A summer in Kingston is one of the best times of the year and this summer has been no exception. The weather has been good (for the most part), and people have been out and about exploring everything the city has to offer.
However, as the leaves begin to turn we’re approaching an even busier time of year. In a week, it will be Labour Day weekend. And with that comes the return of Queens and St Lawrence students for another school year. 30,000 students will be back in class with many moving back to Kingston after being away for the summer break. As a recent grad myself, I know that this is the time when the bank account is topped up, assignments and exams are a distant thought, and students are looking to get out and have fun.
If your business offers something that will appeal to students, this is arguably the most potentially profitable time of year. Trust me, after working for four hard months over the summer, the first month back to school seems like when your summer break actually starts. A full bank account means students don’t hesitate to buy another round of drinks or splurge on a new pair of shoes just because. That kind of frugal mindset comes around the height of exam season when you’re living off Kraft Dinner and Raman noodles.
One of the best ways to reach college students is to go and visit their campus. Both Queens and St Lawrence offer frosh week activities to welcome students back. By making sure your business is present at these fairs, concerts and open houses, it allows you to interact with the students and talk about why they should come and check out your business.
One of the easiest opportunities for your business to get out and meet students is to participate in Queen’s Shinerama Side Walk Sale. This event sees upwards of 10,000 visitors and presents a significant opportunity for your business to meet students. To find out more about this event click here.
Just because this is a time when students are willing to spend money, don’t overlook giving away stuff for free. Each year, student organizations give away welcome kits (or frosh kits) to new students that are filled with deals and little things like pens, agendas, and stress balls. Looking back at my first frosh kit, I didn’t use the pen or stress ball included. I used the 10% off coupon or the two for one discount. The best one of all though was a five-dollar gift card to a local bar. Sure it wasn’t enough that I got anything for free but it got me in the door, and that bar became a regular spot for us.
Social media is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Make sure to take advantage of it and use social media advertising to reach incoming students. Social media allows you to target people based on specific characteristics like age, gender, and SCHOOL. If you want to let students who are new to Kingston know about your business, make sure you’re targeting the Queens Class of 2021 for example. Don’t stick to just Facebook for your advertising, apps like Snapchat can also be used effectively.
If you’re looking for a direct approach to interact with students, consider hiring some student ambassadors. The beginning of the school year is all about meeting new people and connecting with them. As students are out and about exploring the campus and meeting with potential clubs and groups to join, make sure your ambassadors are there to promote your business. A student is more likely to speak with the ambassador or sample a product if it’s being presented by one of their peers. You should also look at working with social influencers. There are plenty of students with significant social media followings. By utilizing them to promote your product online, you can connect with thousands of potential customers in the area.
Last but not least, make sure to embrace traditional marketing channels as well. Yes, I know this may sound hypocritical considering one of my previous blog posts focused around ditching traditional marketing for digital. And while that is true, the kind of traditional marketing I’m proposing is a little more niche. Whether it’s in student newspapers, publications or broadcasts, there are plenty of opportunities to display your business and message. Many campus buildings feature televisions in general areas that display a slideshow of information. Try reaching out to see if you can display a message on these or any other free news material available for students. Chances are, the costs will be much lower than a traditional television commercial or ad in the Kingston Whig Standard. Your message will still reach students and save you money which makes this a clever play.
If you want to make sure your business is reaching Queens and St Lawrence students, our team at Kingston Webworks can help. Feel free to reach out to us today and set up a time for a free 30-minute consultation. We’d be happy to meet with you and discuss how we can help you take advantage of the back to school season.
Want to learn more about back to school marketing? Check out our recent blog post for 5 More Back-To-School Marketing Tips you need to know.