Back to school: marketing your business on college campuses

As proven by successful companies like Apple and Facebook, gaining popularity among college students can be highly beneficial in terms of brand marketing and lead generation. How can your small business become part of the cool crowd on campus? Companies and experts shared some insights and strategies for marketing your business among college students.

Social presence
If you want to get talked about on campus, you have to be part of the conversation. According to Business Insider, college students and young professionals still constitute the majority user base for most social networks, including big names like Facebook and Twitter. Consider advertising on these sites to increase brand recognition.

Be aware, however, that although social media may be quickest way of introducing your business to college students, it may not be the most effective means of engaging them. According to a Concentric Marketing report published at Marketing Charts, nearly half of all college students who have social media accounts prefer not to follow brands, and those who do tend to show short-lived or peripheral support.

Promotional items
Perhaps a more promising way of garnering attention among 18- to 22-year-olds is to offer free or discounted merchandise or services. Although this strategy may pose an initial cost, proving the quality of your product can build a base of returning users which more than returns your investment.

Promotions may be offered to students directly at on-campus locations, or by advertising in campus-wide publications like colleges’ daily newspapers or via college radio stations or television channels.

Student ambassadors
For a more direct approach, consider engaging students themselves as a means of advertising your brand and company on college campuses. According to the University of Kansas Daily Kansan, some businesses, including Spotify and Vineyard Vines, have seen significant success implementing college ambassador programs which hire students to market their products at campus locations and events.

Ambassadors can generate conversation about your brand by advertising the company, answering questions, and offering promotional products in places with high student volume and presenting an approachable alternative to the standard representative. The Daily Kansan pointed out that this approach can benefit not only your business, but also the students involved as ambassadors.

“The networking opportunities are really good,” said Rose Shriver, a film and media senior at Kansas University. “You get to meet a lot of people through the program, and it looks great on a resume.”

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