8 Tips on How To Make/Design an Ad for College Students

Read these powerful marketing tips to deliver college students to your business.
By Gal Shweiki


College students spend over 200 billion a year. That’s a huge market. Before you spend one dollar marketing to the illusive group it’s critical that you know what makes them tick, how to push their buttons and infiltrate their inner circle. Here’s some insight into how to begin reinventing your brand in order to reach this growing, powerful, and profitable demographic.


1. Authentic


Be Real. Students know “real” when they see it. They won’t waste time on people or companies that waffle, stall, or are indirect. Clear, simple, short and truthful advertising will appeal to this generation.

Answer these four questions and you will sound and “be real.”

  1. What are you trying to sell me?
  2. How much will it cost?
  3. What’s in it for me?
  4. Why should I believe you?


2. Simple and Cool


To appeal to college students, your ad needs to follow this formula: Clean + Simple = Cool.


Here are 6 tips to keep your ad design as simple, cool and effective as possible.


1. Students have a “You” orientation. Simply using the word “You” in the headline and copy will increase the response.

2. One big picture is better than a lot of smaller ones.

3. Your photos must match your message. If there is no connection, students won’t get it, and they won’t read your copy.

4. Always use captions with your photos. Students will read captions before text copy.

5. Students won’t read past the headline. Put the benefits up front, and keep them coming. This old school rule by David Ogilvy still applies, “If your headline doesn’t promise a benefit, you are wasting 80% of your money.”

6. Get to the point quickly! A student’s first question is always, “What’s in it for me?” Fire your biggest gun first and fast.


3. Quick


You have two seconds to grab a student’s attention with your ad. That is an incredibly short time to hook them with your sales pitch.


These 3 techniques will help make your ad a “two-second hooker.”


The Word Hook:
This is a short repeatable phrase or slogan that is used to describe your business. A word hook is used consistently from ad to ad.


Here are some examples of the best in history:


Nike: Just do it.

Apple: Think Different

Budweiser: The King of Beers

Visa: It’s everywhere you want to be.

McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it.


The Character Hook:
A hero is used to identify your brand ad business.
Here are some memorable advertising characters:



Geico: Gecko

McDonald’s: Ronald McDonald

Progressive Auto Insurance: Flo

Energizer Batteries: Energizer Bunny


Repeatable Hook:
A repeatable theme will make students feel like they have the inside track. With an ad campaign, not just an individual ad, students quickly become familiar with your business and feel connected to your brand. Consistency with the following items will help students know, like, and trust your business faster:







4. Social


Join their networks:

Students will not come looking for you. If you want to attract them, go where they hang out. If you use these four social networking platforms, you will infiltrate their inner circle:


1. www.Facebook.com: Set up your fan page, landing page, and custom url.

2. www.Twitter.com: Set up your profile and custom backdrop.

3. www.foursquare.com: Claim your business, reward your customers.

4. www.youtube.com: Set up a channel and share your expertise.


5. Call To Action


A Call To Action is used to tell students what you want them to do next. You want to create a spark to get them motivated, and carry out your objective. A good call to action accomplishes two important things in your ad:


• It gives students direction and inspires them to take the next step.

• It gives you an opportunity to measure your ads success.


Here are 14 Calls To Action that Create a sense of urgency, or provide something extra if students act by a certain time.

  1. Save Now.
  2. Get a Free…
  3. Money Back Guarantee, No Questions Asked.
  4. Get It Now!
  5. Free Shipping.
  6. No Commitment.
  7. Come in For a Free Consultation.
  8. Take Our Quiz.
  9. Schedule an Appointment Now and receive a Free…
  10. Order Now and Receive a Free…
  11. No Credit Card (Payment, Money) Required.
  12. No Experience Necessary.
  13. Try Our Free…
  14. Call Today

6. Sustainable


Be socially responsible: College students are incredibly conscious about social causes including the environment, human rights, animal welfare, and world hunger. They want to know that your company is aligned with a cause that creates an emotional connection with them.


Check out these national companies who are giving back:

  1. Patagonia: Patagonia co-founded 1% For the Planet, an alliance of businesses pledging to commit at least 1 percent of their total sales to environmental causes.
  2. The Body Shop: The Body Shop has its own foundation dedicated to supporting human and civil rights. Currently, 100 percent of the profits from the sale of their Soft Hands, Kind Heart Hand Cream are donated to the ECPAT foundation to prevent sex trafficking of children. To date, the Body Shop has raised $2 million dollars for this cause.
  3. Green Mountain Coffee: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is dedicated to responsible energy use, reduction of solid waste, ecological packaging initiatives, and eliminating poverty and hunger in the communities that supply Green Mountain with beans. As part of its campaign, their fully compostable ecotainer coffee cup (it’s made from corn!) prevented over one million pounds of harmful petrochemicals from entering our landfills and seeping in to the earth.
  4. Stonyfied Farms: As part of Stonyfield Farms’ Profits for the Planet grant program, the company gives 10% of its annual profits toward efforts that help to protect and restore the earth.
  5. Walt Disney Company: Disney’s initiatives include: running Disneyland trains on biodiesel made with cooking oil from the resort’s hotels, establishing a worldwide conservation fund, and instituting a “green standard” for all employees and cast members.
  6. Toms: With every pair of shoes sold, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need through their program.

7. Experiential


College Students love to try before they buy. Provide them with exclusive information, pictures, and videos. Give them sneak peeks at new products, and hook them up with free stuff they can talk about and share with their friends, and they will become enthusiastic customers.


Here are some promotional ideas to get students excited about trying your product:

  • Contests, and/or sweepstakes.
  • Free premiums.
  • Free samples.
  • Discount coupons.
  • Loss-leader premiums.
  • Bundled products or services.
  • Rebates.
  • Credit terms and easy payments.
  • 30 day no questions asked return policy.
  • Promise to beat any advertised price in the market.
  • Guarantee quality, freshness, turn-around time.



8. Mobile


Students never leave home without their cell phones. According to Ad Age, “One quarter of Facebook’s 800 million users access the site through mobile devices; this set is twice as active than non-mobile users.” As geo-gaming applications like Foursquare and Gowalla take off, expect to see more opportunities to advertise to students on the go.


5 ways to make money with Foursquare:

  1. Identify your customers
  2. Harness new fans
  3. Engage your followers
  4. Reward your customers
  5. Incentivize your best customers