The Campus Market

greeks pizza muncieIn the next few weeks, colleges across the country begin their fall semesters with an influx of new students. And if you are located near a college campus, how do you marketing to this advertising-saturated, tech-engaged generation?

Last week, we posted an industry headline about Push for Pizza, a quick, push-of-a-button pizza-ordering app created by teen entrepreneurs. Is this what the Millennials want is to order a pepperoni pizza from whichever pizzeria is selected with one click? Perhaps, but there’s more to Millennials.

It’s a generation that gets a bad rap at times. Generation Now, the Selfie Generation – Millennials have garnered quite a few nicknames but I’d rather not file them into a box. The fact is this is the first generation whose entire lives have been engulfed in the Information Age. And guess what? They have surpassed the Baby Boomers to become the largest generation in America.

Lets look at some ways to reach a section of Millennials — college students.

• Don’t underestimate the power of mobile with this generation. Millennials  predominantly use their smartphones and tablets to find information. Make sure that your Web site is mobile responsive.

• Be sure you are searchable and on the “pizza map” in your area. Do a Google Search for pizza. If your pizzeria is not coming up on the first few pages or on the Google Map, they may not know you are there.

• Find relevancy. This is huge with the Millennials. They want to connect to what you are offering. Find a way to convey that their college experience is not complete without trips to your pizzeria. Do alumni constantly post about missing your pizzeria? Use that to market to the current students — they are continuing a campus legacy.

• Encourage pizzarazzi. Millennials are foodies and they like to share their finds. Give them props by offering to share photos they’ve taken in your restaurant on your social media platforms. Do giveaways for a “Shot of the Day” or “Shot of the Week”. And have a creative hashtag to can catch fire among the student body. You can even make the hashtag relevant to campus happenings.

• Speaking of platforms — in the next few years, you will see a shift in Facebook’s dominance as this generation is looking to other social media networks like SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp –all of these being simple and fast. Make posts shareable with photos and interesting tidbits.

Everyone offers students a discount for showing their college ID. Acknowledge it but don’t center advertising around it because every other restaurant near campus is doing the exact same thing. Be unique and separate yourself from the dozens or even hundreds of places vying for their business.

• Free merchandise. It works on college campuses. A 100-t-shirt or -hat giveaway is a marketing line item and can pay off big time in building your brand awareness on campus. Don’t simply offer up your staff shirts unless they are unforgettable like Pizzeria Delfina’s Yelp review shirts or some of the cool shirts operators wore at Pizza Expo. Creative t-shirts and hats become everyday favorites if they are clever —sometimes even simple — enough.

Don’t forget — you have a marketing case study right under your nose. Sit down with your staff of Millennials and get to know how they make their dining decisions and what marketing tactics drive them into restaurants.