Marketing to College Students

There are perhaps more obstacles to hurdle when marketing to college students than any other segment. Getting past these roadblocks is a challenge, especially if you're new to college student marketing. Let's examine a few of these obstacles and present ways to hurdle over them for college student marketing success.

College marketing obstacles

resources imageCollege students tend to ignore media - or at least the ads on TV/radio and in magazines/newspapers. Even Internet advertising is largely ignored, despite the fact that college students spend a great deal of time online. Blasting ads for the college crowd in any of these mediums can produce positive results, but they're much more difficult to achieve than with other market segments. Direct- mail marketing can also prove difficult because you can't get a segmented list of people who are attending college - list brokers don't have them, and many colleges do not release such information due to student privacy considerations.

Print marketing and intelligent distribution

resources imageInstead of trying to reach your audience through traditional channels, you can instead print posters, brochures, flyers, stickers, booklets, catalogs, calendars and other materials for campus distribution. Seek out hot spots where college students congregate, and talk to complementary and non-competing businesses to see if you can leave your materials on their counters or come up with a cross-promotional venture (such as an event). In some cases, the college admissions or housing offices will help you identify these areas - and in rare cases, they might even make a mailing list available to you so you can launch a direct-mail campaign.

Sponsor an event

One thing college students like to do is attend events - everything from wine tastings to music festivals. The larger the campus, the more opportunities you have to identify a niche segment to cater to. Seek out existing events you can sponsor or rent a booth at. If none exists, you can host your own event. To keep costs low, find other businesses to partner with on your venture. No matter what type of event you decide to host or sponsor, make sure it has value to your customers. If it's nothing more than a sales pitch, it won't be popular and people will leave. Create a fun, invigorating environment relevant to your audience's interests, and they'll come to you when they're ready to hear your pitch.

Organize a street team

You can hire a few college students to market your company via flyer handouts, wearing T-shirts and word-of-mouth. Many companies already do this because it's so effective. College students trust their peers more than they trust other types of advertising, even if the advertising is blatant. Marketing to college students presents several challenges, but they're not insurmountable with a bit of creative thinking and ingenuity. Don't rely on one single marketing medium, either. Branding is critical at the collegiate level because this is when young adults begin to develop life-long loyalties. Be visible and ingrain your company into the culture, and your profits will soar.