March 16, 2021

More scaling, less spending: 5 grassroots strategies to grow your audience


In today’s internet age, word of mouth travels nearly at the speed of light. All fine and well if you’re an established business with ample resources to dedicate to viral marketing, but what happens if you’re scaling a business while working with budget constraints and a scrappy marketing team? For many, grassroots marketing is the answer.

What is grassroots marketing?

The idea behind this budget-friendly, highly targeted strategy is to create hyperlocal content for a niche audience. If you can target a specific audience with content that will resonate with them, they are more likely to share your message. Essentially, it’s word of mouth marketing — amplified ten-fold by the internet in both speed and volume. 

On its surface, grassroots marketing might seem at odds with more traditional methods. Unlike traditional marketing which tends to reach as many people as possible, grassroots channels are geared towards a subset of would-be consumers. The idea is that if you can create content that inspires a small number of people, they’ll take care of spreading the word for you. Since you’re targeting smaller and more specific audiences, the strategy is also a cost-effective alternative to more traditional methods of marketing. 

Let’s take a closer look at some marketing strategies when it comes to leveraging grassroots channels.

Strategy #1: Text your audience

In 2021, text messaging has emerged as one of the most direct and effective ways to engage with customers, especially if you consider how sales from mobile users continue to increase year-over-year. 

These days, text messaging marketing occurs at every stage of the customer lifecycle, from acquisition to retention. Why? Because SMS messages allow two-way, real-time conversations with your customers that can be often faster and more convenient than other communication channels. Texting campaigns can come in the form of one-touch surveys, requests for feedback, or targeted marketing based on established preferences.

Strategy #2: Build trust with influencer marketing

In 2021, influencer marketing is practically synonymous with grassroots marketing — especially for millennial and Gen Z consumers. Fundamentally, influencer marketing is a subset of social media marketing in which a business uses endorsements from online influencers to promote a product or share specific content. 

Your audience will be more likely to share content that’s being promoted by someone with a dedicated social following, especially those viewed to be experts in their niche. That’s the reason why it works: influencers have garnered a high level of trust with their audiences, and recommendations from them act as a social proof to potential customers of your brand. 

Influencer marketing via Instagram might be most widely used, but networks like Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok are gaining traction. Finding the right channel for your business will depend on your target audience in conjunction with the method of storytelling best suited to it.

Strategy #3: Use reviews to your advantage

According to a study from Nielsen, 70% of buyers trust opinions and reviews they find online. 

Particularly for eCommerce stores, reviews can make or break your business. Focusing on building a reputation on Yelp or Google reviews will create organic traffic — ultimately leading to growth if these prospects convert. Using happy customers to amplify your message means you could potentially end up reaching (and converting) people you weren’t even targeting in the first place!

Pro tip: There’s an opportunity to use both strategy #2 and #3 via influencer product reviews. Given the world went increasingly virtual in 2020, businesses are needing to consider more and more how to replace in-store buying experiences. Creating product review videos is a great way of leveraging influencer trust and to familiarize potential customers with your products — particularly if they aren’t able to touch or feel them in store.

Strategy #4: Create videos on YouTube

According to a HubSpot survey, 54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support. Visual content in the form of videos can be more digestible than text-based formats, especially when it comes to easily distracted Millenials and Gen Z-ers. For that reason, it’s perfect for grassroots marketing. 

YouTube is one of the most effective channels when it comes to disseminating your video content. The platform allows you to share highly targeted content that leverages visual storytelling, in a medium that can be educational and emotional at the same time. When your video content gets shared by your audience, your traffic will grow organically as a direct result of a better YouTube search ranking.

Strategy #5: Leverage the power of free press

Even established, mature businesses don’t ignore the incredible power of free press. While these companies have the luxury of either in-house PR experts or partnerships with PR firms, barebones teams will likely need to get a little creative. 

Reaching out to publications, journalists, blogs, and influencers to create cross-branded content is a great place to start. Much like strategy #2, leveraging the power of free press comes down to creating lasting partnerships with institutions or people who already have an audience that trusts them. Since that trust is already built, all you need to do is provide the killer content.