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Influencers Marketing Tips Uncategorized

Personal Branding: Word-of-Mouth for Gen Z

Before social media, one of the most valuable promotions a brand could get was word of mouth. That is, real customers telling people they know about their favorite products, and why they like them so much. But it seems that recently, social media has now taken over this role in many ways. It’s on these social platforms that we notice what people wear, what they eat, where they go on vacation, and more.

Gen Z is especially talented at using these different preferences to curate their personal brand. They create and release content that represents them and all aspects of their personality. One of the ways they develop this brand is by associating oneself with popular corporate brands, in the hopes that an element of that tone or message is incorporated with their own.

Plenty of people on Instagram are willing to post themselves wearing the brand names they really like without being paid, it’s a natural occurrence not unlike word-of-mouth. The difference with social media is that the reach and impressions are much larger– and the communication is instant.

While people can involve a unique blend of styles and integrate the tone of multiple brands, corporate brands are limited in some ways to their own identity. Every brand has certain connotations that people associate with them, they also have the ability to embrace or resist new connotations, and new audiences as they come and go. So what makes Gen Z want to include a brand as part of their personal image? The key is getting them to identify with the brand.

Arguably the most important aspect of identification is personalization. Gen Z in particular wants to feel as though a brand is speaking directly to them, as individuals. This makes knowing and embracing your specific audience more important than ever. Blanket strategies simply aren’t effective for a generation made up of extremely individualized young people. If you want to see more people embrace your brand, your brand needs to embrace more individuals and their unique qualities.

Values are extremely important to Gen Z as well. You need to support the causes that your target audience supports, but more importantly, make these causes and values part of your mission and brand identity. If Gen Z can help support the causes they love by also supporting a brand they like, they are much more likely to integrate it into their personal brand and even help promote it.

Building this personal connection to members of Gen Z pays off. When a celebrity is paid to post about a product, your audience understands that they are being sold to, and they lose credibility and authenticity. But people understand that young people love to share what they love, and when they share on their own terms, they don’t lose credibility. This natural awareness and acceptance is a sign of brand success that could save you millions in creative and PR and it’s all part of positioning correctly and knowing how to speak to your audience.

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Ambassador Programs Marketing Tips Uncategorized

An Open Letter To Brands Considering a Campus Ambassador Program

Dear Brand Name,

Over the past couple of years, I’m sure you’ve poured countless money and resources into researching, studying, and trying to crack the code to reaching the Millennial generation. From their work habits to their ideas on buying, people have been fascinated with Generation Y for the past few years. After all, they are the biggest generation with the greatest spending power, right? While this fact remains true, it won’t be for much longer. All your findings on Generation Y and everything you thought you knew about reaching these buying powerhouses is about to become obsolete. This is because a new generation of spenders is about to come of age, and they’re even more powerful than the Millennials. This new breed of consumers is known as Generation Z and according to The Huffington Post, they will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020 (that’s a lot sooner than it sounds).

Generation Z, also known as those born after 1996, are much different than their older Gen Y siblings. According to BizJournals, some researchers refer to them as the “pivotal generation,” in contrast to the Millennial generation. This means they are pivoting back towards a more traditional view of personal success, work ethic, and money management. These are kids who came of age during the Great Recession, have seen their parents stressed about income and finances and have bared witness to the harsh realities of the global economy through digital media. Between this and the constant exposure to the internet and mobile phones since they were born, Gen Zers tend to value honesty, transparency, and authenticity

So now that you know a little bit more about the next generation of great spenders, ask yourself “how can my brand reach this generation and stand out from the rest? How can we begin to form relationships now to ensure brand loyalty in the future when their true spending power comes to fruition?” The answer is simple: a campus representative program (also can be referred to as brand reps, brand advocates, collegiate ambassadors, etc–you get the idea).

Since most Gen Zers are either already in the college space or are about to become co-eds, this puts them in the perfect, bubble-like atmosphere to show them how your brand can benefit their lifestyle. You already know that Gen Z craves authenticity and transparency. Therefore hiring a designated student(s) rep on campus who thinks, talks, and acts like your target audience will be your best bet for ensuring authenticity and generating brand awareness. If you begin to put your resources towards relationships and engagement, it will make interaction meaningful and your brand memorable. Here are a few ways campus ambassadors can help your brand resonate with Gen Z:

Authenticity

According to AdWeek, 77% of Gen Zers prefer ads that show real people in real situations. A campus rep program does exactly that. Students will respond much better to someone they perceive as similar to them, as opposed to a normal sales person. Most importantly, this is an opportunity for you to enlist students with personalities that fit the brand and the message you’re trying to convey–these will be your best spokespeople. And since Gen Zers prefer transparency, you can prepare your student reps with the direct messages you want them to convey to your target audience.

