There are many examples of successful startups founded by students in their university years, from Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of the very first version of Facebook in his college dorm, to these other 19 amazing startups founded by college students (WordPress, Snapchat and Dropbox, among many).
Nowadays, you can start an online business with as little as $500 – money you would need to buy a domain, hosting, a theme, plus the minimum legal business requirements in your region.
But it doesn’t stop here.
This is basically what anyone can do, independent of experience, industry, professional background, education. What separates your success from others is not just the effort you put into your “college” startup, but also the creativity and marketing factors in your business development strategy.
Your Solution Should Focus on Unique Benefit
Creative marketing solutions lie not just in how a business promotes itself but also in looking at the unique benefit provided to its customers. With many similar services available in each market, distinguishing one from the others may be difficult. It may not be the product that gets customers interested, but the way that the product can show its uniqueness. Just like you would walk into a gadget store, attracted by the offers, product presentation/showcase and price.
Key note: think about what picks the interest among your college friends, and use the patterns spotted to design a product or service that would meet their needs for the moment.
Embrace User Generated Content
Social media may not be considered a creative marketing solution in the same was as it was at its inception. Today, millennials say they spend 5.4 hours looking at peer created content which is 30 percent of their total media time. Creative marketing solutions need to be positioned as being consumer peers. Creating a way for customers to interact with the business means giving them a voice. Find ways to have customers share their stories on social media. Focus less on providing them a service and more on providing them a community.
Key note: In a way, this is similar to the college campus idea. It provides students with a space, that they can freely use to enhance their college experience.
People are drawn to eye popping visuals. Whether the small business is a restaurant or a clothing shop, people want to be involved visually. FM Digital Group, an expert in digital signage, notes "people want to see art not just images.
Rich media content needs to be both visually stimulating and informative to successfully set a business apart from the competition."
Key note: Make your college friends and their friends turn, stop and take an “Insta” of your service/product – this is the type of mindset and strategy that will get you closer to a successful creation.
Users alone cannot sustain a creative marketing solution. As more voices are heard and disseminated, a startup needs to prove its worth to its customer base. With so many options from which to choose, customers want to know that the businesses with which they engage are experts. Proving expertise means having those who are "in the know-how" subscribe to the business. Reaching out to local influencers may help a small business build a reputation for a niche market. Like it or not, social media influencers, people who build an online reputation, can help promote products and services. Finding the right ones within a startups market can mean getting the needed buy in to move the company to the next level.
Key note: Look for influencers that offer support programs for young entrepreneurs and creative ideas challenges. Connect with these people. Learn from them. And pitch them your products. Ask for help. If you become a voice in their communities, chances are they will want to become a voice in and for yours.
Distinguishing a new company from all the other similar ones on the market can feel daunting. With entrepreneurship on the rise with the annual start-up rate at 6.1% which is the highest since the 8.6% in 2009, new businesses need to think differently about promoting themselves. However, creative marketing solutions can take a new business from startup to success with a little outside the box thinking.
Make use of your young days, creativity and minimum investments opportunities to launch your own thing. Remember that college is a time of trials, errors, experiments, and experiences. Nobody expects you to succeed from your first try, but you will be one step ahead of your peers by just simply trying, and connecting to the world of business.
So give yourself and your future a chance.