power of a successful grassroots marketing effort is striking. Grassroots
momentum is getting consumers and influencers in your key markets to care
so much about
what you are doing that they become your cheerleaders
and most vocal supporters. Suddenly, you have a credible, voluntary sales
force that is carrying your message forward with more velocity than a
single marketing department.
We call it the ripple effect.
Start with an initial splash of local partnerships, frequent message
reinforcement and loyal support from (unpaid) brand ambassadors. From
there, each positive association or interaction produces ripples about
your product, company or services that continue to expand throughout the
For instance, I once worked on
a campaign for a cable TV network where we needed to create stronger
awareness in a local market or risk cancellation. Instead of forcing
an untested program on the audience, we went in and asked influencers,
“How can we help you?” With that feedback, we created a
Nutrition Symposium that brought together government, medical experts,
foodies, local media and others to discuss issues that were important to
them. The result was a strong, vocal group that showed immediate and
sustained loyalty to the network. When other networks were being pulled
off the air, ours grew.
Ready to launch your own
program? Remember the Three F’s of grassroots marketing:
Feel-good, Frequent, Free.
Feel-good: Make it a
memorable, feel-good campaign that motivates people and brings out their
passion. Even if your program supports a serious cause like cancer
research or homeless relief, you can excite the public by getting them
involved in helping the organization. Spending time in the market
meeting with local influencers is the best way to create ideas that
resonate with that audience. A program that works well in a Hispanic
community in Florida may not in a suburban community in Ohio. Each
approach should be tailored for that specific market.
is about permeating a community and building relationships locally on
many levels so the buzz grows. To do this, it’s important to
have multiple layers of communication to keep the messages and
excitement fresh, frequent and strong. Elements might include a
kick-off announcement, multiple sampling events, assorted interview
opportunities, a presentation at a town meeting and more. This also
means tapping into the valuable resources of your partners. For
instance, if you are working with the City, they may offer for a top
official to participate in a media event, post news on their web site or
in their employee newsletter, notify residents via an established list-serv,
distribute a news release or even pitch their own media contacts to
cover your story.
Free: One of the best
ways to get people excited about your product is having them taste, feel
or use it. Sampling free products builds that desired word-of-mouth.
Food companies, especially, have the advantage here. Who doesn’t want
to try the latest new chocolate bar – and then tell all their friends
that they had a sneak preview? Just remember, your product must deliver.
You can’t fool consumers with a product that is tasteless, frustrating
to open or just plain boring.
Grassroots marketing is about
building strong, lasting relationships with a specific group or community.
By being a valuable resource and helping tie your business objectives to
the community’s needs, you can create a win for everyone. Ultimately,
this leads to loyal consumers, enhanced reputation, strengthened awareness
and increased sales.
Potvin is principal at Splash Communications, LLC, a consultancy of
communications specialists with experience serving some of the world’s
most visible brands. She can
be reached at email@example.com
or visit www.splashllc.com.
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