As the end of the semester approaches and the weather warms up, it’s finally time for outdoor companies targeting college students to do a hard push and roll out summer marketing strategies. And in a niche market flooded with competing summer activities, often warm-weather based businesses are spending a huge chunk of their marketing budget on promotions and events designed to wow prospective customers and differentiate themselves from the competition.
But while a marketing spending war might prove for an exciting summer for students, one must eventually ask if it’s the best strategy for true engagement—or, more specifically, if a one-time event provides enough of a boost to one’s brand to carry it throughout the summer and into the next year.
Here Study Breaks presents outdoor businesses with strategies for engaging college students during the summer months, retaining current customers and gaining new ones as well.
One aspect of summer living that doesn’t change is that generally the more beautiful the weather, the less time students will spend indoors. And when they’re outside and away from their laptops, researching their next outing, excursion or activity, they’ll be using their phones to access information and make plans. Not only does that make it more important than ever for businesses to be mobile-friendly, but it gives marketers a nearly unlimited window of time to truly reach students on the device they constantly have by their side through the use of mobile marketing.
And while the development of an actual mobile application can cost a business thousands of dollars, small businesses can remain mobile and cut costs by employing smaller, quick-based tidbits that add up towards one’s brand development.
Encouraging the use of check-ins is an easy strategy that will boost one’s social media content in a mobile fashion (and, through the nature of social media, remind students who are out of town what they are missing).
Check-ins let those connected to the host source view not only where they are located at the moment but what they are doing and who they are doing it with. Running a summer check-in promotion (where, say, students get a percentage off for checking in) not only increases one’s mobile engagement, but allows one’s customers to serve as marketers themselves by advertising to their friends and connections where they are and what they’re doing at this summer hot spot.
Check out Silverpop’s 5 Tips for Launching a Successful Check-In Promotion.
Market Through Alternative Social Applications
Investing one’s marketing time into alternative social applications such as Snapchat, Vine and even text-based products like Text4Takeout diversifies one’s marketing platforms and gives the potential viewer a variety of options to choose from.
Often businesses will stick to the “established” social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook) and bore their audience with monotonous content. Shaking things up and riding the wave of a trend will help engage the users who are known to be on the forefront of driving trends: college students.
Get Creative with Social Media
Gathering social media check-ins is certainly a great way to start growing one’s engagement, but it’s important to get creative in one’s marketing strategy to create a lasting impression.
One example of an outdoor company that’s utilizing social media in a creative, productive way is tubing companyTexas State Tubes. They do this by hiring a photographer to shoot daily events. After the photographer has spent the day documenting the hundreds of students that have floated the San Marcos River, the company adds all photos onto their social media platforms and encourages users to tag themselves and their friends within the photo.
Occasionally, Texas State Tubes will also go the extra mile and place a photo of their customers directly onto their page as a cover photo or photo of the week.
Add Summer Discounts
Another way to stir up one’s marketing mix is by creating a summer-based discount. Although one may be hesitant to discount their product, giving students an incentive to visit one’s business—particularly over another—is often the best strategy for increasing sales.
And the amount of the discount in relation to the discounts of one’s competitors is something to consider. The wider the discount gap between a business and its competitors, the more campus interest it will gain. The right summer discount can partnered with an advertising campaign could potentially launch one’s place of business into a summer “must-have” service or product.
There are plenty of ways to run discounts through social media, including “Like-gating,” which requires users to “like” a company’s Facebook page before they can redeem a discount. This not only has the benefit of bringing in customers when they redeem the discount, but it also earns the business an extra Facebook fan that they can continue to engage.