Fix Your Campus Rep Program

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Campus ambassador programs have been around for years but why do you see so many start up and go away quickly? Apple, Coca-Cola, and Victoria’s Secret have created and maintained successful Campus Rep programs by hiring students on college campuses in various regions to execute marketing plans to capture the attention of their fellow classmates.

The success of keeping a Campus Rep Program is not having high national brand awareness with with lots of money. Examples include Serengetee and Southern Tide.  

At a time when college students are independently making buying decisions and brand preferences, more companies are jumping on board and launching campus rep programs. Many of them make costly mistakes early on that prevent their campus rep programs from thriving.

If your current Campus Rep Program isn’t driving engagement or succeeding as anticipated, chances are you’re making one of three mistakes.

1. Traditional Interview Process Doesn’t Equal Quality Reps

You’ve received no shortage of resumes from eager students who express great interest in representing your brand, narrowed down the selection process and conducted numerous interviews to identify the perfect reps.

It’s a traditional hiring process done by both brands and agencies but the process doesn’t necessarily translate great results when it comes to executing your marketing plan. That’s because college students don’t have expansive resumes with years of experience. It’s likely that many of them have little to no professional work experience but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the skills or qualities that would make them rockstar reps for your brand.

Caliper, a global HR consulting firm, said it best when they suggested that the traditional interview process doesn’t give students the opportunity to showcase how they relate to the job.

“One issue with the traditional interview process is that many employers lean too much on the candidate’s resume rather than getting to know who he or she is as it relates to the job. This process puts greater focus on what candidates have done versus who they are.”

Simple Solution: Let Science Speak

Instead of veting students through a traditional interview process, start by identifying traits that make the position successful and then implement tests such as Myers-Briggs or Personality Index to identify which applicants would be a perfect fit.

For example, if you want to hire campus reps to conduct a taste-testing event on campus, you’d want to identify an extroverted trait and select students who are a match.

By implementing a similar vetting process, my company experienced less turnover of student ambassadors.

2. You’re Not Giving Your Reps Instant Gratification

Many programs pay students at the end of each semester or a few weeks after completion. The lengthy process can cause students to lose interest in your program or view it as less of a priority.

Students have a lot going on between managing a hefty class load and maintaining a social life. It’s important to remember that you’re competing for their time and ensure that your program ranks high in their list of priorities after these things.

Simple Solution: Pay Them ASAP

By paying campus reps as soon as possible, your program will rank within their top three priorities falling after classes and social life.

Easy-to-use tools such as PayPal, Venmo and direct deposit help simplify and speed up the process.

3.  You’re Using Telegrams When Your Reps Are Using Smartphones

Delivery failed. Just kidding.

The point is, you’re not engaging with students the way that they’re engaging. Students engage with everything through their mobile device and according to comScore, 1 in 5 Millennials use their smartphones for browsing the internet, emailing, Google searching, social networking and reading the news.

I’m certain that this number will increase with Gen Z who have had smartphones integrated into their lives for even longer.

Despite research trends, companies are still making student ambassadors engage with them through a dashboard, website or via email to provide work documentation but the reality is that students love their smartphones so your program should be mobile-friendly.

Simple Solution: Speak Their Language, Make Your Program Mobile

Smartphones have built-in tools that can make managing your program and verifying work documentation easier with features such as a quality camera for photo and video and GPS check-in that allow students to document their work and track hours instantly.

To connect with students, my team and I built our own mobile app, the Go Commando App which allows us to engage with students directly. By having our students download the app we were not only able to save time and money, but also engage with students directly right through their smartphones.

The app allowed students to deliver better results on campaigns and provide an easy-to-use platform for them to do so.

One of our client brands utilized the app to promote a “Shoe Lover’s Party” that showcased products in sorority houses on campuses which led to three times the return on investment within 24 hours. Another client, a Fortune 500 beverage company, was able to increase reach by 50 percent but reduced costs by $200,000.

When trying to decide which tool is right for your company, make it a priority to make it easy for students to work with you.

A bonus point! Vet your ideas by students before you execute on them. Don’t rely on them to develop your marketing plan, but use them to bounce your marketing plan off of. This could be in front of your summer interns or using a platform to ask students questions and receive feedback.

Losing campus rep programs are no longer a problem with these three simple solutions to push you in the right direction towards implementing a thriving program.

If you need help, please reach out to me and I am happy to evaluate your program and make recommendations

Adam Grant, Founder of Campus Commandos will be speaking at YMS17.