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Overcoming Challenging Marketing Situations

When our Agency was planning client programs for Spring 2020 we weren’t expecting to have to account for the COVID, who was!? As it spreads and there are more and more health concerns it’s begun to create challenges for our campaigns, especially as colleges are switching to online classes, in some cases indefinitely.

No matter what the challenge is; a hurricane, wildfires, ice storms, it generally comes out of nowhere meaning our team is always on our toes, keeping client programs running at a high level, no matter what.

Since we started, success in any type of program, especially anything experiential, usually hinges on expecting and responding to the unexpected.

To maximize efficiency, our team has built a cache of processes that keep our programs running full steam ahead, no matter what. We’ve used our past experiences to help spark this ingenuity, below are a few strategies that help us power through unexpected challenges.

Balance Marketing Needs With Situational Realities 

When our Adobe ambassadors at Pepperdine were forced to evacuate due to wildfires in California, we temporarily lost the ability to host learning workshops. Working around the clock we made sure that our students were safe and then turned the events digital, making sure students still had the ability to learn new about Adobe programs and creative techniques.

Letting Social Expand Conversations 

Back in 2018, the flooding and winds of a busy hurricane season threatened the whole East Coast. Schools up and down the coast closed, some even evacuating their students. We had about 100 student ambassadors for different client programs now with no way to keep going with their normal responsibilities. Our team implemented online challenges that ambassadors shared with their audiences, making sure engagement and awareness for the programs stayed at a high level. It kept students positive when they were uncertain about how the storm would really impact them.

Expect The Best, Plan For The Worst 

When you’re in the experiential marketing businesses, you always need a contingency plan. In 2015 we flew into Austin, Texas for a big GrubHub football tailgate event at UT. An unexpected, torrential storm quickly crushed any hope for hosting the event. Within minutes our team was activating our contingency plan, coordinating with vendors and staff, moving the event to the next home game.

Our point, the Coronavirus is making some things uncertain, but our team isn’t panicking, we always get creative and deliver. We’re confident our team’s creativity and our nationwide access to universities and students, on and offline, can still deliver amazing ideas and results for clients. Contact us.

Feature Image Source: Jessica Predom
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Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Brand Ambassador

On-campus brand ambassadors are a highly effective way to reach to college students and young professionals. Their awareness of interpersonal connections and ability to create genuine experiences ensures that they will make a lasting impact on the day to day lives of their peers, and allow their audience to make a personal connection with the brand.

They’re at all the events, not just their own.

Successful Brand Ambassadors aren’t afraid to put themselves out there, and they’re down to go to all sorts of events. People will probably know who they are before their first conversation, and they’re personable and approachable to everyone, not just their clique.

Social media expertise.

It’s not just about the follower count, it’s about knowing what clicks and sticks on each social platform. One of the most important KPIs for Brand Ambassadors is follower engagement. On top of that, they need to be able to create content on the fly. They know how to post consistently, but without spamming their followers.

They know their brand, through and through.

Brand ambassadors are tasked with representing the personality and image of the brand accurately towards everyone they meet, but to be “always on” is not an easy task. It’s important that they know what the brand stands for and how it wants to be perceived. If you’re lucky, they’ll know how to integrate the brand they are reping with their own personal brand effortlessley.

They’re Involved in organizations on-campus.

It’s important that campus ambassadors are well-rounded and involved in activities besides their jobs. Campus organizations are an important source of connections and a great way to get your voice out to large groups of people.

They make their interactions organic.

When they talk to their peers, they believe in the brand they are promoting, and talk about it because they genuinely like it. Just like longtime customers, they have their own unique insights about the brand and favorite products that they don’t mind sharing.

Accurate & honest data tracking.

Clear communication between the brand and ambassador is key for long term success. In order for clients to get the best information from their ambassadors, they need to be tracking their data accurately. Without this info, brands won’t know if their efforts are paying off and what future methods will work the best for the campus dynamics.

Work hard, play hard.

