You may have heard the term, but like most businesses, brands, faith-based institutions, production companies and networks you probably haven’t put it to practice.
Join us on a quick journey, as we walk you through why grassroots marketing is worth your time and financially beneficial to your company, event or project.
What is Grassroots Marketing?
First, let’s take a look at where the “grassroots” concept all began.
Generally speaking, a grassroots movement is the kind that uses the people in a specific district, region, or community as a base for movement.
Through self-organization, these movements inspire those community members or a specific audience to take action and contribute, organically spreading the word and ideology behind the movement.
See it as boots-on-the-ground, door-to-door type initiative. It starts small, and later snowballs into a broader, often national movement.
Remember Occupy Wall Street? The 2011 movement eventually involved millions of people attempting to cleanse the dirty practices of Wall Street. But it all started with just a few – a spontaneous group of people who were fed up with the process. That was a grassroots movement.
Grassroots marketing follows the same principal. Using grassroots campaigns, marketers work to purposefully target a niche group of people in hopes that they will spread, or propagate, their campaign message organically. The focus of the campaigns is on intent and audience. Your audience = the niche group, your intent = motivation to spread the word.
This is, clearly, quite different than your average PPC or email marketing campaign. That’s because, with most advertising campaigns, the goal is to reach as many people as possible. But with a grassroots campaign, you’re targeting down to that very narrow group. And if all goes well, they’ll reach the masses for you.
Why Use a Grassroots Campaign?
By nature, grassroots marketing is informal, with little structure behind it. For many, that’s not exactly comforting when there are marketing dollars on the line. But that lack of formality is exactly what allows it to resonate so well with audiences. It’s an organic movement fueled by your audience – not your campaign dollars or clever ads.
In a way, it’s a big form of social proof. Your niche audience is endorsing you by spreading your message. It brings with it more trust and validation in a day and age where consumer trust is a big factor in purchasing decisions. And because your initial goal is to target just that very niche group, grassroots marketing campaigns end up being remarkably cost-effective.
And, these niche groups that grassroots marketing target are often harder to reach through traditional PPC campaigns.
Instead, they’re motivated by cause or trust, not an ad. Grassroots marketing is an ideal way to build up that trust and promote your service without sounding like a sales pitch.
Grassroots Marketing Campaigns: Appeal to Vanity
This one is a bit more unorthodox. but it works for us every time. But let’s be honest, we all know there’s a bit of vanity and narcissism associated with social channels like Facebook and Instagram (selfies, anyone?) In fact, when the New York Times conducted a study to see why people shared certain content, they found that users like to share content that builds their online personas and makes them look good in front of their peers. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to Grassroots marketing.
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?
By all accounts, it shouldn’t have worked so well. After all, it required people to put in some work. Not only did they have to undergo the physical discomfort of actual ice water being dumped on their bodies, but they had to get the water to freezing temperature and arrange for the entire thing to be filmed.
Despite all that, it was an undeniable success, and the ALS Association pulled it off beautifully. By incorporating their call-to-action into a nomination where friends nominate each other to take the challenge, they tapped into that concept of peer recognition. Because people are being nominated by friends – and on social media where everyone can see the call out, nonetheless – people feel more compelled and pressured to follow through with the action. In the end, 17 million people uploaded videos and raised $70 million for ALS.