How to Advertise on a College Campus

College students are prime targets for advertising. They are physically limited to a specific area (the campus). They have high tolerances for advertising since they grew up in a media era. They are inherently intrigued by new and engaging things (yes, intellectual stimulation). They are consumers, perhaps not quite like their younger counterparts still on mom and dad’s credit card, but they buy and they buy often for certain goods.

Now there are two types of advertising aimed at college students: cooporate and student-based. The cooporates have whole staffs devoted to figuring out the college crowd but student-based organizations strive for student participation on scraps of leftover time and shoestring budgets. Here’s the way to think about it:

  • Do Your Homework. Who do you want to be in your group? Who do you want to show up to your event? Do you want the whole school involved? Or are you looking for people with particular interests?
  • Do the Easy Stuff First. It takes five minutes to set up a Facebook group. It takes one sentence to tell your friend.
  • Do it Yourself… Your plans have to start somewhere. If you’re not willing to do it yourself, you should not be delegating that job to anyone else. Take initiative and people will follow.
  • …Then, Form a Team. As DIY as you might feel, you actually can’t do everything by yourself. You a need a team that is willing to get involved.
  • Try Traditional. Posters are the most traditional form of college campus advertising. Cut down some more trees so you can xerox another useless flyer/poster that is instantly glossed over. Either go high end and do really nice full color 11×17 posters. Go low end and do your posters on colored 8.5×11 paper. Hook a viewer, give ’em the info, and give them a means to act.
  • Try Semi-Traditional. Chalking, electronic announcements, radio, banners, decorations. These are the tried and true “alternatives” to generating buzz on campus.
  • Try Radical. Sing songs in dining halls. Do a viral campaign. Shock and awe people. Build something. Be outrageous. Stage a protest. Dress in funny clothing. Dance remarkably poorly. Dance remarkably well. Do it naked.
  • Food, Drink, Music, Dancing. Provide at least one of the big four. College students will go to anything if they can eat, drink, or party. Use that to entice them in.
  • Be Different. College students hate the same old, same old (that’s why only do max one or two of the previous item). Put a new twist on old events. Innovate new events, clubs, organizations.
  • Cross Promote. Go to other events and organizations to promote your own organization and events.

Other ideas on generating buzz? Leave a comment.

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