Word of mouth is the oldest, least expensive and most effective forms of marketing. Consumers trust recommendations from their peers. College brand ambassadors are a key marketing tactic to spread awareness on campus. College brand ambassadors are one of key influencers in purchasing a product. How can businesses looking to target college students implement a word of mouth strategy that actually works?
In order to make word of mouth as cost effective as possible, your brand needs college brand ambassadors. According to the Center for Market Research, college students “look for information before they make purchases. They are looking for it from their trusted sources. Their trusted sources are not manufacturers or providers of products. Instead, they tend to be people in their social networks.
- Exceed customer expectations
Turning customers (or potential customers) into brand advocates starts with delivering a product and an experience that goes above and beyond their expectations. You want your customers to be delighted and extremely satisfied with your brand. Then, they are more likely to share about it with others. For example, Kimpton Hotels is known for surprising their guests with personalized notes and treats whenever they stay in a Kimpton room. Customers don’t expect this kind of personalized gift from a hotel and often share their treats on social media. For product companies, a customer’s experience is the entire brand experience – which makes it crucial to deliver. This type of work can be costly, but cost-effective ways to delight customers can simply mean differentiating from your competitors.
- Explain the story behind your brand
Consumers are more likely to represent your brand if they know the story behind how you got there. One reason consumers will pick one brand over another is that they believe in the story of how your brand came to be. They believe that your product is unique, provides value to them, and aligns with their lifestyle. The best way to tell your story is through online, social media and content marketing. Treat sharing your story as an opportunity to “tell something” instead of “sell something”. For example, Airbnb does a great job of telling their own and their customers stories – that fit in with their core values of “belong anywhere”.
- Make customers feel valued
College students have an endless amount of options regarding any product out there. They are loyal to the brands that make them feel valued and not just for their money. Most brands today use data analytics to understand and gather information about their key customers. Brands should be leveraging this data to make their customers feel unique and special. For example, Tory Burch has found a way to make her customers feel valued and involved in a community. Each customer’s purchase history, birthday, and channel of purchase is collected in a digital “Client Book” that helps staff build personal relationships with their customers. Making customers valued does not need to be extremely expensive. It is just something that shows you care about them. Whether it be a free latte from Starbucks or GoPro highlighting the best videos their users have taken, a little goes a long way.
In order to attract brand advocates, shift your view from “converting” students to “becoming a brand they want to represent.”