Want to find college students to help your business? Here’s what I did.

When we think of college students, the first thing that comes to mind is usually parties, alcohol and good fake IDs. Whilst that is certainly college life for some students, it is not the case across the board. Working with college students to help your business can be very smart. There’s the traditional approach of finding college interns, which you can do using sites like Internships.com.

Then there’s what I did.

Connect with old professors

I got my graduate degree from the business school at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002.

Go to hell, DOOK!

Apologies for that digression.

I had a good relationship with a now-retired marketing professor, Jay, with whom I haven’t spoken since graduation. I reached out to Jay and explained to him my hypothesis that my company’s product would be good for students living in dorms who have tons of cell phone pics, but can’t put nails in walls to hang photos. And that I’d love to find students to help validate said hypothesis.

Jay suggested I connect with one of his friends, Nick, a current marketing professor at UNC.

Working with teams of students as a class project

I contacted Nick and was extremely lucky that next week he was going to present his marketing strategy classes with company options for them to work with for the semester. I was even luckier that not one, but two teams (one from each of his classes) loved WeMontage and wanted to work with me.

Kapow!

Refreshing student perspective

Working with the students has been great for me because, let’s face it, I’m old now, and I have NO IDEA how to market to students. Initially, the students pushed back on the entry price of my product ($79.99), but I pushed back on them suggesting there is a segment of students for whom $79.99 is not an issue, and further, many of those students’ parents would likely happily pay the price, if we can find a way to reach them.

Working with college students also taught me about the importance of finding innovative solutions to your problems, especially if you are looking at marketing to students. Even being a college student can be a little difficult since it is no secret that as a student, your studies can often seem overwhelming. However, one student told me that there are now resources out there such as collegepaperworld.com that make it easier to get help and support with writing reports, essays, and other homework tasks. This just goes to show how much things have changed since I was a college student.

The best student idea

I gave both student teams a budget of $500 to execute whatever ideas we agreed to. The best idea the students suggested was that we shoot a video to be used on my website and for general marketing purposes. And they completely managed the video production process with a student-run creative agency at a cost of just a few hundred dollars. A 60-second video made by a professional videographer would cost a few thousand dollars. I told the students that they should start a video production Company. The video that they made was incredible and they’re so talented!

Here’s the final version of the video the students created, which also used product from my company that they made with their own images. I think you’ll agree they did an outstanding job.

My goal is to use this video and create targeted ads on Facebook to reach current and recent students at affluent colleges; because I assume $79.99 would not be an issue for those students. I’lll also run ads for parents who are likely to have college-age children. As well as place the video on the home page of my website.

Win – Win

This experience has been mutually beneficial.

The students get to work on a project with real consequences (’cause if I don’t sell WeMontages, my twins don’t eat – seriously), not a bunch of theoretical BS. And they learn a valuable lesson of why ideas are worthless – it’s the execution that matters.

I get the benefit of student insight into a target market I really would like to reach, and those students ARE that target market.

If you want to find students to help with your business, internships is an option, but contacting your old professors could be fruitful, too.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens with the student recommendations I implement.

Wish me luck!

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Feature image credit: Bill Selak College St. Hey kids, turn right to get to college…

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