How Not to Market to the College Generation

In reading through my daily Facebook articles this morning, I came across a CNN article where a reader had the opportunity to ask the Fortune Small Business team a question. The reader’s question was as follows:

My partner and I started an online business selling college textbooks at a deep discount two years ago, in our first semester as students. Now we’re 20 and still in school full-time. Our business is doing pretty well, but we want to take it to the next level by trying some rogue marketing. Do you have any suggestions? – Justin Tomevi, Co-Founder,, Philadelphia

Anne Fischer, a Fortune Small Business writer responded:

College students offer an appealing target market for relatively cheap but effective rogue-marketing tactics. First, if you haven’t already done so, buy a small ad on Facebook (

Wrong! I’ve purchased one of those ads before, targeting my school for the purpose of marketing my own online book price comparison engine that I developed. The results? Pretty horrible. I may have received a couple of clicks (if that) and I had no sales conversions. Given that there already a bazillion textbook search engines, Justin is going to have to come up with more effective marketing techniques. Granted, Anne Fischer didn’t give him completely horrible advice. For instance, she advised Justin to start a blog. Great idea! What she failed to suggest was to develop a Facebook application. Facebook applications have become the new tool in the marketing professional’s arsenal. While I’m not sure how long this tool will remain effective, there is still a huge market to be filled and Facebook has a large percentage of users within the college demographic. So my advice to Justin is to go find a developer that’s on campus and work together to build a slick book price comparison application. Do you think I’m wrong in suggesting this?