The ideal ambassador is organized and knows how to maintain a work-life balance. Ultimately the most successful people are the ones who have fun doing it and make the program work for them and their lifestyle.

Marketing Tips

What Really Matters to College Students: Brand Identity & Authenticity

Gen Z, the demographic currently enrolled in high school and college right now, is often accused of “killing off” brands that past generations had no problem with. This group represents $143 billion in purchasing power and growing, but many brands are struggling to relate to them and often try too hard to match their tone with poorly made memes, or incorrect use of internet lingo.

So what does Gen Z really look for in a brand? The answer is authenticity. Gen Z wants to know that brands are who they say they are. In order to achieve this, marketers should aim to build a strong brand identity.

The problem is that many marketers don’t have a good idea of what brand identity really is. They often get it confused with brand image, or the problems that the company tries to solve. And while these smaller components do contribute to brand identity, they aren’t the full picture.

Rather, brand identity is what the brand stands for, beyond what product or service it may provide. It is comprised of their motives beyond making money, why they do what they do, or what drives them. While this is one of the more abstract concepts of branding, a strong brand identity needs to be represented in everything tangible the brand does, otherwise authenticity is lost.

Another important contribution towards brand identity is the people that make up the company. In a recent study conducted by The Campus Agency, entrepreneurs were rated as being more influential than politicians, athletes, and social media influencers. The voices of company executives matter to Gen Z, and they need to line up with the brand’s philosophies.

Many marketers get into the trap of thinking that only larger brands can benefit from a strong brand identity, and that they need huge creative campaigns to make a statement about who they are. However, this isn’t the case. In many ways, it is actually easier for smaller brands to stay consistent, and strive to represent something greater in many smaller ways.

Recently, brands have found themselves under a microscope. It doesn’t take much for younger people to completely write one off because of its political affiliation, environmentally harmful practices, or poor social media etiquette. Nothing ticks off Gen Z more than when brands publicly claim to support a cause, but financially support its opposition.

One of the reasons that even good marketers often avoid this aspect, is because it is one of the most difficult to develop. It takes time and commitment, but most of all it requires real belief in the brand identity. Companies need to be constantly asking themselves who they are and if their actions align with this vision. By doing this, they are becoming more transparent, trustworthy, and honest in the ways that they choose to represent themselves to their audience. A strong brand identity isn’t just an extra objective that companies should tack onto the ends of their list’s, but rather an over-arching goal that each action should bring them closer towards.

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Social Media: The New Creative Space for Gen Z

In a recent student survey conducted by the Campus Agency, 87.5% of participants reported that they consider social media to be a creative outlet. What does this mean for brands attempting to break through the clutter? Simply put, brands can bring authenticity to the platform by tapping into the creative side of social media.

While some companies have already started to do this, it’s an opportunity that most have left untouched. There are many ways to enter this creative space, but the easiest may be to reach out to artists who are already using social media as a platform for their work. By hiring them to collaborate on brand-oriented content, you not only get a unique product, but you attract the artist’s social following too. It’s also important that you choose an artist that will match the image you want to create for your brand.

However, that isn’t the only way to do it. When asked if social media provides them with all the tools they need to create the content that they want, only 58% of respondents said yes. In other words, over 40% of college students are still open to more opportunities or ways to express themselves on social media. Brands can take advantage of this need by providing their audience with creative inspiration.

Companies can leverage their existing brand & social pages to host a contest that will engage their audience. This won’t work for everyone, and the tone/objective of the contest needs to match the tone of your brand in order to be successful. However, the benefits of this strategy are numerous. The first is that the contest is extremely low cost to run and you will get a wide range of usable content all created with your brand in mind. This content will have organic reach far beyond your regular audience, and because it’s made by real consumers, it will be authentic.

Using this method to crowdsource creativity can elevate your brand and content to an entirely new level. This type of content can help reinvigorate the brand and use its audience to expand its image.

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Does Gen Z Still Use Email?

