It’s August and students are spending their summer at home/Ibiza/muddy festivals/Camp America (delete as applicable). So as we said in the July’s Student Marketing Guide, there is no better time to start planning your brand’s student promotion.
After talking about planning for your student marketing campaign in the July blog, it is now time for Part 2 of the EXECUTIONAL Student Marketing Guide and a look at where, when and how to engage the student audience.
Student Marketing – When Should We Do It?
The majority of students return to university in the last week of September, which begins two weeks of binge drinking, meeting new people and 1,000 student promotions happening all at the same time. So we ask our clients: do you want to compete with everyone in September? Or do you want to wait until the student promotions have begun to slow down towards the end of October?
When it comes to this, there are a few things to think of:
- Frequency – Will you only have one chance at student marketing or have a few campaigns throughout the year? If the answer is one chance, we would probably suggest you hold off until Fresher’s Week has died down.
- Relevance – Do they need to know about your student marketing in the first week of term? Or will this student promotion not mean much until they are close to graduating in April?
- Competition – Will every one of your competitors be at the same place doing the same thing, meaning that none of you will be heard?
- Stand Out Factor – Will this student promotion be nothing like all the other promotions and stand out in the middle of 1,000 promoters?
- Limited Offer – If you have an offer that is only available at certain times of the year, then the student marketing needs to be timed correctly around this.
The more time you give to planning the student marketing campaign, the more time you have to decide when your campaign should start and finish. Although those questions will help give an idea of what needs to be asked, each brand and campaign is different. EXECUTIONAL is available to help recommend the best time for your brand, but the main point is to always think about the timing – don’t simply follow the crowds to Fresher’s Week.
Student Marketing – Where Can We / Should We Go?
You would expect there to be one answer to this, but there are quite a few and we thought we should quickly go through them and what each area can mean:
- On Campus – To be directly on campus requires permissions and they generally cost, but being on campus is definitely worth the price on permissions. For any type of campaign having the university allow you on campus and by proxy endorse your student promotion, can really help ROI.
- Off-Campus – Being on campus isn’t always a must. Predominately a cheaper option than on campus, if the university opens on to busy public high streets, an off-campus activity can be the perfect option for a more mobile student promotion, like a simple leaflet distribution or ambient product sampling campaign.
- Halls of Residence – Some companies will call it guerrilla marketing, but halls of residence should definitely have a sign over it that says “approach with caution”. Owned by a mix of universities and private companies, due to health and safety, student’s security and trespassing laws, they look grimly on brands that approach this as guerrilla marketing. So be warned.
- Student Residential Areas – Different from halls of residence, these are suburban areas not too far from campus with rows of private student accommodation, which help to create small student communities surrounded by student-focused retail outlets, restaurants and bars.
- Bars/Nightclubs – Not all brands should try reaching students on a night out, but for a brand promoting easy to make food or a drinks brand, this is a perfect time. Each city has it’s own nightlife scene, that runs to its own timescales, so research will need to be put in, so the campaign isn’t stood out in the cold.
- City Centres – Although not always a hub for student activity, in most cities, it is still the place you will find the high street retailers and when those student loans come in, you will find students here as well.
Now, where your brand should choose to go depends on the campaign you have chosen to run and some student marketing simply won’t work in certain locations. Student promotions can test the patience of the university authorities to a breaking point, so for each student marketing campaign EXECUTIONAL to take the time to talk through location choice and make sure we are not trespassing.
Student Marketing – Make it Memorable!
The truth of the matter is that students are given a promotional leaflet, every single day! This is not to suggest leafleting is ineffective, but no matter the size of your company you need to ensure that your student promotion engages the audience and your campaign stands out.
The first step to engaging the student audience can be as simple as the design of your leaflet – investing into the design of your leaflet, make it funny, make it stand out, give students a reason to hold on to it and it will engage with the audience much more.
You could have a social media mechanic, for example – take a photo with our leaflet, in a random place and win a prize – using the simple leaflet to link in the social media sites and have people sharing their photos. The leaflet could contain vouchers for money-off or codes for online rewards, but these rewards need to be relevant and audience-focused – if your product costs £200 would you use a £1-off voucher?
There is then the tried and tested method of branded promotional items. Promotional items can be risky, they can be expensive to make and last as long as a badly designed leaflet before going in the bin. If you go down this route, it has to be relevant and good enough that a student will be happy to hold on to it. If you get this right, you may have a promotional item that the student holds onto for the full three years.
Or you could do something totally different to engage the student and give them a real brand experience, for example, create a pop-up store or take over their student union with a branded event. Whatever your plans, give us a ring and we can chat it through – We are always honest because a campaign that doesn’t work doesn’t benefit anyone!