How to Market your Business to College Students

Here’s the situation:

You’ve been working on an awesome business that is specifically tailored for college students and how they receive their assignments from their professors. Your company is going to blow blackboard.com out of the water.

The question:

Do you market your service to the professors of your college? The students? Or both?

I think that answer to that question will rely on exactly what type of service you’re dealing with. If it’s more of a proprietary service that requires a college to license it, then you better be setting up meetings with the dean and speaking to all the professors that you possibly can.

In order to gain the trust of your college officials, you’ll have to convince them that your product is truly going to help the school. Yeah, easier said than done. But it’s doable. Start by reaching out to those professors who you have become “buddy-buddy” with over the years.

If you can evangelize these professors with your service, then they will become your biggest supporters. These will be the people who start chatting about your service to other professors during lunch or school meetings with the dean.

Do whatever you have to do: stay after class and show demos, ask your business professors if you gave give a power point presentation to the class to show the students what you’re working on, and send emails to all the deans in your school to tell them about your service. You’ll have to become a guerrilla marketer.

Now, if you’re going the route of building a service that relies more on student adoption that professor adoption, then your marketing strategy will be quite different. You’ll have to now gain the support from a critical mass of students who will eventually standardize your service within your college if it’s really that good.

When I first launch my student-focused service back in 2004, I became the biggest guerrilla marketer that you can imagine. Every day I loaded up my backpack with thousands of flyers and personally went from room to room throughout the dorms and handed out information about the website.

You really have to get “inside” of the dorms of the students. I literally mean inside. You can do that by spreading your flyers in the dorms, advertising on facebook, posting flyers around the kitchens of the dorms (students have to eat, right?), and making sure that the students who are club leaders have plenty of flyers to distribute to their respective organizations.

Remember, students are fickle-minded people, so your marketing approach can’t be simple. It must be creative. Do something crazy if you have to. Dress up in a chicken suit and run around your campus handing out information on your service — I guarantee you that you’ll get more people to actually visit your site that way.

Pull a stunt (try and make it legal) that’ll get you into the college papers. I’ll always remember the story of the founder of half.com who tried to convince his town in Oregon to change its name to half.com.

“It’s a great opportunity for both sides,” said Joshua Kopelman, CEO of Half.com, an e-commerce startup set to launch in mid-January. “We want to boost their tourism (and) we get a level of attention and publicity and recognition as ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers.”

It created so much attention that ebay scooped up the company not long after for millions.

When marketing to students you need to attack the parts of their minds that make them laugh, smile, and feel happy. If you don’t stimulate these emotions, then don’t expect them to give your service a chance — they have better things to do — party, study, and…ah… party! — than to take a risk on your service. If you think students are patient people, then think again.

If you conquer the minds of the students, you conquer ALL.



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About David Askaripour

I've been thinking about life, existence, and truth for as long as I could remember. When I was about 7 I remember getting a headache trying to figure out who created God...and if someone created him, then who create him? I love investigating and testing, taking nothing for truth that outside my direct experience. At the age of 12, I started my own candy selling business; it grew so large that the principal ended up closing me down (but that was just the beginning...) Through my videos and articles, I share my journey with the world.

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