Who is Gen Z? Ranging from ages 4-22, they are the youngest generation to take hold of pop culture, news and media. They’re slated to make a large economic impact too. Their spending power is currently valued at $44 billion, and by 2020 they will account for 40% of all consumers.

One of the key traits of Gen Z is that they’re eager to adopt the next big thing, whether that be new forms of media, new ways to be efficient, or new forms of communication. While this is a great opportunity for emerging businesses, Gen Z is often accused of killing off old time tested methods, even ones as widely trusted as email. And with new tools for both personal communication like Facebook and professional communication like Slack, is there still a need for it at all?

According to a recent study, 83% of Generation Z respondents believe their email usage will either increase or stay the same within the next five years, meanwhile 46% of Gen Z students consider email marketing to be an important part of a purchase decision.

Across all generations, 74% of people chose email as their preferred communication method for companies or brands to interact with them. This is good news for marketers who want to maintain as many points of contact as possible with their audience & customers.

However, just because the email platform may still be relevant, doesn’t mean that you should fall back into the same habits of a boring old promotional email. The same rules of obtaining high engagement with Gen Z still apply.

When creating an email marketing campaign tailored for Gen Z, the first step is to create a clear but natural brand awareness. Although social media is more commonly known as being a key content channel, email can be an equally effective and direct way to get your content out. This is especially important when you have limited brand awareness, and content can be used to showcase your brand image, as well as the kinds of products or services you can offer your customers.

The second step is where you want to gather as much information about your email audience as possible, and see the common traits of your audience members that might be interested in your brand. This includes a small ask from your audience, but for something in return. One strategy might be asking them to fill out a survey in exchange for the chance to win a $30 gift card.

After building awareness through content, and obtaining information about your target, this is your chance to drive engagement in the way that you feel is most appropriate for them. This could be anything from a follow on social media to a checking out your online store. Whatever you may choose, make sure that it is measurable, and relevant to your specific audience.

These aren’t the only way to engage Gen Z over email, but whatever strategy you pursue as a marketer, make sure you are giving them a chance to experience and interact with your brand as much as possible. Here at The Campus Agency, we have access to over seven million current student emails and we are experts at creating subtle, yet engaging email campaigns. Feel free to contact us today for more information.

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Micro-Influencers: The Best of Both Worlds?

If you have been paying attention to business news in the last couple months, you’ve probably seen some of the drastic effects that influencers can have on businesses. The prime example? A single tweet by Kylie Jenner contributes to the stock value of Snap Inc. dropping by $1.3 billion.

sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.

— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) February 21, 2018

According to NBC, Jenner makes about $1 Million per paid instagram post, and is widely known as the highest paid instagram influencer. But are these brands really getting what they paid for? For $1 million, many of these brands could have easily gone the traditional route and launched an entire agency campaign.

But instead they’ve kept faith in the effectiveness of this costly influencer marketing trend for two simple reasons. The first is the belief that organic, trackable social reach is better than paid social media ads, and the second is that these influencers carry built-in credibility that simply cannot be bought through a traditional creative campaign.

If Jenner’s followers took her suggestions as seriously as analysts on Wall Street did, this spending might be worthwhile, but this isn’t the case. However, what if there was a way to get the same trackable, organic social reach without the enormous price tag? Enter the micro-influencer.

These social media personalities are often found on Instagram & Youtube. They range from having 2,000 to 10,000 followers, which is a high, but not quite celebrity-level follower count. What makes them special is that they have a higher engagement percentage than most celebrities, and they can be used to target specific communities or subcultures that they may be a leader in.

Many of these micro-influencers are used to creating and editing their own content, which means less work and a lower budget for you. Gone is the need for a production team or even a photographer to shoot content for your product; the micro-influencer will do it all.

While you won’t get the same massive reach by employing just one, by spreading out your social media reach to multiple micro-influencers, you can target multiple cities and communities. The best part, as mentioned before, is the lower cost. Your company won’t have to spend millions, or even six-figures to engage a wide, yet targeted audience.