Grassroots Marketing: Beginners Guide

Grassroots Marketing

The best beginning point for this article is understanding the definition of grassroots marketing. Grassroots movement utilizes individuals in a particular community, region, or district as a basis for a political movement.

The movements inspire the community members through self-organization to contribute and take action. It organically spreads the ideology and word that is behind the movement.

It is more of a door-to-door or boots-on-the-ground type of initiative. The movement begins small before snowballing into a wider movement that has a national-wide reach.

Can you remember the 2011 movement at the Occupy Wall Street? It resulted in millions of individuals trying to cleanse the dirty things that were taking place in Wall Street. However, it only began with a few spontaneous groups of individuals who were tired of the process.

What is Grassroots Marketing? 

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots marketing campaigns follow the same principle as the one we have defined above. Marketers use grassroots campaigns to target a niche group of individuals. The primary goal is to propagate or spread the campaign message organically.

The focus of these campaigns revolves around the audience and intent. Your audience represents the niche group. On the other hand, the intent is the motivation that you have to spread the word.

Grassroots marketing is quite different from the average email marketing of the PPC campaign. The goal of most marketing campaigns is reaching out to as many people as possible.

However, with grassroots marketing, you will be targeting down to the narrow group. If all goes well, they will help you reach the masses. With all this information, you now have a clear understanding of grassroots marketing.

Grassroots Marketing vs. Guerilla Marketing 

It is crucial to distinguish between guerilla marketing and grassroots marketing. Guerilla marketing is not a new concept for most people. Jay Conrad was championing this concept during the mid-1980s. It entails using unorthodox methods to reach out to your target audience.

It may appear as if guerilla marketing and grassroots marketing are similar but this is not the case. Even though there are sine crossovers, the level of reach distinguishes the above two concepts. Therefore, you should not allow them to confuse you.

With guerilla marketing, you will be attempting to reach out to as many people as possible. In most cases, the target market on guerilla marketing is wide open. However, in grassroots marketing, you will be reaching out to the niche market.

Why Utilize Grassroots Marketing

  Grassroots Marketing

In theory, grassroots marketing can seem to be a very risky concept. You don’t have a guarantee that the audience that you are targeting will spread your brand message. If they don’t, you will have put so many eggs in a basket that is pretty insecure.

There are so many examples of grassroots marketing campaigns that failed. It explains why we have several marketers who avoid grassroots campaigns.

Grassroots marketing, is by nature informal and has a minimal structure behind it. Most people find it to be uncomfortable because there are so many marketing dollars on the line. However, the lack of formality is what makes grassroots marketing resonate perfectly with the audiences.

It is an organic movement that you target audience fuel rather than your clever ads or campaign dollars. It is a form of social proof in one way or another. Your niche audience spreads your message as a way of endorsing your brand.

It brings more validation and trust at a time when customer trust contributes significantly to purchase decisions. Because your primary goal is targeting that specific niche group, grassroots marketing campaigns come out to be remarkably affordable.

It is hard to reach the niche groups that grassroots marketing targets using the traditional PPC campaigns. Trustor cause is what motivates them and not an ad. Grassroots marketing is the best way of building trust and promoting your service without giving it a sales pitch.

How to Start off With Your Grassroots Marketing Campaign

Grassroots Marketing Campaign

Any grassroots marketing agency knows that this campaign pays attention to two things: intent and audience. To succeed with this campaign, you should start by accurately identifying the niche that you will be targeting. This definition goes beyond your normal target audience.

You need to map out a full persona by especially focusing on worldviews and interests. What keeps this individual up at night? What are the issues they are passionate about? What benefits can your friends or family highlight in your products?

Grassroots marketing plays to emotions and passions whether it is altruism to someone or something that makes them laugh. Therefore, it is keen to know their pain points and what motivates them most.

One good thing about grassroots marketing is that you don’t have to tie it to a physical location courtesy of the internet. Instead, you may target basing on niche interests via Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook among others.

Therefore, you must have a clear understanding of the networks that your target audience uses most. When it comes to content, you should focus on the issues that resonate with your target audience.

  • How to Optimize Grassroots Marketing Campaigns

Optimize Grassroots Marketing

Engagement is a critical point when it comes to a successful grassroots marketing campaign. Make sure you are creating something that is as user-friendly as possible. The grassroots content that you create should contain a visual element and be optimized for all devices.

Your content should get to the audience regardless of the devices they are using. It is the best way to create the desired engagement. It does not matter whether they are using mobile phones, tablets, or desktop.

The other point is indeed a big one. The success of grassroots marketing highly depends on the extent of shareability. Studies reveal that visual content has the highest number of shares among the audience.

It is good to include visuals in your grassroots marketing content. Recent studies reveal that colored content enhances the desire of people by 80%. Content that has images increase the view rate by approximately 94%.

