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 lighting that fire to get the word out...
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 Influences
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 position 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. Do not ignore quick and easy to schedule venues such as local companies, community library or recreation center. You'll be surprised at the willingness of human resources departments, librarians and community center directors to bring value added learning sessions to their audiences.
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. Also think about venues and events where your product may be a natural tie-in. For example, I use a massage therapist who operates his own holistic wellness center. I recommended that he attend cycling, running and other athletic events to offer free mini-massages. It's a very effective strategy to promote that kind of business. Do you offer something that can tie-in to an athletic, arts & craft or other type of event?
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. A specific example comes from my wife's dentist - and dentists are not renown for marketing. But this dentist is an astute marketer. Every time he gets a referral he sends a simple plastic red apple filled with sugar-free candy and a thank you note to the referrer. While it does cost more to send the candy apple in addition to the note, the payoff in good will and continued referrals is enormous. There is also a great "pass along" affect of his strategy. My wife has referred several new patients to him and has often passed along the apple as a gift to someone else. She never fails to comment on where the apple came from, the skill of the dentist and the efficiency of his practice. You cannot buy that kind of first hand "buzz" (word of mouth referrals or reviews.)
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" which will help build your sales.