Ideas for Marketing to Students and Parents

Ideas for Marketing to Students and Parents

Roughly 20 million students will be attending American colleges in 20201 — and that means millions of students need shipping services at least twice a year: to get to campus in the fall and return home in the spring. If your pack-and-ship store is located near a college or university, with a little ingenuity, you could be profiting from a very lucrative business.

Read on for some tips on how to do an A+ job marketing yourself as a college shipping expert.

Marketing to Parents

Don’t wait until September to start your college marketing efforts. Now is a great time to promote pack-and-ship services that will appeal to the parents of high school and college-aged kids. Keep in mind that if you hit the mark with your promotional campaigns before their kids are in college, you might acquire the loyalty of the parents for the next four-plus years.

For the parents whose kids are heading to college for the first time this fall, help calm their jitters by letting them know you can take care of their packing and shipping needs so they can spend their time getting last-minute college prep in order. Here are some ways to get your message in front of them now and throughout the school year.

Begin early. Make your store known to parents of high school students before they even begin college visits. Sponsor school and community events; donate tchotchkes with your store’s logo to give away at local sports games; and buy advertising spots in the high school newspaper, programs and yearbook.                                                                      

Anticipate their needs. For parents who don’t have the time or desire to drive a moving truck to a college or university across the country, advertise that you can ship suitcases and heavy or unusually shaped items to and from distant dorm rooms. From July to September and again from April to May, prominently feature signs in your store that you offer this service. The FedEx Freight® box is a great remedy for these types of one-off shipments. It provides predictable, flat-rate shipping, and no classification is needed. If you’re not already registered to use the freight box at your store, complete this form to get started.

Go digital. Use your social media platforms to quickly spread word of your store. Create a campaign to let parents know you can ship last-minute or forgotten items to their college students — whether they’re three hours or 3,000 miles away. It’s an easy way to create a fun, helpful bit of online content.

Partner up. Consider working with local businesses to put together care packages for students. Parents can buy them at your store and ship them to their homesick students. Packages could include coffee, tea, regional snacks, socks, video or board games, coffee table books with pictures of your city or town, and decorations for that brand-new dorm room. Every business you partner with can promote the idea as well for valuable cross-marketing.

Marketing to Students

If your store is located on or near a campus or university, being present to students can be as simple as opening your doors and welcoming them into a friendly environment. If your store is outside the perimeter of the campus, these tips on attracting their attention can help boost your business.

Bring them in. Most college students on a budget are enticed by anything free or discounted. Keep a jar of candy on the counter or give them a tchotchke with your store’s logo on it. Ask the college’s administration permission to include a coupon from your store in orientation packets.  

Reach out. Like the care packages mentioned in the parent section above, you can put together and sell “buddy boxes” to your college student customers. The students can send them to friends attending different schools. Plan to market them especially at the start of the year and before finals week.

Get social. On average, today’s college students — Generation Z — check their social media as often as 100 times per day, making Facebook ads, Instagram posts and YouTube videos targeted to their age group well worth the investment.2 And if your business doesn’t have a social media account yet, it’s really time to sign up.

Sponsor a group or event. Be present on campus during events, and attend the annual school club fair — it can have different names at different schools. If you see a school group that aligns with your business’s values, consider sponsoring its events in exchange for displaying your store’s name on the group’s banners, flyers and brochures. The group will appreciate your investment, and you’re sure to increase your store’s foot traffic with the added exposure.

Take out an ad. While traditional print media (newspapers, magazines, etc.) is on the decline among the younger audience, one recent survey found that 72–80 percent of college students actually read their school papers.3 And those newspapers are hungry for advertisers. Contact the college newspaper to purchase ad space and get your logo recognized by students and administration.

Reward loyalty. You can turn one interaction into repeat business by offering rewards cards, such as a punch card providing free packing services for every sixth shipment. By gamifying the experience, you can help turn students into loyal customers.

1Fast Facts: Back-to-school statistics, National Center for Education Statistics.
Lesonsky, Rieva, “4 Things Every Business Must Know about Generation Z,” Forbes. Oct. 20, 2018.
Daily, Linda, “Why is College Newspaper Advertising so Effective?” 3D Issue. 2019.