Your business exists on a particular street in a particular spot. Like your neighbors, you want more business. Resources are limited, budgets are tight and so is your time. Grass roots marketing has its place in the business world, and for good reason. It can literally be the defining element to your success.
In my years at my ad agency, Limelight Advertising, we had so many managers and owners come through our doors because they knew they should be doing something to drum up business, but were unsure where to start and how to keep it going. Sound familiar?
Now if you’re a location or unit within a larger brand you may be thinking, “Isn’t that what the brand or the franchiser is in charge of?” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like just sitting back and waiting for business to come pouring through the windows.
So let’s go.
10,000 ft Marketing
- Knowledge: Know what marketing is going on around your brand in your area. Ask for details of when and where ads and promotions are running. Find out what other marketing support tools are available to you. Ex. Signage, brochures, flyers, direct mail pieces, ad artwork, web elements, mobile apps, etc.
- Engage: Raise your hand to be the location featured in an ad or be the primary location for a promotion. Put your location in the hat to test new products and services or marketing campaigns. Ask to be the center of a contest effort. What can you do for corporate or your franchise to help build awareness?
- Support: There are marketing dollars out there up for grabs. By being part of co-op marketing programs both parties share in the cost to promote the brand. Many are offered by corporate or your franchise who pay a percentage of your marketing efforts. Your local tourism group or business associations may also have a budget you can access. If none provide co-op marketing, just ask them to. I love the old adage, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.”
- Just Use It: Take all the information above and put it into a plan on how you are going to put it to use. The best place to start is with a calendar. This will give you the skeleton to your marketing efforts. Now let’s put some meat on it.
Grass Roots Marketing
- Community: Be an active participant in your local community. Get involved in area business meetings. Go to neighborhood events through attendance, volunteering, and sponsorship, if possible. Know the local teams, schools, clubs, groups, and so on. People like doing business with people they know.
- Partnership: Work with the other businesses around you to pull traffic/customers to your area to establish your own marketing consortium leveraging economies of scale. You may want to create an event for the whole block to participate. Go in together on an ad, direct mail piece, door hangers, or a local business web site directory. This will generate awareness in the community about the businesses that are working together to serve them.
- Get’em in & Keep’em coming: Provide first-timers a strong reason to come in and try you out; such as, through www.groupon.com. When they are in front of you give them another reason to come back in again—better yet, regularly. Example, as a new customer, if you come in 3 times over the next month you’ll get this item for free. You’re trying to establish a habit of them thinking about you and purchasing.
- Proximity Marketing: Or what is also called Location marketing is changing the face of bringing together people and the nearest location available to meet their needs. Smart phones allow units to market even more effectively to customers in their area, as well as getting customers in your door with services such as, www.foursquare.com. Don’t get left behind in these emerging opportunities.
- It’s All About the Customer: When is the last time you talked to the customer about how they’d like to be served? Goodwill creates something beyond a strong relationship—a bond. Knowing your customer is just smart business but only if you listen, do something, and let them know you did it.
Finally, by weaving all of the above together your marketing efforts will be stronger. Connect each element to another—online and off. Fill in any blanks with other marketing efforts. Marketing works when you hit current and potential customers over and over again from multiple directions. This means don’t just do something once and say, “Well that didn’t work like I thought ,”and discount or discontinue the effort. Building a solid and loyal customer base doesn’t happen overnight. But, with marketing, each day will continue to prove to be better.
Be aware that what you are putting out there needs to have some level of value to the person you are reaching out to. This will ensure it won’t be viewed as just noise to the recipient. Also, they will begin looking for your marketing, versus discarding, because it helped them in some way.
Marketing is a snowball effect that can only build from what you put into it. Different people will react to different messages, events, promotions, contests, loyalty programs, signage, flyers… be strategic and be consistent in your approach. And never give up. Marketing can move mountains.
I also recommend reading Why Your Franchise Needs Social Media.
Shiloh Kelly, Vice President of Marketing, Red Book Solutions