Should you be trying to reach college students? For almost any company, the answer is a resounding "yes." College students are a valuable demographic considering that students usually have disposable income and, most importantly, brand allegiances that haven't been cemented yet. Building brand loyalty with college students pays dividends for decades.
How to reach them effectively is a more difficult question. Traditional campaigns have limited effectiveness, because students are spread across campuses large and small throughout the country and consume media in a huge variety of ways. Aerial advertising helps companies engage with college students, whether as a broad group or by targeting specific campuses or areas of study.
A lot of marketing to college students is geared toward back-to-school sales, but if you want to truly engage with a broad range of college students from across the country, use aerial advertising at popular spring break locations such as Panama City Beach, Fla., or Lake Havasu, Ariz. These places draw students from all over the country, so you’re able to reach a “national” audience of college students in a way that is normally difficult or impossible without buying a ton of ads in student newspapers.
Everyone from first-year students at UCLA to graduate students at Columbia celebrates spring break, and there are a handful of spots in the U.S. and Mexico that draw the biggest crowds. If you’ve been to a big spring break event or seen videos, you know the crowds are huge.
Aerial campaigns at these events make sure your message doesn’t get lost in the clutter, which often happens with any purely ground-based approaches. Spring break is obviously a great venue for spirits brands, but many spring breakers aren’t of legal drinking age. So consider advertising any kind of personal care products like shampoo and especially sunscreen, or anything that students might buy when they get back to school. Aerial banners are a perfect choice to deliver your message.
If you want to drill down and target only specific campuses or areas of study, aerial ads helps there, too. If, for example, you decide you want to target women who will be the leaders of the future, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders would be a good fit. There are conferences for every field of study, from English to engineering, so it’s really just a matter of deciding which types of students you want to reach.
Of course, there’s more to it than just deciding when and where you want to fly. You also have to craft a campaign that’s going work with this demographic. College students are surrounded by advertising, and they’re quick to dismiss any advertising that doesn’t feel authentic, an article from MediaPost notes. Recruiting college students to help design your message helps ensure that you aren’t coming across as phony.
Clearly demonstrate that you’re providing value instead of just putting your logo in front of students and expecting them to get on board. At spring break, this could be as simple as using the banner to direct students to a brand rep who’s handing out free samples, or letting them present a photo of the banner for free admission to a concert or party. Any kind of social media element makes sense for a campaign aimed at college students, and they also make for a good “test bed” for a social media campaign you hope to expand to a wider audience.
Connecting with college students is often a challenge for marketers. Use these techniques to help you engage with them and form the basis of brand relationships that could last their whole lives.
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