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Engage the College Crowd: Marketing to College Students

You don’t need to drench yourself in beer or broadcast the answers to tomorrow’s exam to get the attention of today’s college contingent. Savvy advertisers know that marketing to college students is decidedly less stereotypical and one-dimensional than that. Determining how to market to students is as simple as learning how to think like the students. It’s like any marketing campaign really; your success relies largely on your ability to understand your audience. Marketing to college students is no exception. In fact, they are probably one of the best examples of how a well-orchestrated and implemented marketing campaign directed at the right target can reach the zeniths of success.

Just think about it: you won’t find many segments of the population who are as open-minded and, at the same time, highly-scheduled as post-secondary students. This makes marketing to college students an incredibly predictable venture which can lead to quantifiable and lucrative results.

SEE ALSO: The Facebook Advertising Survival Guide

Of course, while the attention of students is certainly there for the taking, you have to know how to attract it and, above all, retain it. It’s hardly an impossible endeavour, but you’ll need to get yourself in the right mind-set first.

8 Strategies for Marketing to College Students

1) Timing is Everything. The calendar life of a student is hectic, with major peaks and valleys. When you’re thinking about how to market to students, you need to think about where in that calendar year those students will be when your campaign launches. For example, in the summer, when more students are out and about, it’s a fantastic idea to amp up your mobile marketing. After all, they’ve already spent months chained to their PCs and won’t be spending as much time indoors at their desks. You’ll want to make sure your marketing campaigns are mobile-savvy so students outside and on-the-go can stay connected, informed and above all, engaged with your brand.

2) Get Experimental. Go through ‘that experimental phase’ with your target audience by shaking things up in the land of social media. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter are still the most popular social media sites, you won’t find another group of people more likely to try something new than the college contingent. Try going viral with Vine, or get super-powerful and succinct with SnapChat. For some businesses we even recommend testing the waters with some text platforms, like Text4Takeout. There are dozens of options that will make marketing to college students easy, affordable and lucrative. Don’t be afraid of trying a different approach!

3) Embrace the Ego. Unlike many older adults or younger adolescents, college students aren’t as likely to shy away from being put in the spotlight. Generally speaking, this is a time when many people come into their own. One great way to optimize your marketing to college students is to simply allow them to take the stage; put them front and center. You can do this on social media with contests and events that invite them to tell their own stories, or you can do it on a grander scheme, across multiple platforms with all-encompassing promotions and contests. This tactic is a great way to get priceless (and costless) interest and endorsements. Remember: some of the very best advertising you can get is positive lip-service, so get students talking – even if it’s about themselves.

4) Free is Key. College students may have a lot of buying prowess, but generally speaking, they don’t have a lot of money. If you want to get them to spend their hard won money with you, you’re going to want to endear them to your brand by giving them something for nothing. Discounts and coupons are cool, but gratis is GREAT. You don’t have to break the bank; just give away a little something for free (e.g. pens, USP drives, stress balls). Unlike the funds that may or may not be coming from their parents, you want to give your gift with no strings attached.

5) Don’t Forget the ‘Little’ Guys. We know that social media is a force to be reckoned with, but don’t neglect looking into more old-fashioned and equally vital sources of student information. We’re talking student newspapers, broadcasts and other publications. You want to be everywhere the eyes of your students are looking.

6) Get ’em Coming and Going. Introduce yourself to students before they even take a seat in their first class. This can be done easily by contacting admissions and seeing if you can include coupons, freebies or information in their welcome packages. Likewise, make sure you touch base again when they leave by offering a congratulatory parting gift to graduating students. Depending on the school, this can be done in a farewell package or separately via social media, TV, website, radio or print advertising. The idea is to engrain your brand into their minds during these pivotal points in their lives. Targeting users based on their school, program and graduating year through Facebook Advertising is an extremely effective, cost-efficient way to reach your exact audience.

7) Check-In. It’s important to keep the relationship alive no matter who you are marketing to, and this holds doubly true with students who are constantly being exposed to new things (i.e. new brands). For some businesses, using check-ins on their social media pages is an incredibly useful way to keep students engaged with their brand and their offers. By checking-in they are letting their friends know what they are doing, who they are with, and where they are at that moment. This is particularly useful for businesses with storefronts since customers will give you free publicity every time they check-in to say they are hanging out at your place. Best of all, getting them to check-in is as easy as offering an incentive, like a discount, every time you run a check-in promo.

8) Be Present. One of the most effective ways to market to college students is to actually visit their campuses. Send representatives to on-campus events like fairs, concerts, recruiting days and open houses. This puts faces behind the brand and increases your recognisability and likability.

Want to create the best marketing campaign for students for your business? Contact our specialists for experienced help wrangling the college crowd.

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