Small Business Brief


5 Budget-Friendly Grassroots Marketing Tips for Local Businesses

Some of the most effective ways to grow your business are through PPC and social media campaigns. However, not every business has the capital to consistently run paid campaigns.

It’s during the early stages of a business that grassroots marketing can be effective in spreading the word about a product or service at a fraction of the cost of PPC and social media. Grassroots campaigns can also be effective for small local businesses which don’t have large budgets.

When executed well, grassroots campaigns are cost-effective and target exactly who you want them to.

It’s fairly easy to target who you think your audience is through PPC. However, you can connect with your true target audience through a story with grassroots campaigns.

In this article, we’ll discuss what grassroots marketing is and tips you can use to execute a grassroots campaign for your business.

What Is Grassroots Marketing?

When you run a paid search campaign, your goal is usually to reach as many people as possible to spread awareness about your business. Grassroots works in the opposite way.

When marketing in a grassroots way, you want to target a highly-niche group of people that you think will like your product or service. Those people you target will become your early adopters and influencers.

You also don’t need to have something for sale to use grassroots campaigns. You can run a charitable organization or an organization that’s trying to educate the public.

Even though you’re not starting a paid campaign on social media, you will rely on social media channels to spread your message. You want your grassroots campaign to be catchy, shareable, and have the potential to go viral.

Being able to tell a story well will help you succeed with your grassroots marketing efforts. Your story should also be relevant to current events or trends.

You’ve maybe heard of guerrilla marketing. It’s similar to grassroots marketing with one key difference.

It’s true that guerrilla marketing also relies on the viral nature of the campaign to spread the word about a product or company. The key difference is that guerrilla campaigns try to reach as many people as possible no matter who they are.

Now let’s dive into the tips.

Create Valuable Content (and Share It)

Creating valuable content is going to be the #1 way to attract your target audience if you know them well.

The point of marketing is to write about topics that are relevant to your business and industry. Those posts should solidify your business’ position as a thought leader in the industry. They also help customers make decisions about buying your product.

Blogging like this isn’t necessarily bombastic, but there are ways to make it so.

When you write posts, craft headlines that are enticing and shareable. An ideal headline is short, accurate, and uses powerful language.

It’s the shareability of content that lends itself to your grassroots campaign efforts.

Your content doesn’t only need to be in blog form. Your grassroots content can include tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook videos, infographics, business cards, flyers, and more.

One example we love is from They created a downloadable game called Fireman Says to teach children about fire safety. The game is similar to Simon Says.

Capitalize on Trending Topics

Trending topics can be ones that are discussed in the news, that are trending on Twitter, or just being widely discussed online. You can use tools like Google Trends, HootSuite, and Facebook Insights to monitor what people are talking about.

The trending topics you decide to capitalize on should be related enough to your company’s sector that it makes sense. For example, if you run a fiberglass pool resurfacing business, you could capitalize on trends like summer, pool time, or pool safety.

Monitoring trends and having content ready to go is not for the faint-hearted. You need a few people ready to help you find applicable trends, prepare content, and schedule posts to ride the trend wave.

While there’s no guaranteed payoff for capitalizing on trending topics, it’s an established tactic that can help you reach your target audience. This is especially if you’re communicating on the channels which they frequently use.

Partner with a Local Business or Charity

Is there a local partner that complements your business’ mission or purpose? Finding local partners can help widen your reach or tap into a specific group of people you want to reach.

In many cases, the benefits go both ways for the partner organization. They get access to your audience to spread awareness of their business or charity.

A popular grassroots way to spread awareness about your business is to close the office for the day and take your employees to volunteer with a local charity. You’ll get exposure through social media channels and show that your organization has heart.

Harness Emotion

A great story tugs at your emotions the right way. Whether it’s sad, happy, angry, anxious, etc, you can use emotions to convey your business’ purpose and tell a better, shareable story.

Think about stories that have been told in popular commercials. The Budweiser puppy commercials told stories that made you worried, sad, then happy. The SPCA commercials narrated by Sarah McLaughlin make you sad.

Illiciting those emotions from your audience make you more memorable.

Do Something Unexpected

Surprise people in unexpected ways.

Running a PR stunt isn’t for every business, but man do they get people talking. To target a select group of people, see if you can get involved in a local meetup that reflects your target audience and do a small stunt.

On a smaller scale, you can write handwritten notes to your customers or leave them around areas where you believe your target audience hangs out. Writing notes to your customers builds customer relationships and makes them more willing to give you customer referrals.

Get More Bang for Your Buck

As you might have noticed, these grassroots marketing tips don’t require much money to get started. All you need are some savvy storytellers and people who know how to ride trend waves.

At the end of the day, grassroots marketing is about generating excitement about a product or company to find early adopters and brand advocates.

To learn more about utilizing social media for grassroots campaigns, check out our social media forums.