Tag Archives: authenticity
One of the biggest college marketing mistakes professionals and agencies make is believing that they understand the college market. Don’t make this college marketing mistake when advertising to students!
Why Marketing Professionals Believe They Understand the College Demographic
Oftentimes, marketers mistakenly believe they understand the college market. This can happen for a couple of reasons, the first being that they specialize in marketing to millennials. Millennials are a hot topic in marketing today and tons of research have been conducted on this niche market. However, the college demographic (18-24 year olds) is a specialized segment within this niche group and needs to be treated as such, as their desires, motivations, consumer behavior, and lifestyle habits vary greatly from other millennial groups.
Marketing to college students using cause marketing techniques requires transparency and authenticity.
College students learn about societal problems daily in class. They learn about the challenges facing the public education system, the increase of childhood obesity, the threat of global warming, the effects of the economic recession, and many other social issues, from education to discrimination, gender issues to environmental issues.
When I was in college, I took an honors science seminar class in which we read The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollen. I learned about various farming practices and the effects monoculture has on crop biodiversity. Reading this book made me more aware of what I was eating and how my choices impacted the environment, as well as my health. This was just one class, out of many, that made me analyze my actions and influenced my decisions.
One way of reaching college students is through cause marketing. Appeal to college students using emotional triggers, as well as factual statistics.
College students are highly aware of societal problems and global issues, as they’re learning and discussing them in their classes. They love to get behind causes and advocate progress and they’re willing to support companies that contribute to causes they believe in. However, college students are an inquisitive bunch; they don’t blindly believe claims, nor blindly support organizations. They will question and research how active your company is with an organization and they want the claims to be substantiated.
Show college students the value of your brand by marketing an experience and highlighting the connections they will form through that experience.
College students have minds of their own. They are spontaneous experimental individuals who are tech savvy and easily influenced by their peers. Given these characteristics, marketing to college students poses a serious challenge. They do not trust companies that push their brand too hard and they do not react well to being told what to do or how to think. They value their individuality and constantly seek to further explore who they are. Their experiences add meaning to their lives and help shape them as individuals.
Reaching college students on campus is all about being creative and true to your brand and not presenting yourself as something you are not. Authenticity is key in college marketing.
College students are a savvy group attuned to trends ranging from technology and social media to the clothing and entertainment; they are no different when it comes to marketing messages and brand distinction. College students, generally speaking, are cynical toward ‘Corporate America’ and often times are quick to critique as brands try to court them as consumers.
In Sharalyn Hartwell’s recent article, Above All Else, Be Authentic, published by MediaPost, she makes some good points to brands planning a college marketing strategy from a branding and messaging standpoint. She says: