On a Roll

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Ray Sozzi, 32, spent one year in management consulting before launching college marketing company Student Advantage in 1992. The Boston company now has 375 employees and long-term marketing partners including Amtrak, AT&T Corp., Barnes & Noble, Capital One, Footlocker, Greyhound Lines and Tower Records.

Mission: Creating sponsorship channels that enhance students' experiences, from building Web sites to distributing newspapers on campus to providing colleges with technology for automated grade reporting and financial aid status information.

Edge: Our hybrid approach to the market. We were originally a grassroots marketing company, but now we're also a dot-com (studentadvantage.com). Both strategies are necessary to reach our audience.

Prediction: This fall we'll see a major push forward in stored-value smart cards, which will ultimately change payment systems nationwide. Colleges are the breeding grounds of new technologies.

Opinion: College is an ideal time for people to cement brand loyalty, but marketers must be very careful to preserve students' trust. It's a smart, wary, valuable audience.

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