5 Tips for Marketing to College Students

The US has over 15 million college students between the ages 18 and 24. They are a tech-savvy group, living with information at their fingertips, and don’t want to feel like they are being  “marketed” to. As college marketing professionals are always trying to find new ways to reach out to students and stay connected, businesses are learning how to connect to this audience as well. Here are five tips for any business trying to reach this audience:


Be Short

It’s no surprise that short to-the-point messages resonate best with this group. They are growing up in the age of Vine, Instagram and YouTube. They are not going to watch a 10-minute video about your product or service unless you are sharing some insight or knowledge they feel is of value to them.

Be Authentic

Always be professional but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sound like a robot. When reaching out to students speak in a language they understand. Talk about issues that matter to them. Share fun and exciting information about your product or service and make sure to be consistent with your message on all channels: website, advertisements, social media, etc. Most importantly be true to your brand – customers of all age groups can respect that.

Be Generous (give real incentives)

Remember those college days scrounging for change to buy a snack in the student center after class?  Students don’t have a lot of money but they will pay for a product or service they like if given the opportunity to try for free.

Free, branded giveaways are always a hit, but make sure they are functional items they would want to take. You could collect emails as a trade off to market to students later. If the product is useful the students will hold onto it for an extended period, and that type of advertising could go a long way. If you offer a service a free trial period, is usually a great introduction to your product.

Be Current

Make sure all of your content is current and accurate. Students and consumers in general don’t appreciate out of date information on your website, whether it is old news articles that are no longer relevant or the wrong business hours. Students are constantly updating their own online profiles and expect the same from the companies that they are willing to purchase from.

Be Engaging

This current generation of students are yearning to make connections with the people and places around them. Social media is so appealing because it allows them to get a small glimpse into the lives of others. Engage them by telling your company’s story. Why did you start your company? Who are your employees? How are your trying to help them? Students like brands with relevance within their advertising who also create a rapport with the consumer. Show them how you are adding value. Ask for their opinions and respond to their concerns in real-time.

Start with these tips today and reflect on the new audience that you’re marketing to. Building relationships with students today could translate to loyal consumers for tomorrow.

This post was contributed by Marketing Coordinator at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and PubClub Member at Large Nadia Fenton-Rahim.

Twitter: @nadfen