College Graduation Marketing Strategies: Must-Know Tips for Targeting Graduating College Students


Few events are as exciting and rewarding as college graduation. It’s a time where emotions are high, friendships are transformed, and students are simultaneously celebrating the end of their college experience and the beginning of the rest of their lives.

But as exciting as it is for students, their friends and family, it’s just as exciting for businesses targeting the college demographic, who can capitalize on the festivities by marketing their services to recent graduates who are looking to celebrate this life landmark with—what else?—a graduation party.

And by making this marketing push annually, businesses have the chance to achieve success and establish themselves as a campus tradition, framing themselves as a graduation go-to for years to come.

Here Study Breaks presents small businesses with strategies for capitalizing on graduation.





Advertise as a Graduation Go-To


College students often don’t respond well to subtlety. If one wants their business to been seen as a graduation hot spot, being direct with one’s advertising is the most effective option.

Marketers know that in a fast-paced university setting, often the message has more staying power than the target, as around 25% of the student body departs every year and a new crop of freshman—typically unfamiliar with the local scene, traditions, etc.—fills in. Introducing a graduation ad into one’s marketing mix will ignite a call to action for soon-to-be grads while simultaneously planting the seed for undergrads, who—when their time to cross the stage comes—are sure to follow suit and utilize the go-to business as well. Whether it’s a photography business offering graduation photos, a restaurant striving to be a go-to spot for a celebratory dinner, or a salon offering its services for a glamorous graduation, it pays for a business to integrate that specific angle into their advertising campaigns.

Offer Recent Grad Discounts

Though recent grads don’t plan to be “poor college students” on a Ramen noodle diet after they cross the stage, that doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate the value of discounts as coupons as they try to establish their footing as financially stable adults.

Offering a coupon, discount or deal for recent grads is a positive—and easy—way to stand out from the competition and appeal to this demographic, especially as they find all the student discounts they were able to use throughout college begin to evaporate. Discounts also serve as an incentive to pick one business over another, or try an establishment that they hadn’t considered before.

And a deal or coupon doesn’t necessarily have to serve as a one-hit wonder. Often it’s just a way to get customers in the door. Once one provides an excellent service or presents their excellent product, it’s often easy to win the adoration and get the repeat business of people who were initially drawn in purely by the appeal of saving some cash.

Throw a Graduation Party

After four (or five)  years of papers, projects and presentations, when students finally graduate, they want to celebrate, often the best way they know how: with a party.

However, many students don’t have the money, resources or experience to throw their own graduation party. (And there’s also the problem that, with many of their friends graduating at the same time, there are sure to be conflicting schedules.) This is where a local business can come to the rescue by throwing their own graduation (or end-of-the-semester) parties celebrating students’ success.

By providing a venue and serving as a common ground where students and their friends can celebrate together, an establishment has the chance to capture an incredible amount of business.

However, it’s important to note that what’s critical for success is creating buzz surrounding the blowout. An online campaign promoting the event is key—and also has the added potential to boost one’s social media following and web traffic as well.