College students love to spend money – and with an estimated 18 million college students in America, there’s plenty of opportunity for businesses to capture some of those dollars. Today’s college-aged consumers are among the most tech-savvy and trendsetting in history, but the stereotype of “broke college kids” means that they’re often ignored when organizations develop their marketing plans. We have some tips on how to effectively market to this important group of consumers and get a piece of their $60 billion spending.
Provide back-to-school promotions and incentives. College students might have spending power, but they still look for deals. Take advantage of the sweep of back-to-school spending with deals and promotions. For example, if you run a restaurant, offer a free appetizer with the purchase of an entrée and if you work for a retailer, promote a BOGO or half-off special.
Understand your age. It’s ok to be old – but own it and understand that you might not know how to effectively market to much-younger people. Rather than try to hard or attempt to be hip – two things that will incite collective eye rolls among college students – consider hiring a recent college grad or college-aged intern who can provide some insight into what young people want.
Keep it simple. College students have short attention spans and a lot going on in their lives. They aren’t interested in convoluted messages or taking advantage of promotions that require jumping through hoops. Keep your marketing simple and to-the-point.
Use targeted marketing. If you think back to your own college years, chances are that you were attracted to much different things, language and aesthetics than you are now. So, why would today’s college students be attracted to the same advertising and marketing as people 10+ years their senior? Develop a targeted campaign using different messaging and designs specific to college students, and – when necessary – create different landing pages and social media accounts to capture this audience.
Invest in mobile marketing. College students have never known a world without cell phones – and many of them have used smartphones for almost half of their lives. They’re used to having whatever information they need at their fingertips – which means it’s critical that you be available through that medium. Investing in a great mobile site or app can help put you front-and-center among college-aged consumers, and ensure that you don’t miss the boat when students quickly search their phones for the nearest restaurant that serves cheap hot wings.