How should you market to college students?
From choosing the correct language to leveraging the power of social media, here are the 14 answers to the question, “What’s the best way to advertise to college students?”
- Choose the Right Words
- Offer Free Samples
- Gather User Generated Content
- Utilize Student Discounts
- Be Where They Are
- Hold Focus Groups
- Apply “Social-Proof” Marketing
- Sponsor an On-campus Event
- Work With Micro-influencers
- Describe the Intended Student Profile
- Run a Contest, Raffle, or Giveaway
- Make Entertaining Video Content
- Leverage Social Media
Choose the Right Words
Young people in the US and worldwide are a vast market, and they will spend their money in the next five to ten years, so it makes sense to target them. However, the key to advertising for this age group is to do it correctly so that you do not upset them.
What is essential for them may not be for you, so try to consider this group as individuals and not just a group.
First, avoid offensive language, use good grammar, and make it easy to read. Make it exciting, and refrain from using words that teenagers might not understand. If you want to use a dirty word, be sure to use it in a context they will find funny and something they can relate to.
It is also important to remember to keep your advert simple, brief, maybe a paragraph or two at most, stay on topic, and be easy to understand.
Jacob Dayan, Co-Founder & CEO, Community Tax
College students don’t want to be “advertised” to. They want authentic information about you, your product, and your business to make an informed decision.
Whether it’s a huge decision—like college—or a small one, like shoes, tell them what they need to know.
If they’re the right customer, they’ll choose you and/or your product. Selling something isn’t what it used to be. Information is key.
Offer Free Samples
When I worked at Chegg, many advertisers seeking to reach college students would pay to include free samples in our textbook rental boxes. That way, when students received these boxes, it would thrill them to get unexpected samples from brands they liked or might come to like.
The advertisers would get the exposure, while Chegg could get enough revenue to subsidize the shipping costs, enabling free shipping for students. It was a win-win arrangement. In this vein, look for brands and companies that already service college students and see if you can get some exposure within their packaging or product offerings. If you offer QR or discount codes, you can track redemptions and see if the lifetime value of these customers looks favorable relative to the costs you’re incurring to acquire them.
Gather User Generated Content
Creating a marketing strategy that targets college students is important because they make up a large part of the demographic and have considerable buying power.
Since college students are constantly online engaging, consuming content, and shopping, they are pickier with advertising than other generations have been in the past. Because of this, being savvy on social media is a great way to advertise to college students.
User-generated content can not only be a great way to build up your content pipeline, but it can increase trust in this target market, since they are more likely to trust their peers than other forms of advertising. Encourage customers to tag products so they are easy to repost and share with other college students.
Utilize Student Discounts
One of the best ways to advertise to college students is to offer targeted student discounts for your products or services.
A vast majority of college students live on a budget, so offering discounts for them will help put your business on their radar above similar brands that don’t give students discounts.
You can even take this a step further by specifically calling out college students when offering such deals—for example, your marketing campaign may say, “San Diego State students receive half-off tacos with a purchase of a burrito bowl.”
The easiest way to come up with a list of leads is to take student ID numbers at the point of purchase. You can use this to follow up with them for more deals and discounts in the future—who doesn’t love that?
Be Where They Are
Find out where your target audience spends their time—and advertise there.
For example, to promote to college students, if you’re a local business, collaborate with frequented college restaurants and bars; if you’re an online business, invest in researching the internet habits of college students, such as the most popular apps—or a combination of both.
You need to be where they are because they won’t find you any other way.
Hold Focus Groups
When you’ve identified your target audience, you want to learn as much as you can about their interests, problems, and day-to-day lives.
One of the best ways to educate your marketing efforts is by holding focus groups. One way to do this is by contacting the head of the communications department at a local college, offering marketing majors to take part in the group—they get to learn simultaneously!
Apply “Social-Proof ” Marketing
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon in which people behave similarly to those around them, just as we want to be like our father or mother in the family. Social proof is vital to advertise to college students.Here are the key tips for how you can implement social proof techniques to advertise to college students:-Endorse your college with celebrities and social media influence genuinely. Ask to post videos interacting with your students. If you have an old student who is now a celebrity, go with him/her.-Use the old student’s academic & professional story in the promotion. -Use social media, like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and SEO websites to post the activities and information about your college.
Karen Cate Agustin, Business Analyst, Investors Club
Sponsor an On-campus Event
One of the best ways to advertise to college students is by sponsoring an event held on campus.
That way, you can have your business talked about all over campus and gain opportunities to introduce your brand to the students. Once your business becomes more visible to students, you have time to expand your consumer base.
Work With Micro-Influencers
Micro-Influencers will grow to higher levels in 2023. Many of these mini-social media celebrities attend universities and have a heavy influence on others that go there. Search out micro-influencers with college-specific hashtags and then determine if they fit your brand well. Once you have a list, create a win-win opportunity for them to promote your products or services.
Describe the Intended Student Profile
For instance, a student at a four-year university will have quite different needs and purchasing preferences than a student at a two-year college.
Similar to how different approaches are needed to reach students who live on campus versus those who live off campus. As a result, before you promote your product or service, determine the student you want to attract.
Run a Contest, Raffle, or Giveaway
Host a giveaway if you’re looking to grow your email listserv and your social media following, or just get lots of students interested in your company. You must make it alluring enough for college students to divulge their personal information and/or cash for a chance to win.
It might be anything from providing a Sonos speaker system to improve the music at parties to paying for parking on campus, providing complimentary sides for life (french fries forever!), naming a product after them, and so on.
Make Entertaining Video Content
Incorporate video into your marketing campaigns. Make stuff for them that is pertinent. Since cable TV can be pricey, YouTube and Netflix have established themselves as essentials for student entertainment.
Owners of businesses should produce quick movies that will draw students to their websites. A film that is both educational and amusing can be a powerful tool for reaching college students.
Make instructional movies on subjects that appeal to college students, such as the college experience, living in a residence hall, and advice for students who are physically, mentally, or visually impaired.
Incorporate your product or service with information on how to prepare for tests, pass them, live on a meager budget, participate in campus activities, etc. Make a list of search terms that will draw them in.
Leverage Social Media
I believe that college students are among the biggest fans of social media. Therefore, it is important to advertise on social media and specifically to college students whenever possible.
Using captivating social media posts, advertise your brand’s wares. This method is an easy way to reach a wide audience with your marketing messaging.
Keep hashtags in mind when crafting social media postings for your intended audience. Targeting college students and tagging them with relevant content is as easy as using the appropriate hashtags.
It’s also possible to delegate tasks related to social media to brand advocates.
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