The number of backlinks that visual content generates is higher than any other type of content. The engagement that posts that have images produce is higher by 180 percent. Therefore, you should not skip visuals when designing your grassroots marketing campaign.

Most of the successful grassroots marketing campaigns make use of the video format. The human brain is naturally wired for video content. Average viewers remember 95% of the message when he watches it and only 10% upon reading.

Read more: Top 10 Content Ideas To Explore For Social Media In 2019

  • Nurturing Your Campaigns for Successful Optimization

You have to put in a lot of effort before your video content can go viral. Grassroots campaigns need a high level of nurturing and an active fan base. It can take you some time before this initiative succeed.

The first thing is to connect with the niche audience that you identify. Start Facebook groups and connect with them through social media to create an engaged following. After you get an engaged audience, they will be more than willing to share your content.

The next thing you would be asking yourself would be the content type that is best for grassroots marketing campaigns. The next section will help you answer some of these concerns about grassroots marketing.

Read more: An Advance Guide to Video Marketing In 2019

  • Focusing on Emotions

Marketing and emotional triggers go hand in hand. Studies reveal that human beings rely on emotions and not information to make brand decisions.

Unruly carried out a survey to rank each year’s most viral ads. From it, the highly shared ads in 2015 heavily relied on emotional content that had happiness, warmth, inspiration, and friendship as the most dominant factors.

One of the best emotions that marketers should target is empathy. When you tap into this emotion and pair with storytelling, it influences your target audience to perform the right action.

  • Real-Life Examples of Focusing on Emotions to Attract Customers

In 2012, Westjet was using this strategy in powering its holiday campaign. It is now among the most famous examples of grassroots marketing in action. The Canadian airliner gave passengers an opportunity to inform Santa of their need for Christmas. The records of the campaign were through live streaming.

When passengers arrived at their destination, the staff gave out the gift at the baggage claim. Its capitalization was fuzzy and warm holiday feeling and the glee of happy kids getting rewards from Santa.  It is one of the most successful strategies in the history of grassroots marketing.

Remember this was not an ad but a video from YouTube. The results were a massive view of 48 million people. It tells you that you should not look beyond YouTube comments.

Charity Waters’ Rachel’ gift is the other excellent example of the many successful grassroots campaigns. Rachel requested for donations towards Charity Water and not presents for her ninth birthday. She fell short of her goal to a small extent and died unpredictably before attempting her goal the following year.

Charity Water picked up the call to launch a campaign to fulfill the wish of Rachael through YouTube and Facebook. It is currently the most successful campaign in history. The reason for this is that it was a genuine campaign.

The design of everything from the news flashes, text, and music was to elicit emotion. A movement that begun with a small girl and her family resulted in a total of 31997 donations. There is no doubt that this move was quite powerful.

  • Appeal to Vanity 

This one tends to be a bit more unorthodox. There is some level of narcissism and vanity that is associated with social media channels like Instagram and Facebook.

New York Times carried out a study to find out why some individuals shared certain types of content. It came out clearly that people like sharing content that help them in building their online personas. The other goal is to enhance their look in front of their peers.

This idea is not a bad one, especially when dealing with grassroots marketing. Do you recall the Ice Bucket Challenge? It is another example of one of the most successful grassroots marketing campaigns.

It should not have been so successful by all means. It needs people to put in a lot of effort. Participants had to undergo the physical discomfort of dumping real ice on the boy. They also had to keep the water at freezing temperatures and plan for the filming of the whole thing.

Despite all this, it had undeniable success and the ALS Association beautifully pulled it off. It had the call-to-action in a nomination where friends nominate one another to pick up the challenge. It gave them the ability to tap into the whole concept of peer recognition.

Because friends nominate people on social media where all people see the call out, individuals are under pressure to follow through with the action. In the end, 17 million individuals uploaded the videos hence raising 70 million dollars for ALS.

The good news about the whole thing is that it did cost ALS almost nothing. The target audience was responsible for spreading grassroots fashion almost fully.

  • Capitalize on Movements and Timeliness

There isn’t a time like present especially when new movements and trends come to life. Movements or campaigns that capitalize on what currently have higher chances of cultivating a broad following.

In the self-love and emerging body positivity era, Dove is the publisher of those values more than any other brand. Using real beauty to sketch campaigns, Dove illustrates that ladies are their own worst critics when dealing with body image.

Their primary goal was reaching out to ‘real’ women with insecurities. It was not about the supermodel ideals that came out to be expected. The company hired an artist to paint the women while seeing themselves and the second time while strangers saw them.

Dove published the video on YouTube and it racked up 66 million views, 20,000 Tweets, and one million Facebook likes. It eventually became the video with the highest number of views at that time.

The reason is that it directly spoke to the niche audience. This harbored feelings of insecurity by using powerful imagery to bring them to the light.

  • Cater to the Interests of Your Audience 

This is one of the top Grassroots marketing ideas that you cannot afford to ignore. Grassroots marketing agencies ascertain the fact that the primary goal of these campaigns is finding your niche audience. You cannot achieve this unless you meet the needs of your target audience.

