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Campus Marketing September 21, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Clear Tracks.
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Marketing on the campus of a University can really be a challenge. There are entire businesses devoted to developing good marketing programs on college campuses. Businesses are constantly looking for students willing to take on the daunting task. Student organizations must rely on their members to compete with the rest of the clutter.

So… What does it really take to break through? No one can know exactly, but here are the common strategies I’ve seen around campus. This list is best for student organizations, but some of these could be adapted for businesses as well.

1. Food! College students like to moan about how they are poor and don’t have much money to spend on things, so free food is a good draw.

2. Free Gifts This goes along with the one before it. But it always depends on WHAT you are giving away. Students can spot junk from 50 yards.

3. Flyers General, sometimes overused, and can be subject to university policy. However, they are still a good way to get your message out, as long as you follow protocol. Student organizations on my campus can get in trouble for posting flyers in places other than pre-approved bulletin boards.

4. Student Calendar Many colleges have calendars of student activites which can be useful for reaching out to a wider variety of students, including international and new students.

5. Table Tents Not all universities allow this, but ours do. A table tent is sheet of paper or a brochure that can be placed on all of the tables in the dining halls. It’s a great way to reach a large number of students, but is not very targeted.

6. T-Shirts Coming up with a catchy slogan is worth the payoff if you get it right. This can work even better when you combine it with strategy #2.

7. Website While this is not a strategy in and of itself, it can help to link your other strategies together and link the message.

8. Online Ads Flyers do not have to be just on bulletin boards. With the rise of community websites such as Facebook and Myspace, advertising online can be an effective way to reach your target market. Just make sure you watch your costs.

9. Banners Our organization resource group will provide banners for student organizations, but individual student organizations must secure the approval to hang them in the most populated areas.

10. Student Newspaper Many campuses have a student newspaper or two that reach the majority of the student population. They may even offer discounts for student organizations.

11. Mass Email Provided you meet certain criteria, our school allows you to send out mass email to students. Check with your university to see if they allow the same.

12. Student Channel Just like a student newspaper, many universities also have a TV channel devoted to student programing. They may allow you to pay for advertising, or, if you have a good pr spin, they may be interested in doing a story about you!

13. Sidewalk Chalking Our school doesn’t allow this, but many do. Just come up with a catchy slogan, get out that chalk and get to work! The more time you spend on it and the better it looks, the better result you will have.

14. Word of Mouth On a typically tight knit community like a college campus, word of mouth can make a huge difference in the success of a marketing campaign. Generally you have to have some sort of “seed” marketing method to generate the initial buzz, but after that, as students talk to each other, word spreads. Positive word of mouth can often generate good results, often with no further expenditures, while negative word of mouth will typically kill a marketing campaign despite the amount of money and effort being pumped into it.

Can you think of more ways to reach the student population? I’ll add more ideas here as people post them or I think of them 🙂

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Comments»

1. Scott Schwertly - September 21, 2006

I worked in higher education admissions marketing for close to four years before making a switch to the for-profit sector. The biggest lesson I learned from that experience was the importance of the campus visit. Granted, I worked for two smaller schools, but that was always the highest yielding activity for admissions. Regarding general campus marketing, sometimes door-to-door dorm visitations worked well to promote events or activities.

2. Amanda - September 21, 2006

So were you the one designing the mountains of paper and brochures they shove upon you when you visit the universities? I’m joking, although it is a bit excessive. I’d be interested in hearing more about what goes into marketing efforts like that.

3. Scott Schwertly - September 23, 2006

During the time I was in higher education, it was amazing how much of the marketing budget was spent on brochures and collateral. Surprisingly, we still pressed forward even though most student focus groups indicated that they didn’t really care since they received so much of that kind of material in the mail. It was the “customer service” element that they really cared about.

It’s interesting how similar the higher education market and for-profit sector are becoming. Regarding marketing, much of it is the same, except for the size of the budgets and speed of execution.

4. Chris - September 24, 2006

You forgot the number one, most effective means of marketing – however, it is also one of the most diffucult to obtain, and almost always is initiated by another method. Yes, I mean

WORD OF MOUTH.

On a typically tight knit community like a college campus, word of mouth can make a huge difference in the success of a marketing campaign. Generally you have to have some sort of “seed” marketing method to generate the initial buzz, but after that, as students talk to each other, word spreads. Positive word of mouth can often generate good results, often with no further expenditures, while negative word of mouth will typically kill a marketing campaign despite the amount of money and effort being pumped into it.

5. Amanda - September 25, 2006

Indeed, word of mouth is always the best 🙂 It can be hard to spin word of mouth to your advantage, depending on the other market factors. All the same, I’ll add it to the list. Thanks Chris!

6. Ian Dunlap - November 15, 2006

You are forgetting the #1 site collegiates visit the most.
http://www.facebook.com

the average college student visits there 9 times a day and you can buy targeted traffic to a particular school under $150 for a lead generation campaign or a wider appeal.

I guarantee 7 different ads in 7 days for the same event or product or service will outpull the other methods 20-fold.

P.S. And yes I am speaking from experience.

7. temi - October 24, 2008

Here is a company that specialises in campus marketing: http://www.campussolutionsinc.com


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