10 Tips for Successful College Marketing

October 26, 2005 - Get free updates of new posts here

I was laying in bed at night and thought about where I can help society. And I realized people would appreciate my knowledge in how to get college students attention in a polite way or “permission” as my homie Seth G says. So I racked my brain, ate tons of cheap pizza, did my work really late at night, spent way too many hours instant messenging, talked to college friends, and drank a lot of beer to put me in the right mind-set to market to college students. What follows are college marketing strategies and and ideas:

College students marketing

1- Advertise on Facebook

Duh! Facebook is the average college student’s drug of choice. I even find myself feeling the pangs of Facebook withdrawal from time to time. Everything on facebook is read, from the useless profile of each and every student to the never-ending lists of groups available.

2- Make it funny

The attention span for the average college student is about 30 seconds (give or take). If it isn’t interesting, it’s not going to be abosorbed. Funny is always interesting. Funny means the student can go home to whoever and retell it; making the student seem “cooler” and therein receiving even more advertisement through heresay.

3- Don’t buy tv ads

The average college student does not have time to watch tv and usually might not even own a tv. It’s a waste of money and effort.

4- Unique / original

Referring back to the infinitesimally small range of college student attention spans, if they’ve seen it before, there’s no point in paying attention.

5- Free

My favorite words in college were “cancelled”, “post-poned”, “beer”, “party” and best of all “FREE”. “Free” is the one word that can grab any college students attention, no matter what the context; free beer, free sex, free food, free day, etc. Students (and former students) will do just about anything to get something for free or save $2.

6- Contests

Winning is always fun, and giving the opportunity to win anything, even pride, is good enough for the average college student. Contests are interesting and attention grabbing; always a good approach.

7- School newspapers are a waste of money

Unfortuently, not many college students read the school newspaper (goes back to the whole time restrction and attention span points). Even the ones who do read will most likely spend very little time perusing through the ads. School newspapers don’t really shout out efficacy.

8- Sponsor organizations

One thing college students love is money. Helping out student organizations that they care for will win major brownie points and could help in swaying the attention of the student.

9- Ditch the flyers

In college, flyers are used for bedding for your pet, toilet paper, scratch paper and maybe blankets for the homeless.

Flyering for your cause = killing trees and nothing more.

10- Ask the pros

And by Pros I mean the students aka, shameless plug, my company is made of college students and can assist you in getting the word out. anyways at least ask students what they want and go on campus and observe. When you observe, connect and offer value it’s easy to build relationships.

Bonus

Two critical marketing tips that are not included and get their own article are co-marketing and aim. Co-Marketing or word of mouth marketing as Noah suggested (not me) in comments and using instant messenging are very important in getting college students to know about your product and talk about it. We did something similar when we grew Mint’s email list to more than 20,000 people BEFORE it launched.

Bonus #2

When the marketing is over make sure your event or product or whatever doesn’t suck. Here’s how I made $100K+ doing conferences.

In the comments below tell me how you use these college marketing strategies and if you have any other ideas to market on college campuses.

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10 responses to “10 Tips for Successful College Marketing

  1. Noah Brier Reply

    I think you pretty much nailed it Noah, one thing I might include is add a mechanism to allow them to become co-marketers. I think that can mean a way to pass something along online or a way for them to easily evangalize for you.

  2. college marketer Reply

    From student monitor – who conducts an annual survey of college students “campus newspapers are an excellent tool for college-oriented marketers… 46% of all students have read at least 3 of the last 5 issues of their school’s newspaper.”

    Also, if you are trying to promote a game or a free something, how do you get the word out? Just using facebook? A co-sponsorship usually just allows you do show a logo, which won’t help your case. I’ve advertised in facebook to very disappointing results. Any suggestions on how others have gotten success from that?

  3. Noah Kagan Reply

    I agree that some students peruse the newspaper but successful products can completely avoid them and better spend there money elsewhere. For example, iPod, Better Luck Tomorrow (movie), Google, Napster, Livestrong & numerous more completely avoided the newspaper. Things that are cool on college campus will be talked about among students and not read about in the school newspaper unless its completely amazing. I think there are better ways to spend your $1000 full-page ad that runs for one day.

    If you co-sponsor a group for $1000 you pretty much own them for the rest of the year. DON’T just show a logo on an event for a group, get INTEGRATED. easier said than done, right? NO. offer some reward for them helping you with your CONTEST. see how its all coming together. TAKE the $1000 you saved from your full-page ad and give that in free products and ways that the student group can spread your message. This is COMPLETELY underutilized, as discussed in a future article AIM and Word of mouth are the killers on college campuses.

    For facebook it depends on the timing and what you are posting as an announcement. During May-Sept, Dec you are going to have to face mid-terms/finals which make people much less likely to go on the facebook. i advertised for ninajcard.com and sold 4 in one day. some days more some days less. i think group sponsorship is effective for facebook but generic banner advertising in general is lame (my opinion)

    if you are trying a contest/free stuff out it has to be fun/unique. lets say you are giving a way a FREE tablet/notebook computer. now if students could compete for this with the amount of friends they have to refer to a location on campus then tons of people would attend and you could showcase your latest product. how to get that started. partner with a student group, person or hfg:)

    call me 510 866 NOAH. please note i spent around 3 minutes writing this, if you gave me 10-12 min I could come up with even cooler things, i hope…

  4. JeesJee Reply

    In my institute, we publish newsletter every month as well as a quarterly magazine which helps in marketing but something more must be done to promote the name. so seminars, game tournaments, conferences and talent hunt programs are the best ways towards advertising.

  5. Nallely Reply

    We are having difficulty with the student turnout at our community college events. According to some of my peers, it’s difficult to motivate students in a community college because they are not invested in the college experience since they’re only spending 2 years there. Any ideas on how to overcome this? Marketing ideas when dealing with uninterested students perhaps? There are tons of tools and resources being made available to them at these events that I feel they are missing out on.

  6. Sloan Reply

    Hello, my friend and I are creating a club and wanted some advice for marketing. Do you think you could be of help?

  7. Renisha Reply

    Than you for your tips – i have a college and spent thousands of rands on flyers and only got a few students. Going to try these tips. Thanx