However, some of these campaigns may get away with the marketing ideas that play on universal themes and emotions. The other set goes a step higher to address their target audience in a sound manner.

This fact is especially true when you are reaching out to the millennials.

  • Examples of Catering for the Interest of Audience

WWF pulled this off by launching an emoji marketing campaign to target the young audience for smaller donations. It was by turning seventeen endangered animals into emojis. The idea was encouraging their Twitter audience to tween one of them and pledge a donation of ten cents.

WWF chose to use emojis for the grassroots marketing campaign for a period of one year. The emoji had been utilized for more than 202 million times on Twitter.

The other person to accomplish something that was similar to this was Barrack Obama. His goal was to encourage those who were between 26 to 35 years to subscribe to the Affordable Care Act. He reached them by appearing on the comic web series between two ferns to help in promoting the sign-ups.

This video became the source of referrals to the website very quickly by increasing the traffic by 40%. These two grassroots marketing campaigns succeeded because they hit their target audience soundly in the places that they had maximum interests. By doing so, the brand or individual became far more relatable and likable.

Therefore, meeting the needs of your target audience is pivotal to the success of grassroots marketing. The truth of the matter is that the above two examples are not brands. However, they shed light on how to design a campaign that resonates around the target audience’s interests.

  • Rely on Some Humor 

Grassroots marketing campaigns also have a basis in some little humor. As you know, humor is a great catalyst for viral videos.

It can take an un-funny historically thing like dental hygiene and transform it into a viral sensation. It is exactly what the Oregon Dental Association achieved with its YouTube video ‘Teach Me How to Brushy.’

The objective was reaching a younger audience and conveying the benefits of the best dental regimen to them. To achieve this, they knew that they needed to establish an engagement that pushed the normal dental marketing boundaries.

This is what ‘Teach Me How to Brush’ was able to accomplish. It features the cameos from the few renowned local figures and utilizing a currently popular song. This video spoke to the younger audience in Oregon directly. It also spoke to the whole nation in the long run.

The video has more than 800,000 views on YouTube. It has also been featured on Huffington Post, The Today Show, and on the Good Morning America among other shows. This tells you that humor has a special role to play in grassroots marketing campaigns.

  • Opt for a PR Stunt 

PR Stunt

Would you like to set your brand apart from your competitors? You can choose to go for a PR stunt by doing something that is radical. Do something that is quite radical. It should be something that no one expects but finds it to be fascinating.

Record it on a film and then submit on YouTube and the various social media accounts. It will be time to watch what will happen next. If your instincts are right, the video will definitely go viral. It will result in a free buzz about your brand.

Suppose you are the owner of a bottled beverage company. You can use the recent bottle cap in promoting your company.

In case you missed this viral episode, the bottle cap challenge emerged courtesy of the UFC Featherweight champ Max Holloway. He used the kicking skills that he has to kick the cap literally off a bottle.

He recorded a film on the same so that the entire world would see. Soon, the high-profile celebrities such as Conor McGregor and Jason Statham got into the fun. Your business could have joined this viral moment.

  • Employ Martial Arts Experts

Think of employing a martial arts expert to kick the cap off the beverage bottle and post on YouTube. It is an excellent way to gain some kind of traction.

You could probably be forced to add a twist though. Remember, individuals were already aware of the bottle cap challenge.

You may have the martial artist saying something that is fun and then kick the cap off the bottle unexpectedly. The person may also choose to kick the caps off two bottles.

Of course, there are so many approaches that you can use in creating viral moments. At one time, Mandic Cloud Solutions did hold mock funerals for the outdated technology parts.

Individuals who viewed the video saw so many caskets containing the ‘dead’ tech. The whole idea was promoting Mandic as a brand that offers state-of-art cloud solutions. That is a section of morbid and it highly captured the attention of the target audience. This, after all, forms part of the goal of marketing.

  • Ambient Ads

The last key to grassroots marketing is making good use of ambient ads. It is one of the best ways to take your campaigns to the next level. These are ads that appear in unusual positions and serve as attention getters. They don’t have anything to do with pharmaceutical products.

While continuing with your day to day life, open your eyes to any unorthodox spots that work as location ads. Don’t forget to consider everything to be a possibility. Look at the buildings’ sides, the vehicles’ backs, and the clothes that people put on. Check whether you can promote your brand in places where your competitors don’t any ads.

Final Thoughts:

With this knowledge, you have all that you need to produce amazing results with your grassroots marketing strategy. The key to success is catering to the needs of your audience.

However, not all the above strategies will work for your brand. Each of these ideas will serve as an inspiration for the best way to get to your target audience.

Read Also:

Mashum Mollah is an entrepreneur, founder and CEO at Viacon, a digital marketing agency that drive visibility, engagement, and proven results. He blogs at BloggerOutreach.io.

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