Q: I have a product that I'm interested in marketing toward incoming college students. I would like to introduce them to my service before they show up to campus. How can I get the lists that contain addresses of incoming freshmen, or current students?
A: Marketing to college students can be a tricky process if you're using snail mail; many universities refuse to give out incoming students' addresses because of increasingly strict privacy laws.
According to Jerome Katz, a professor of entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University, the only credible sources of information are the universities themselves. In order to obtain home mailing addresses, you would have to contact each school individually - and you may find that they are unwilling to release information.
"There isn't a national clearinghouse for student addresses," Katz says. "If you want to target freshmen in a particular college, you contact the admissions office."
The admissions and housing offices are often the best on-campus resources for companies looking to advertise products and services through the school. Not only do they have home information for incoming and current students, they know where students reside on campus and have access to college dorms, where your company could flier or give out free samples and coupons.
According to Beth Goldstein, CEO of Marketing Edge Consulting Group and author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Toolkit, working with the university to market your company gives you credibility. With approval from the school, companies can include their information in welcome packets provided to students, or the schools can mention the company's services in welcome e-mails sent out before the academic semesters start.
Suzanne Otte, director of marketing at Boston University, also recommend advertising in school publications, which are often produced for the summer and the first week of school, when students are just moving in.
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