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Grassroots Efforts vs. Traditional Marketing: 5 Tips

Lately, I've had some great conversations with businesses and organizations about marketing.

When I ask what made them successful, I hear some inspiring stories. I love these stories, because they are great examples of what my 20-plus years in marketing has taught me: Developing strong brands requires passion, dedication and consistency.

Grassroots branding efforts can be awesomely successful. There's nothing like face-to-face time to make a connection and create long lasting relationships. The challenge is that they require staffing, time, resources and—more often than not—a good chunk of change. Here's where more traditional methods of marketing and advertising step in.

E-mail marketing, online advertising, social media and print ads can be effective ways to launch your brand into a new market and reach a much broader audience. But how do you decide which approach to take?

It can feel overwhelming, especially if marketing isn't your forte. Thus, some advice:

Know what you're spending.
Are you keeping track of the costs associated with your grassroots efforts? Travel expenses, employee time, registrations and more can add up quickly. Even if it comes out of a different budget other than marketing, it's still marketing.

Track your ROI.
Face-to-face time and walking away with fistfuls of leads can feel motivating, especially in the heat of the moment. But are you tracking an accurate return on your investment? Did the contacts you met a year ago turn into any sales? Also, ask yourself if you're doing something because it's what you've "always done." Just because something worked four years ago doesn't mean it will work for you today.

Repetition matters.
The number of impressions experts say is required before someone acts is now up to somewhere around eight. I cannot stress the importance of brand consistency and repetition.

Consider your audience.
When exploring your different options, be sure to identify your audience. How many will you and your message reach? What are their roles within their organization—and do they have decision-making power?

Diversify.
My favorite marketing plans are those that take the multichannel approach. When you combine your grassroots efforts with digital, social media, editorial and print, you're casting your net to a much wider audience—and giving them a choice for how and where they want to act.

Written by Jill Carroll, Marketing & Media Consultant, Serendipity Media.