Grassroots Marketing: Engage All Your Stakeholders in Your Strategy

Word of mouth still beating out tweets and email. Utilize grassroots marketing for your events.

By Elizabeth Johnson

As event organizers and marketers we spend a lot of time and energy figuring out how we can reach new audiences and communicate the value of our events to them. We advertise, we tweet, and we email, email, email. But when it comes to decision time, word of mouth still rules. Attendees often rely on testimonials from their peers, trusted connections or industry leaders and influencers. After all, who doesn’t want to be where the action is?

Everyone participating in your event—exhibitors, member-planning committees, board members, attendees, sponsors and speakers—wants it to be successful. Each has something unique to gain with their participation. Opening up the opportunity for all them to participate in show promotion can be rewarding to everyone involved and ultimately produce a better show.

Here’s how to do it creatively:

Make it easy. Install a social media sharing tool on your website which will allow people to easily include all of the details of the show in their social media message while still having the ability to personalize it. They can then share it on the social media platform of their choice. For example, exhibitors just have to click and add their booth number to invite their Twitter followers to their booth. Or speakers can include the date/time of their session and post on LinkedIn.

Think about the message. Feed your stakeholders the narrative. Ask them to let their colleagues know that the early registration deadline is approaching or that a group rate is available. You could even let your key stakeholders in on a key decision you’ve made about the event that they can share with their constituents.

Consider gamification. Make it fun for your stakeholders to promote your event. Set up a simple contest where board or committee members who share a purl (personalized URL) through email can win a prize for bringing the most attendees.

Don’t overthink it. Be wary of anything too complicated or takes too much time and effort as your stakeholders won’t be as likely to participate. We’re all busy and while it might be fun to launch a photo contest, if your industry isn’t so photogenic, like software, you might see much less engagement than if you’re promoting food.

Establishing a strategic grassroots marketing campaign to enhance your overall marketing efforts will take a little work, but the benefits of doing it right could be exponential.

Elizabeth Johnson is Principal and Owner at glee Content Marketing.. Opinions are her own.

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