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Looking Forward to Back-to-School College Marketing

Who can predict the future? We may not know exactly, but we can look at the evidence, consult an expert, and make a plan. Many brands are starting to think about back-to-school college campus marketing now. What is really going to be happening on campus?

Let’s take a look at how the pandemic changed Gen Z brand marketing this past year, and then, based on the evidence, predict what exciting opportunities will be available for brands who want to market at college campuses this fall.

College Marketing Plans in Spring 2020

At the beginning of last year, our team was running several large brand ambassador campaigns at multiple college campuses that featured event and brand ambassador marketing. One of the biggest campaigns was for First Aid Beauty. Their promotion was called FAB AID: a multi-faceted campaign that included paying off $1 million in student loan debt. Brand ambassadors were trained; a Good Morning America segment was planned, national events were booked in Sephora stores.

Then the pandemic hit. All events were cancelled. College campuses across the country began to close. Student brand ambassadors were unsure what to do. For a moment, we were all stunned.

Finding Success Amid Pandemic Panic

Even though the brands we worked with were very concerned about the health of their customers and brand ambassadors, they were understandably panicked.

The good news? They were working with Campus: an intrepid team that loves to solve challenges. And that is just what we did.

First, we took time to address our clients’ concerns. We made adjustments, encouraging our brands to go from marketing with the intent to sell to marketing with the intent to show support. Their new goal was to stay present and stay supportive. In short order, our team saw opportunities.

We saw solutions.

We saw a way forward.

This pivot was the beginning of our nano influencer strategy. Though we’ve always had brand ambassadors posting on social media, we quickly found a winning formula that worked beautifully during the pandemic.

Making Nano Influencer Campaigns Work

Brand ambassadors are skilled content creators for their own personal channels. They have a huge network of untapped resources: students that were waiting for good opportunities to work with brands online.

As an agency, we monitored the organic content that the brand ambassadors produced, and boosted the best-performing organic posts to the entire Campus community. This meant that the ads were coming from the students themselves, not the brands’ channels.

This shift had a notable impact. Because Gen Z students do not typically like to be ‘marketed to’, the peer-to-peer messaging was highly effective. The peer-generated posts had very good engagement and positive sentiment from consumers when compared with ads that came directly from a brand.

“We saw very positive upticks in social media engagement when our student influencer’s content was boosted to their campus community coming from their own account compared to our own channels” , said Caesarine Novello, Brand Marketing and Communications Manager at Vince Camuto, a Campus Agency client.

Could Experiential Marketing Be History?

With regard to impressions, a nano influencer campaign vastly outperforms face-to-face event marketing. If a brand wants to focus on brand awareness, a nano influencer campaign is highly effective.

Still, creating events and experiences at campuses is the gold standard. “Experiential marketing is always going to be king, because nothing beats being able to touch something, feel something, have a live conversation with someone in a really cool, unique way. When that opportunity comes back, nothing can replace that type of marketing. But in social media marketing, the use of nano influencer campaigns will continue to grow.”

In short, there is a place for all facets of youth marketing: nano influencer campaigns, brand ambassador campaigns, and experiential marketing.

Many brands are now grappling with how to go forward. Since Campus Agency has extensive experience and open communication with college campuses, what will the future look like this fall?

Back-to-school Marketing to Gen Z

We project that there will be some level of peer-to-peer marketing happening on campuses this fall. As the rate of vaccinated students continues to increase, the anticipation for person-to-person interaction to begin anew has never been higher. This will create opportunities for highly successful small-to-medium-sized brand ambassador campaigns, where students will interact with their peers and coordinate ambassador-led small events on campuses.

To that end, we encourage forward-thinking brands to get started on combining the effective elements of nano-influencer campaigns on social media with in-person interactions of brand ambassador campaigns.

Thinking Ahead and Thinking Bigger

Even still, we’re very excited about the return of experiential marketing. After more than a year of social distancing and isolation, students are craving social interaction and new experiences. With unprecedented enthusiasm, they will be ready to absorb new influences and try new things. Will your brand be ready to give those experiences to them?

Thinking of the overwhelming enthusiasm that students will have when experiential marketing events begin anew, Chris Nyland, COO, states, “There is a huge opportunity for brands to capitalize on the excitement in a responsible way. Students are going to be more receptive to marketing messaging now than they’ve ever been.”

Even with restrictions, we’re confident that events can still be planned – with safety protocols in place. (Restaurant takeovers and food truck events are good examples.) As a brand, you may be concerned about the uncertainties that come with planning an event during the end of a pandemic. That’s why working with a college marketing agency like Campus is a win-win. In every season, we’re problem solvers. In college marketing, there is continual red tape and we have a tradition of making what seems impossible happen.

