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Splendor in the Grass Roots

Splendor in the Grass Roots: How to Effectively Use Grass Roots Marketing

The grass is always greener with a grass roots approach.

Sometimes, the best communications tool to optimize word of mouth and  increase your return on investment is to incorporate and implement tried and true marcom tactics  at the grass roots level. Coupled with modern day technology in the form of social media, you can find splendor in the grass roots of your overall marketing campaign.

Whether your campaign is to launch a new brand, store or initiative, appeal to constituents to win favor on an issue, or to simply boost awareness in markets that need concentration, community outreach to stimulate word of mouth marketing plays an essential role.

With grass roots, all marketing is local

An effective Grassroots campaign is when you reach consumers and influencers in your key market(s) and passionately engage them to spur conversation and take action. Success is reached when you get them to care so passionately about your brand/cause  that they become your evangelists, your ultimate word of mouth tools; your cheerleaders.

Easier said than done? Not really. If you are creative, know your target audience, familiarize yourself with the targeted communities’ needs and tie your key messaging for both, you can achieve splendor in the grass roots approach, too.

Here are two examples of effective grass roots outreach, one campaign completed, the other in progress. In each instance, they utilize old school marcom approaches to reach their objectives.

Campaign In-Progress

Stowaway Cosmetics

The Brand: Stowaway Cosmetics, offering today’s woman a product line of portable makeup basics, using the highest quality ingredients for luxurious products small enough to be stowed away in any clutch, gym, or travel bag.

The Objective: to raise awareness of its product line and e-commmerce site to gain customers and ultimately increase sales.

Upcoming Chicago Stowaway Summer Pop Up Event Facebook Invite at

The Campaign: A four-city tour to host a one-night only pop-up store event in select major market cities. New York, Chicago, Washington, DC and Los Angeles

The Event: A Summer Pop-Up Event featuring an evening of shopping, touch-ups and wine, with discounted offers on select items at the venue. Chicago’s Pop Up event takes place Tuesday, July 28 at fashionista fave Rent The Runway store.

The Tactics: A live event promoted in each targeted market via a mix of social media marketing, direct email marketing, publicity ,co-partnering and word of mouth marketing

The Result: TBD


Completed Campaign

Uber2The Brand – UBER NYC, a ride-hailing taxi service offering consumers an alternative in transport.

The Cause – Don’t Strand New York; Save Uber NYC

The Issue – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was holding a vote to prevent more Uber Cars/Drivers in New York which would stunt its growth in the city for one year while it conducted a study on traffic congestion.

The Campaign:  A mix of targeted on-air commercials, radio spots, digital and print ads plus direct email marketing that flooded the New York City area last week. Included were on-air commercials attacking the mayor’s plan to cap Uber’s growth, featuring Uber NYC drivers endorsing the ride-service for providing jobs, coupled with a voice-over of how essential the ride hailing service is and will continue to be in the near future to NYC employment.

In addition, Uber gained positive media attention, op-ed endorsements from the major New York City-area newspapers, flooded the market with radio spots and flooded New Yorkers with direct email marketing messages asking to tweet the Mayor to stop the vote Don’t Strand New York

The Result: As of late yesterday afternoon, Mayor de Blasio announced he would postpone the vote for one year while the city conducted its traffic congestion study.

Creating happy, emotionally connected consumers and influencers that voluntarily want to share your brand’s message forward to the masses, especially in their communities, will lead to loyal consumers, enhanced reputation, strengthened awareness and ultimately, a boost in your ROI. Have a Fabulous Friday. AS

Tags: grassroots marketing, wom, advertising, Uber, stowaway cosmetics


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Do You Know Who Your Partner Is?

Hip and Trendy? Not For Everyone

Sponsorships and partnering with a host company for a conference, convention, meeting or show are integral parts of event marketing.  Partnering with the right lodging and transportation companies can boost attendance to your event through discounted rates, quality service, notoriety of the venue, locale, and proximity to the event.

Sometimes, the tried and true trumps the hip and trendy.

When a marketer or host event company partners with a hotel or transport service for their conference, they expect their event attendees will receive all of the above-mentioned perks. First and foremost, they expect their attendees’ reservations to be honored upon their arrival as well as those of  their employees who are working the conference or event — especially the set-up crew.

Who wouldn’t want to come to the Big Apple for a great event?

As most marketers know all too well, in exchange for aligning your  event with a hotel property and transport service, you will, in turn, promote the property in conference promotional materials, on the website, on-site with signage, etc. In my recent travels for several major event functions, I witnessed a vast array of outstanding partnerships as well as some that fell short of expectations.

