Grassroots Marketing - What Actually Works
Updated: Apr 14
Grassroots Marketing is one of those buzz words lately that is often thrown around but rarely understood, at least not in a way that tells you how it’s effective. When we think of this term, we usually go to things like Chamber of Commerce events or attending traditional network marketing meetings. But Bryan would define it as “knowing who your audience is and going to where they are...knowing what their interests are and meeting them there.”
This is such a broad and nuanced way of thinking that is so hard to pin down and educate on, but as always, the Go Rogue team is here. for. you. We’ve invited someone we consider to be a pro at this to join us in this conversation, Amy Morgan. Amy is a marketing and PR manager for a pediatric dental office who has become incredibly well-versed in following their clients to their interests and serving them in those places. Without further ado, here are our 10 best tips for understanding and implementing this incredibly effective method of marketing your brand or business:
Find your target audience. This seems like a simple, no-brainer concept, but we really feel that putting in the work on the front end to narrow down our avatar, or ideal client/customer to even specific personality traits will enable us to get inside their head, so to speak, and be more in tune to their interests, passions, and needs. We can do this by looking at our client statistics, polling our customers, tracking the people that engage with us on social media or share our content, and even by taking a closer look at what our competitors are doing.
Partner with other local companies. This can push our company to the top of public mindset in so many ways. If a potential customer has never heard of our business, they will trust us automatically because we are working with a company they DO know and trust. It also ticks us up in rating because we are pouring back into our community, which is something that many people highly value. It also gives us the ability to pool resources with other businesses to provide even more value to our customer-base than we would by going it alone. These are just a few of many reasons that partnerships with other companies are always good practice for grassroots marketing.
Be likeable. The market for almost any business is so flooded with options that we can no longer rely on only quality to be successful. When meeting our customers where they like to live their lives, we have to be approachable, authentic, bubbly, kind, and any other adjective you can think of to describe a genuinely likeable face of a company. If we as owners don’t fit this description, we should look into hiring someone who does. It’s basic humanity to connect with people we like, so let’s give our audience that person.
Provide FREE value in lots of ways. Do giveaways, donate to fundraisers, set up booths at community events, educate on free platforms (YouTube, Podcasts, etc), host chamber events, the list goes on. This also goes for getting our name out there to other businesses who can refer customers to us. When we provide free education alongside, say, free food (the universal language of love), businesses will jump to spread the word. When we give freely, people want to support our business and return the favor.
Think outside the box. People are drawn to funny, interesting, and different. They love to see companies getting involved in things that are outside of their direct business model. The example that our co-host, Amy Morgan shared with us is her dental practice setting up at a local community trunk-or-treat event. It’s ironic for a dental office to be giving away candy, but her business combined that hilarity with clever marketing to provide free value, partner with other local businesses, and take advantage of an opportunity to be likeable and engage with their target audience.
Don’t look for a list to check off when considering ROI. Grassroots Marketing is playing on the long game. Tracking with traditional metrics and looking for immediate tangible results is not what this branding style is all about. When we look at the statistics over time, we know that this method is incredibly effective, but we have to learn to open our minds a bit and trust the process.
On that note, Be willing to pivot your efforts when it’s not working. Grassroots Marketing is brilliantly broad. There are so many ways of enacting this style of branding, and we have to be ok with trial and error to find the right fit for our business and target audience. “Some things just don’t work and as a marketing coordinator, I have to be ok with something not working, and as a business owner, I think just being able to say ‘Oh that didn’t work for us, let’s move onto the next thing’ is a very important part of building your brand.” (Amy Morgan)
Budget for giving. Always be willing to give without asking for anything in return. Sure, there is a large part of our marketing budget that needs to see ROI, but a portion of it should always be reserved for donations and pouring back into the community without needing to see results. This is Grassroots at its finest: meeting our people where they are and providing them with the value they need because it’s the right thing to do.
Set an example. When we adopt a serve-first mindset, we are showing the world where our values and standards lie. Without trying, we are calling up the other businesses and community members around us. Loren gives a great example of proving a free service in exchange for a specific donation to those in need. Amy suggests that we try starting a pay-it-forward movement at a business (coffee shop, restaurant, etc.) and pass along a card with a small business logo alongside a call to action to keep it going. Bryan says we should promote other businesses without being asked. These and many more examples are ways that we can become known as a business who gives back, get our name out there, and be worth supporting.
Give people a reason to share via word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth is the crux of Grassroots Marketing. We are combining all of the things we’ve discussed in this list to being a business that is worth promoting and worth talking about. We discussed earlier about playing the long game, and nothing is more “long game” than fostering a legacy. What do we want to be known for? How do we want to be thought of? When people talk about us, what do we want them to say? Word-of-mouth is STILL the most effective way of marketing, trackable or not. When we tap into that, we are helping far more than just ourselves.