Gregory S. DuPont
Marketing Budget Limited This Year? Try Grassroots Marketing
With the glut of advertisements, press releases, direct mail, and other promotional vehicles crying for attention, it’s become quite a challenge to get your message out to clients and prospects. Word of mouth is often the best sales tool for rising above the clutter. But how do you get those mouths talking?
Grassroots marketing is a great way to ignite the enthusiasm of a relatively small group of people who can share the excitement with others, who, in turn, do the same—creating a snowball effect. Here are some tips for getting that “snowball” rolling. . .
Identify Your Objectives
Grassroots marketing should be part of an overall marketing strategy, with very specific objectives. The objectives include identifying the target audience and spelling out exactly what you want to achieve through the marketing effort.
Identify Key Influencers
Underlying grassroots marketing is the concept of diffusion theory—that every successful idea is first embraced by a small group of influential people before it’s picked up by the masses. These influential people could be current customers or others in the target market, but they share several characteristics. Effective influencers are early adopters—the types of people that always want to be first to try something new. They must also have the credibility by virtue of their positions or other factors to affect the opinions of others. Finally, they are individuals with the desire to share their opinions. A prime example of the use of influential individuals is in the marketing of drugs and medical devices to physicians. Manufacturers identify prominent physicians to try their new products, with the hope that they will then write and speak about their positive results with the products. Trade journalists are another key group to attempt to recruit.
Promote Your Expertise
Through public speaking and seminars, a knowledgeable company representative can bring in new business. This can be a particularly useful technique for professional service organizations. Attorneys, financial and management consultants, and other professionals often either hold their own seminars or speak at conferences and other events to pull in new customers.
Associating your organization with an event that targets a similar customer base can accomplish the same objectives. For instance, a bicycle shop may regularly provide repair services at bicycle races to promote a high-quality reputation among an influential group of riders and spectators.
Ask for Referrals
Your best customers may not realize that your company is seeking more business. Let them know that referrals are welcome. When you receive a referral, send a thank you note even if it doesn’t ultimately produce a sale. If the opportunity arises, also make referrals to your customers, fellow business owners, and professionals, and they’ll be likely to return the favor.
In these days of tightened budgets, few businesses can afford the type of advertising dollars or saturation sales force necessary to rise above the clutter of the competition. Let grassroots marketing create the “buzz” that will help build your sales.