How do I market to college students?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.I know that a month is a long time when you're trying to get your site and business off the ground, but don't get impatient. Remember that college students are also writing exams, looking for summer jobs and well...busy having fun. It takes time, and effort to get noticed.
First, I'd encourage you to really understand how your site is better and different than others (like Craigslist or eBay). This understanding will drive a lot of your marketing programs. It sounds like you've got a site that will let students do a lot -- and that breadth of application can be challenging. Can you think of specific problems that you can solve well (and better than others)? Carpooling? Finding a roommate? Textbook exchange? Finding a niche might help get some initial traffic. I'm sure that you recognize that word travels quickly once you generate some initial success.
I do like your thoughts about starting small -- focusing on one or two schools at first. This helps narrow your focus and might help your advertising dollars go smaller. You may find local pay-per-click ads cost-effective, and should also be looking at social media to spread the word.
But don't let online tools be your only way to gain customers. Go to campus -- talk to students (and listen!). Put up posters. Sponsor an event. Beg. You should be working now to be part of the back-to-school programs for the fall -- those are great opportunities to reach out.