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On-Campus Marketing: How to Make It Work For Your Brand

By collegemktgrp | November 15, 2019 | Brands/Advertisers

With the continued growth of social media and power of online targeted marketing, it’s easier than ever to find college students online and drive them to your brand’s site.

But while digital marketing is very important, there’s still something to be said for engaging with people in the real world. And by that we mean experiential marketing.

Digital marketing makes an impression, but experiential marketing makes a memory.

What is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing, aka engagement marketing, encapsulates any kind of outreach that puts your team directly in contact with college students, in person, in the real world.

At universities, this might be during welcome weekend, at a football game, a concert or theatre production, or any other function that you sponsor in exchange for the opportunity to execute an experiential marketing campaign.

Experiential marketing isn’t posters, billboards, or print ads. And it’s not videos on social media, ads on search engines, or email marketing.

Experiential marketing is when you create an immersive experience for people that generates buzz.

Maybe you use a street team or brand ambassadors to pull off guerilla-style marketing tactics or create interactive displays that seem to appear out of nowhere overnight, right in the middle of the campus quad.

When it comes to on-campus marketing for brands, the idea is to make a shareable moment that raises your brand awareness with college students, establishes an emotional connection in the minds of the people who interact with your campaign, and has the potential to go viral on social media and reach an even wider audience.

Examples of Experiential Marketing

Some specific examples of experiential marketing to college students include the following:

Interactive Posters – Google

  • Google installed interactive posters in the San Francisco area where people could vote for what aspect of their community they wanted the giant tech company to support.
  • This raised the community’s awareness of Google’s philanthropic efforts and also got people personally involved in the decision-making.

Train Station Installation – Ghostbusters Movie

  • The Ghostbusters reboot marketing team made waves in 2016 when they installed a to-scale giant Marshmallow Man who appeared to be bursting out of the floor in a train station in London.
  • Adding a hashtag to this social media must-post sent it to viral heaven.

Bringing the Setting to Life – Gilmore Girls

  • Netflix promoted their Gilmore Girls premiere by setting up 200 real-world Luke’s Diners just like the one featured in the show.
  • Fans could get free coffee and share their experience in videos and photos online.
  • The massive amounts of social media posts that resulted raised considerable awareness for the show, and gave fans an experience they’ll never forget.

The Benefits of Experiential marketing

Experiential marketing can help brands from clothing retailers to political campaigns by offering college students lasting memories and positive brand experiences.

Experiential marketing leads to social media engagement and increased digital exposure through posts and shares. And it increases both leads and overall sales, according to a study by EventTrack.

It also attracts media attention to give your brand even more reach through influences, newspapers, and more, and allows students to directly engage with your brand and product.

On top of all that, experiential marketing is more memorable than any other type of marketing.

Examples of CMG Experiential Marketing Campaigns

College Marketing Group regularly uses experiential marketing as part of our strategy of helping brands market to college students.

Here are a few examples of specific experiential marketing campaigns we’ve executed for brands on campuses across America, and how each helped our client achieve their marketing goals.

Introducing Zaful to Northern California

Zaful is a clothing brand based in China, and when they wanted to extend their online retail reach to American college students in northern California, they contacted CMG to make it happen.

CMG did a tour of 5 universities across northern California, with each stop including a big interactive area that grabbed the attention of passing students with colorful tents, clothing give-aways, and even a big, pink swing that made for a social media worthy photo op.

We also created a “spin to win” game where students could spin a wheel to win Zaful clothing on the spot.

The end result was heightened brand awareness for the company with their target market.

Promoting New H&M Stores in the Midwest and Northeast

When the international clothing giant H&M asked CMG to help them get more college students to attend the grand openings of stores in Davenport, Iowa and Burlington, Vermont, we immediately thought of on-campus experiential marketing. We knew we had to get students’ attention, and had a plan to do just that.

We set up interactive booths on campuses near the new store locations where students could get free H&M bags and take branded, hashtag-laden “Polaroids” by holding up white frames, creating a vintage look that eludes to the brand’s classic, timeless styles.

The result? Lots of local college students rushing to the new stores on opening day, leading to increased awareness of the locations and increased revenue to boot.

Raising Great Clips Product Awareness in the St. Louis Market

Budget hair salon super-chain Great Clips doesn’t just cut and style hair — they also have a line of their own hair care products to help their customers look good between haircuts.

When they came to us, their problem was that a lot of people didn’t know about these products. Their sales were especially lower than desired in certain markets and within specific demographics, which led to us identifying college students in the St. Louis area as a potential growth market.

We sent brand ambassadors out to the Taste of St. Louis, a massive food festival that attracts both college students and their parents, to hand out over 10,000 samples of Great Clips hair care products, creating a massive surge of product awareness with the target audience.

Get Seen on College Campuses with CMG’s Experiential Marketing Team

Regardless of whether you’re a brand, a political campaign, or a nonprofit, CMG’s experiential marketing team can help you raise awareness for your product, service, or issue with customized events designed to connect with the exact college students you’re looking for.

Contact us now to get started »


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