Red Bull, Victoria Secret, Dell and Coca-Cola are a few of the brands that have been running “campus rep programs” for years —that is, hiring a student to carry out a marketing plan to their peers on campus. As more companies start brand ambassador or campus rep programs, they make a few costly mistakes that prevent the programs from truly succeeding.
Over the last few years, my job has been to rescue some of these campus rep programs. And before that, I was representing 10 brands during my own college experience, including Apple, Microsoft and General Motors, to name a few.
If you’re unhappy with your current program, in my experience, you’re probably making one of the three mistakes below. Here’s what they look like and how to fix them:
1. You’re Using the Traditional Interview Process
We all know it. Students submit a resume, you conduct a phone interview, and you make the hire. I see this process done by both brands and agencies. We have to remember that these are college students, not entry-level team members. They don’t have the experience yet for an impressive résumé, and they don’t have a ton of relevant experience to talk about in interviews. You shouldn’t fit them into the traditional interview process like you do when interviewing full-time team members.
Caliper, a global human resources consulting firm, said it well: “One issue with the traditional interview process is that many employers lean too much on the candidate’s résumé rather than getting to know who he or she is as it relates to the job. This process puts greater focus on what candidates have done versus who they are. By human nature, we also tend to gravitate towards what we have in common with others. Therefore, a mutual interest or association listed on a résumé may make a candidate seem more desirable – even if it doesn’t hold much weight when it comes to the job itself.”
The Fix: Get Scientific
Identify the traits that make the position successful. If you’re looking for someone to present your product in front of a classroom, you’d want to identify an extroverted trait. You can borrow from great tests out there like Myers-Briggs and Personality Index. My company experienced less turnover of campus reps when we used this method.
2. You’re Not Providing Instant Gratification
Most programs will pay students at the end of the semester or, at best, it takes a few weeks to get paid. Students have a lot going on! You have to remember you are competing with their classes and social life. It’s your job to keep your program at the highest priority after those two things.
The Fix: Pay Them as Soon as Possible
This ensures your program stays “number three” (after their classes and social life) and top of mind. There are plenty of tools out there that allow quick payment, such as PayPal and direct deposit.
3. You’re Going Against the Grain
You’re not engaging students in the way they are engaging with everything else — their mobile device. According to comScore, “nearly one in five Millennials that do all of their internet browsing, emailing, Google searching, social networking and online news reading on a smartphone.” I have to believe this number is only going up with Gen Z, which has grown up using a smartphone even longer.
Yet you are most likely making your campus reps interact with you through a website, dashboard or sending you an email. You’re going against the grain! Students now are mobile first — and your program should be too.
The Fix: Transfer Your Program to Their Mobile Device
There are already tools like your camera and GPS check-in on your phone for students to log their hours and prove their work. My team and I decided to go with the grain and build our own mobile device called Go Commando App. We had our students download this app, and it quickly saved us time and money. The students were able to deliver better results on every campaign. For instance, one of our client brands experienced three times the return on investment within 24 hours by showcasing their products at a sorority house’s “Shoe Lovers Party,” and a Fortune 500 beverage company reduced costs by $200,000 while increasing its reach by 50 percent. Whatever tool you decide for your company, make sure you’re figuring out how to maximize your return on investment.
Say goodbye to losing campus rep programs, and start with these three fixes to get on the fast track to a long-running program.