How to Start a Campus-Rep Program College students are media beasts. See how they can help you boost your brand.

By Jess Ekstrom

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I started my business, Headbands of Hope, in college. Naturally, I also recruited all my college friends at other schools to be "campus reps" for me. Little did I know that this program was going to be one of the strongest marketing areas of the company.

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College students are vocal, active, and, yes, social media beasts. These may be some of the reasons that today we have more than 70 campus reps and the number grows every semester. Here are some tips we used to start and scale a campus-rep program:

1. Create a program.

What are your goals for your reps? What are you trying to accomplish? Create a list of tasks around your answers. For example, at Headbands of Hope, for every headband sold, a headband is given to a child with cancer. Therefore, some examples of tasks for our campus reps are:

  • Coordinate a headband donation with your local children's hospital.
  • Host a trunk show at a sorority.
  • Secure a story in the school or local paper.
  • Have a table at a campus fair.
  • Create social media accounts for your school's rep group.

Figure out what your big picture goals are for your campus reps, then create smaller tasks around that.

2. Develop a rep rewards system.

What's in it for them? What can they earn for their work? For us, each activity has a point value. At the end of the month, reps "cash in" their points for products on our website, or keep saving them. Think of a way you can monitor your reps' progress and compensate them for their work. The reward could be a product, a commission or another incentives you think of.

3. Give reps a promo code.

If you have an ecommerce website, you may find it helpful to give your reps personalized promo codes they can share with their followers. That way, if you get a sale from a promo code, you can see who brought it in. We incorporate our promo codes into our points-rewards system.

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4. Start at the big schools.

Try to recruit an inaugural class of reps at big and well-known schools. A lot of times, these schools are the trendsetters for campuses. They have more access to a greater population of students, which means a bigger microphone for you.

5. Encourage referrals.

You want your campus reps to love working for your brand so much that they tell their friends to do it, too. We do very little marketing for our campus rep program. In fact, I'd say that 95 percent of our reps come from current reps referring their friends. The key to this is creating an enjoyable and rewarding program for students to want to share . . . and tweet . . . and post.

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Jess Ekstrom

CEO and Founder of, Speaker and Author.

Jessica Ekstrom founded Headbands of Hope when she was a senior in college in 2012. She created the company to bring joy back to kids who have lost their hair and help fund childhood cancer research. Headbands of Hope has given tens of thousands of dollars to childhood cancer research and has donated headbands to every children's hospital in the United States.

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