Grassroots marketing isn't a new concept. We've seen examples from presidential campaigns to advertising campaigns for products and services. It is, however, becoming a more popular way for brands and other types of entities to get the word out about their cause, product or service, create advocates who help spread the word for them, and in some instances, convert interested individuals and groups into customers or influencers/evangelists on their behalf. When planning and executing a grassroots campaign there are key elements that must be considered and included. We'll explore 5 of these elements and what makes them important.
A grassroots campaign by definition has margins. They may be geographical if you're literally taking it to the streets or they may be digital if it's an online grassroots effort. The point is, there will be some definitive borders and limitations for day to day execution. Although those may shift over time, as you cover an area and move along the journey the target has to be clearly defined. Grassroots campaigns are designed to be hand to hand, one to one. You'll waste resources if those interactions are with folks outside of the target or the target itself isn't defined beforehand. However, be flexible with this approach. If you begin engagement and discover your target is different than initially conceptualized, be open to the idea of shifting targets.
Brand Ambassadors or B.A.'s are essential to a grassroots effort. Earlier, we said this is hand to hand, one to one. Well, your B.A.'s are one half of this effort.These are the folks that will hit the streets (again this can be a digital effort) and engage on the brands' behalf. They'll be indoctrinated with the brand message beforehand, know how to answer any questions that arise from the target audience and be the direct representative of that product or service. Brand Ambassadors are sometimes also referred to as influencers. Although there are some nuanced differences, these are the individuals that you'll depend on to carry the water which is your marketing message. The criteria for selecting brand ambassadors/influencers and the training of these selected is of critical importance to a grassroots marketing campaign.
Your grassroots campaign has to have a shareable element built in. In a digital space, this is commonly referred to as the ability to "go viral". This is the heart of what a grassroots campaign is built on. If enough people are engaged in an intimate matter about the product or service, They will, in turn, share their experiences with immediate friends family members and followers. Then, those people will do the same, creating this exponential carrying of the message that can be traced back and attributed to a grassroots effort. A blade of grass may look short above the soil but, if the seed is planted and nurtured correctly, the roots run deep and are far reaching. The same concept applies here.
This is self-explanatory, like with a lot of other things your grassroots efforts must be consistent. Any momentum gained from initial efforts will dry up and die if there isn't a follow-up plan. That consistency can also include a conversion plan. Once the target is initially engaged, how do I take them down the buyers' journey and turn them into a customer? Evangelist or both?
What is the end game of your grassroots marketing effort? Is it to make a sale, get the target to attend an event, go online and vote or spread the message to friends and family? Whatever it is, your grassroots efforts should include a plan for conversion. For example, you may be at an event with your brand ambassadors engaging your target audience. Once they've filled out a contact form, the respondent gets a confirmation email that thanks them and also goes into more detail about product or service. This effort continues them down the conversion path. Not only in grassroots efforts but in general, if there's no conversion path the results are going to be a mixed bag at best.
Grassroots marketing isn't a new concept but in this highly connected world, it has shape-shifted a bit and doesn't have the definition that requires it to be strictly 'boots-to-the-ground' on the street effort. A grassroots campaign can take place entirely in a digital space. As we've witnessed over the years with the proliferation of things like crowdfunding or hashtag activism. No matter if it's on or offline these 5 elements will need to be a consistent factor to ensure success.
What have you seen work in grassroots marketing that works or is necessary? Please share and comment!