Brand Loyalty and Instant Gratification

By having a direct peer represent your brand, you can show students how your product would benefit their lifestyle and keep them coming back for more. Campus reps are the perfect agents to execute brand activations, marketing events, and make your brand a known presence. Also offering student discounts, deals, and premium items will further incentivize the audience you’re catering to and make them remember you. Not to mention, it allows for instant gratification (remember, these kids have the attention span of about 8 seconds). Utilize your campus reps to deliver that instant gratification–arm them with enough branded swag to reward loyal customers and to start generating a little buzz on campus. If you don’t capture their attention and begin to cultivate a relationship now, another brand will.

Social influencers

Simply choosing a student to represent your brand on campus isn’t enough; choosing the right student makes all the difference. This person should be considered a “social influencer,” meaning other students on campus look to them for what the latest trends are, and they do so through social media. Your rep should be the type of person who not only has a strong pre-existing network, but can also work to build relationships with other students. And because nearly 40% of Gen Zer’s say social media has a direct effect on their happiness, they should have a strong social media following. As a campus rep, they can post authentic content of your product and help students associate your brand with them. People will begin to look to your campus rep for information on your brand and new products. Their following will become your following. Not to mention, Gen Zers have their specific set of etiquette and rules on different social media platforms, according to BizJournals. They know how to leverage their Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter profiles to their advantage. And they’re smart enough to know that Facebook is for Mom and Grandma.

Collecting feedback

Finally, and possibly the most valuable asset to having a campus rep, will be feedback collection. Brand ambassadors are your built in source of information on campus. According to Fortune, Gen Z values consistent and honest conversations to help build relationships. If they know a brand is willing to talk with them and not at them, they’ll be more likely to trust it. Thinking of a new product or idea but not sure how students will respond? Ask your student reps. Have them ask their friends. Have them distribute a survey on campus. They are the best source of insight and they’re not afraid to be honest and critical. In fact, they actually revel in it.

So there you have it. Not convinced that your brand needs a campus rep program? Companies such as The New York Times, Google and Showtime have already all hopped aboard the Campus Rep train and they’ve seen great results from their respective Campus Rep programs. So what is your brand waiting for?

Sincerely,

The Campus Team

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Marketing Tips

Youth Marketing : 5 tips

Your business has an online presence and you want to reach young consumers. You’ve thought long and hard about your marketing strategy and you’ve allocated a budget. But do you have a strategy for youth marketing? Should the 16-25 year-olds be treated differently? We think so. Here are five tips that hopefully will make you think and perhaps even act when it come to youth marketing

Go Online

There are a lot of great tools out there. These tools can help you learn more about your demo and what they like, search for, and want. Take Google Trends, for example, or Google Insights for Search. Both of these tools are great for understanding which search terms are important, what is hot, and what is not.

But most importantly, don’t market far from your purchase path. What do we mean? Well, try to spend your marketing dollars online – where young people spend time. Newspaper, magazine and TV ads might help you build a brand, but they will most likely not drive clicks/traffic to your site. Think of it this way; your for sale sign needs to be close to your house, not four blocks away (not even if your sign has the address on it).

Put your benefits front and center

Attention span = hyper short. Tell them what they need to know, keep it shorter than what you think is short and tell them immediately. You have seconds to convince them to click, so think fast. No one reads, and any nested information is useless. Why should I care about you?

Don’t be everything to everyone

Hot tips; for your search engine marketing efforts – create a landing page that has younger language, images and services. Chances are all your customers are not the same. Remember if they have to look for the part that is relevant to them, they are gone before you even knew they were there.

Partner

You’ll get by with a little help from your friends. The art of partnering should be taken very seriously. Find other trusted sites, blogs, videos and marketers that can drive traffic to your site. This is nothing new, but you might not have a qualified traffic strategy. Do you partner for general traffic or traffic for a specific reason?

