11 Ways to Make Students Love Your Business This Year

12:09 pm

This month, swarms of 18 year olds will be descending on new towns and cities across the UK to begin their university adventure. Students are expecting a good time, armed with student loans and any savings from their summer jobs.

 Freshers is party time – so how can you make sure your business is an attractive proposition to the latest batch of youngsters to your area?

1. Live music

Live music and open mic nights are a great way to diversify, attract a different type of customer and fill the venue on a quieter night. Putting on student bands offers two benefits. Firstly, they’ll most likely play for free!

And they’ll bring their new friends, increasing customer awareness of your place and boosting profits on the night.

2. Student reps

Offer students the chance to act as reps for your events, with free drinks in exchange for promotion and packing the bar out. Making your venue attractive to women is another smart move because women are often highly active on social media about their nights out, so you'll get a lot of free promotion. 

Consider cheaper entry for women, cocktail deals and dance-worthy tunes.

3. Take on the beast

Food challenges can be an excellent marketing tool. Create a breakfast designed to shock, that looks unfathomable on the plate both in pictures and in person. You’ll definitely need large, robust plates for these!

A meal that’s so outrageous people say “how?” and just have to try it. Stipulate that those who finish it will get it for free. That’ll make people think they’re getting one over on you and appeals to humans’ competitive nature and love of a bargain (as well as an unhealthy breakfast).

Take pictures of successful conquerors for social media and put them on a wall of fame in your cafe. This will encourage people to take the challenge, and the instantly-shareable nature of social media will get people talking.

4. Promote on social media

Social media is key to spreading the word about your business, whatever it may be. Encourage customers to share their experience online – via reviews, photos, tweets/statuses, and make sure you’re active online too.

Reply courteously to positive reviews and professionally to any negative ones, share photos and let people get a flavour of the experience you’re offering. Social media shouldn’t be blatant advertisement; an authentic display of your business is what will resonate with people.

Social media can be used in so many ways. The best pages are interesting and entertaining - giveaways in exchange for likes, competitions (such as 'caption this image' contests), a picture of your staff hard at work (letting people see the human side to your business) or a video showing how great the night before was. There are many possibilities - get creative and be alert to what people are responding to.

Direct promotion is fine in small doses but you will have more success being entertaining and interesting, drawing more 'organic' interaction.

5. Appeal to families

It won’t just be students coming to town, their parents will inevitably be in tow! Families get involved to help with the move, with the initial settling in and also to check out where their child will be staying. They won’t be sleeping on the floor though, and that’s good news for hotels.

Seek out online discussion - such as Freshers 2017 groups on Facebook - about the university and incoming students. Post in these groups to let them know you have vacancies, perhaps offering them an exclusive deal. Try to partner up with the university itself to spread the word about your availability.

Once word is spread, why should they choose you? Offer a free breakfast before 9am. That’ll be attractive when they come to book, but in reality they might not wake up in time! Win win for you.

6. All-day breakfast

As tempting as it is to say students sleep all day and party all night, that obviously isn’t the case. Many will make their 9am lectures and be walking past as midday approaches, and they’ll have something in common with those falling out of bed around that time – hunger!

For pubs and bars offering all-day breakfasts is a good way of adapting to students’ often unconventional routines. Whether it’s grab-and-go baguettes on the way to their 9am or stopping by at noon for a hearty full English, being versatile will help generate sales.

Two-for-one lunch meals, or a free drink with every meal, will encourage students to join you in the afternoon instead of waiting until the evening.

7. Show the football

Showing sport, especially lunchtime football games on the weekend, will help drive footfall. In 2016 it was reported that pub landlords banked an annual £30,000 boost to trade by showing Premier League football.

Inevitably, you’ll get those hard-pressed students who make a pint or a coke last for the whole game, but you’ve got them through the door – increasing the likelihood they’ll be back when they’re looking to spend more.

Be sure to advertise the fact you show televised sport. These chalk boards are a great way to attract passers-by.

All this will establish a pattern for students. Dropping by for food or for the game will make visiting you a force of habit, ensuring your business becomes the Central Perk to their Ross, Rachel, Chandler and co.

This makes it easier to attract them in the evenings, where the heavier spending takes place.

8. Pub quiz

Pub quizzes are a classic way of filling out the venue on a typically quieter evening. It’s also very cheap to put on – a few pencils and answer sheets and you’re good to go. If you don't want to host the quiz yourself, you can always offer a couple of free pints to the person who steps up.

Quizzes can be fairly drawn-out affairs, as time is needed for teams to confer for each answer. The longer it goes on the more drinks people will buy! You also have an advantage at the end of the quiz, people will be sticking around to wait for the answer. Leave it 20 minutes and let them get another round in.

9. Coffee

 Coffee is big business in the UK, projected to be worth 4.3 billion by 2020. Across campuses all over the country you’ll find students walking to lectures with a coffee in hand, so make the most of the grab and go market.

Don’t just limit yourselves to sit-in customers, offer coffees in plastic cups to take away and baguettes to go. We’ve established how all-day breakfast can be useful, so keep breakfast on the menu for those hungover late risers.

Remember to offer free Wi-Fi, so students can come in, nurse a beverage and work on their essays!

10. Pub crawls

Students also love a pub crawl – so getting together with other local venues and organising a joint-venture crawl is a smart move.

Offer wristbands for free entry and discounted drinks between the agreed venues to ensure footfall stays in your vicinity. Putting a theme or occasion around it will be great for marketing, such as a St Patrick’s Day crawl.

11. Give them what they want

Students are looking for coffee and food in the day and a good time at night – so display an online presence to show them you know what they want.

Polls can also be a great way of engaging with customers online and gaining feedback about what they want to see. Put a variety of options for events in the poll; do they want a Tinder night (where people match online with other patrons and then try to locate them at the bar) or a gangster fancy dress theme? Traffic light party? Maybe something simple like two-for-one drinks?

Find out what they want and give it to them!

Are you a catering student? Nisbets has everything you need to succeed here in our Student Mini Shop


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