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Higher Education

4 Marketing Partnership Ideas for Colleges or Universities

Posted by Justin Smorawske on May 21, 2018 9:00:12 AM


There's nothing like a little back-scratching to make for double the results. One of the strongest tools at a college or university's disposal is its connection to the community in which it resides. As such, the possibility for mutually beneficial marketing partnerships is alive and well for your higher ed marketing plan.

Here are four ideas for potential marketing partnerships for your college or university.

Coffee Shops

What's the first thing that springs to mind when you think "college hangouts?" (Hint—it's coffee shops, in case you were wondering.) Java spots in your community, particularly those that are locally based, are a great way to partner up for some advertising that suits both parties. Promote your college's recruitment events via the coffee shop's cup sleeves, or concoct a signature drink and brand it with your college or university's name. It's a great way to gain some guerrilla marketing cred—plus you can return the favor by purchasing and serving said shop's products in your on-campus cafés and student union.

Apparel Stores

Every college town is a little bit different—but most larger ones will have at least a handful of local shops that Gen-Z clientele are likely to visit. This is a generation that largely enjoys fashion along the lines of H&M and Urban Outfitters—according to Dealspotr, more than half shop at the former regularly or multiple times a year, so be on the lookout for local retailers in your target markets that fit this sense of style. Partner on a line of college-branded gear that they can carry in store, along with signage about how to schedule a campus visit or a tablet on which to sign up right there in the store. Return the favor by offering your student body rewards, discounts or gift cards to the store(s) to help them increase their young foot traffic.

Hair Care

There are some places that nearly every potential student recruit will find him or herself at on a fairly regular basis—grooming and upkeep services. Think of popular salons or barbershops in the communities in which you most want to grow student recruitment, and partner with management. Request signage or even something as simple as admissions materials in their waiting areas. Or get out of the box—host a salon takeover, and cover discounted cuts and styles for a day, brand the smocks and give out swag. You'll grab some fresh leads, and help your marketing partner garner some new potential return visitors.


One aspect of Gen-Z that's worth investigating—they're highly prone to being charitable. The Guardian found that more than 30 percent of members of Generation Z have already given money to charitable causes and about half have volunteered for a nonprofit or have a desire to do so. Consider some Gen-Z-friendly nonprofits in your areas of interest and target your own sponsorships and giving to endear yourself to your key audience. And get your staff out there—organize volunteers, and you may find your admissions team bumping elbows with the very high schoolers they're trying to reach!

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