Marketing to College Students: Four Simple Rules

study breaks, marketing, social media


Approximately 17 million students will enroll in a college course next August. For business owners invested in the college demographic, this means that while their customer base is likely to grow, so is the advertising noise targeting college students likely to increase, as more and more companies clamor to get a piece of this valuable market.

Here Study Breaks, a leading college media entertainment company, presents businesses with four must-know strategies for effectively marketing to college students.


Use Humor

When trying to cut through advertising noise, there are few strategies as effective as integrating humor into one’s campaigns—especially when one is targeting a demographic as open-minded as college students. Crafting a humorous message that manages to walk the fine line between appropriate and inappropriate can be challenging, but when done correctly, it’s an effective way for a business to capture the attention and interest of the college demographic and stand out from competitors.

Unless one is particularly gifted at incorporating humor, it can be difficult to utilize this integrate this technique into every facet of one’s marketing campaign. But little touches of humorous advertising here and there serve as a change of pace and are a great way to expand one’s reach.


Take Advantage of Mobile

Students are spending time on their mobile devices at an increasingly astounding rate, and aside from this mobile growth benefiting social media marketing, the boom also increases the power, relevance and reach of established small business strategies like email marketing.

As a business targeting the college demographic, it’s crucial to stay on top of any technological advances—and in this case, keep up with a changing mobile environment. The most basic and important thing a business can do is ensure that their website is mobile-friendly. (After all, one of the main ways students will be attempting to visit one’s site is through their mobile device, and having a website that’s not accessible in this important way will cause students to be frustrated with—and in many cases, completely give up on—one’s company.) Another way that businesses can take advantage of mobile is by incorporating buttons linking visitors to contests, promotions and—at the most basic level—the actual sources of one’s revenue.


Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a staple of any small business campaign, but it can prove especially effective when targeting the college demographic. Students are used to the usual social media mix—posted photos and discounts, two-way communication, promoted events and services—but if one can capture a piece of campus life and integrate it into their social media marketing then they can immediately drown out a huge majority of news feed noise.

Effective Ways to Utilize Social Media:

  • Post original photos of active customers
  • Run contests that thrive on student entries and check-ins
  • Encourage employee participation and sharing
  • Like-gate one’s Facebook page to build an email database and generate extra revenue

Be Authentic

In Business Insider’s Five Tips for Marketing to College Students, they highlight authenticity as a key aspect to college marketing. While students are always interested in discovering the “next big thing,” they are quick to disengage from anything seen as phony. The truest way for one to determine the true popularity of their brand on campus is to see how students respond on their own.

Instead of trying to fabricate a “cool” or “hip” image (especially if one is not, admittedly, cool or hip), one should ensure that they stay true to their brand. It’s not necessary to create a façade; instead, to increase engagement, one can run promotions offering discounts or featuring events that entice students to act. Once one captures the attention of college students and gets a grasp of how their brand is perceived on campus, they can implement marketing strategies emphasizing the aspects of the company that students know and love.