Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Microvision: College Campus Marketing

Microvision recently announced a “back to college” promotion for its laser based PicoP projector SHOWwx… by reducing the list price down to $449 which also included the VGA dock.

After having made an extensive check with my contacts in the computer resellers community [from my past life] that sells consumer electronics gadgets to college students all over the US… I have to say that Microvision’s marketing effort is limited to a blurb about the price reduction offer on their web site… and that’s about it.

There are no signs of any marketing effort to promote or sell SHOWwx to the college students… other than an advertisement on the Microvision web site at…


College students represent, for many companies like Microvision, a valuable demographic. It's easy to understand why… because most young people are still shaping their brand loyalty, they usually have disposable income, and most are interested in trying new things. Unfortunately, marketing to college students can pose a challenge because they are immune to many classic methods of marketing. By injecting a little fun into the message and having the right attitude, campus marketing can bring your product or service a lot of attention.

Before you decide to launch your marketing campaign, be aware of the “Campus Solicitation” policy of each and every individual campus on your target list. Most colleges discourage aggressive solicitation of students, faculty, and staff on campus. These activities often disrupt campus routine, offend segments of the College community, and imply endorsement by the College of particular products, services, or ideas.

Here’s one idea that is most cost effective and incorporates all of the best of breed ideas in one place…

• Hire a company that specializes in collegiate marketing. Many years ago, I worked with this company called “New Age Marketing”. In my humble opinion, they are the best in the business. Check them out…


You don’t have to create the viral networking buzz yourself… these guys will do it for you in the most cost effective manner.

One other thing that you may consider…

• Partnering with the School

Piggyback on the excitement around college sports events. Football game days at many schools─ Ohio State, Alabama and USC, for example─ are massive undertakings, attracting 100,000 fans to the stadium and thousands more to the surrounding neighborhood. Establishing an official promotional partnership can be expensive, but valuable. Your company could purchase ad space in the stadium. To capitalize on the opportunity without an official license… you must arrive on campus few hours before kickoff and engage the thousands of excited students walking around.

Enter into an agreement with the university to provide goods to students at a low cost. If they have your product in hand, they will learn to turn to you in the future. For example, according to Marguerite Reardon at Wired Magazine, Duke University spent $500,000 to purchase discounted Apple iPods in an attempt to assess their usefulness in higher education. Apple gave 1,650 Duke Freshmen the devices, helping the school and helping Apple expand its market share.

The College or recognized student groups occasionally invite vendors to fulfill particular campus objectives. The Director of Student Life must provide written approval to such vendors to grant exceptions to solicitation policies. Student groups must guarantee the availability of the products that their sponsored vendors sell. These sales must be cleared in writing in advance with the Director of Student Life, and when an athletic team is involved, with the Director of Athletics. No outside organization may proselytize, distribute, or sell products without direct sponsorship of a student organization recognized by the College Student Government or an administrative office.

Here’re some thoughts on doing the marketing to college students on your own…

• Colleges provide sellers with a captive audience full of hungry buyers. College campus advertisements are successful in reaching large numbers of people due to the dense population of students and staff that frequent campus buildings. There are a number of ways that you can effectively advertise on a college campus. By engaging in some creative ad placement, you can increase the success of your business and introduce your product to a whole new group of consumers.

• Print Marketing: Tailor your print marketing to the mindset present in most young people. Instead of putting together ads with lots of tiny words, spend a little extra money with the printer to ensure that your ads have striking images. Think about it; "got milk?" is only two words, but is an ad campaign everyone knows. If nothing else, include a link to your website to take advantage of the increasingly digital lifestyle of the student. Indeed, you should place the signs on outdoor billboards around campus. More important, post them on billboards inside, especially near administrative offices. Thousands of bored students stream past the registrar’s office, and your ad could catch their eye.

• Quad Posting Boards: Many colleges and universities feature a central posting board in their campus quad or other open area. This board contains flyers, student postings and campus event reminders. Advertise your product by placing a flyer on this message board amongst the other messages. Many students peruse this board regularly, so placing your flyer here will surely get you some views.

• Hire enthusiastic young people: to prowl the campus with flyers. Better yet, have them distribute free T-shirts with your product message in vivid colors. Young people are more likely to stop if another young person is flagging them down. Have your employees wear brightly colored T-shirts and make sure they are enthusiastic, above all else.

• Hire some students: to go around to dorms and put flyers up on bulletin boards or stuff mailboxes.

• Put an ad: in the school newspaper.

• Place an ad: on the college radio station.

Send your flyers: to fraternities, sororities, athletic groups, etc… especially at school "party" times.

One thing that you must not do; is hire yet another “Director of Campus Marketing”… only to fire him/her a year or two later for lack of generating any tangible sales revenue.

Anant Goel