January 17, 2018

Market your campus event like an 800-Pound Desktop Gorilla

Getting people to show up to your campus event, or almost any event for that matter, is an age-old marketing conundrum – on campus or off. But these days, a seven pound computer can turn you into an 800-pound desktop gorilla if you know the marketing steps to take that are right at  your fingertips. A click here and a click there and student, novice or pro, you can have the word streaming to hundreds of desktops near you.

800 Pound Desktop - Photo Copyright 2011 Rick Sherrell

Okay. Here’s where the warning flag goes up! An 800-pound gorilla can be a real nuisance, so he’d better be housebroken. In other words, there’s a fine line between aggressive marketing and spamming so tread lightly – or as light as an 800-pound gorilla can be anyway. After all, our goal is to put butts in the seats, not to be one. Get your activities board, club or organization leadership working together on these!

  1. Send a campus-wide email. Send  the details of your event to every campus list available. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and even local supporters and parents should all be included in the email loop depending on the activity. Send more than one to make sure they didn’t miss it.
  2. Send a special email to professors. Ask them to announce the event before, during or after their classes. This works especially well if the event relates to the professor’s subject matter, it’s a topic that’s been discussed in class or it’s an area of personal interest for the professor.
  3. Send a personal email to people you know. Never underestimate the power of this step. It takes a little more time than the mass email, but can be as easy as forwarding one of the messages above or doing a cut and paste job. Add a personal note or request and you’ll be surprised at how responsive people will be.
  4. Get it on the campus website calendar.This is a no-brainer that gets overlooked all too often. The campus calendar is often a last-minute, go-to resource when students are bored and looking for something to do. And unlike e-mail it won’t get deleted or hung up in the junk filter.
  5. Make a custom Screen Saver. Have it installed on the library computers, in the computer labs, or anywhere else there are computers used by students, faculty or staff. Send it to your board, committee and your friends for their personal computers.
  6. Text message your event details to a campus cell phone list.Yes, although it’s not the desktop you were thinking of, it’s still referred to as a desktop – and just about everybody has one, right in their pocket! Access to this list and permission to send a mass text is a gold mine. A brilliant use of this list is to send out the text within the hour before the event. It works better than a volunteer and a sandwich board out front.

With a little ingenuity and resourcefulness, each of these ideas can be executed pretty much for free. Don’t forget to get somebody with a brain on your team to make sure the writing is decent and the details are correct. Grab a laptop and a banana and start marketing.


This series of posts will help you get better student turnout at all of your campus events and will work especially well for speaker-based events. Remember to always enlist the help your guest speaker or trainer in your promotional efforts. Look for powerful Student Learning Outcomes that lead to immediate or future success.

Series Navigation<< 7 ways to turn your campus speaker into a promotional machine6 teamwork tips for leading student activities >>
About the Author: Rick Sherréll (12 Posts)

Rick Sherréll is the Blogitor (Blog Editor) here at CampusTalkBlog and agent for the college speakers at Pro Speakers Bureau. In his entrepreneurial life he has been a writer, editor, speaker, trainer, marketer, coach, IT specialist, consultant, event planner, broadcaster, fundraiser and innovator. Find out more at www.RickSherrell.com and www.ProSpeakersBureau.com/about.


  1. Most schools, professors and organizations, etc. have Facebook and Twitter accounts too so post to those. Good post.

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