Grassroots marketing or guerilla marketing is promoting your business to a small group with the goal of it spreading more widely. When I was asked to participate in the Women’s March in New York City, Saturday, January 20, 2018, I was hesitant.
I wasn’t interested in being involved in any Trump bashing or rehashing all the 2017 protests. As I typically do, I did research. I read inspirational quotes about women, standing up for what they believe in, and empowerment. I found Melinda Gates quote, “It’s easy to dismiss the whispers of one woman. It’s much harder to ignore a movement.” I knew it was the right message because it didn’t include any negative messaging.
My friend made professional signs for our group with mine and others including, “Women’s rights are human rights,” and “The future is female.” We all gathered, men and women at 72nd and Central Park West and stood still. There were so many people, signs and barricades, it was hard to walk.
I wanted to keep moving and managed to find a way out of the crowds. Once out, there was an open section, mainly for the press. After a professional photographer took a picture of my sign, I asked who he represented. He said, “Getty.” I said, “Will they use my sign?” He said, “I don’t know. I just sent them the shots and they choose.”
Throughout the day, strangers smiled and snapped pictures of my sign. If I had to count how many times, it would be at least 100. After reading the myriad of signs that demonstrated hate, politics, Trump bashing, and discrimination, Melinda Gates message of advocacy and coming together resonated.
I felt motivated and continued walking for hours, with a mission – I’m going to get media coverage for women’s rights and be part of a larger movement. Fortunately, I’ve never experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, but others have, or some other type of mistreatment. After five hours, I could barely walk back home to the east side across the park. But it was worth every step.
The next morning, my friend called screaming, “You’re the first ten signs on Getty images.”
On Monday, January 23, 2018, a photo of me and my sign appeared in New York Metro. There were 200,000 marchers. It was exciting that I was chosen. This is a great example of grassroots marketing. During the planning stages, I never thought of it as a marketing or public relations campaign.
Once in the streets, observing people’s reactions, I knew I’d hit an emotional trigger. I put on my marketing hat and studied the people and thought about my intent: to spread our message about women’s rights organically. Since the Women’s March was a trending topic, and everyone had a smartphone, it was likely our message could be spread throughout social media.
It’s critical to be proactive and engage with your audience for an interactive social experience. Philanthropic activities from socially responsible brands are perceived more positively by consumers.
Cone Communications’ Alison DaSilva said, “2017 was a year for redefining corporate social responsibility. Consumers are willing to dig deeper and learn more about a company’s business practices. Companies need to be extraordinarily transparent and dig deep into their own organization to ensure they’re truly ‘walking the talk’ with issues on which they’re taking a stance,” Forbes 2017:
Think about your company’s brand messaging and how you can become more socially responsible and if a grassroots approach may help. A survey from Better Business Journal reported, 88 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities that improve society.
To learn more, here are the 20 corporate social responsibility initiatives for 2017. Doing something that sparks the public’s interest, because it’s authentic, transparent, inspiring or helpful increases the chance that your message and movement will be shared organically, and even virally.