How To Advertise Your Products and Services To College Students For Free (Almost)

Dear Visitor,

Today, I am going to talk about a singular experience and present to you a rare opportunity to advertise your products, to one of the greatest and most controllable markets, accessible almost for free, through an overlooked media. (It has nothing to do with Pay-Per-Click, or newspaper )

I am talking about college students as the market, and the college campus as a center of marketing research and experiments.

Is A College Campus A Flea Market In Disguise?

I come from Mirebalais, a small city in Haiti. And when I was a boy I used to go the market (make it flea market or open market) to buy chicken, which I intended to raise without my mother knowing. (that’s a different story).

But if you’ll bear with me, you’ll see the relationship between a college campus and an actual flea market. And if you can see the relationship you’ll see the vast opportunity for market testing and covert marketing research that a college campus offers.

How Much Controld Do You Have Over Your Audience On A College Campus?

In a flea market, people are gathered to buy and sell their products. On a college campus, students are gathered to buy education, and sell themselves to each other. Those students carry with them their everyday dreams, their everyday wants, their everyday desires. And these emotional buttons can put in motion by your advertisement because those students carry with them the same emotions that people carry with them in the marketplace.

Control? Wednesdays and Saturdays were the market days in my little city. And when you go to the market, you could not avoid the sellers: the people crying :” Fresh milk, right from the cow. Buy now and mix with your coffee..” You could not avoid the other merchants yelling: “Sweet potatoes. Delicious sweet potatoes. Big ones too. Unearthed today, boil them and delight your family. Give your children good food. Sweet potatoes.”

Once you step into the market place, you were ‘prisoner’ of the offers.

The same thing goes for college students. Once they enter the buildings, they are prisoner of your advertising. They’re under your ‘control’, we could venture to say…for as long as your flyer can attract their attention, they won’t fail to miss it. As long as your offer taps into one of their emotional needs for recognition, love, amusement, success, they won’t fail to respond to it.

And here’s how the college campus becomes a place of marketing research and market testing for any company that sells products that college students want.

Direct Response Advertising Using Flyers

The college campus becomes A MEDIA where the students are held captive (they have to go through the buildings). And that gives you control on the delivery of your message. That also enables you, if you are disciplined, to test different messages. This wouldn’t apply to hit-and-run companies…that do one special promotion and drop the ball.

And because you’re certain of having these eyeballs for the next three months…you can test different messages and see which flyers get more responses. Which flyers are picked up quickly and which are ignored religiously. You can research the reaction to your offer, covertly. I am not talking about focus group, but direct response advertising through flyers.

(of course, we should remember that the population is diverse. Age, ethnicity are two major points of diversity. Most college students are old teenagers and in their mid-twenties, but more and more older people (30’s and up) are returning to college, for many reasons (career change, get education….)

Now if you sell something that college students want, all you have to do is present your offer to them….on campus.

How do you do this?

Four Key Elements In College Campus Advertising

Message (Content and Design)

Support(what type of paper, what color of paper, what size of paper)

Delivery (when and where on the college campus)

Measurement (Response Device and direct observation)

How do you compete against the clutter of flyers that abound on posting boards?

Stay tuned….this question I will answer in my next post….I’ll back up my answer with a specific campaign/market testing I conducted at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Ma.

Swans G Paul