Defining Grassroots Marketing

I’ve found that grassroots marketing is used more as a term than a defined approach.  Some equate it to guerrilla marketing – street teams, loud signage, and hand-distributed flyers, …  I define GRM as the use of a strategic set of personal and “niche” media, including events, social media, community affiliations, public relations, Internet marketing, etc. to communicate information that can be used in a buying decision.  It’s very different from traditional marketing – mass media blasting a repetitious message in a top-down approach.

GRM uses messages that can vary with the tactic and the immediate audience (but still consistent with the brand) – but the tone is different.  Instead of selling benefits, the approach is to offer insightful, inviting information that establishes the sender as a non-threatening resource.  Testimonials and implied endorsement are really important.  The intent is to create brand disciples and viral spread, through the Internet and word-of-mouth.  GRM requires lots of time and effort, but the results are generally more permanent and cost-effective.

Some of the techniques I’ve used are:

– event sponsorship (in a trade show, expo, festival)

– email newsletter campaigns

– social media posts

– advertising on special interest web sites

– in-store displays and promotions

– interactive pavilions

– byline articles on a related topic with a range of contributors

– posted and hand distributing printed materials

– community groups’ newsletters and social networks

I believe a lot product categories are better served using a grassroots approach – entertainment, food and drink, high cost purchases (houses and cars, …) – products that aren’t commodities and could be considered part of a personal brand.  I would also include products that are so complex, consumers want an expert or a company to entrust.

Let me hear your comments on the definition, or suggestions about other good GRM tactics.  Thanks.

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One thought on “Defining Grassroots Marketing

  1. Bill, couldn’t agree more with the importance of grassroots marketing and pr. While working with you the past 12 years, every event and communication was evidence of long-term loyalty building. This far surpassed results generated by more traditional one-way marketing. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us.

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