MSU Student Housing Cooperative

Background: The Michigan State University Student Housing Cooperative, (SHC) is an organization that allows students to own shares in and be part-owners of their homes. Because it is a student-owned operation, there is no “middleman,” no landlord, and costs remain low. There are more than 12 homes near campus available to students, varying in size and personality.

Problem: The organization struggles to fill spots in houses during the summer and school semesters, mainly because many students are not aware that the SHC exists. Even those who are familiar with it do not fully understand the advantages of being part of the SHC. The solutions should be effective on a very small or no budget.

Strategy: Target students currently not living in the SHC, especially those who may be dealing with high rent costs, or paying a lazy landlord who never fixes that leaky faucet. The goal is to create awareness in the SHC. Some tactics include creating postcards to hand out or leave at local establishments, as well as posters and/or radio spots. Guerrilla advertising would also be used to attract students’ attention.

“Common Sense” Lines
If going to college means you’re smart, then why are you paying so much for rent?
Parking is free when you live close enough to walk to class.
You don’t need a designated driver when you live close enough to walk home.
Why should you have to pay rent after you move out?

Parking Ticket
This is one example of a guerrilla message for students. It was inspired by the high cost of parking tickets near campus.

Another guerrilla tactic would be to send a letter that appears to be from the local Police Department, notifying the student that he was cited a ticket for drunk driving. The piece would go on to explain the many diverse advantages of living in the SHC, (emphasizing the benefit of being within walking distance of the downtown area), and a call to action.

Resolution: I created many mailings and posters for SHC, out-of-pocket, and distributed them to students and on billboards around campus. The pieces were copies of hand-drawn posters and mailings. I was interested to find that, after most posters were cleared from the halls of the buildings I had posted in, the hand-drawn SHC posters remained. The cleaners were hesitant to remove something that had such a personal touch.

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