5 Tricks For Marketing To College Students - Works Everytime

5 Tricks For Marketing To College Students – Works Everytime

/ February 21, 2019

Marketing to college students doesn’t have to be difficult if you know what they’re looking for. From there, you can base your marketing strategies and pattern your visuals. And speaking of visuals, you must work with a credible graphic design team. And that’s where Penji comes in.

Working with Penji means you can get unlimited graphic designs when marketing to students. Moreover, working with Penji means you get quality work fast and at affordable rates. In the meantime, you must focus on how to market to college students, so you’ll know what visuals to request from Penji.

University students are one of the most interesting markets to target. They don’t have as much disposable income and are selective when using it. For any company, having their business is beneficial. It provides a foundation for life-long usage. You must establish a connection early on to secure their business. It’s possible to remain true to your company while marketing to the target audience. Here’s how to use marketing strategies to target university students:

1. Understand trend cycles


If you want to market to university students, you need to understand how quickly trends come and go for them. This isn’t the 90’s where trends can last up to a year anymore. In today’s world, trends can last from months to merely days.

Trends move FAST for students

Things that were funny and trendy a few months back are out-dated today. This can be a huge frustration for marketers as, by the time you’ve got the marketing budget approved, your demographic’s interests have already shifted. Fear not, as you can easily stay on top of their trends by following brands that excel at keeping up with millennials and students.

Successful Case Study: Urban Outfitters

One effective brand to know is Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters uses vibrant colors and patterns to help not only set trends but adopt rising ones. In recent years, there’s been a revival of 90’s colors and styles. The company now uses shades and textures popular from that time period. It’s fueling the trend while also find a way to make it their own. Many of the models in their campaigns are college-aged people. They look like the target market. Urban uses its full creative freedom to reach its audience effectively.  

2. Hire Student Ambassadors

box of cookies

Who else can market to students better than students themselves? In recent years, brands have begun to turn to student ambassadors. These representatives go to local communities and colleges to promote the company. They typically create relationships with on-campus organizations to work on a larger scale.

It provides a direct connection to the target audience by using them. They know how to interact with each other already, take advantage of it by paying them to represent your brand. Not to mention, they’ll likely know when the fading and coming of trends and can help guide your marketing efforts.

Successful Case Study: Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies is a local cookie business already using student ambassadors to push itself further. Labeled as ‘campus reps’, their goal to spread awareness of what the cookies taste like and the options available. They work a few times a week on campus and events. The brand even specifies the position benefits certain majors such as public relations and advertising. It targets the best kind of students to sell the cookies while still marketing to other majors.

3. Give Exclusive Student Perks

Marketing to college students through perks and discounts is super-effective because the one thing 99% of students have in common is how many zeros are absent from their checking account. They’re all broke and always looking for “student deals” and discounts. Use this to your advantage and offer exclusive perks to students and they’ll line up for you as fast as they would for a Dave Matthews concert.

Exclusive promotion with a valid ID

Have a promotion just for students if they can provide a valid student ID. It might mean lower costs or benefits like free items. Many brands use this to establish a connection with the audience early on. Ideally, they’ll see your business is worth paying the full price.

Freemium model

Another variation is longer free trials. This is popular with tech companies. The businesses offer the service for a few months to a year as long as they registered with a college email. Two stand-out options are Spotify’s bundle and Uniday’s phone app.

Successful Case Study: Spotify

Spotify began with a discount for college students. The company offered its premium services for $5/month, compared to $10/month. It then added Hulu and Showtime to its lineup in 2018. Any student with a Spotify account now has access to an ad-free music platform and two different streaming services. For all three resources, it normally costs almost $30/month. This is an incredible deal because if they begin to use the bundle as a freshman, they get accustomed to having it. Once it’s gone after graduation and they secure a career, they return to it.

Unidays is striving to become a one-stop-shop for student discounts. The company offers reduced prices from hundreds of organizations known to the audience. It takes offering a simple discount and brings it to another level. It gives them the tools to find things they were already looking for. The only difference is it’s more convenient and it benefits Unidays. Plan accordingly and your business could become a similar hub for them.

