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How to use digital signage to reach college students

How to Use Digital Signage to Reach College Students

College students represent a retail sector with enormous potential. Not only are they willing to try new products, but they control a significant amount of discretionary income (for products they want). The challenge is that these younger consumers are spending less time fixed to their televisions. They also spend less time reading newspapers. As a result, traditional advertising channels have become far less effective than they were twenty years ago.

Digital signage offers a dynamic way to reach these young adults. The key is to design a strategy through which you approach this unique consumer segment in a way that encourages them to take action. In this article, I’ll explain how to watch their behavioral patterns and fit your message into a contextual framework that triggers your desired response.

Observing Their Behavioral Patterns

College students typically spend their free time in a predictable set of environments. It’s part of their behavioral pattern. For example, you’ll find them in coffee shops and clothing stores. You’ll find them in bookstores, especially if those bookstores have cafes. This consumer group often spends an inordinate amount of time in malls. And when the weekends arrive, you’ll find them in movie theaters, bars, and restaurants.

To reach this retail segment, study their behavioral patterns and place your digital signage screens within venues they frequent. Not only will you gain broader exposure for your brand, but with the right creative, you can generate the impression of being «everywhere.»

Fitting Into The Framework

You should always match your message with the venue regardless of what demographic you’re targeting. For example, if your company sells investment products, placing your creative in shoe stores won’t generate a response. The message doesn’t match the venue.

The same rule is especially important with college students. As consumers, they represent a unique opportunity for advertisers because they tend to stay for long periods in the places they visit (coffee shops, sports bars, etc.). That means they have more time to digest your content and absorb your message. If you can fit your signage creative into a particular venue, you’ll have a better chance of influencing them. For example, if you’re selling diet supplements, your ad spot should be in gyms. If you’re selling shoes, your spot should be in clothing stores.

Entertainment, Information, And A Call To Action

In past articles, I’ve recommended keeping your creatives simple and clear. For most retail demographics, that approach is more effective than any other. However, reaching college students requires a modified approach.

Young adults are some of the most ravenous consumers of entertainment and information. But, they’re accustomed to receiving content that blends both elements in order to keep their attention. If you try to reach them with a simple five-panel, static-image creative with no sound, animation, or video, you’ll lose them. Your digital signage clips need to inform and entertain college students in order to prompt a response.

Having said that, you also need a clear call to action. This is true whether you’re reaching out to college students, business professionals, or senior citizens.

Be There… Always

Imagine the impact of placing your digital signage creatives into multiple contextually related venues that host college students. This creates the impression that your company and products are pervasive. You are everywhere. For example, when your audience visits the local coffee shop, they’ll see your clip. When they visit the gym, they’ll see the same clip. When they meet their friends at the sports bar, university recreation center, or movie theater, they’ll see your ad spot. This sense of your being everywhere has an enormous influence on their willingness to respond.

Motivating a response from college students requires an approach that is different than what is effective for most demographic groups. However, if you execute a well-crafted digital signage strategy, you may discover a rich fount of ongoing sales.

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