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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.
Digital marketing makes an impression, but experiential marketing makes a memory.
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.
Some specific examples of experiential marketing to college students include the following:
Experiential marketing can help brands from clothing retailers to political campaigns by offering college students lasting memories and positive brand experiences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.