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College Marketing Insights – a Student’s Perspective

By Alice Lee: Senior at Georgia Tech, Student Brand Ambassador, and Atlas College Marketing Intern

As a fourth year college student, I have been the target of many college marketing campaigns. From online promotions to guerilla marketing tactics, believe me, I’ve seen it all. However, being a part of the college audience and having experience as a Brand Ambassador gives me a unique perspective on college marketing. These insights, from a student’s perspective, are crucial for companies to remember when marketing to college students.

 

We’re a unique demographic

A one-size-fits-all approach to marketing is never the most effective strategy, especially when it comes to college marketing. Knowing that your target audience is college students is not enough. You need to know what our interests are, what our schedules are like, and what we find important. Additionally, each college campus is unique, so it’s important to get to know each campus before creating your campaign strategy.

Word travels fast

As you know, social media and technology are embedded into the lives of college students. With platforms such as Facebook, GroupMe, and Yikyak, if you bring something of value to campus, you will see it spread organically. Many times, companies seem to promote their brand with items that are of no value to us, such as flyers, which go straight to the trash. Instead, provide us with an item we want or will use and people will talk about your campaign to their friends, both on and offline. Word of mouth travels faster on college campuses than in most other communities, so take advantage of it!

Students relate to fellow students

As a Brand Ambassador and a student, I find that college marketing campaigns that use student Brand Ambassadors garner more attention and engagement than others. Since college campuses are filled with mostly students and professors, it is extremely easy to spot someone who doesn’t belong. To students, non-student marketers stick out like a sore thumb.alice lee linkedin photo

In my role as a Brand Ambassador, I see many of my colleagues and friends around campus, so it’s easier to attract people to a promotional booth I’m working. As a fellow student, I can also pinpoint the needs of students and pull out the qualities of the product that solve those issues. My perspective as a student Brand Ambassador, as opposed to an outsider’s, leads to much more effective marketing.

 

For more valuable college marketing insights, check out this article by Dan Levy, CEO of Atlas College Marketing, or fill out this form for a one on one consultation.

4 Ways to Nail Promotional Staffing on College Campuses

By Dan Levy, Founder, Atlas College Marketing

In the world of event marketing, if your promotional reps are sub-par, your event will never reach its potential. This is especially important during college promotional campaigns, where students live a different lifestyle than your average consumer. Their schedules are based on class times, club commitments, and sports schedules. Their spending habits are also unique and they have become acutely aware of when they are being marketed to. On top of that, each campus has its own unique culture that must be catered to. All of these factors stress the need for highly focused staffing to ensure that a campaign’s promotional staff will be dialed into the pulse of the campus.

Here are some of the best practices for promotional staffing on college campuses:

Stop Spamming Facebook

Part of a winning recruitment strategy is knowing where to play and where not to play. “Traditional” agency recruiting methods tend not to work as well on college campuses. If you want the highest quality reps working your on-campus event, don’t waste your time posting on Facebook groups and Craigslist. Instead, focus on recruiting students through the many options available at each campus (more on this below). I can’t tell you how many agencies contact me last minute asking for help because they can’t find staff in college towns using traditional recruitment methods.

Hire Students 

While it isn’t true in every case, it’s almost always better to hire college students rather than non-students for college promos. There are a number of reasons for this, but these three stand out: (1) Students get information about brands from their peers, so campaigns will be most effective when fellow students are the ones engaging them on behalf of your brand. (2) No one knows a campus better than its students and they can offer valuable insight that will help you formulate the optimal campaign strategy. (3) Because of their campus knowledge, students will be able to make adjustments in real-time to optimize the effectiveness of your campaign when needed. There are plenty of additional reasons to hire students for college campaigns, but in general, students enhance the value of a campaign and are a resource more companies should take advantage of.

Focus on Student Organizations

Within the student body recruiting base, I’ve found that the best reps come from student organizations. Members of student orgs are generally motivated, connected on campus, and typically are looking for opportunities to enhance their skillsets and resumes. They are eager to work, learn, and prove themselves.