The sudden changes brought on by the pandemic were just a new set of challenges. At Campus Agency, we’re always down for the challenge.

Are you ready to work with a team that’s battle tested for the unexpected? Reach out to us to talk about how to successfully plan your post-covid college marketing campaign.

Contact us.

Feature Image Source: Photo by Phillips Jacobe on Unsplash
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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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Must Have Affordable Makeup for College Students

Makeup is trendy. Whether colorful cut-creases end up a fad or we all continue baking our faces for the foreseeable future, makeup is fun. But, all those fun products can add up fast. Fluorescent eye liners you’ll use a couple of times may not be worth their hefty price tag for a college student working in the student center. If you’re looking to try out a graphic liner for your next class or a halo eye next Friday night, keep reading to find affordable makeup must haves.

EyeShadow

Price: $15  Juvia’s Place

Juvia’s Place is THE PLACE for affordable eye shadow. They have tons of great pallets to pick from, with some of the best pigmentation! If your goal is to try out colorful eye looks or just the perfect soft glam look, you can collect all the shades you want!

Juviasplace
Source:@juviasplace Instagram

Loose Powder

Price: $7.99  Maybelline

Loose Powder is a makeup NECESSITY. You can use this powder for anything. You can ‘bake’ your face, use it to wipe away extra eyeshadow, set your liquid products so they don’t move around during the day, or even blend together anything you went a little too far with.

Source: @maybelline Instagram

Eyeliner

Price: $6-$8 Colourpop

If you’re looking for a finishing touch on any great eyeshadow look, eyeliners are your new best friend. A black winged liner, or crazy hot pink graphic liner outlining your eye takes work. You need a pigmented liner which is easy to rebuy when you run out from all your creative looks. This liner stays in place all day, but is easy to take off with any oil remover.

Source: @colourpopcosmetics Instagram

Eyebrow Pencil

Price: $10 Ulta

Your eyebrows frame your face. They’re important, but you don’t need to break the bank to get those bushy, full brows you see all over Instagram. With an eyebrow pencil you can change up the shape of your brows, or even the hue of your brow hair.

Source: Ulta.com

Makeup Tools

Price: $5.99 – $8.99 Real Techniques

Any great makeup look starts with great makeup tools. Whether it’s a beauty sponge, the perfect angled eyeliner brush or just a fluffy blending brush; they make a difference. Invest in tools you’ll have for years to come. Also, it doesn’t hurt if they look pretty sitting on your vanity.

Source: @realtechniques Instagram

So, give that glitter halo eye a chance and tag us in the results! These brands have tons of other great products at affordable prices to try out. Just because you’re a college student on a budget, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice great quality products because of their price. 💋

Is your beauty brand set to be the next must have for Gen Z? Contact us to see how we can help.

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Hot Summer Apps for Students

With over 1.2 billion apps in the App Store (and only so much space on your phone), it can be overwhelming to search for new apps.  We’ve decided to dive in to the ‘Top 5 Apps For Students This Summer’ to help you out a bit (and keep you cool).

Poshmark:

We all have clothes hanging in our closet (collecting dust!) that we never wear. Poshmark is a new app that allows women to snap a picture of their clothes, post it, and receive a direct deposit transaction three days after a buyer purchases the item.
Browse through thousands of closets right from your smartphone.  Looking for something specific? Utilize the search bar to narrow in on your favorite brands.

OfferUp:

Looking to decorate your new college apartment? Before heading to Ikea, make sure to download OfferUp. Similar to Poshmark, OfferUp is a simple and safe way to sell items in less than 30 seconds.  OfferUp is a place to sell not only clothes, but furniture, cell phones, electronics, cars, jewelry, and more- all for a great price!

Starbucks:

The Starbucks app allows you to pay for your coffee with the tap of your finger- without having to dig for your wallet.  In return for using the app, Starbucks will you treat you to a free reward after earning 12 stars in the store.  The BEST part about this app is that you can send and receive giftcards from friends and family!

Heads Up:

If it’s good enough for Ellen, you know it had to make the top 5 list. Guess the word on the card that’s on your head from your friends’ clues before the timer runs out! Choose from over 18 different categories which include: celebrities, movies, animals, accents, characters and more!

There are two kinds of people in this world – Those who are great savers, and those who love to spend. From Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint Bills, and Quicken: the free Mint app helps you spend smarter and save more.  You can easily add all of your bank accounts, credit cards, investments, loans and more.  It’s very easy to creating a budget, bill reminders, and tips for reducing fees and spending money.