Dear 100 Hour Board,
I have a friend who is developing a forum. It's based around a popular parlor game (Mafia) but an internet version. Because of this, and the demographic of the user base, we've discussed and determined that he should be trying to market to college freshman. There are a variety of reasons for this. (I'm a business major. So if anyone wanted to explain why we're doing this in the wrong order, I've already got that covered... :p)
Neither of us are attending college. We don't even live particularly close to any universities. While community colleges may also have potential members, I feel strongly that a college dorm setting is where this would thrive. Our question to you is this: how do you suggest we get word out? While it would be great if we could host in-person Werewolf (our flavor of Mafia) games at dorms and then advertise the site, that's not an option. Nor is hanging up flyers or talking to students on campus.
How then do we reach this crowd? Not every college freshman will like the site. But college freshman are the ones who would most easily fit in and join up if they were otherwise a good fit.
Because it is relevant information, the site also includes a growing video component, a story, various RPs, a wiki about the game, and more. It's got a lot to offer, but is fairly new in it's latest format. User creativity and input is encouraged; another reason we'd like college students is for the inventiveness they can add.
I know, a bit of an odd question. Thanks!
~Smurf Blue Snuggie
Dear Smurf Blue Snuggie,
It is difficult if you are unable to use flyers or talk to students, but I think that online advertising is your best bet, probably mobile advertising. I think it's Board policy not to suggest specific companies, but there are a handful of big ad networks and a short list can be found here.
Online advertising is good, but mobile advertising is perfect because you can target users in a specific area, even down to the square mile. You can also target specific demographics, though I'm not sure if it can differentiate between freshmen and non-freshman as well as students vs. non-students. But think about that: for a few dollars you can get a lot of impressions for your specific audience (so no wasted money), and almost every college student sees ads on their phones and in their apps. I think this is one of your best bets if other forms of advertising are off limits.
I think you should seriously consider mobile advertising or at least online advertising. Sorry that I can't give you more specific information about companies, but most mobile ad networks will help you through the process of displaying ads.