One of the biggest mistakes professionals and agencies make when marketing to students is treating college students as a homogeneous group and not making their campaigns targeted for the best possible return on investment.
In College Marketing Mistakes to Avoid Part 1, I discussed why you should not view the college market as a homogeneous group because college campuses have vastly different programs, student demographics, culture, and policies; because of these differences, college marketing campaigns need to be tailored to the individual
college(s) where the marketing campaign is taking place in order to achieve the best possible return on investment.
In this blog, College Marketing Mistakes Part 2,I will further exam why the college market should not be viewed as a homogeneous group. This time I will look at it from the standpoint of the diversity of the student population and show how targeted marketing will improve campaign effectiveness.
College Students Do Share Common Traits
There’s no denying that college students do share common traits with one another.
- Believers of authenticity and value genuine brand engagements
- Early adopters of new technology
- Experience driven
- Mobile dependent
- Innovators and embrace co-creation
- Wary of traditional advertising
- Nostalgic about childhood
- Social savvy
- On the go and value convenience
That being said, the student population on campus is diverse and understanding the different demographics on campus will help you better plan your college marketing campaign efficiently and effectively to ensure you get the most out of your college advertising dollars.
The Student Population on Campus is Diverse
There are many ways to breakdown the demographics of a student population on college campuses, including:
- Degree type (undergraduate, graduate, professional)
- Area of study
- Race and ethnicity
- On-campus versus off-campus residency
- Campus involvement (clubs, varsity or intramural sports, fraternity or sororities)
- Academic standing and honors classifications
- And more.
So why does this matter?
Targeted Marketing Will Improve Campaign Effectiveness
Here’s an example of how target marketing can improve campaign effectiveness:
- Microsoft’s Imagine Cup
Microsoft’s Imagine Cup encourages innovative tech-savvy students to participate in their world technology competition. Given the wide range of the contest Microsoft wanted a more effective way of reaching college students—particularly in the United States—to maximize exposure and increase the contestant pool.
Even though the competition is open to all actively enrolled high-school and college students who are least 16 years of age (see full eligibility requirements here), they decided to work with NAM Youth Marketing, using a highly-targeted marketing campaign, to increase awareness among STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and computer science students at select universities nationwide.
By having a targeted campaign, they were able to reach the students on campus who were most likely to engage with their promotion. The campaign outreach effort was conducted at 29 tech-heavy campuses nationwide and consisted of media distribution, P2P marketing, and social media marketing.
Campus posters were placed on bulletin boards in STEM and computer science buildings. They used brand ambassadors to connect with STEM and computer science professors and department heads, and were able to arrange classroom and club announcements promoting the Microsoft Imagine Cup. They also utilized social media to start organic conversations with select student groups.
Microsoft’s Imagine Cup Facebook Outreach
Microsoft’s Imagine Cup Professor Outreach
This targeted campaign was much more effective than advertising to the general student body would have been. It allowed Microsoft to promote their contest to those most passionate about technology and computer science; this helped them gain contestants, followers, and fans—people who were willing to spread the word to others because of their passion. This targeted approach maximized their return on investment.
I hope this blog post showed you why you should not view the college market as a homogeneous group and explained the benefits of a targeted marketing campaign.
In my next blog, I will explore how brands with a more universal appeal, such as food and beverage products or spring break vacation spots, can still benefit from target marketing.