10 Proven Strategies For Marketing To College Students

Education Leaders

10 Proven Strategies For Marketing To College Students

February 15, 2019, by


10_Tips_For_When_Your_Target_Market_Is_University_Students


Big universities know how to market to college students. University student is a niche and diverse target market. It can be difficult to find what works for a constantly changing demographic. There’s no one right answer, but you can cover most of your bases. 

For instance, striking visuals are also crucial and that’s where Penji comes in. Our on-demand design service provides unlimited graphics you can use to brighten up your marketing campaigns. Read until the end and find out why the most efficient marketing teams subscribe to our services to get their visual assets done.  

Along with visuals, fresh marketing strategies are vital to get through to your audience. Here are ten near-foolproof ways to market to college students you can try right away.

1. Speak to them like adults

adult students study

Here’s how to market to college students the right way. Start talking to them as if they are adults. University students are not children and shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s easy to lose business by mistreating your customers.

For many of them, this is the first time they’re treated like adults. You don’t want to take away this newfound freedom. Even if students aren’t your main audience, they’ll remember how you treated them. If you don’t respect them now, they won’t purchase from you in the future. Address them as they are, not how you might see them.   

2. Avoid generalizing

glasses textbook study

A lot of marketers believe they know how to market to college students, but in actuality they’re just generalizing them into one population.

Not all university students think the same way. Based on their majors, they could have completely different outlooks on life. A communications major won’t interpret advertisements the same way a chemistry major will. It’s possible to be general with marketing to the population, but it won’t be as effective.

One way to do this is by personalizing it to a specific field. For instance, if your product is textbooks, what kind of textbooks does each major require? If you focus on one field and promote textbooks from those courses, you have their attention.

3. Consider their income

coins money saving

It’s hard to understand how to market to college students if you don’t understand how they spend their money. The stereotype is college students have little to no money. For many, this is a reality. They have to pay for textbooks, tuition, housing, and several fees.

With less money, anything past a certain price point is out of the question. They’re selective over what’s worth spending on. If there’s a service you have that’s on the lower end, promote it to them.

Don’t market overly expensive products if it’s not worth it for them. For instance, promoting a spring break vacation package to students won’t work because they likely don’t have the money to spend on vacations. You might get the attention of some, but the pool isn’t as large. They’re reluctant to spend money on something set for a short time. Not every student has a well-paying job or support from their parents.

4. Don’t skip the copy

copy textbook


Your message is important. Make sure the words match. Creating your message can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be long. You can win someone over with a few words, as long as it’s effective. It’s not as simple as saying you’re the best for your target audience. It’s about how they’ll interpret the words. If possible, get input from current university students. Diversify your group so you can appeal to a wider audience. If the message resonates with them, there’s a good chance your marketing is ready to go. It might not work on the entire campus, but the more diverse the input is, the better.

Be trendy, but don’t overdo it

hashtag twitter


Since most college students are on the younger end, they’re the ones creating the trends. They decide in the long run what’s considered cool and what is no longer popular. Businesses should definitely aim to understand trends and learn how to use them. However, you should still be cautious in using these fads. If you use it incorrectly, you come off ingenuine and fake. The last thing you need is for students to think you’re poking fun at them because you didn’t handle trends correctly.

The internet is a great source to see how they’re interacting with other businesses. If it’s mostly negative feedback, then you know what not to do. It requires research into other organizations along with the trends. It also needs an eye for design. Certain colors and graphics stand out more to students. Colors that catch your attention might not work for them.

Get online

phone instagram social


If you’re not online already, you’re missing out on a great way to market to students. Millennials and Gen Z are the biggest demographics online and on a college campus. They’re active on social media and will often scroll through dozens of sponsored posts. Your advertisements should appear as one of them.

Even if they don’t purchase from you that first time, it’s about remaining consistent. It’s more about brand recognition than purchasing online. If they’re going through their social media feeds, they’re often not looking to buy something. But if they see your business come up constantly, they recognize you. When they do need to buy from you, they remember your advertisements online. This is another place where design plays a part. You should be memorable off the designs alone. It’s so important to have great design and branding online. If your ads aren’t interesting enough, you won’t be remembered.

Get on campus

student feet classroom

To some students, the campus is their whole world. They may work, eat, and sleep at their college. This means the businesses outside of the local area are out of reach. To influence these people, you need to bring your service to them. Find a way to get on or near the campus. Target places with the most foot traffic. This shows your organization really wants to interact with students. Instead of feeling ignored by the city they’re in, they remember you as the business who took the time to visit them.

Use traditional advertising

flyer advertisement

One of the advantages of marketing is all the channels. There are many ways to promote something to all types of audiences. For college students, they’re the most likely to be online. However, this doesn’t mean other types of marketing aren’t valuable. Traditional direct mail can be a powerful tool if used correctly. Universities are well-versed with school branding through direct mail to get the attention of incoming freshmen. They take interesting designs and use them to boost their branding. Look at the way some colleges promote to prospective students and use it for inspiration.

Get them talking

women talking and laughing

College students have an entire campus of people to interact with. They’ll make connections and network to reach their goals. It’s important to take advantage of that because word of mouth remains useful. If they’re not telling each other about how great your business is, they’re talking about your competition. You can do everything else right, but negative feedback from one of their friends goes a long way.

Sampling

target market university students


We now understand college students likely don’t have the money to pay for expensive products. They also are selective over what to spend it on. One way to ensure they pick your business is by sampling. This can work with other strategies like going on campus or promoting online. It lets skeptical students understand why your organization is the best choice. They’re able to try it before they buy it. It’s up to them to purchase it, but at least they can recognize you as an option. If you’re an online-only service, offer a free trial. They learn your program and see the value behind it.

Signing Up For Penji

penji platform

Whether you’re using traditional or online ads to market your university, getting professional graphic design services from Penji can take loads off your back. To sign up, simply go to the website and choose a plan depending on your needs and requirements. 

Pro for two users, Team for five users, and Agency for 10 users. All plans come with unlimited design projects, unlimited brands, and daily output. Team and Agency plans also offer illustrations and come with a dedicated account manager. The Agency plan offers double output, so it’s an excellent option if you need many visuals done right away.

Requesting for Your First Marketing Graphic

1. Create

penji platform

Once registered, you can start requesting graphics you need for University marketing. Simply create a project by selecting the type of graphic and describing how you want it to look like. Our dashboard is unique in a way that lets our clients describe the visuals they need. 

PRO TIP: If you can’t seem to describe your ideas in words, you can look for inspiration images and attach the links to the task card. Also you can also choose stock photos and colors to use for the graphic.

2. Revise

penji platform

Within 24 to 48 hours, your designer will deliver the first draft of the design. If you need it revised, just click the pointer at the part you want changed, and type in your requests. Similarly, you can also tell the designer the revisions you want through chat. Unlimited revisions is part of the package, so don’t be shy!

3. Download 

penji platform

Once you get the design you want, click on the download button and the image will be saved in your computer.

Conclusion

Marketing to college students can be challenging. Having a team of professional graphic designers by your side is vital to ensure that your marketing materials appeal to your target market. 

Browse our portfolio of marketing flyers and posters and see how we can help you reach your prospects the best way possible. You can also sign up and try any plan risk-free for 15 days.  

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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