5 Tips on How to Utilize College Brand Ambassadors to Really Stand Out

Matt Hay

July 2020

Tips on How to Utilize College Brand Ambassadors to Really Stand Out

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As Fall approaches, we continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on colleges and universities. More than 53% of higher ed schools plan to open back up for in-person learning and 32% are proposing a more hybrid model, according to the Chronicle of Higher Ed. Colleges and universities have long been a hotspot for brands looking to reach students, and with these stats in mind, we wanted to share a few tips on how brands can stand out utilizing college brand ambassadors both on campus and online.

In the past, most students on campus might take a stroll across the Quad during a sunny day and walk by at least one table filled with promotional items manned by a student Brand Ambassador (BA) who is happy to share the benefits of a brand. This type of peer-to-peer marketing works as 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, family and influencers. However, as more and more brands tap into the tabling strategy, and with the pandemic still a concern for many, it’s important to think beyond the standard table activations to grab today’s college students’ attention and loyalty. To do this, brands must leverage these students’ internal connections, creativity and campus knowledge to more authentically raise awareness.

To ensure your brand effectively stands out from the crowd among college students, follow these 5 tips:  

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Think Beyond the Table

Bring student BAs out from behind the table by creating customized activations both on campus and online that creatively tie back to your brand. For example, if you are looking to distribute samples of your product, task BAs with creating uniquely customized activities like scavenger hunts and cool gifting experiences with their friends and communities that embody your brand identity. If you are looking to encourage app downloads or increase your social following, ask your BAs to come up with fun and relevant micro-moments via digital channels that incentivize students to take action.

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Reinvent Sell-In Opportunities

Showcase how your brand can authentically integrate into the college student’s everyday lives vs pushing an immediate transaction. Self-discovery is super important to Gen Z, so focusing on new and creative ways for your BAs to present products will make Gen Z buyers feel like they found them on their own, a key to increasing brand affinity.

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Customize to the Campus Culture

Allow for flexibility in activations that can be hyper-customized for each campus. 64% of Gen Z shoppers feel brands should provide a personalized experience when interacting with themThis tailored approach allows for other students to see how a brand fits into their current lives and provides the experience Gen Z is looking for. Tapping into the knowledge of your student BAs about their campus is key to ensuring authenticity. 

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Leverage Students’ Creativity

Hiring the right students is essential when building a college Brand Ambassador marketing program. Finding creative students who align with your brand can provide a wealth of insights/ideas with which to customize your program and ensure an authentic connection. Leverage the genuine creativity of student BAs by allowing them some freedom with planning/executing events and content both on campus and online.

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Measure What Matters

It can be difficult for brands to measure the success of BA programs when it comes to KPIs like lift in brand awareness, perception or affinity. Creating student focus groups with your BAs or conducting pre and post program surveys on campuses where BAs will be activating are great ways to measure program impact. Comparing survey results and listening to focus group feedback can provide your brand with quantifiable metrics with which to measure success. Those results, combined with other key metrics such as impressions, reach and engagements will ensure accurate program reporting.

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For more information about student Brand Ambassadors and on-campus marketing and how your brand can really stand out with Gen Z consumers, please contact us.