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23 Creative Ways to Market to Students

As a higher education institution, you know that marketing to students and prospective students is essential for your success. It can be difficult, however, to come up with new and innovative ways to reach this audience. That's where we come in! In this blog post, we will share 23 creative ways that you can market to students.

1. Host a giveaway or raffle

Everybody loves free stuff, and students are no exception! Hosting a giveaway or raffle is a great way to get students interested in your institution. You can promote the event on social media and in flyers around campus. Make sure to specify what the prize is and how students can enter to win.

For example, the University of Alabama recently held a raffle. Vaccinated students who showed proof of documentation had the opportunity to win a range of prizes, from parking passes to housing scholarships to football game tickets.

2. Provide students with incentives and discounts

Many students are on a tight budget, so they're always looking for ways to save money. If you can offer them discounts or incentives, they're more likely to be interested in what you have to offer. For example, you could offer a discount on tuition for students who refer a friend or family member. You could also offer a discount on housing for students who sign a lease early. Or you can work with local businesses to provide discounts on restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses that students frequent.

3. Be funny

Students appreciate a good sense of humor, so if you can make them laugh, you're more likely to get their attention. You can use humor in your ads, social media posts, and even in your email marketing. Just make sure that the humor is appropriate and that it aligns with your brand.

Some examples of higher education institutions that have used humor successfully are the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Central Florida. They both have created funny social media posts that have gone viral and helped them to reach a wider audience.

4. Hold a contest

Contests are a great way to engage students and get them interested in your institution. For example, you could hold a contest for the best essay on a certain topic or for the best design for a new t-shirt. You could also hold a social media contest for the best video tour of your campus.

5. Buy ads in spaces where millennials spend time

According to a study by Nielsen, millennials spend more time than any other age group watching digital videos, so it makes sense to place ads in these spaces. You can buy ads on YouTube, Snapchat, and other popular platforms. You can also target specific channels that your target audience is likely to watch. For example, if you're trying to reach college students, you could place ads on channels like The CollegeHumor Show or The Breakfast Club, or on the pages of popular creators, like David Dobrik, PewDiePie, and Emma Chamberlain.

6. Bring in a guest or influencer

You can use social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat to bring in guest speakers or influencers. For example, the University of Southern California brought in NBA star LeBron James to talk to students about the importance of education. You can also work with smaller influencers who have a following among college students. For example, you could bring in a YouTuber or Instagrammer to speak or take over your school's social media accounts for a day.

7. Scavenger hunts

Scavenger hunts and other games are a great way to get students involved and engaged with your institution. You can hide clues around campus or in your social media posts and award prizes to the winners. For example, Texas A&M University held a scavenger hunt for students to find hidden Aggie rings around campus.

8. Guest blog

If you have a blog, consider inviting students, alumni, professors, staff, celebrities, or influencers to write guest posts. This is a great way to give them a platform to share their stories and experiences. It's also a good way to show potential students that your institution is open and welcoming.

The University of California, Berkeley has a program called "Voices of Berkeley" that features student-written articles on a variety of topics.

9. Enter competitions

There are many competitions that you can enter to market your institution to students. For example, the National Student Advertising Competition is a yearly event where teams of college students create an advertising campaign for a real-world client. This is a great way to get your school's name out there and to show potential students what you're capable of.

You can also enter your school in competitions like the Princeton Review's Best Colleges ranking or US News & World Report's Best Colleges ranking. These rankings can help you to attract new students and to improve your reputation.

10. Put on an event

Events are a great way to connect with students and show them what your institution has to offer. You can hold events on campus, like open houses or information sessions. Or you could put on an event off-campus, like a concert or a festival.

Rutgers University holds an annual event called "Rutgers Day." This event is a one-day festival that features hundreds of performances, music, food, demonstrations, and other activities across their sprawling campus.

11. Join forces with other universities and colleges

There is strength in numbers. If you team up with other universities and colleges, you can pool your resources and reach a larger audience. For example, you could team up with schools in your area to host a college fair. Or you could create a joint marketing campaign.

