Grassroots Lead Generation: Shedding Light on 4 Successful Marketing Efforts

Grassroots marketing is focused on reaching customers locally or in their community where they live and work, or businesses and the public locally to promote an organization’s products, services or message. It does not generally depend on mass media advertising and targets a smaller, more defined audience.

Grassroots marketing is aimed at building strong relationships with the target group so that people in the group become vocal supporters; and pass personal recommendations to others by word of mouth. In this way, the marketing effort reaches a larger audience. Others have a tendency to trust these recommendations from users more than generalized advertising.

This type of marketing is often very cost effective, not requiring a large budget, and uses unique, creative or unconventional approaches to create excitement so that the organization or product stands out. Approaches to generate leads often involve branded giveaways, samples, sponsorships, events, or community building.



Red Bull stands out as one of the most successful examples of grassroots marketing. The founder, Dietrich Mateschitz, introduced his non-soda energy beverage in Europe in 1987 and in the United States in 1997, creating an entirely new category in the U.S. beverage market. Red Bull targeted high school and college students as its primary market, relying on grass roots marketing to generate leads, eschewing print advertising and web marketing. Instead, it would provide free cases of its product to student representatives to throw “Red Bull” parties and give to friends; and hire students to drive around college campuses in vehicles decorated with giant mock Red Bull cans handing out free cans of the drink. It expanded its marketing into sponsoring extreme sports events to project a lifestyle product. Red Bull effectively created the product category, and is now in over 50 countries with yearly sales over a billion dollars and strong brand loyalty among teenage and college students even with a premium price.



Curves International has been a rapidly growing franchise of fitness clubs for women. The company has effectively employed grassroots marketing, with a very successful technique to generate leads. The franchisee would approach other local businesses and ask permission to place giveaways of decorative gift bags featuring a prominent Curves logo, offering to similarly display promotional materials for that business. The bags contained forms to request more information about Curves and to register for a drawing offering a free week of exercise. Every form that was returned to the Curves franchisee provided a highly qualified lead, with a prospect expressing active interest and containing contact information to follow up.

curves fitness center



Mozilla Corporation is a non-profit that provides its open-source Firefox web browser for free. It has virtually no traditional advertising, effectively using grass roots marketing to build its brand and capture about a quarter of the web browser market in competition with the giants Microsoft, Apple and Google. Mozilla’s marketing strategy is to create a community of users who “spread the word about Firefox.” Users join the community to chat with others via message boards and participate in projects; to contribute by becoming part of an ongoing global project; and to join the Firefox affiliate program to refer people to download Firefox by putting a link button on their own website, thereby earning points and rewards. Mozilla’s marketing strategy is focused to encourage community participation with sharing, rewards and discussion so that users have a sense of ownership in the community and promote Firefox in the marketplace.



The digital age has turned many traditional forms of business upside down, and none more so than the music industry. The traditional structure was for talent to sign to a label, which would sponsor, promote and distribute an album, retaining a portion (often significant) of the sales proceeds. In 2007, the band Radiohead announced that its seventh album “In Rainbows” could be downloaded for 10 days before its actual release, and that users could decide what they would pay to download it. This novel “pay want you want” approach lasted only ten days and generated huge publicity. At the same time, Radiohead offered an expensive deluxe “discbox” edition physical package. It’s reported that the band made as much on this deluxe product as on the entire sales of their previous album. The total proceeds from the downloaded “pay what you want” album went directly to the band. When it was released on CD, the album went to number 1 on the charts. Clearly, the band’s strategy of creating a buzz with the unconventional, offering the free giveaway and providing premium options proved highly successful.

The band Radiohead plays in Amsterdam


The four organizations discussed above, Red Bull, Curves, Mozilla and Radiohead are very different industries and product lines. All have effectively used grass roots marketing techniques aimed at targeted consumer groups for the very effective generation of leads.

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