There are a lot of reasons why you want to start your startup at university or soon after. For example, you have access to professors and great facilities. Similarly, you don’t have to worry too much about devoting yourself completely to your startup, as nobody will be too surprised if you pursue something single-mindedly.
And yet, all of those things pale in comparison to what you can get if you know how to get in good with certain student body groups. After all, they’re always looking for the next big things, are connected with other young people across the whole country (And possibly the whole world) and they’re all in close proximity, allowing things to spread quickly.
Of course, knowing that they’re a fantastically useful resource and actually being able to use them are two different things. If you don’t believe me, then I’ve got a plot of land on Venus to sell you.
So how do you get in with student communities?
1. Focus on enthusiasm not followers
A lot of people nowadays get distracted by things like Facebook likes and Twitter followers. The thing is, that’s just a number and not a very helpful one at that. Ten truly enthusiastic fans are more valuable than a 1000 lukewarm Facebook followers. This is because they will share your content, reply to it and interact with it.
So always focus on creating real enthusiasm in a small group of people – preferably people with a bit of social capital. If you can do that, then they will take care of the rest.
Of course, to do this effectively, it’s important that you spend time on your actual fans. So don’t constantly be out there attracting new followers as for when you do this your most invested followers are going to start drifting away. And as they’re the most valuable, that’s a big mistake.
2. Solve a real problem
This one works especially well if you are or just where a student just a short while ago. Find a problem that you really suffered through and then create a solution for that. Chances are that if you had that problem and you felt motivated to do something about solving it, then other students are just as bothered by it and will be just as happy that you created a solution.
And when students are happy to have a solution, they’re very likely indeed to tell their friends about it. And that’s how you create a fantastic word-of-mouth campaign.
“Yeah, that’s obvious,” some of you are no doubt muttering. But is it? A lot of products are solutions to problems that people don’t really want solutions to. And that makes it a useless product. For that reason, when considering your product the first thing you need to consider is, “Was this a real problem or am I just imagining it was because I want my product to succeed?” Use their limited budget to your advantage
You might think that student’s limited budget is a big disadvantage. Of course, for the price of your product, it is. But it’s not all bad news. You see, students are incredibly price conscious, which is something that can be an effectively used to draw them in.
Obviously, you can make your product cheap. This isn’t necessarily the best strategy, however. Often, giving them a discount can also be effective, as we’re a sucker for those (and very bad at the math, besides).
Another great strategy is to make the discount only available to them. This makes them feel like they’re getting special treatment. And we all like to get special treatment. What’s more, if it’s a marked discount, then students can turn into brand advocates as they buy the product from you in droves and then showcase it to others who might be interested in buying it at full price. This is an especially useful strategy to employ right before they go home or on vacation.
A third good strategy is to offer hefty discounts that are only active for a short time. As students are exceptionally vulnerable to the fear of missing out, you can often very effectively get the ball rolling through this strategy. Then others are far more likely to see the product you’re offering and buy it at a higher price.
3. Create student ambassadors
You can take the previous step one step further, by getting students to become ambassadors for the products in return for some kind of price reduction. A good strategy, particularly if they need to pay some sort of monthly fee, is to offer them months for free in return for bringing other students on board.
Another strategy is to take those customers who have shown the greatest enthusiasm for your product and have been the most vocal about their enthusiasm and gift them a free time or free extension as well.
Do this correctly and effectively and you can create students who will actively go out there and proclaim how great your product is. And from there it’s easy indeed to draw in new customers.
Even though they don’t have that much money, students are a great market. This is for several reasons. For one thing, they’re far more open to trying new things. For another, if you can breed a habit during their college years, you might well create customers who are going to stick with you for life. For that reason, make sure you get them on board. You can do that most effectively by targeting them correctly, which means getting them to think that your product is the next big thing as well as giving them the feeling that they have a special place in terms of that product.
If you can do that, they can draw in wealthier customers and in that way create a very viable marketing strategy. So don’t neglect students. They are the future not just of the world, but of your customer base.