The University of California system, which includes ten campuses, is a great example of this. They often work together to host events and to create marketing materials. By working together, they are able to reach a wider audience and have a greater impact.

12. Start a podcast

Podcasts are a great way to reach students and connect with them on a personal level. You can use podcasts to share stories, offer advice, and provide information about your institution. Alumni can also be featured on podcasts to share their experiences and to offer advice to current students.

For example, the University of California, Berkeley has a podcast called "Berkeley Talks." This podcast features interviews with faculty members, staff members, and students. It's a great way to learn about what Berkeley has to offer and to get a sense of the school's community.

13. Offer free tools

Is there a tool that you could offer for free that would help students learn, connect, or network? For example, you could offer a free online tutoring service, free cloud storage for students, or a tool that helps students make friends or find roommates.

The University of Southern California offers a free online tutoring service called "USC Tutor." This service is available to all USC students and is a great way for them to get help with their coursework.

Similarly, the University of Michigan offers a free online tool called "RoomSync." This tool helps students find roommates and connect with other students who have similar interests.

14. Give away free stuff

Freebies are always popular with students! You can give out t-shirts, pens, notebooks, branded cell phone pop-its, water bottles, and other branded items. You can also give out coupons and discounts to local businesses.

15. Give away scholarships and stipends

One way to market your institution to students is to offer scholarships. This is a great way to show students that you are invested in their success. It's also a great way to attract top students to your institution.

16. Offer pop-ups

Take a page from your favorite food truck and host a pop-up for students or potential recruits. Choose a popular spot on campus, announce the location on social media, and set up a table or booth. You could give out freebies or coupons, hold contests (friendly arm wrestling matches or guess candies in a jar), offer games (cornhole or giant tik tac toe), give out food and drinks, or hold raffles. Students will have a great time and go out of their way to attend with friends!

17. Be ahead of social media trends

It's no secret that students are constantly on their phones, and most of the time they're on social media. If you want to reach them, you need to be where they are! That means being active on all the major platforms, including Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. But it also means being ahead of the curve when it comes to new platforms and trends.

Luckily, there are some Tiktok accounts you can follow who will alert you of trends, like @Wavewyld and @JeraBean.

18. Connect with student influencers

There's no better way to reach students than through student influencers. These are students who have a large following on social media and who are respected by their peers. If you can connect with student influencers, they will help you reach a larger audience.

Student influencers can guest blog, take over the school's social media accounts for the day, or give a talk at an event. You can also collaborate with them on marketing campaigns or social media content.

19. Offer webinars

Webinars are a great way to reach students who are interested in your institution but who may not be able to visit campus. You can use webinars to provide information about your programs, share stories about your institution, and answer questions from students.

20. Get involved in student organizations

One great way to market your institution to students is to get involved in student organizations at the high school and university level. This gives you a chance to connect with students and to promote your institution. You can attend meetings, join committees, and help with events.

21. Sponsor a high school sports team or club

If you want to reach high school students, one great way to do it is to sponsor a high school sports team or club. This will give you a chance to connect with students and to promote your institution. You can also use this opportunity to offer discounts or coupons to students.

For example, you could offer a discount to students who attend a game or match wearing your institution's t-shirt.

22. Pay it forward

One great way to market your institution is to pay it forward. You can do this by donating money or supplies to schools, providing scholarships to students, or volunteering your time to help with events. This is a great way to show students that you care about their success.

23. Create a social media challenge

Social media challenges are all the rage right now, and they're a great way to get students engaged with your content. Choose a theme that's relevant to your institution and create a challenge that students can complete. Be sure to use hashtags so that your challenge can be easily found and shared.

For example, you could create a #BackToSchoolChallenge that students can complete by posting a photo of their favorite school supplies, or a #ScholarshipChallenge that students can complete by sharing a photo of themselves with their favorite book.


So there you have it! 23 creative ways to market to students. We hope that at least one of these ideas sparks your imagination and helps you create some amazing marketing campaigns.


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