Marketing to students effectively is a tough job but it’s a challenge one Canadian agency is taking on by sticking to simple maxim — don’t market to people unless you’re ready to give them something useful.
Jonathan Tick, 32, is a managing partner at Campus Marketing Agency based in Toronto and says the best — and hardest — type of marketing to do is the kind that actually benefits the people you’re marketing to.
“We take a very utility-driven approach to marketing — we don’t market unless it benefits the student in some way. Our goal is to provide them with a resource they can use every day,” Tick said.
The agency’s newest venture is CampusIntel.com, a site geared around taking all of the various things students search for on the Internet — free goodies, campus and world news, blogs, travel deals and classified ads — and package them into a single place accessible with a single click.
The site incorporates a Metro news feed, free blogs and forums and a classifieds/book swap section unique in its rigour. Unlike other online swap sites that allow people to access listings and trade anonymously, CampusIntel’s classifieds require a real university email address to access the site, ensuring that the people creating and responding to ads are bone-fide students.
The feature also makes it far less likely that users will be preyed upon by muggers or thieves since correspondence is no longer anonymous.
“One of the things we’re stressing (about the book swap) is that you need to have a registered email from a post-secondary institution to use it. It’s a much safer marketplace than what you would find with a Craigslist or a Kijiji,” Tick said.
Tick points at the many recent failed attempts at using Facebook as a marketing platform as an example that students aren’t interested in having their online life interrupted by traditional, projected marketing that doesn’t offer them any direct benefit.
“Social networks get a ton of traffic but it’s not the kind of traffic that wants to be marketed to. We’re really growing this thing organically so that it catches fire,” Tick said.
The power of the student demographic of educated people aged 18-24 can be intense, as Tick says the age group is highly peer-oriented, very impressionable and develops life-long habits that can decide, for instance, which razor someone uses for the rest of their life.
“This is the time of your life when you’re creating your spending habits, your buying habits and loyalty habits. It is a very critical demographic for brands,” Tick said.