When thinking of and creating new marketing campaigns aimed at young consumers, one of the most important things to remember is that it’s almost impossible to capture our long-term interest with just one campaign plan.
Given the state of the economy and all of its implications, those marketing strategies must also be easy and inexpensive to execute to reduce overall risk.
When developing these new marketing strategies, the most important step is to hire a group of interns from your local college or university. The bottom line is that you need key people who think, live and act like the audience you’re targeting. Many college students need internship credits to graduate, so their compensation doesn’t have to eat into your budget.
The size of this team depends entirely upon your budget. Again, make sure whomever you bring on is reflective of your target audience. Most young consumers can’t be pigeonholed into one group, so the team should represent as many genders, ages and lifestyles as possible. The length of "employment" is entirely dependent on the depth of the project.
After you’ve gone through the effort of assembling your team, don’t shortchange yourself. Make sure to give its members the time they need to get into the mind of your target consumer and to develop the personality and competitive edge the campaign will need to deliver maximum ROI. Another benefit to having this type of low-cost, high-return team is that it will allow you to allocate your time more effectively.
Once the interns are on board, sit down with them and explain the core values and mission of your company. This will give them a strong sense of ownership and comfort in your business. Make sure to get them to share their perception of your brand. Be aware that the answers can be shocking or upsetting, but use that to help leverage your campaign and, if appropriate, to change some of your other go-to-market practices.
A good way to start the campaign is by having the interns create a Facebook group page for your company. The best thing about this strategy is it’s FREE. The page will give you another outlet to communicate your image, identity, goals and loyalties in a place where more than 85% of college students are going every day. This demographic loves to talk about anything and everything, and electronics are a MAJOR part of their lives and conversation.
If your marketing is to the point and on target, you will see a substantial increase in followers. It’s important to have your interns aggressively operate and monitor the Facebook page to create hype and traction. They should be writing blogs related to your brand, connecting with peers, gaining friends and followers, and pushing sales. As many businesses have already proven, this will greatly broaden your customer base. You may also choose to use the paid advertising on Facebook, which appear as banners on the right on the page, but I strongly advise against this. You are trying to differentiate yourself in young minds, and having annoying banner ads isn’t going to do the trick.
The second platform you should be using is Twitter. If you haven’t set up an account yet, ask your interns to do so. Make sure you are actively following and being followed by anyone and everyone. To make your Twitter profile desirable, make sure you include images, special deals, offers, promotions and discounts exclusive for your Twitter followers. This will create a buzz that gains the right number and type of followers. Your business can also use Twitter as a tool for consumer behavior research. Ask compelling questions that relate to your brand and initiatives to drive your "tweets."
Executing these strategies might seem like an overwhelming task. But I assure you they are incredibly easy when trying to connect with young consumers. These steps are all about increasing awareness and repositioning your brand in our minds. It also extends your customer service beyond expectations. Before you disband the intern-based team, make sure to have them to train your staff on the philosophies, concepts and management techniques of the campaigns they have created for you.
Now is the time to start planning out these strategies. Next month we’ll dig deeper into the actual implementation of them.
Courtney Manlove is the founder of Schvee.com, which she is developing in conjunction with Vann’s.