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Surprising results found as marketing techniques move away from technology

October 18, 2012

Marketing departments around the UW-River Falls campus and in the community are constantly looking for a way to market their products and services to students on campus who are immersed in a highly commercialized culture.

Marketing techniques are present on the UWRF campus in the cafeteria, plastered on vending machines, scripted in emails, texted through them, in their mailboxes and even in the bathroom stalls.

Amy Luethmers, University communications marketing specialist, understands this all to well while she tried to reach current students and potential students.

“Because students are so checked into, pretty much just texting and they don’t read email anymore, they don’t surf quite as much, it’s pretty hard to get their attention,” said Luethmers.

Because of the issue of connecting to students who are constantly ‘plugged in,’ as said by Luethmers, departments on campus have tried new techniques to reach their audience. The communications department recently passed a new strategic plan that involved the creation of a mobile phone application. These are more widely known as apps.

The University Communication’s department is not the only one thinking this. Family Fresh Market manager John Wild said they are looking in the same direction.

“We do have a Family Fresh app too, but they haven’t really advertised that very much in our ad,” said Wild.

However, with stores like Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Victoria’s Secret and DICK’s Sporting Goods having their own mobile apps, the Family Fresh app and the UWRF app could get lost in the wealth of other possibilities for students.

The goal is for both of them, and for all the thousands of other apps, to serve an individual purpose. This could be more challenging than they anticipated.

The Student Support Services department on campus sees this rush to technology as moving with the flow to maintain an online presence by hiring a social media intern; this intern’s purpose is to market through social media, email and other technological means, but they have made another observation.

Interim Assistant Director of Student Support Services Gina Sevick said that students were more apt to look at paper mail more so than emails. She noticed this when the department decided for budgetary reasons to cut all of their paper contacts with students and focus on email and other means of contact.  They had less participation than previously, and as soon as they started circulating paper notices, participation increased again.

This observation is unique because with the decrease in mail sent by the postal service, more people have been getting email.

Sevick said that she could see students viewing the emails that her department and other departments or companies sent to students as being junk mail because they get so much of it. She admitted that she was guilty of deleting things she did not find relevant to her before reading them, too.

So with students being bombarded with emails, posters and other marketing techniques brought to them, few alternative techniqes are left.

Global Connections uses one of these last resources, word of mouth, to communicate their services to students alone with other types of marketing like posters and social media sites.

Global Connections is not alone in this method. Sevick also has a similar method of involving student workers to get the word out about what their department has to offer.
Even with technology leaking into all aspects of life, technology may not always be the most consistent method or best method of marketing or communicating to students. Other methods such as paper mail and word of mouth may prove to be stronger in certain situations.