From a recruiting standpoint, focusing on student orgs is beneficial because each org gives you access to large numbers of the types of students you’re looking for. One student organization alone may have 100+ members that may be interested in working an event or campaign and forming a relationship with the org could lead to a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership.

Accommodate Students’ Schedules

Too often campaigns have rigid schedules for each campus’ activation, which leaves many qualified student reps unable to work. To hire involved student staff, you have to be willing to be flexible with activation dates and times. Otherwise, you’ll end up limiting your availability to a lot of potentially wonderful reps who are busy with classes and extracurriculars. Keep in mind that the students you’re marketing to are also busy with classes and extracurriculars, so you shouldn’t have rigid activation schedules anyway if you want to make the most of your campaign. The best option is to recruit top talent, ask them about their schedules as well as those of their fellow students, and cater the activation timing accordingly (obviously there are always time and budget constraints). While it’s not as simple as many campaign strategies, it will lead to far better results.

The world of college marketing is constantly changing and being able to adapt is a necessity. Recruiting effectively, hiring top student talent, and accommodating student schedules puts your brand in the best possible position to leave a strong, positive impression in students’ minds.

If you need promotional staffing assistance for your next event or campaign, please fill out this form.

 

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How a College Marketing Agency Can Miss The Mark on Campus Promotions

By Dan Levy, Founder, Atlas College Marketing

Anyone who has spent time in the college marketing space understands the buying power that college students hold and recognizes that students get most of their information about brands from their peers and social networks.

Many agencies position themselves as having “cracked the code” of marketing to college students, but there are a few mistakes that any agency can make that will render even the most promising campaign strategies less effective.

Here are just a few pieces of the college marketing puzzle that agencies tend to miss the mark on:

Doing Enough Research

There are few things more frustrating than agencies not taking the time to research effectively. It leads to promos at inopportune times and in inopportune locations, as well as missing out on rich opportunities exclusive to each campus and target student demographic.

In addition to demographics, it’s important for agencies to understand the layout of each campus, class schedules, the timing of major campus events, and the current trends in the area. Spending some extra time learning this information could easily turn a mildly successful campaign into a game changer for your brand (more on this below).

Pulling Instead of Pushing

With so much outbound messaging noise floating around, especially on college campuses, your brand needs to be able to pull students in rather than push messaging on them. Attract students with something that they already have an interest in; this creates an opportunity to start a conversation about your brand. While many agencies focus on the push approach, the best results come from digging into what moves your audience, even if it’s not directly related to the brand.

In short, give the people what they want!

Staffing

College promos are unlike any other promos, especially when it comes to staffing. Compared to professional promo reps, student reps have unique schedules, work promos for different reasons, and live a different lifestyle. Additionally, they can be flaky at times (no offense, kids), especially if they don’t feel a connection to the event or the agency hiring them. Success hinges on getting the staffing right; so the recruitment, hiring and treatment of the reps should be done differently than for non-college promos.

Student organizations (as opposed to Craigslist, Facebook, and other recruitment sites used by many agencies) are comprised of dedicated members who are involved on campus and are eager to work. Getting to know these groups establishes rapport, builds trust between both parties, and leads to less backing out last minute. Additionally, it’s almost always better to hire students rather than non-students for college promos, a policy many agencies don’t implement. Students know the area best, better relate to fellow students, and can adjust quickly and effectively when needed.

Knowing Your Environment and Catering To It

Agencies like to think they should dictate when and where events take place, when in reality, they should listen to the students to figure out what’s best. Those agencies that focus on recruiting from and cultivating relationships with student orgs and leaders benefit most when they leverage these relationships to build out their campaigns.

While there are always time and budget constraints, there are always ways to fine-tune and customize for each campus to enhance the campaign’s effectiveness. In every campaign, finding that perfect balance between a cookie-cutter and customized approach is a vital role for an agency and one that, if done properly, will have the campus buzzing.

There are plenty of additional opportunities for agencies to improve their college marketing efforts (I haven’t even touched on the digital side in here), and no agency is perfect, but implementing these strategies will immensely increase the impact of your college marketing campaigns.

Have more ideas for agencies to improve their college marketing? Disagree with anything I mentioned? Comment below or email me at dan@atlascollegemarketing.com.