sell ads on outdoor furniture and public transit vehicles.
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In 2014 the OAAA partnered with several prestigious art organizations, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Gallery of Art, on the Art Everywhere campaign. The goal was to demonstrate the power of outdoor advertising.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube
The Art Everywhere, US campaign used images of 50 famous pieces of art in special outdoor installations around the country. Consumers could vote on which artworks they wanted to see outside of museums. They could also photograph themselves at the public installations and post pictures to their favorite social media channels using the hashtag #ArtEverywhereUS. In total, the campaign received over 50 million social media impressions, 1,000 mentions in the mainstream media, and drew the attention of several members of Congress. That included 26,000 views on YouTube, 5,837 Facebook likes, 1,978 Twitter followers, 1,529 Instagram followers and 303 Pinterest followers.
The Home Builders Association of Greater Knoxville (HBAGK) was founded in 1951 to represent the interests of homebuilders in the 16-county region surrounding Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s part of the National Association of Home Builders and the Home Builders Association of Tennessee.
Increase turnout and social sharing for the 2015 Knoxville Parade of Homes, an event that promotes the quality work of HBAGK members.
Facebook and Twitter
The campaign circulated information about the Parade of Homes to boost attendance, and encouraged attendees to share photos of homes and other information through their social media pages. Facebook impressions increased by 118,581 as a result of the campaign, with total social media impressions reaching 240,467. Over 700 people interacted with the Facebook page in some way during the Parade of Homes. The organization got 120 new likes and 47 new Twitter followers as a result of their efforts.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) serves companies involved in the organic food industry in North America. Members include farmers, processors, certifiers, importers and exporters, and retailers.
Dispel common myths about organic food, including that it’s too expensive for people who are on a budget.
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn
Using the hashtag #OrganicFestival, the OTA spent 10 days blasting various social media channels with research-based facts about organic food. They estimate they reached over 15 million social media users and made 207.5 million impressions. More than 23,000 people shared a post that included the hashtag #OrganicFestival and something else, like an infographic or picture. People created over 36,000 unique posts using the hashtag #OrganicFestival.
Think Big, Start Small
Grassroots marketing can be a great way to build your business and reach new customers. Although not all of these ideas will necessarily apply to your business and campaign objectives, hopefully you’ve thought of some ways you can use the power of grassroots marketing to grow your business and reach new audiences in innovative ways.