Why do so many companies struggle to effectively run grassroots marketing campaigns?
My career began with Fortune 500 retailer Advance Auto Parts. As an event marketing manager, I handled all of the local, grassroots marketing engagement and activation. From state fairs to minor league sports to community fairs and festivals, my job was to make certain Advance was relevant in local communities.
As I worked on various projects it became apparent not all events were created equal.
My experience taught me there are five key factors impacting the success or failure of grassroots marketing.
5 Tips to Win Big With Your Brand’s Grassroots Marketing Strategy
1. Ensure the Event/Opportunity is a Strong “Brand Fit.”
There are a lot of motivations to jump into local marketing. Some are pure. Some aren’t.
If you’re an automotive retailer like Advance Auto Parts and the grassroots opportunity is a local dirt track, it’s probably a good brand fit. That doesn’t mean you’ll buy the property, but you’ll evaluate it more closely.
But what about a ballerina concert sponsorship? Does that make sense for an automotive retailer? Nope. Don’t think so.
Secret: At Advance, many years ago, the company sponsored a ballerina concert because one of the girls participating was the daughter of an executive. This was not a wise use of local marketing dollars.
Always make sure the grassroots marketing opportunity matches the positioning of the brand. If not, the misalignment will create confusion in the mind of the customer.
And remember… when you confuse, you lose!
2. Make Certain the Opportunity Fits the Brand’s Core Strategy and Can Deliver on the Required Objectives.
Find local marketing opportunities that support your brand, not opportunities that your brand supports.
Do you see the distinction? It may seem subtle, but its importance can’t be overstated.
Grassroots marketing has a feel-good component, and it’s easy to become emotional during the decision-making process. Don’t allow emotions to interfere with your goal.
Identify your core strategy and key objectives and ask if the local marketing effort can help you achieve the stated objectives. If you don't identify the right goals, what will you be celebrating upon the marketing strategies completion?
Make certain to clearly outline the expectations of the grassroots marketing engagement before agreeing to a formal deal. The property or organization you’re working with must be held accountable to working closely with you to ensure the objectives are met.
Note: This content is addressing grassroots marketing, not cause marketing. While understanding there can be significant overlap between the two, cause marketing has an entirely unique set of rules.
3. REQUIRE Alignment Between Local Field Leadership and Marketing.
Fact: Field teams and marketing teams typically don’t see eye to eye. This reality is often ignored, but the truth is that it’s a legendary conflict.
Territorial battles are common between field operations and marketing teams. While both groups want to achieve success, the shared journey is often complicated due to competing goals and agendas.
Operations wants to protect margins, which is essential to long-term profitability.
Marketing wants to offer discounts to encourage new customers to buy products.
See the conflict?
It’s imperative that operations and marketing communicate consistently to create the path to a better relationship. The marketing team can create an amazing local marketing opportunity, but if operations doesn’t support it, the project is doomed to fail.
4. Make Your Grassroots Marketing Campaign Measurable.
How can you quantify your success? Don’t just measure what’s easy; measure what matters.
A grassroots marketing scorecard needs be created early in the process. It should contain specific, quantifiable metrics that can be tracked consistently.
Here are some examples:
- Increase sales by 10%
- Generate 100 new leads
- Enhance brand perception by 15 points
If you don’t have a measurable target at the beginning, you’ll never know if you’re winning or losing. Just like a sports event, check the scoreboard consistently to see if any strategic adjustments are necessary to stay competitive and ultimately win the game.
Do you want to learn more? Here are 6 Tools for Efficient Sponsorship Measurement.
5. Become a Part of Your Customer’s Life.
Effective grassroots marketing adds value to the customer. Here’s a great question to ask to see how you’re doing in this area:
Is the customer better for having you in their life?
An honest answer to that question will reveal a lot.
Not sure what to do? Observe what your customers are already doing and join in. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.
Do your customers need a fundraising opportunity? Promote and host a car wash on their behalf. See, that was simple!
Commit To Better Grassroots Marketing
Brands must stop interrupting & start providing relevant, contextual, compelling content that actually means something to people.
If you follow these five grassroots marketing tips your local efforts will be supercharged for success. The tips presented sound easy, but I can assure you many brands aren’t following these guidelines.
Don’t be like everyone else.
Raise the bar on your local marketing efforts.
Bonus Information For The Hungry Marketers:
Before you go, check out these 25 Grassroots Marketing Examples to get the creative juices flowing.
Now, go and execute an amazing grassroots marketing strategy in targeted markets.