College students are a huge entry-point consumer segment, but creating on campus advertising strategies that reach and influence them at scale can feel like navigating a minefield. Between campus restrictions, fragmented media options, ever-changing technology, geographic differences, and a generation that’s always changing their preferences, it can make any marketer throw up their hands and resort to a mass media advertising plan. And if you’re wondering how to advertise to Greek life on campuses… the challenge can feel overwhelming!
Luckily, there is a better way. For the past 30 years, we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. We’re here to tell you that marketing to college students on campus can be done—and when it’s done right, converts this audience of young people into loyal customers for life. Here are our top tips on how to advertise to Greek life on campus.
1. Win sororities and fraternities with exclusive student discounts
College students are known for their knack for finding a discount. Eighty-six percent of students have said that they would shop at their favorite stores more often if they offered student discounts. And research from Refuel’s Gen Z Explorer Series™ shows that college students are actually loyal to brands that offer discounts to students.
Our research found that 43% of Gen Z consumers report being loyal to brands that offer student discounts, and 29% are loyal to brands that offer rewards or loyalty programs. Personalize your college marketing strategy and let your college target market know that you’re tailoring your brand just for them.
Verifying students’ identity and keeping track of student discounts used to be challenging, but now it’s not with SheerID. This company provides verification technology that makes offering student discounts simple, repeatable, and trackable. As Bill Schneider, VP of Product Marketing for SheerID, explains, “give your target market a seamless shopping experience, ensuring that only students are taking advantage of your student discounts. Marketers from hundreds of brands rely on SheerID to verify audiences among specific communities to ensure that only eligible consumers receive your gated and personalized offers for students.”
2. Leverage product sampling
Product sampling is a marketing tactic that involves getting free samples of your product into the hands of potential future customers – in this case, college students meandering through their college campuses. In general, this tactic works because it removes the primary barriers – access and price – to customers trying your product, allowing them to try and like your product easily. This results in brand awareness at minimum, and ideally, repeat purchases and customer advocacy.
And product sampling works especially well with students in Greek life. Having not entered the workforce full-time yet, college students are more motivated than most demographics by anything given away for free, and brands can use this to their advantage. There are so many success stories of brands that have used freebies or deals to give college students a taste of their product, and in doing so, locked in loyal customers for life. A few examples of brands who have done this are Robinhood with their free stocks to college students, and Spotify, with their college student discount.
Using freebies in conjunction with experiential marketing will only amplify your results. Setting up booths or demonstrations in high-traffic areas will disrupt college students’ routines and prompt them to engage with your brand.
3. Create unforgettable experiences
Research suggests that part of what makes social media so compelling to Gen Z is the combination of creativity and interactivity. Sprout Social explains that “You can almost think of Gen Z and social media as a game of call and response”. Think Twitter polls, interactive Snapchat filters, Instagram stickers, style quizzes on your website, or giveaways.
Members of sororities and fraternities want to collaborate and connect with brands—they want brands to cultivate experiences with them and enhance their personalities. Fourteen-year-old entrepreneur Mercer Henderson explains that her friends don’t use Snapchat filters that look like branded campaigns. After all, what are they getting out of using a filter with a company’s logo on it? Instead, Henderson recommends creating filters that interact with users’ personalities, like the all-time favorite puppy filter.
If you remember Starbucks’ “White Cup Contest” campaign from 2014, then you’ll understand the power of interaction and experiences for Gen Z. Starbucks encouraged customers to decorate their white cups, and they received 4,000 entries in three weeks. The winner was a 20-year-old college student from Pittsburgh. This campaign was so successful because it encouraged customers to creatively engage with the Starbucks brand.
4. Enlist student ambassadors
A college brand ambassador (also known as a campus rep) is a student on-the-ground at a campus that serves as a representative for your brand. A campus ambassador engages with students through on-campus clubs, in one-on-one interactions, through campus presentations, and online through social media.
In other words, a student ambassador program is a type of influencer marketing, and this word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer marketing is extremely powerful — 92% of people say they trust their friends’ recommendations over direct advertising.
And according to Refuel’s College Explorer Series™, on campus advertising through ambassadors attracts impressive attention — of those who interacted with a campus ambassador 42% went on to research the product, 28% bought the product or redeemed the discount, and 26% mentioned the brand to friends and family.
Marketing to Gen Z isn’t just important – winning over your Gen Z customers is crucial for your business’ long-term success. Luckily, understanding and influencing this customer base isn’t hard – it just takes the right marketing strategy. Contact us today to get your target Gen Z marketing plan.