Take it easy

Don’t try too hard! Sites that only sell and never listen aren’t any fun. Young users are all about free, fun, fast. Think about it, they grew up with free fantastic services everywhere. If you can’t solve a problem for free, then offer them a taste of your magic for free. Also, keep in mind that these guys have very well developed filters. So go easy on the over-selling banners and “smart” distractions.

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Marketing Tips

College Students: Why your Brand Should Care

They have money to spend

Nearly half of all college students work. With tuition often covered by loans or parents, the money they do make is theirs to spend. They also carry plastic. 78% of students have at least one credit card. According to Sallie Mae, they are using it for more than just books: 84% of students use credit cards for food, 70% of students use cards for clothing, and 69% of students use cards for cosmetics.

They spend a lot prepping for college

Back to school spending is expected to reach $33.7 billion according to the National Retail Federation. This may not be considered discretionary spending, but if you sell electronics, dorm supplies, apparel, shoes or school supplies you know how important this time of year is to the bottom line. Make sure you are top of mind going into this shopping blitz.

They have time to waste

A full course load at most colleges can take up less than 15 hours a week. Even with a part time job, this still leaves students with a lot of flexibility. They are looking for ways to fill their time. They online shop, go out with their friends, and travel. In short, they have fun and spend money.

They document every moment of their lives

Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter… the list goes on. This generation loves to talk about themselves and share their experiences. Make a good impression and they will share it. Give them a great deal, they will share it. Sure, word of mouth is nothing new, but the word has never traveled this fast before.

They are in the beginning of their customer-life-cycle

They are away from home, making their own purchase decisions. Whether it is which brand of spaghetti sauce to buy, which coffee shop or energy drink will get them through 4 years of mid terms and finals, what type of car they will drive or what clothes they will wear, these choices could shape spending habits for the rest of their lives. Create valuable lifelong brand loyalists by getting your brand in their decision set now.

The Point

These emerging adults have the money and freedom to start choosing which brands will lead them through college and into adulthood. Attract them now or risk losing out on a lifelong customer.

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Marketing Tips

Research from Barnes & Noble College Connects Campuses and Brands

PRESS RELEASE BY BARNES & NOBLE COLLEGE

Research platform now offers access and insights from network of more than 5 million U.S. college students

Basking Ridge, N.J., August 18, 2015 – Today, Barnes & Noble College, a leading operator of campus bookstores with more than 720 stores at college and universities nationwide, officially announced the acceleration of its market research platform. Expanded research access will help the company’s partners – colleges and universities, consumer brands and publishers – better understand the thinking, behaviors and expectations of current and future college students and faculty. These research capabilities serve as an additional resource to deliver campus communities the optimum social and academic experience.

Barnes & Noble College’s research currently encompasses a wide range of topic areas, including student learning behaviors; student and faculty engagement in the learning process; course material use and preferences; communications processes and behaviors; and purchasing preferences and behaviors. Data and analytics are powered by proprietary faculty and student online research panels, the largest college bookstore social media network of its kind, and on-campus access to more than 5 million students and faculty nationwide.

“Research fuels everything we do and gives our partners a strategic advantage in understanding their most important audiences,” said Lisa Malat, vice president, operations and chief marketing officer, Barnes & Noble College. “For colleges and universities, the insights we gather help meet their highest-priority goals, particularly student retention and recruitment. For consumer brands, our understanding helps foster lifelong relationships with college students driven by their unique needs and wants. For publishers and educational technology providers, our data and analytics help guide development of next-generation course materials that drive student outcomes.”

To support universities’ focus on student and alumni outcomes, Barnes & Noble College tapped into its research capabilities for “The College Student Mindset for Career Preparation & Success.” The in-depth study examined students’ level of career preparation, their perception of what skills and experiences are desired by companies, and what they are looking for in work experiences, training and benefits. The insights gathered inspired Barnes & Noble College to create an interactive program that works with campus partners to deliver in-person and online workshops to equip students with the tools, resources and skills they need to position themselves for early career success.

In addition to initiatives with college and university partners, Barnes & Noble College works with consumer brands and other business partners to sharpen their understanding of college students and provide an unrivaled opportunity to interact with students, in person and online.