4. Cater To Their Dark Sense Of humor

fast food sign

Next to oxygen, they need humor to survive and relate to one another. College students are notorious for their dark, silly, and witty sense of humor. If you can send a message that speaks to their funny bone, they’re significantly more likely than any other demographic to give you a share and boosting your brand’s visibility.

Don’t try too hard

Marketing to college students through humor can be a double edged sword. Be very careful when attempting to speak their language with humor as it’s easy to come off lame or cheesy. Avoid using memes if possible as this comes off obvious to them that a brand is trying too hard to relate.

What college students find funny might be different from what you find funny. It’s valuable to understand their sense of humor to create a connection. It’s difficult to fully immerse your brand in it, especially if it’s a serious product. Some businesses are even ridiculed online when they attempt to follow it. However, there is still room to execute this strategy. It’s about timing and understanding what’s funny before it makes mainstream media. Hiring young marketers is one way to do this. They’re still young enough to connect with the humor and incorporate it into a business strategy.

Successful Case Study: Wendy’s (Twitter specifically)

Wendy’s has considerable success on Twitter marketing to college students. They understand the humor and tone of a university student. Most of it is heavily based on self-deprecation and their use of memes.  It works with popular hashtags on its Twitter and even released a ‘diss track’. It doesn’t overwhelm its consumers with the humor but uses it to boost the chain’s personality. It’s not forced, and it doesn’t come off cheesy. It’s subtle at times but contributes to pop culture. Best of all, it brings in a young audience of intrigued college students.

5. Create Entertainment Driven Content

flying plane

Marketing to college students using regular boring direct advertising or over the top TV ads simply won’t do. Those work for the older generation, college students enjoy and are more likely to engage with meaningful and entertaining content. The higher the entertainment value of the content, the more likely they are to relate with the brand and even share your message. You can place these content either on your company website or on your social media pages. Working with a good graphic design team such as Penji means having access to an unlimited source of images for your social media marketing.  

Successful Case Study: Red Bull

Red Bull has nearly perfect this practice. When you enter the company’s website, the first thing you notice is the lack of product placement. They’re not promoting their drinks, but upcoming competitive events. It’s effective because it draws in sports fans. These are popular at any age range, but for university students, this is thrilling. They’re able to see first-hand experiences and interviews from some of their favorite athletes. It’s on the extreme end for content marketing, but their tactics do work. Best of all, they’re already on Red Bull’s website and are exposed indirectly.

How to Use Penji for Unlimited Graphic Design 

As college students are more challenging to entice, your marketing strategy should be more aggressive. Apart from freebies and discounts, you have to regularly update your marketing collaterals to keep them interested. And in this case, Penji can help through their unlimited graphic design services. Just use their platform and get professionally-made graphic designs that you can use for marketing purposes.  


penji platform

Penji has its own easy-to-use platform where you can send your requests. Just click ‘Create New Project’ and fill out a form. This could only take you a few minutes to complete. 

Add your design specifications and include any special requests. Once done, you can already submit the request and a designer will be assigned to you.   


penji platform

Your first draft will be submitted within 24 – 48 hours and from there, you can send points for revision. This is easy to do as you just need to click, point, and write your insights directly on the design. It will be sent back to your designer immediately to make the necessary changes. 

Enjoy and Start Using the Designs 

penji platform

Download your source files from the same platform and use the designs to your heart’s content. There’s no need to send multiple emails for follow-ups and to get the final designs. We made sure that the platform is user-friendly and is highly efficient. 

Final Thoughts 

Hiring an on-demand graphic design service such as Penji is an investment for your business. We can take a load of responsibility off your shoulder and you can focus more on winning the market. For a fixed price of $479/month, you can enjoy unlimited graphic designs for all your marketing needs, including website and even merchandise. 

If you are interested to see how our platform works, schedule a free demo with the team right now.

Updated February 21, 2019

About the author

Erika is a Content Writer & Marketing Associate for Penji. She has a background in social media marketing, graphic design and copywriting.

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