So, you’ve got a small business and you’re ready to make a big splash in the marketplace. The reality is, making a big splash is hard to do unless you have the kind of ad budget that GEICO has to throw around. As a small business owner, your best bet to make a splash may be to try grassroots marketing.
We’ve all heard the hopelessly overused phrase out-of-the-box thinking. But, grassroots marketing is just that. Thinking of ways to get (and sustain) the attention of your target audience through very low-budget, hands-on efforts.
These days, many who think about doing grassroots marketing efforts, immediately turn their attention to social media. Sure, it’s free. But is it really? Crafting messages, scheduling publishing on multiple platforms, creating compelling graphics, engaging with commenters, targeting an audience – this can eat up a lot of time, money, and resources to execute a successful social media strategy. In short, social media is its own animal. We even have paid influencers to think about now. Let’s spend a few minutes looking at not-so-expensive ideas to get people talking about you.
If done right, grassroots marketing can be cheap, relatively easy to implement, and effective. Here are some examples:
Have an Event
Have a wine store? Hold periodic wine tastings. Promoting your event is just a matter of posting some flyers in your store, sending an email to your email list (if you have one), or posting an event on Facebook. And did you notice our use of the word “periodic?” You don’t want to be one-and-done. You can have wine tastings quarterly or even once-a-month. That’s great exposure.It’s about getting people into your space. Allow a charitable organization to use your office or store space for a fundraising event. Have book signings by local authors. Invite someone to guest lecture at your house of worship if you’re trying to attract new members.
The kind of event you have will obviously depend on what type of space your business occupies. Events provide a value-add proposition that gets people in your door without necessarily having to entice them with special offers you promote with expensive advertising.
We all know about the after work networking events. Some people really detest this form of exposure while others live for it. Either way you look at it, everyone at these events (including you) is there trying to sell something. You know it. They know it. It’s the dance that never ends.If you’re in business, networking is critical. So, consider this approach. If you own a small neighborhood store, have you gotten to know the owners of other businesses surrounding yours? You may find ways to help each other out. Perhaps provide free counter top samples or promotional literature in each others’ locations. Or how about a block party? Perhaps an open house where visitors drop by each store to gather clues to win a prize. Just spit-balling here. But there’s power in numbers. Meet your business neighbors and see what you can come up with.
Write in Your Blog
Does your business have a website? Or more specifically, a blog? Writing in your blog keeps your website active and Google likes that, so it can be good for new site traffic. Well written articles also can establish you as an expert in your field, which can be good for business. And blog posts are great for sharing on your social media.When you write your posts, make sure you provide useful information your readers can learn from. Focus on topics that have some relevancy to what your business offers. That doesn’t mean to write like you’re making a sales pitch, which will make your readers make a mad dash for the door. Instead, talk about personal experiences, learning opportunities, industry news, etc. This Rhino7 post is an example of how we covered one of our franchise properties to share broader industry news that will be of interest to others. Again, write stories with relevancy to your business, that can also be a learning experience for your readers.
To be giving of your knowledge reflects well on your brand. Which is great for building a solid reputation over time.
What’s even better …
Contribute to Someone Else’s Blog Site
The practice is called Guest Posting. The general process is to surf around until you find a blog that has some relevance to what you want to write about. Google “write for us,” “guest post opportunities,” or “become a contributor,” and you’ll discover a whole lot of people who’d love to hear from you. Remember, whoever you write for should have some relevancy to your business, or you’re wasting your time. Plenty of stories have been written about how to guest blog, and we’ll leave it to this story to explain.Like writing for your own blog, you need to be hyper aware not to sound like you’re trying to sell something. Especially on someone else’s website. Just write on a topic that’ll be of interest to the other site’s blog readers. Close the story with a picture of yourself, a mini-bio about who you are (2-4 sentences), mention of your business name – including a link to your business site, as well. Subtlety is the key here. Some sites may or may not want to include your link, so ask ahead of time. It takes more effort to guest post than to write on your own blog, but it exposes you to a whole new audience that you otherwise may never reach.
Note: Never simply copy something you’ve written for your own site and contribute that to another site. Google will not be happy with duplication of information elsewhere and could potentially hurt your rankings in search.
Have you heard of Quora.com? It’s a gigantic question-and-answer site where you can ask the world about anything you’re looking to have answered. Do a search on the site and see what people are asking about. If the question relates to your business and business knowledge, be sure to offer up some helpful information. And maybe somewhere in your answer, slip a web address to your online store or business that may lead to a sale – or a lead. Just be sure to soft pedal any such plug. You’re there to be helpful first and foremost. And only if what you have to offer strongly relates to what the original question was about. You don’t want to look like a spammer. Try some Quora searches yourself to get a feel for how people answering questions find a way to work their website links into conversations.
Be a Giver, Not A Taker
Sponsor a Little League team. Offer prizes at community raffles. Drop off some branded coffee cups (with your brand, of course) to one of those funky coffee shops that serves its coffee using a mix-and-match grab bag of coffee cups they’ve collected over the years.
Get a group from your business to spend a Saturday morning participating in a charitable running event, all wearing your branded t-shirts as you gallop along together as one big, happy (branded) family.
Partner, Partner Partner
I’m sure you’re seeing a pattern here. The best grassroots marketing efforts have a tendency to pair one or more businesses or organizations together to combine your strengths to make something more.
Want more ideas?
Easy. Google “grassroots marketing ideas.” 🙂