University bulletin boards -- particularly those in the business building -- and offices would be my first target. Then I would meet with the on campus television professionals. Every school has closed circuit televisions that run looped information from slides. Who among us hasn't sat in front of one of these sets mindlessly watching the words and pictures go by? Someone would need to take responsibility for maintaining the free advertising on campus. Once a week or once a month a student should do a physical walk through to ensure that signs displaying the web address for the site look fresh and new and that the television advertising is up-to-date. This job would need to be passed on as students graduate out of the program and move into the real world of employment.
Strategy three -- participate in university events
Certainly the incorporation of these first two strategies -- using university faculty to support the site and taking advantage of free, passive advertising opportunities -- is guaranteed to increase web traffic exponentially. The next strategy would be to develop and implement a "Join the Club" marketing plan. Begin with a calendar and a core group of students who are willing to create a full campaign aimed at increasing traffic to the website. The goal is to create a slate of activities -- perhaps as much as one a week -- that get marketing students to take notice of the fact that there is a new social network just for them.
For example, each semester the university has a 'club' day. At that time all organizations on campus set up a booth at the Student Center. Pamphlets, key chains, magnets and other trinkets are spread out and several people who support MarketNet man the booth in two or three hour shifts. As students walk through they stop to get more information about the organizations they find of interest. This is a perfect way to advertise the existence of the social network page. A well organized and decorative booth will be eye-catching and should result in greater traffic to the site.
The drawback to this strategy is it will require a small budget to design and print the pamphlets as well as to have key chains and magnets made. However, when these items are purchased in bulk they cost mere pennies to produce. Their value goes beyond cost but realistically money must be found. There are several answers for this. First, the website can ask for donations, students may hold a fund raiser or a representative of the organization can lobby the school to provide nominal funding. Another great passive advertising tool is a t-shirt emblazoned with the URL on a cutting edge design. Sell these for ten or twenty dollars and the profits can be used for site related materials.
Strategy four -- hold a contest!
In conjunction with the club booth a special contest should be devised with a give-away that would get marketing students excited. For example, there could be a contest to name a mascot for the group or the person who could get the most friends to visit the site would be declared the winner and be rewarded. Part of the reward would be recognition on the website -- somehow naming and honoring that student for their efforts. But a real reward would be necessary to garner estimable participation and authentic enthusiasm. It should be something of special meaning to a marketing student -- perhaps all-expenses paid trip to a marketing convention somewhere outside of Queensland. Perhaps the winner would have their marketing textbooks paid for during the following term.
Again, this plan will require some capital and I return to the original suggestion for raising funds to support this component of the web traffic plan. Fundraisers, grants and donations are the most obvious and often utilized sources of getting money. Perhaps now is the time to mention that, frankly, no organization will survive if it has NO outside funds for advertising. They must be found somewhere because advertising and internet marketing costs money. While a Facebook social network may not be as expensive as a campaign for Nikes or Coke - it will require access to a minimum of funds.
Strategy five -- keep evolving
Before moving on to the next section of this essay in which I will be sharing three websites that are relevant and would enhance the value of MarketNet, it is my opinion that there are several components that could make the site more interesting for everyone, thereby increasing web traffic. First, in an effort to keep the site progressive and fresh I believe the addition of a blog would be a draw for many users. The reader must ask him or herself how often they peruse blogs on a myriad of topics related to their own interests. Internet marketing is evolving daily and a blog would be a valuable communal tool to keep all up-to-date.
Too, as more things are added to the site it would be helpful to be able to archive information. For myself, more than once I have visited the archives of a site to get a better overall feel for their mission and goals. A third suggestion for this site would be to have regular online forums. Invite individuals who are well-known in the field of marketing to sign on and 'speak' and answer questions posed by students. What a technologically savvy way to enhance the pool of visitors to the site. It is ideas like this that will ensure MarketNet becomes a destination for marketing students and adults alike.
The internet has a wealth of information on every topic including marketing; therefore, narrowing down the list to three sites that could enhance MarketNet was difficult indeed. Let me draw the attention of the reader to my first recommendation called Mashable (http://mashable.com/2009/04/16/social-media-college/). It is a compilation of ten 'must-try' social media websites for college students that includes Cram.net, Internshipratings.com, Zimride, Box.net, Twitter, Remember the Milk, Gradefund, Evernote, zumio and campus books.
Mashable does not have any direct ties to the world of marketing so opting to place this site at the top of my list of three bears justification -- which I will be happy to do. Let us consider again the true role of social networking -- to find people of similar interests and forge a deep and lasting bond -- or not so deep but shallow and mildly interesting. Those of us who are avid fans of the world of marketing will take great comfort in the offerings of MarketNet. However, the site must think outside itself if it wants to remain relevant and well-visited. Just like a human being becomes stilted and uninteresting when they have narrow and limited interests, so too will a website.
The goal is to be interesting celebrate our differences as well as our commonalities. It is exciting to know that there is a social networking site for those who are interested in marketing. But we share common interests with all types of students as well. Mashable understands that and surely researched the market before settling on these top ten sites. Textbooks, twitter, grades and internships are the stuff college life is made of - and on a single webpage Mashable has made it a nearly indispensable site for college students. Why not add this to MarketNet? Students will spend less time surfing the net away from our site if we make relevant websites accessible through MarketNet.
The second website I would add is a link to the various professional organizations that represent marketing in Australia -- and there are a number of them. This list (http://www.careers.usyd.edu.au/career_advice/progressing_career/professional_associations_websites.shtml) includes:
Advertising Federation of Australia - www.afa.org.au
Australasian Promotional Marketing Association - www.apma.com
Australasian Sponsorship Marketing Association - www.asma.com.au
Australian Direct Marketing Association - www.adma.com.au
Australian Market and Social Research Society - www.mrsa.com.au
Market Research Society of Australia - www.mrsa.com.au
Marketing Association of Australia and New Zealand -- www.marketing.org.au
Certainly the merit of this information is immediately obvious. Each college student is devoting their time and energies to completing a degree and then finding employment in the field. Many students are not even aware that professional organizations exist that cater to the field of marketing. When college grads are placed in jobs they will spend the next twenty or thirty years perfecting and renewing their skills. These professional organizations play an important role in professional development as well as allowing the individual to make connections with people in the marketing field all over Australia.
Too, being a member of a professional organization looks good on resumes and sounds good in interviews and staff meetings. It says the person networks and in today's global economy that is essential to the success of any organization. Finally, it is one more way to find jobs and learn…