December 15, 2015
When one college student gets sick, the whole campus seems to get sick. When one college student has a brilliant idea, the next thing you know it’s all over campus. Once that idea is all over campus, it’ll find its way to other campuses and the next thing you know it’s on national television.
The seemingly unrelated circumstances above can be credited to one fact: college campuses bring great minds into one small, concentrated geographical region. This might be easier to picture with a more concrete image: think of dry trees, spread around with miles between them. If you light one of them on fire, that one tree will surely burn, but the others will remain unaffected. Now think of a large collection of dry trees all cluttered into a small space. Accidentally drop a match near it, and soon enough everything will turn into ash.
It is the same on college campuses. The quick diffusion of ideas, movements, and developments are all consequences of the tightly packed intellectual capacity of college campuses. This is exactly what brands need to take advantage of.
But how are brands supposed to reach those college students who claim not to have time in the day? Those who don’t have time to sleep because they’re running around doing way too many things? Luckily for brands, nine out of ten times college students will make time if they believe the experience is worth it (and, frankly, maybe even if they’re trying to procrastinate).
College is currently populated by the tail end of the Millennial Generation, which place an extreme amount of value in experiences. This allows brands to not only get busy college students’ attention, but also to connect with them and bring in not only one of them, but many of them, onto their consumer base.
Just think of Facebook. The social media titan started out in one college campus. Eventually, it was opened to the Ivy League. It then grew and anyone with a student email could join. Fast-forward to 2015 and 1.5 billion people have an account. College students wanted to connect with their friends online for the sheer experience of connecting.
Campus sponsored events are an exciting way for college students to break the boring routine, to get engaged with a new brand, and to experience a great time that they can tell their friends about later. Outside of events, brands are tuning into an amazing insight: campus ambassadors.
Who knows college students better than college students’ themselves? Who can provide the tailored experience to a specific campus, than someone who is a student of that campus? College brand ambassadors are advocates for their brand 24/7 – and they often do it for money, free swag, and sometimes just for experience.
Yes, it may be true that college students are only making decisions for themselves, and not for their families, but according to Lisa Baker, director of education marketing at HP, the decisions that college students make about the brands that they purchase, oftentimes become lifelong habits that will seep into their future family’s lifestyle. So even if your brand isn’t necessarily for all college students, it could be an investment in the future.
For brands that target specifically college students, then campus ambassadors and experiential marketing no campuses is a goldmine. Peer to peer marketing is perceived as a lot more trustworthy. A lost freshman is more likely to trust the advice or an upperclassman that has been in his exact shoes before versus the corporate advertisement or direct mail that he’s viewing on a daily basis.
There is a lot of room for diversified experiential marketing on campuses. Brands can elect to hire representatives to strut around campus on move-in day wearing branded swag and giving out free branded gifts. Or maybe they’ll opt to ask brand ambassadors to host a party, where a “Best Halloween Costume” contest will be conducted, promising the winner some sort of cool branded prize. Taking a more traditional route, brands can elect to have campus ambassadors set up booths at relevant campus events in order to more formally explain the brand’s message.
And the truth is, college students like to stay in the loop. If a brand is effective in hiring the right amount of enthusiastic brand ambassadors, their identity will become known on campus because students want to know what’s going on in their campus. They want to stay up to date with the latest trends, apps, parties, events, and anything in between.
So busy or not, an experience is well worth their time – and they know it. So what are you doing to take advantage of that?