How your business can thrive in a university city

If you are looking to start a business in a university city, you need to know how to sell to students, here are some top tips to get you started.

If you run a business based in a university city, you’ve got a great opportunity right on your doorstep. While they might not have much disposable income now, if you can build up brand loyalty with students, they can go on to become lifelong customers. Because they often move away from the area after their studies and during the summer, they can also help spread the word about your business to their friends and family, sowing the seeds for national growth.

We’ve put together this guide to help your business thrive in a university city. Follow the tips we’ve listed here and you’ll have a loyal student following in no time.

Offer student discount

A massive 80 per cent of students worry about making ends meet, according to a Save the Student survey. If you can help alleviate their financial burden by offering a student discount on your products or services, you’ll be giving the local student population a very good reason to favour you over the competition.

In fact, 83 per cent of students say they are more likely to buy from a retailer if they offer student discount, according to a survey from Student Beans. What’s more, the same survey reveals 85 per cent of students say the experience they have with a brand is going to influence where they shop after graduation. Follow in the footsteps of companies like Apple, ASOS, and Pure Gym by taking a short-term hit on your profits to build up a loyal customer base of students that may become lifelong customers.

If you are going to go down the student discount route, make it loud and clear. Advertise it with stickers on your shop windows attract students to your store.

Send flyers round campus

An easy and effective way to get your business on the radar of local students is by handing out flyers at their campus. This will be most effective if you’ve got something unique to offer them, such as a generous student discount or something their flyer entitles them to.

You don’t need a degree in graphic design to create an attention-grabbing flyer, either. You can use free design software like Canva to put together a handout that will grab students’ attention and convert passers-by into customers.

Take advantage of Freshers’ fairs

Each year, the university term begins with Freshers’ week, which first-year students spend finding their feet and getting to know their new city. At the centre of all this is the Freshers’ fair, where students are invited to their student union to find out everything their university and new home have to offer.

To get on students’ radars, contact the local university to take out a stall at the annual Freshers’ fair. Make your stall eye-catching — prominently displaying that student discount will help — and stock up on plenty of freebies you can hand out to stick in students’ minds. The range of customisable promotional products at Custom Planet includes pens and pencils, which make the perfect thing to give to students at the start of term.

Sponsor a society

Another great way of getting in front of the local student population is by sponsoring a university society or sports team. If you can buy their equipment or provide them with some other benefit, you can get your logo on the front of their jerseys or on their website. This will help spread the word about your business — not to mention build up plenty of goodwill with the people on the society itself.

If you already have a sports team or society in mind, you can contact them directly. If not, you can go through Sponsor My Society.

Take these four tips on board if you run a business in a university city and you’ll build a loyal student following in no time.

Further reading on university cities

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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