Fall means college kids are hungry and packing your town.
If you understand a few important aspects of interacting with this audience, students can be a consistent source of revenue. Here are some tips for driving student engagement.
Affordable, Fun Options
Most students are on some kind of budget, so creating and highlighting affordable options, LTO’s, and specials can help encourage this demographic to spend with you. In addition to affordability, students often look for dishes that are on-trend, as well as comfort food, healthy grab & go options, and dishes that can be shared. If tapping into the college community is important, consider offering student and faculty discounts on a consistent basis to promote frequent visits.
Streamline the Ordering Process
Some students will eat in person, but many more will choose to-go and delivery options, so it’s extremely important that your ordering process is smooth and using up-to-date technology. Make sure your contact information is accurate, and test your ordering platform from the customer side to make sure it’s intuitive and straightforward.
If you have staff or frequent customers that are part of the college community, consider appointing them as ambassadors so that they can reach out to their own organic networks to drive customer traffic. Remember, this is a highly specific role that has value, so include compensation in your ambassador plan. This could be per post, in one set fee, or on a commission basis.
One effective way to track the efficacy of your ambassador program is to give each ambassador a unique discount code to share with their networks. That way you can see exactly how much traffic each ambassador brings in.
Social Media, Especially Video
By now, it should be obvious that college students are on social media...a lot. Engaging with this audience online is about curating an authentic, engaging, consistent voice on the platforms that they use, namely Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. In addition to creating great content on a regular basis, make sure your profiles provide accurate contact information and link to your website and/or ordering platform. Along the same lines, you’ll want to make sure your website is optimized for search engines so that your business is on the first page of relevant search results.
Engage with Student Groups
Tap into the student body by working with specific groups that are important to you. It could be Greek Life or the student sketch comedy group; the point is to find a group that you want to support and then reach out to them. You can also sponsor on-campus events so that you can reach the college community where they congregate the most.
If you do sponsor an event on-campus, show up for it! Don’t just drop off food and hope for the best. Work the crowd, meet people, socialize, and share menus and incentives for future orders.