10 Great Student Housing Marketing Ideas

February 14, 2014

With Jay Leno’s last night hosting the Tonight Show having come and gone, I flipped over to CBS to watch David Letterman the other night. I used to watch Letterman religiously, but with the addition of our now 4-year sold my bedtime has become much earlier (Ok, I usually fall asleep on the couch before the 10pm news).  This night, though, I triumphed.  One of Dave’s signature bits is The Late Show’s Top 10. And as they say, copying is the best form of flattery. So, without further adieu here are Threshold’s Top 10 Great Student Housing Marketing Ideas:

  1. Ready-to-wear For t-shirts, go with vintage, distressed designs on v neck styles or tank tops.  Students don’t want a t-shirt that screams “Free T-shirt.”  Spend the extra money on softer fabrics and make sure the design isn’t over-the-top in promoting your property. Ditch the phone number and go simple.
  2. Meet The Parents.  Don’t forget the decision makers: the parents. One property sends thank you gifts to parents/guarantors for selecting their property.  A $5 Starbucks Gift Cards goes a lot further than just a hot beverage. And don’t forget this target group in your renewal, direct mail and even print campaigns.
  3. Movies in the Courtyard. For properties with a courtyard – turn it into a Crash-In Movie Theater.  Screen a flick with popcorn, hot dogs, drinks, the whole 9 yards.  Invite traffic from the week as well as current residents.
  4. Where’s Waldo?  Most properties have a mascot these days. Set up an Instagram contest to spot your favorite fan around campus and have a pic taken with them. Boosts your social media and spreads the word.
  5. It’s called SOCIAL Media Your interactive campaigns needs a wholistic approach.  Add more social into your social media by creating a hands-on experiences on campus to increase engagement.
  6. Relationship Builder. Build relationships with area hot spots.  Leave pens and coasters at restaurants and bars. Your brand will get noticed while potential residents dine and sip the night away.
  7. Pop Up. Surprise and delight your potential residents by doing a pop up happy hour at a local coffee shop (or similar).  Agree to pay for up to $200 worth of drinks. And students must tag your property in photos they post to get a free drink, turning social media into a currency.
  8. Find your Voice. Engage students to help develop your voice in everything from website copy to ad headlines. Millennials are quick to know when they are overtly being sold something.  Be authentic, to the point and avoid clichés.
  9. Walking Billboard…literally. Wear a backpack…and a banner on your, well, back!  Easy to walk around campus and on the budget.  Many start at $50. Check them out here.
  10. Don’t Forget the Residents.  Most community websites are solely focused on new prospects. Consider adding a blog for residents, by residents to your website. You’ll be creating a brand ambassador that will drive current residents to your site. And it will also show off your communities’ true lifestyle to future residents.

While none of this is rocket science, it does take a little effort.  Do some brainstorming with your team, I’m sure those ideas could easily trump ours.  And while I enjoyed compiling this top 10, doing it every night for 20+ years would be quite the challenge.  Kudos to Mr. Letterman. And for those of you who can still stay up to watch him.

Happy Marketing!