“We are part of the social and structural fabric of our campuses, and it gives us a deep understanding of the nuances of each school’s culture. When that understanding is combined with the insights our market research platform provides, consumer brand marketers have what they need to build powerful, emotional connections with the millions of students we serve,” said Marie Policastro, director, brand partnerships and market research, Barnes & Noble College. “We partner and work closely with brands to ensure they engage with students in timely, relevant and inspiring ways, fostering long-lasting relationships that extend beyond graduation and deliver ongoing results.”

Capabilities of the Barnes & Noble College research platform include quantitative research, qualitative research, ethnographic research, omnibus studies, shopper insight research and on-site testing. The company most recently completed research examining student preferences and behaviors in the automotive, café and convenience and personal beauty categories. Upcoming initiatives include a groundbreaking, intensive study on Generation Z and their academic preferences and expectations for college, followed by an in-depth look at non-traditional students, veterans and first-generation college students. With these insights and more, Barnes & Noble College will further its goal of helping partners form genuine, lasting relationships with students, in college and beyond.

About Barnes & Noble College

As the trusted partner and manager of more than 720 campus bookstores nationwide, Barnes & Noble College works with its college and university partners to deliver an unmatched retail and digital learning experience for students, faculty, administrators and alumni. Deeply committed to building relationships with and understanding the needs of more than 5 million students and faculty, Barnes & Noble College conducts ongoing local and national research that allows it to tailor the campus bookstore experience to each school’s unique brand, culture and academic mission. From its locally empowered store management philosophy and customer-first culture, to its innovative drive and singular focus on campus retail, Barnes & Noble College is much more than a vendor, but a trusted campus partner. For more information, visit www.bncollege.com and www.bncollegemarketing.com.

About Barnes & Noble Education, Inc.

Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. (NYSE: BNED) enhances the academic and social purpose of educational institutions. Through its Barnes & Noble College subsidiary, Barnes & Noble Education serves more than 5 million college students and their faculty through its more than 720 stores on campuses nationwide, delivering essential educational content and tools within a dynamic retail environment. The company is at the forefront of digital education with its digital education platform, Yuzu®, weaving together digital learning materials to enhance the teaching and learning experience. Barnes & Noble Education acts as a strategic partner to drive student success; provide value and support to students and faculty; and create loyalty and retention, all while supporting the financial goals of college and university partners. General information on Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. can be obtained by visiting the Company’s corporate website: www.bned.com.
 
Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements (within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) and information relating to Barnes & Noble Education that are based on the beliefs of the management of Barnes & Noble Education as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to the management of Barnes & Noble Education. When used in this communication, the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “will,” “forecasts,” “projections,” and similar expressions, as they relate to Barnes & Noble Education or the management of Barnes & Noble Education, identify forward-looking statements.

Such statements reflect the current views of Barnes & Noble Education with respect to future events, the outcome of which is subject to certain risks, including, among others, general competitive conditions, including actions Barnes & Noble Education’s competitors may take to grow their businesses; trends and challenges to Barnes & Noble Education’s business in the locations in which it has stores; decisions by colleges and universities to outsource their bookstore operations or change the operation of their bookstores; non-renewal of contracts; the general economic environment, college enrollment and consumer spending patterns, including decreases in university spending; decreased consumer demand for Barnes & Noble Education’s products, low growth or declining sales; disruptions to Barnes & Noble Education’s computer systems, data lines, telephone systems or supply chain, including the loss of suppliers; changes to payment terms, return policies, the discount or margin on products or other terms with our suppliers; risks associated with data privacy, information security and intellectual property; work stoppages or increases in labor costs; Barnes & Noble Education’s ability to attract and retain employees; possible increases in shipping rates or interruptions in shipping service, effects of competition; obsolete or excessive inventory; product shortages; Barnes & Noble Education’s ability to successfully implement its strategic initiatives; the performance of Barnes & Noble Education’s online, digital and other initiatives, including possible delays in the deployment of, and further enhancements to, Yuzu® and any future higher education digital products; technological changes; risk that digital sales growth is less than expectations and the risk that it does not exceed the rate of investment spend; higher-than-anticipated store closings; changes in law or regulation; the amount of Barnes & Noble Education’s indebtedness and ability to comply with covenants applicable to any future debt financing; Barnes & Noble Education’s ability to satisfy future capital and liquidity requirements; Barnes & Noble Education’s ability to access the credit and capital markets at the times and in the amounts needed and on acceptable terms; adverse results from litigation, governmental investigations or tax-related proceedings or audits; changes in accounting standards; the potential adverse impact on BNED’s business resulting from the separation from Barnes & Noble, Inc. and the other risks discussed in the section titled “Risk Factors” in Barnes & Noble Education’s prospectus filed with the SEC on July 15, 2015 and in Barnes & Noble Education’s other filings made hereafter from time to time with the SEC.

Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results or outcomes may vary materially from those described as anticipated, believed, estimated, expected, intended or planned. Subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to Barnes & Noble Education or persons acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements in this paragraph. Barnes & Noble Education undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise after the date of this communication.

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Marketing Tips

Marketing Trends to Watch in 2017

Your New Year’s resolutions may already be fading, but up-and-coming marketing trends are just getting started. Now that 2017 is well under way, businesses should be on the lookout for industry changes, focusing on what they can do to get ahead of “the next big thing.” Here are the biggest trends to watch in the new year:

Generation Z

Look out Generation Y— the infatuation and research surrounding your work habits and spending trends is about to become obsolete. A fresh crop of soon-to-be adults is about to come of age and they’re even bigger than the “Millennial” generation: Generation Z. Defined as young adults born in 1997 or later, they make up roughly 25% of the US population and contribute an estimated $44 billion to the American economy. With such significant spending power, brands are challenged with adapting their marketing efforts to effectively reach this population. In 2017 we may see a change in strategy to reflect some of Gen Z’s most distinguishing characteristics: they have low attention spans (eight seconds to be exact) with high connectivity power (they don’t know a world before the Internet). They crave authenticity and expect transparency. They appreciate personalization yet are sensitive to security. And lastly, coming of age in a post 9/11 world and experiencing the Great Recession, they are more money conscious than their Millennial older siblings.

Brand Ambassador Programs

Gen Zers and college students alike don’t want some brand sales person who doesn’t understand their lifestyle telling them what they need. One surefire way to skirt this skepticism is to create transparency and authenticity by going straight to the source- students themselves. Employing campus ambassadors, actual students who understand the needs and experiences of their peers, at target schools will help a brand build credibly with that specific audience. Acting as brand advocates, these students can help spread organic awareness to thousands of people, test samples on campus, and actually engage with consumers to collect genuine student feedback. Other students will see these campus reps as “one of them” and see how a specific brand can actually be applied into their lifestyle.

“On Demand” Economy

Having smartphones virtually attached to their hands, young adults have come to expect they can have pretty much anything at their fingertips, literally. This increasing need for efficiency and convenience has changed consumer behavior. In 2017 we will see the boom of the “On Demand Economy,” defined by Business Insider as “the economic activity created by technology companies that fulfill consumer demand via the immediate provisioning of goods and services.” Many companies are now vying to be the “Uber of” food or good delivery services, such as goPuff, or on demand haircuts like the app, Shortcut. Any service that may be deemed desireable will most likely have an “on demand” app counterpart in 2017, if it doesn’t already. This year brands should focus their efforts on marketing in a way that satisfies an unmet need and does so faster than its competitors.

Social Responsibility

With the continuous flow of information, students are attuned to the world around them more than ever. They recognize the problems present in today’s society and want to help solve them. While students themselves may be strapped for cash, they want to see companies, who have the influence and spending power to enact change, use their money for good. In 2017 companies should donate a portion of its proceeds to a certain charity, specifically a cause that college students particularly care about. They can then market their messages based off the idea of social responsibility, proving to students that what they’re selling is more valuable than the product itself. It’s no longer just about what the consumer gets, but what everyone else gets, too.

Virtual Reality

In 2017, consumer experience will get kicked up a notch with the emergence of virtual reality marketing. 360 degree videos that can be viewed either directly on a smartphone or through a VR headset will bring to life the messages marketers wish to convey. Immersing the consumer in the experience itself will allow them to view the product in a real life (or seemingly so) context. For example, The New York Times utilizes Google Cardboard VR headsets (both portable and economical) and an app based platform so subscribers can view additional content in a new way through The New York Times VR Experience. Seeing, hearing, and genuinely feeling a part of the story allows subscribers to widen and optimize their engagement with the Times. This coming year, brands should follow this example to give their consumers an unforgettable (and sometimes out of this world) experience.

Need help reaching the newest generation? Contact us today to get started.