E-Boards, Awesome Boards and Gigantic LCD Screens

Flyers, sidewalk chalk drawings, tweets and Facebook events are some of the usual suspects when it comes to campus promotional methods… but giant whiteboards?

These days Student Ambassadors are deploying creative methods of reaching out to fellow students with the message that innovation and entrepreneurship are happening activities on campus. We first learned of the “eBoard” back in September when North Carolina State University student Sean Maroni created a massive triangular whiteboard structure and planted it in the center of campus during the 125th Anniversary Campus Festival, Packapalooza, a time where freshman and others get a lay of the land for organization and activities on campus. As organizers of the Entrepreneurship Initiative, Sean and his team found the physical ‘hook’ very effective in catching the attention of passers by, including the Chancellor of NC State!

And the results? Says Maroni, “We gave them an expo marker and told them to be as creative as they like. There were 3-4 of us walking around the eBoard and talking about our organization as people were drawing. We had signup sheets taped right to each side of the board, which was great way to get their contact information. We had about a 45% conversion rate getting people to sign up. At the event pictured we collected over 120 emails! We also encouraged people to twitpic or instagram their contribution to @ncsuei #eBoard.”

Maroni goes on to say, “The eBoard was successful in my opinion because it is unique and interactive. People really liked getting the chance to add something new to it, and to read all the other contributions. The most important thing is to have volunteers around the board engaging with people, and using the board as a conversation starter. If you set up a booth and hand out flyers, people might remember your organization. If you get them creating, thinking, and smiling, they definitely will.”

Inspired by Sean’s ingenuity, Colorado State University student Fletcher Richman raised $1,000 from the Awesome Boulder Foundation (yes there is such a thing) to create the AwesomeBoard, which attracted hundreds of students over a two-day period to “students to brainstorm, collaborate, and ideate on’ the four-sided structure of similar construction.

Tayler Swanson at Rochester Institute of Technology took a different tact. Swanson ratcheted down an enormous LDC screen just outside of the beautiful Innovation Center building, located in the center of campus. Tayler controls content, displaying announcements for event and news related to campus innovation activities. We’re working on getting a photo of the awesomely large digital display, but until then we’ll give you the view from inside the Innovation Center (below).

View from inside RIT’s Innovation Center

University of Texas at Austin — Marketing by Bridging Gaps

This is my first experience being involved in planning events on campus. So generally, “butts in seats” is not my concern. However, with several big events in the works, it’s high time I started making it my concern. My first event isn’t until September 22, so I began by employing some of the tips provided by Mr. Joe McMahon in his recent post.   In the past, the various entrepreneurship clubs across campus have been disjointed and insular.  We all have similar goals.  We all have a passion for entrepreneurship and spreading the message of “yes, you can — and we will help”.  What we don’t share is the same constituent base.  So I’m reaching out to the leadership of these groups, trying to make a super-network of the who’s who of  UT’s entrepreneurial minded crowd.  By connecting the connectors and leveraging each other’s networks, we can have a much more effective (and efficient) marketing outlet than the typical methods.

In an effort to start the trend, I offered to help market the weekly Technology Entrepreneurship Seminar Series hosted by the Chair of Free Enterprise that was kicked off yesterday.  I marketed that event to death.  Shout outs in class (I’m a sweaty palms public speaker), posts to my org’s facebook wall and page, tweets, word of mouth, and fliers.  And…success!  It was a full house.  There was actually a small crowd standing in the back.  Not bad for a Friday afternoon!  In a quick turn around of my paying it forward experiment, the host of the event invited me up to give a shout out for NCIIA and the upcoming Technology Entrepreneurship Society events.

Building the network, one link at a time.