Brands can find it incredibly hard to target students in the right way, and it’s not surprising. It can feel impossible to have your brand seen and heard amongst an endless sea of content. Nowadays, you have to put yourself out there – literally! Getting in front of students and creating a memorable experience face-to-face can make all the difference.
We’ve had over 15 years of experience working freshers fairs for big names such as Smirnoff, The Economist, and LG to name just a few. From creative ideas for activation and stand design, management of the build and sourcing collateral, booking in freshers fairs, and finding the best student representatives, we do it all. Brands see an incredible return from using our engaging experiential activities that encourage participation from students, resulting in stronger, more memorable relationships formed.
If you think about it, the average freshers fair is a great place for brands to generate leads, increase product awareness and gain genuine brand advocates. You have the chance to tell your story, communicate your value and really sell your brand. And we have the experience and knowledge to create bespoke strategies for all types of brands.
Some key things you should know before planning:
Know your audience. Students are open to new ideas and new brands, so they’ll be open to learning about what you have to offer. They may even be looking for something just like yours! Being connected socially and digitally, they are more tech-savvy, more independent, socially conscious, environmentally conscious, and diverse. It is important for brands to pay attention to these trends when planning brand marketing strategies so as not to miss out on an opportunity or lose potential customers.
Sell the experience. Allow students to experience being a part of your brand. What does that mean? It means you have to give students something to take away from the fairs, something they can use and enjoy. What’s more important than their first impression? What else do you want them to remember? What do they need in their lives right now? If it’s not going to be tangible, then it should be fun!
It’s not about being the largest stand with the most intricate, detailed activity. We ran three consecutive UK campus tours for Lucozade, using a simple mechanic to push Lucozade Zero. The game, Hit zero for Lucozade Zero tested peoples’ reactions to stopping the clock exactly on zero – see it in action here. This chimed with the purpose of the product, an energy drink to improve speed and reactions, and the name of the product. It meant footfall was continuous, required little time, and everyone could get involved – even during peak time.
Environments like this are all about making sure everyone has a good time, so make sure yours is no exception!
Having said that, big experiential isn’t bad, either. For LG, we pulled out all the stops and created a huge outdoor stand where people could have a go on the new Q6 handset; taking a selfie would generate them an entry to win their own handset – they even had the chance to fly drones, all directly through the Q6! More on that here.
Leaving a lasting impression. It’s no secret that students love a freebie, and we do find that they are a great way to grab attention and make people feel like they’re getting something extra special from you. But it’s essential to use something that stands out, gets your brand message across, and really connects you to your audience.
Choosing products that add value work best. You’ll notice most stands have the usual: free pens, keyrings, sweets, and an array of miscellaneous plastic.
We ensure our gifts are synonymous with the overall brand values. For example, giving out succulent plants on behalf of Student Roost signified the quality, ‘homely’ feel you could expect from the brand’s own accommodation. Plants were a sustainable, green (low-maintenance) freebie that went down really well.
Every year The Economist goes down incredibly well, partly thanks to the quality of the gifts we give away with subscriptions. As well as sustainable coffee mugs and headphones, we gave out a range of paperbacks to demonstrate the many ways that The Economist can expand your knowledge and insight.
If someone buys your product or service after sampling it at an event like a freshers fair, consider offering them something else for free as part of their next purchase as well. This “membership marketing” has proven effective at increasing sales and converting leads into customers.
Follow up. After the fair, you have the chance to follow up with your new contacts. Use this chance to share some information about your company that encourages them to continue their relationship with you. This will help build rapport and demonstrate value before asking anything else from those potential leads.
Keep an eye out for our post-freshers blog, where we break down exactly how you can sustain your student presence both on and off campus through the help of student ambassadors and events.
All in all, freshers fairs can be a great way to get your brand noticed by the next generation of customers. They’re also a great way to build your profile, so make sure you put some serious thought into how yours stands out from the crowd! With our creative minds and in-house design and build team, we can have the concept and kit ready for events in a matter of weeks.
Get in touch to see how we can introduce and amplify your brand to the UK student market.