By Dan Blevins, @DanBlevs
Resident Advisors (RAs) are known for making a mark on their school by creating a positive on-campus living environment for the residents they overlook.
But within their day-to-day tasks, RAs also have the ability to fine-tune some marketing skills by engaging their residence hall in fun and educational programs and activities.
Let’s put on our marketing hats to see how RAs use some of their responsibilities to craft the art of marketing…
1. Building Bulletin Boards
Billboards were one of the very first ways to advertise to an audience on a grand scale. McDonald’s knew this early on, so in the 1950s they placed many restaurants, with those large illuminating billboards and double golden arches, along interstates across the nation realizing that a large flow of customers would see their signs from miles away.
Even though billboards are an old way of offline marketing, RAs can still use the same inspiration that McDonald’s had to make their bulletin boards noticeable. For RAs, their bulletin boards are their billboards. Residents will naturally create traffic for the bulletin boards RAs create by walking by them throughout the day to stop and read what they have to say. As an RA, you can use the bulletin board space to entertain, educate, and inform.
Since I don’t know many college students that can make a brilliant UI and UX design from scratch, bulletin boards are a perfect way to practice creating handmade landing pages without the hassle. As an RA, you can make your bulletin boards interactive and engaging by adding relevant information that residents would be interested in learning about. You can even take it a step further by providing websites for them to learn more.
You’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned from making bulletin boards to an online setting where you’ll see yourself updating your future employers website to tailor it more to your customers, prepare your customers for the launch of a new product and so much more!
2. Creating Advertisements
The purpose of advertisements is to create a promotional strategy, whether it is online or offline, that contributes to an overall product goal. Advertisements are everywhere and it is about time more college students know how to create and utilize them correctly.
RAs can gain a unique perspective when it comes to creating ads. As an RA your job is to attract residents and convince them to attend programs. What better way to do that besides advertising?
Believe me, don’t go by the phrase if you build it they will come. If you simply build a program, residents won’t necessarily come to it. You get residents to come and experience your programs by advertising around your residence hall.
In terms of advertising, you have some leeway on how you want to spread the news about your upcoming program:You can create an enticing cold email to blast to all the residents in your hall. In your email, you can provide them with what your program is about, who’s hosting it, how the residents will interact with the program, and a URL where residents can learn more about the subject before they attend the program.
You can also advertise your program by putting up fliers around your residence hall. Of course since you’re thinking like a marketer you’re looking for the wow-factor, something that’ll catch your audience’s eye. So instead of just using Microsoft Word to make your ads, you should try out Canva. Canva is a free site that allows you to make beautiful documents and designs that you can create into ads.
3. Gaining Intuition
Reasons 1 and 2 provide action items to increase your marketing toolset. Reason 3 however, will be about how you, as an RA, can have a marketing mindset to optimize your marketing toolset.
So, knowing where to promote your programs is just as effective as creating advertisements. If you make the best ads but put them in the worst spots, then all your hard work will amount to nothing.
That’s why concentrating on foot traffic (where you get a lot of people walking by your ad) and eye traffic (where people can see your ad) is essential to greater outreach. And what a better way to gain intuition on how to increase consumer outreach than by practicing first hand?
Let’s think about this:
If you put your ads in the residence hall study room, that’ll be good for eye traffic and students will see the ad, assuming that study rooms aren’t very elaborate or distracting. But this isn’t necessarily good for foot traffic since there are many places students are studying around campus.
Likewise, the residence hall TV lounge would be a different place to put an ad. There’ll be a good amount of foot traffic but at the same time, the TV will be very distracting so it won’t be good for eye traffic.
So, by putting on your marketing hat and doing a little critical thinking, here are 3 places to put your ads to ensure a high volume of foot traffic and eye traffic:
1. Residence hall elevators: Don’t put your ads in the back of the elevators. Put them next to the buttons so everyone will see your ad as they hop on the elevator.
2. Next to the front doors: Most halls make you swipe your school ID card before entering your hall. Placing your ad right above the swipe machine will ensure that a lot of people will look at it.
3. On residents’ doors: Putting your ads on residents’ doors will make them see your ad no matter what. Plus they’ll remember it more since it’s something they’ll see many times a day.
If you’re a marketing major and looking to take your skills to another level, apply to be an RA! You’ll be able to use the techniques you’ve learned from marketing and actually use them outside of the classroom.