Consider the following tips when partnering with a hotel property and transportation service for your event:

Event promoters and organizers must make sure that they and their clients do not overthink who to partner with in an effort to be overly trendy, hip, and futuristic. Be careful what you wish for! Oftentimes, the hottest venue or locale in town may not match the message you intend to convey to your attendees. One bad experience can ruin an attendee’s time — or worse, generate a negative opinion of your organization. This is unfortunate and could more than likely have been avoided with more research into a venue’s reputation.

Case in Point

Social Media Week 2015 New York. One of  the host companies partnered with Hampshire Hotels Management, LLC’s proprietary brand Dreams® Hotel property located one block from the conference in NYC’s hip meatpacking district. Discounted rates were arranged for conference attendees, event employees and the set-up crew.

The event was great, but the lodgings….uhhh, less than a dream


You’d expect superior customer service in a four to five star luxury hotel. Yet, conference attendees discovered upon arrival that the hotel manager and front desk staff  had given away their rooms — even after guests had received email confirmations, same-day phone confirmations, and in some cases, confirmations one hour after guests had phoned to say they were arriving late. While the hotel did make accommodations for them to stay at their other property in Midtown, this was unacceptable.  The point of the partnership at the agreed locale was the ease of proximity to the conference.

Furthermore, I learned from the event-host manager that the set-up crew for Social Media Week was also bumped from that hotel locale. Since event promotional materials were already printed, displayed, and promoted online, it created an uncomfortable position (to say the least!) for the marketers and their clients/event sponsors.

Consider Partnering with an Established, Reputable Hotel Property like the Sheraton, Marriott, Hyatt or Hilton. Sometimes, the established, recognizable brand hotels, while not considered hip or trendy, are the smartest event marketing alignment. The recent ABA White Collar Crime Conference in New Orleans partnered with The Sheraton Hotel for its attendees’ accommodations and as their venue site. All contracted arrangements were honored, and as a result, the conference ran like a well-oiled machine.

Guess Who Came to the Rescue?

Know who the Partners are Before Committing. In the case of the sponsoring transportation company, make sure to thoroughly research the company you plan to partner with. I can’t reiterate enough the importance of  not overthinking your event for promotional purposes and aligning with the hottest and most trendy company du jour.

Case in Point

Social Media Week NYC partnered with Lyft, one of  the newer ride-share companies, to accommodate its attendees. Cross-promotional plans via traditional and digital outlets were in place. These included printed marketing materials and signage promoting the event, in exchange for complimentary rides to and from the conference that were supposed to be priced up to $20.

The Reality

This sounded like a fabulous arrangement. In reality, the ride-share offer worked great to get to the event each day. However, during rush hour, the time the conference ended each day, Lyft’s rate was at surge pricing. I personally experienced this price surge and decided to use ride-share leader and mainstay, Uber, for my return rides. The reason? Uber did not implement surge pricing during rush hour. To drive home my point (no pun intended) opting for the more established company is oftentimes the more prudent choice.

My motto? “Honor thy Sponsors” by being smart and thorough in your research before partnering with companies for your event. Have a Terrific Thursday–as

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Get Appy This Winter Season

Appy Holidays!

ABBE’s SPARKS Weekly Blog for RFPalooza

The holidays are a time to help others. The best promotions do the same. As I write today’s blog entry from frozen Chicago where the high is 18 degrees, I can’t help but crave warmth via a burning fire, or hot soup and Chai Tea to fend off a guaranteed cold or illness. Enter a brilliant promotional partnership that uses technology to address my very same craving with a clever helpful offer to boost existing users frequency and attain new users.
Here is one of the best examples of using technology and partnering for a seasonal promotional campaign:

This holiday season, Uber launched an uber-clever promotion.

Uber and Vaccine Finder : The ridesharing service pilot program called UBER HEALTH offered a one-day promotion in select cities to help existing and potential new users from getting the flu this season.

The Promotion — UberHEALTH offered free flu prevention packs and flu shots On Demand. Together with Vaccine Finder, they offered to help consumers stay healthy this season.


Technology to the rescue.


Uber users could request this service within their Uber app. When the Uber car arrives (complete with a registered nurse aboard), users receive a flu prevention pack and have the option to request  flu shots from the nurse for up to 10 people – all at no cost.

Slogan: Stay healthy and Uber on!

The winter season and holidays can be stressful for everyone, particularly your clients. Promoting their brands for a successful and profitable winter doesn’t have to be difficult. The caveat for informed, health-minded consumers — brands can’t just do social good; they have to be good.

With a little extra effort, you can see big results that will let you end the year on a high and healthy note. Have a wonderful Wednesday.


    By Abbe Sparks

    Abbe Silverberg Sparks is the principal of Abbe Sparks Media Group (, a boutique communications firm specializing in media relations, cause and social media marketing, branding and special events planning.