How to Market to College Students Step 1: Don't think of them just as college students. They're a lot more three-dimensional than that.

By Kathy J. Kobliski

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: What is the most effective meansof marketing to college students in the United States?

A: Most colleges and universitieshave their own newspapers and often their own campus radio stationswith ad space for sale, and lots of businesses sponsor campusactivities, events or contests in student haunts. If you have themoney, you can wrap a few buses with your ad and request that theyoperate on runs that service those institutions.

But you also have to look beyond the fact that these adults arein college and approach them demographically (by age and gender).They make up a good portion of the 18- to 35-year-old population,so you can also reach them via appropriate nonstudent radiostations, TV shows and publications, all of which have audiencesmade up of very specific demographic groups. It's age andgender that binds these audiences together, not individual traits,habits and hobbies.

To make matters even more complicated, you'll also need toconsider psychographic information-education, wealth, habits, etc.Psychographic information tracks people by their unique personaltraits, such as what musical instruments they play, what magazinesthey read, what credit cards they use, how many children they haveor in what neighborhood they live. That kind of information makessure your marketing efforts hit the right targets.

It all boils down to understanding more than one thing about thepeople you're trying to reach-in this case, more than the factthat college students go to college. Yes, that's importantbecause you know their physical whereabouts for most of the year.But where do they eat their meals? What do they eat? Where do theyshop? How do they get around? How do they pay for products? Do theybank locally or get money from home? What's the climate likewhere they live? Are they buying hot soup or ice slushies? Parkasor bathing suits? Tires for their mountain bikes or snow tires fortheir trucks? Sandals for the beach or insulated boots? Clearly,the fact that they all go to college can't be the only factorin deciding how to reach these people.

By way of example, let's consider cable TV's The GolfChannel. If you've got a newly designed golf widget, you knowyou can advertise on The Golf Channel and reach the right audience.But not every advertiser on The Golf Channel is selling equipmentor club memberships-financial services, luxury car companies, andcruise and resort operators also advertise on The Golf Channel,knowing that viewers tend to be wealthy professionals who look forhigh-end products and services to satisfy their active lifestyles.So no matter what your product is, there are multiple advertisingchannels available to you.

It's worth your time to learn everything you can about yourconsumer, both demographically and psychographically, before youspend your dollars trying to reach them.

Kathy Kobliski is the founder and president of Silent PartnerAdvertising, where she oversees multimedia advertising budgets forretail and service clients. Her book, Advertising Without an Agency, was written forbusinesses owners who are working with small advertising budgetsand can't afford professional help. You can reach Kathy at(315) 487-6706 (weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST), or visit herWeb site at

The opinions expressed in this column arethose of the author, not of All answers areintended to be general in nature, without regard to specificgeographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied uponafter consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

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