Marketing studies have been known to be an integral part of colleges’ strategy for a long time now. College marketing involves creative, engaging marketing campaigns which specifically target high-school aged students, between the ages of 18 24. Targeting such a wide demographic isn’t always easy, particularly when the cultural and social attitudes and behaviors that guide these people are constantly in flux. College marketing needs to be a constant study, and the marketing methods used on campus need to change regularly as life-long learning takes place.
Marketing on college campuses is often centered around fundraising and branding. Companies have developed many different ways to raise funds and leverage this capital to build brand awareness. For example, companies will often host product launches, selling limited-edition items at low prices to raise funds and awareness for the company. These actions help to create awareness and appreciation for the company, but they rarely engage with the core demographic of the student body.
College students may not be interested in the latest trends or fashions, they may not be concerned with changing their lives for the better, and they may not see the correlation between fashion and philanthropy. The key to effective marketing is to find a way to engage students on a more personal level. Studies have shown that a one-to-one marketing strategy is more successful at building long-term relationships and loyalty than mass media strategies that target a broader audience.
When young people become conscious of social issues and political activism, they tend to seek new causes that resonate with them. This desire for change inspires more participation in campus and community activities. Marketing experts have found that when companies develop awareness about a specific problem, they can draw in a younger generation that is interested in social change. Participating in campus events and social gatherings draws in a different type of demographic than mass media efforts, which usually appeal to middle-aged and older demographics. While students may not always participate in these types of engagements, they are often critical to the growth of a college or university.
Brands can make a lasting impression on college students through experiential marketing. Companies can arrange for customers or potential customers to test a product or service. For example, a popular campaign recently launched by a national food chain advertised its “new flavor” in an ad featuring an off-hand conversation between a couple. Participants were asked to dine on a particular dish while reading information about the offering.
Marketing executives can also develop advertising campaigns specifically targeted towards students on campus. Many companies now use social media, viral video, and other forms of social marketing to reach out to a specific audience of students. By engaging with a target demographic on a more personal level, the marketing campaign can be more meaningful to prospective customers and increase the likelihood that the company’s message will reach its target audience. Marketing executives can then plan a strategy that includes campus involvement to reach out to as many students as possible.