Advertising to students
Advertising to students can appear a daunting task, especially for smaller businesses. But employing a targeted advertising strategy, with a particular focus on university billboard advertising, there are a lot of opportunities to attract students to your brand.
It might seem that Online is the best approach to getting through to students, given the prevalence of smartphones and the dominance of social media platforms. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that this is the most effective way to reach students.
For example, research has shown that students tend not to pay attention to mobile or tablet banner ads. 57% of college students saying they never click on banner ads. In addition, students are extremely outward going. They are at a time in their lives when they are enjoying a new-found sense of freedom. They spend a lot of time on the move, on buses, trains, or hitching a car ride with their parents. This means they are frequently exposed to out-of-home advertising, street panels and billboards.
Billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising provide opportunities for permanence in an often ephemeral and fleeting world of Online and Mobile advertising. Constant exposure to your ads raises your brand profile and makes your products part of the fabric of people’s influences.
National brands will be forever puzzling over how to crack the student market. It’s not that it can’t be done, just that young people in general and particularly students tend to be sophisticated and discerning. Not easily susceptible to gimmicks and with a keen sense of authenticity student often see through brands’ attempts to present themselves as personable when they’re just a mega corporation.
But students aren’t ardent ascetics who shun leisure and commercial goods. Their consumer needs are still great when they move to a new town to study there. When designing your advertising strategy, here are some key points to bear in mind.
Students are on a budget
This can work to your advantage. Offering discounts can be a very effective way to get through to students. If you’re a local restaurant business, for example, place a billboard offering a special student offer or student discount.
Tap in to word of mouth
If you can get a buzz going on campus, then you’re on to a winner. One way to do this is to approach a student society and offer free products in exchange for them promoting your brand. Another option is to encourage student customers to review your brand on Google maps and other forums. People are more likely to trust consumer ratings than “corporate propaganda”.
Hire students for promo
College students are often more into earning money than spending it. So give them a part-time job promoting your brand on campus and at events.
Flyering can be an effective way to get your brand out there. But when doing this make sure you have permission. Universities and colleges will usually have guidelines advertisers must follow. Get in touch with them if their guidelines aren’t clear.
Hire a billboard!
Local businesses really don’t do this enough. Billboards have a higher impact than many other forms of advertising. This is particularly relevant for the student sector because students are often out and about on campus, at local venues, parks, high streets and so on. They are immersed in the OOH environment. Students also often find themselves in a new, unfamiliar locality. They are hyper aware of their physical environment, especially when they are still freshers. If your billboard is relevant to them they will pay it special attention.
Bus stop advertising
Many students commute to their campuses, especially once they’ve moved out of halls and can’t afford rents in popular student areas. A 2012 student travel survey at The University of Sheffield showed that 12% of students travelled to campus by bus.
With a population of around 28000, that’s around 3360 students travelling by bus. And those students will speak to other students and so on, magnifying your ad’s impact. Advertising on posters at bus stops can be really effective. It takes advantage of the extended dwell times of waiting at a bus stop and gives commuters something to mull over on their journey. For example, a quick look on the Bubble map shows that a scrolling 6-sheet at Sheffield bus station is available for £134+VAT per week, just a three-minute walk from Sheffield Hallam university.
Advertise near student venues
Maybe there’s a popular nightclub that students frequent (check out listings of student events in your business’s area). Consider taking out advertising in the vicinity. If you’re advertising your late night takeaway business, for example, this would be a great way to drum up trade.
Another quick look at the Bubble panel map reveals a 48-sheet billboard available in a student area of Sheffield for £277+VAT per week. A large billboard makes a big impact and is a great way to boost your brand’s profile and communicate to students who are likely to regularly take the same route past it.
Getting into the student mindset
Students are going through a range of formative experiences whilst at university and college. This is your brand’s opportunity to win lifelong brand loyalty. But to do this it’s important to avoid patronising students, says the community director of online forum The Student Room. Instead, providing useful information is key. This is essentially taking a leaf out of the content marketing rulebook that caters to an increasingly knowledgeable consumer base who are keen on doing research to inform their shopping decisions. This is something to bear in mind when adding Online to your marketing mix.
When planning your Outdoor advertising campaign aimed at students it’s helpful to do your own research to build up an image of today’s student. It’s important not to make assumptions; it’s very easy to think of students as a strange Pot Noodle chomping subculture. Not so, according to Marketing Week who explains that most UK students are part of mainstream culture. Their top brands include YouTube, Wikipedia, Cadbury, Google, and the BBC. Young people and students are chiefly looking for good value and “decent enough quality” with Primark beating the trendier American Apparel outlet.
This means that if your local business can offer value and a basic standard of quality, you are in a position to attract trade, particularly from the new students in town. And who knows, when you advertise to students, they might just tell their friends.
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!