How to Attract and Retain College-Aged Customers

According to a 2013 mobile Youth study, college-aged students represent $404 billion in spending power. From meals out to mopeds, they’re a buying force to be reckoned with – and a powerful source of potential revenue for your business. Here’s how you can win them over.

Start With Social

If you’re not using social media, embracing it now is the first step toward making inroads into the college-aged market. You may see it as a novelty or a luxury, but students see social media as an extension of their lives. It’s where they turn to for information about friends, current happenings and the products and services they need.

At a minimum, consider opening a Facebook page and Twitter account for your business, but don’t stop there. Look into Pinterest, Snapchat and Google+. It’s an ever-changing landscape, and keeping up requires more than you think. If you have to, hire someone with social media savvy to help – perhaps even a student.

Include Students in Your Marketing Plan

If your marketing plan doesn’t include them, incorporate student-centric tactics into your overall efforts. Offer student discounts to encourage foot traffic and hold sale events during the first few weeks of classes to establish your business on the student body radar.

Once they’ve come for the discount or sale, enroll them in loyalty programs that reward repeat business. Then solicit email addresses and smartphone numbers that you can use for future marketing efforts.

Consider a social media campaign, such as a deal a day, that encourages students to check your sites regularly. Contests also work, and you don’t have to give away a lot to be successful. For example, post an extreme close up of a campus landmark and give the first person that identifies it a discount coupon.

Encourage “selfies” of students using your product in the most interesting or creative way. A Doritos Roulette test campaign that went viral features young customers reacting to randomly placed ultra-spicy chips.

Don’t Abandon Student Customers After Graduation

The relationship doesn’t have to end once your student customers graduate. Social media and email can help you keep in touch with those who stay in the area. Students who move on may one day have returning children who could become legacy customers.

Everyone is a college-aged customer at some point. By focusing on this market now, you can capture business and repeat customers for years to come.

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