Blog: How to attract students to your local business

By: Kaitlynn Broderick, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Intern

Appalachian currently has 18,300 students enrolled who control a significant portion of the buying power in Boone. Oftentimes the problem with many local businesses looking to profit from them is that this generation of students is changing the way people communicate, and thus businesses have to reevaluate how they reach younger groups. As a senior business major at Appalachian, I’m sharing with you four methods local businesses have used to gain my business, and ways you can reach other #millennials.  



1. Listening to the conversation

Welcome to the sharing generation. Anything you want to know you can find online, including what students need. We love to whine online via tweet, picture, or post, which will tell you a lot about what we’re looking for, though that conversation can get out of hand fast. Students are also apt to voice their displeasure with a business online, so make sure you know and control the online dialogue regarding your brand. Word of mouth is everything to students and it spreads quickly. Consider signing up for Google Alerts for terms relating to your business in the area so you can be in tune with and participate in the conversation.


2. Engaging them online

This might seem like common knowledge, but businesses have to be on social media if they want to reach college students. What do you think we’re doing on our laptops during class–taking notes? Probably not, we’re too preoccupied checking Facebook. Join in on the conversation and engage with students online, they’ll definitely take notice and remember your business. Make accounts for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and begin networking with other local businesses and organizations online to get some name recognition. Also try your best to keep your feed relevant with new and original content that’ll keep your followers coming back (a great example of this is Appalachian Cookie Co.’s Instagram, great content that is as unique as it is suited for the demographic).


3. Giving a student discount

This probably goes without saying, but it’s important nonetheless. Make it loud, make it proud, and make it somewhat substantial. Even if it’s just pennies, students love saving money. Designate an event, a day of the week, or a constant percentage that will save students money, and then make sure to blast it all over your social media and get the word out.


4. Keeping it simple

In the transition to adulthood you would be surprised at what young adults aren’t taught these days. Things like how to sign-up for wireless services, how to manage a checkbook, even skills like changing a tire aren’t communicated like they need to be. Picking out my own internet service when I moved into my first apartment was exciting but so stressful, all I remember is pages and pages of jargon (even though it probably seemed simple to a “real adult”). For services and more involved purchasing decisions, students will always flock to the simpler methods (evidenced by the fact that most of us are comfortable paying for included utilities rather than charge by usage even though it costs us more in the long run). People my age like to feel independent, so it’s satisfying to feel like we can handle and understand services like the adults we’re supposed to be.

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