Don’t Be Lame: 9 Reasons Your Ads Don’t Attract College Students

[responsive][/responsive]They are an easily distracted and emotionally driven bunch, and marketers are trying everything to reach them. For businesses that want to attract and hold the attention of college students, it’s not enough just to be on social media or pretend you understand what’s hip.

Wade Estes explores “9 Reasons Advertisements Don’t Attract College Students” in Study Breaks, and shares these key thoughts on why you might be missing the boat engaging this important demographic.

  1. Your ad doesn’t drive students to your website or social channel. “Every advertiser should enter their campaign with an end-goal in mind,” Estes writes. For most small business owners, tangible trackers such as hits, ‘likes,’ follows, email addresses, social media engagement and (hopefully) a boost in SEO are key signs of a successful campaign. Without an ad designed to drive students towards these trackable systems, marketers are forced to look at overall sales as the deciding factor of campaign progress and miss out on data that could be used to boost revenue and ultimately lead to a higher ROI.”
  2. You’re not simple and you’re not cool. Finding the right balance between “simple and clear” and “attention-grabbing and interesting” is the key here. Strive to use technology for seamless interactions, and make it intuitive.
  3. You missed a call to action. True in any ad for any audience, but especially this “click-ready” set of consumers. Define your call to action early in the process and build your campaign around that.
  4. You haven’t told them what’s in it for them. Selfish, self-absorbed, however you define them, it’s all about them. Make sure your ad is too.
  5. You didn’t push their buttons. Emotional appeal is critical. Will this make them look hipper? More socially conscious? Happier? Will sharing this on Twitter raise their social clout? Those are key.
  6. You tried to be a “one hit wonder.” While the ice bucket challenge might be tempting to recreate, don’t count on a viral hit. “It’s important to note that two of the most important aspects of advertising success are visibility and frequency. A general rule of thumb is that it will take at least three months of continuous advertising to get students to act on a new message, so it’s important to be patient,” notes Estes.
  7. Your headline is lame. With this group, you have to walk the line between really funny and slightly inappropriate. Sex sells, and so does irony and sarcasm with this group.
  8. Your photo is lamer. “If there is a disconnect between the images and the message, students will often immediately disregard the message (or won’t even bother to read the copy). This is a quick way to lose credibility with students.”
  9. Maybe it did work, but you’ll never know. “Without a surefire way to track engagement, one will never know whether their advertising dollars are actually working or not,” writes Estes. “Of course, many business owners point to sales as the deciding factor. But without the use of a trackable system, one could argue that sales numbers—both positive and negative—are irrelevant considering the magnitude of the factors that contribute to a purchase, and how little information is available to analyze these factors.”