In our last post, we tested the 3 truisms about campus marketing to college students. We wondered, Is our collective knowledge about campus marketing real knowledge, or just myth?
But three best practices wasn’t enough to capture all of the ins and outs of marketing to Millennials. So we bring you three more common marketing mantras and how they really measure up on campus.
1) Be relational
Mantra: College students may be addicted to technology, but they also place great value on relationships. While they’re skeptical and highly sensitive to being sold to, they are open to brands that engage and connect relationally.
About 50% of college-age millennials feel that brands say something about who they are and their values. Millennials use brands to express themselves, and so they want brands to be much more than just a logo. They want a relationship with the brands they choose to identify with.
Fact…ish. This is true on a subconscious level. Millennials aren’t looking for a brand that’s “just like me,” but they are attracted to brands that understand what it’s like to be “us.” They look to their friends to find out if a brand is trustworthy. That’s how a brand is strengthened.
The challenge for brands is to find scalable ways to have direct conversations with college students. Nobody likes to be a number, and that’s what’s at the core of this marketing mantra.
One of our clients nailed this concept. TIDAL is running a community service initiative and they’re encouraging students to share the service work that they’re doing online, using the hashtag #TIDALXChange. It’s connected to a competition—a chance for your school to win a visit from Lil Wayne. Throughout the competition, Lil Wayne is engaging with them online by personally sharing social posts that the students are posting. It’s an incredibly personal way to say, “We’re commending you for doing something good in the world,” and it creates direct connection and engagement.
2) Be authentic
Mantra: Because Millennials are skeptical of being sold to, they place their loyalty with brands they perceive as being authentic. They want authentic relationships with brands that truly care about their passions and their identities.
This is a generation that refuses to fit the mold. College students want to be true to themselves, and they want to be associated with brands that are true to themselves. Selling out is an instant turn-off and one of the fastest ways to lose your target market.
Fact! Millennials want you to tell them exactly who you are—don’t hide behind gimmicky messages. Tell them exactly what you do and why you do it.
The “Why” is hugely important to college students. If you make headphones because you believe it’s important to enjoy the absolute best music possible, they’ll get behind your brand. If your brand’s “Why” is to be the most popular headphone among young people, it’ll fall flat.
But…Not every message needs to have this authenticity barometer. It’s okay to mix it up with funny commercials, or to show how cool you are—as long as you don’t lose your sense of showing who you are.
3) Leverage technology
Mantra: Millennials love using technology. Brands often find more success when they engage with college students on the platforms they already love to use. Some keys to success:
- Be innovative. Millennials are looking for new experiences that engage.
- Adapt—and quickly. Technology is constantly changing, and college students are early adopters. Be timely and relevant or they won’t pay attention.
- Inform, don’t sell. Use technology to make your audience feel enlightened and informed, not marketed to.
- Be mobile. Make sure all of your content is optimized for mobile devices—that’s where young people are spending their time.
Fact! If you’re going to use mobile technology, make sure you do it in a creative way. A lot of companies have apps, but they get drowned out in the noise because their app does the same thing as everyone else’s app. Instead, find ways to be different.
Most importantly, listen to what college students actually want from technology. Just because someone is using social media, that doesn’t mean they’re ready to hop onto yet another social channel.
Go Commando can help companies get that information. It costs a lot less to do market research than to go to market with a product that isn’t needed. We work with clients to identify a group of questions that help determine if a new product satisfies anything for the consumer, and if the value proposition has any merit.