Archive for December, 2011
Nicknamed ‘The Granddaddy of Them All’, the Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game and arguably the most popular, ranking as the highest attended college football bowl game since 1945. Played on January 2 this year, it will be home to a sold-out stadium of over 64,000 enthusiastic attendees.
None are more excited, however, than the dedicated fans of the two dueling schools! With anticipation building over the past few weeks, both the The Duck Store at University of Oregon and The University Book Store at University of Wisconsin have played an integral role in increasing the excitement for the big day!
Using a variety of strategies, both stores have found creative ways to spread the message of school spirit.
“We came up with an overall campaign called ‘One Goal’ to motivate our students to support our objective of winning the Rose Bowl,” explained Duck Store Senior Team Leader, Brian Wright. “It’s been the foundation of all our marketing for the game.”
To represent that message, the store took a hint from their football team’s playbook – literally! Known for their signature sideline signaling system, University of Oregon’s football players are seemingly instructed on which plays to initiate based on a series of poster-size placards featuring nonsensical pictures including everything from the word ‘BOOF’ to an image of the Cincinnati Bengals logo.
“Even ESPN has commented on that strategy, so it was a fun way for us to incorporate what our team is known for in our advertising efforts,” Wright added. “We’ve integrated it into everything from in-store graphics at all of our locations to our online advertising and email blasts.”
That’s not all, though. Using a cross-channel approach, the store also featured the graphics on both the standard and mobile version of their website to reemphasize wearing yellow, the Ducks’ official game day color, during the bowl, added it to some of their apparel, and released PR to the media about their slogan, offering access to their stores for news stories.
”We wanted to get everyone involved so we also made social media a big focus in our promotions, too” Wright said. “We started by posting the image on Facebook and Twitter, and then asking our fans to ‘share’ it on their pages and make it their profile picture to spread the word.”
Based on the huge response, the store continued their campaign with contests and interactive status updates.
“We gave away two tickets to the Rose Bowl in a raffle,” he added. “Our fans simply had to fill out their information at one of our locations or on our website to enter, all of which we promoted through our social media pages.”
Along with their own campaign, the store cross-promoted the University’s initiatives too.
“The University was posting fun updates from Donald, the team’s duck mascot, on his Facebook page, talking about how long it would take him to walk to Pasadena, where the game is held,” he explained. “We played off that and had conversations with the Duck on our page, doing math calculations and everything! It was really fun and the students loved it.”
The University also created a #DuckMyRide hashtag on Twitter where fans could tweet a picture of their decked out cars as they drove down to the Rose Bowl.
“We gave away two complete car decoration packages in social media help get our fans involved,” Wright described. “All the tweets with that hashtag are posted on the official Duck My Ride website where you can view the pictures of these elaborate cars; it’s really neat.”
All in all, Wright believes the store’s efforts have helped get the students excited.
“School spirit is definitely running high, we’re all really looking forward to it!” he said.
But Oregon isn’t the only one getting fans ready for the game; The University Book Store has also pumped up their students through creative promotions!
“Our main focus has been on promoting our store as the Official Rose Bowl Headquarters,” explained Erin Lambert, marketing supervisor at The University Book Store. “Because we have a lot of competition when it comes to this merchandise, we incorporated the ‘Buy Local’ theme into our marketing, as well, to remind fans that our store supports the University and the community.”
To reinforce this message, the store took advantage of other local resources that support the same idea.
“We posted images of our merchandise and the dates of our sales on Dane Buy Local’s Facebook Page, which is a coalition of local independent businesses, organizations and citizens in our area who support the Buy Local movement,” Lambert said. “We highlighted the fact we’re a local business in our posts, too. It was a great way to reach out to our team’s fans in the community.”
Similarly, the store frequently posted the same information to their own Facebook page to gain the attention of students and alumni.
“We’ve had several online sales on our Rose Bowl gear, which has generated lots of excitement,” she said. “Our biggest seller was our Bucky vs. Ducky t-shirt; our fans went crazy for it and it sold out right away!”
To make shopping on their website even more accessible, the store added a ‘UBS Shop’ tab to their Facebook page, allowing fans to access their Rose Bowl apparel with just one click!
“We wanted to keep reinforcing the fact that we have everything our students need to support the Badgers,” Lambert added.
To make their promotions more interactive, The University Book Store also held contests on their social media pages. For example, they prompted students to comment on a status with their holiday or winter break plans for a chance to win a JanSport Rose Bowl Tee!
Although students couldn’t post twice in a row, they could post multiple times, and the 50th person to respond was deemed the winner.
“We received over 50 responses in just 15 minutes; it was great!” she added.
Based off the same concept, the store integrated text messaging into their promotions to give students yet another channel to participate.
“We post a keyword and a designated number on our social media pages and ask students to text in to win,” explained Leena Asuma, UBS marketing assistant. “We also choose an increment, so every 30th text entry would win a prize, for example. We’ve given away different merchandise and even gift cards, and they’ve all been very popular! Students love how easy it is to enter.”
With the game just days away, the store doesn’t plan to stop their promotions now, either.
“We’d like to do a contest on the day of the game to get fans to show off their spirit,” Lambert added. “We haven’t nailed down the exact logistics, but we’re going to ask fans to post a picture of themselves to our Facebook page to determine who the biggest Badger fan is! The top pick will win either a gift card or a prize pack of our merchandise; it should be fun!”
Just like Oregon, Lambert says that the enthusiasm level is high in Wisconsin!
“Everyone is very excited; we can’t wait!”
Tune in to the Rose Bowl this Monday, January 2nd, at 1:30 PM PST on ESPN to see who comes out on top! Good luck to both the Badgers and the Ducks from all of us at MBS!
The following excerpt, from the article Amazon Price Check Promotion Fuels Bay Area Bookstore Backlash, was written by Angela Woodall for the Oakland Tribune and posted on MercuryNews.com. View the full article.
Enough is enough. That was the reaction among bookstores when Amazon offered a discount to customers willing to use its Price Check app to browse at a brick-and-mortar store but buy the goods from its website.
Jasmine Johnson, whose grandparents founded Marcus Books in San Francisco’s Fillmore district more than half a century ago, has started an online petition determined to put a stop to the app and Amazon’s tactics.
“Amazon’s Price Checker app goes beyond simple competition in a free marketplace,” she wrote in the petition. “It represents an ugly race to the bottom that might provide short-term benefit for bargain hunters, but will lead to long-term pain for communities in the form of lost jobs and tax revenues.”
She hit a nerve among supporters who logged complaints about Amazon on Change.org, which is hosting the petition
Johnson decided to up the ante by launching the “Amazon, huh?” Google Chrome browser pop-up. It tries to persuade book shoppers who click on Amazon.com to switch to Marcus instead.
Meanwhile, Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, wrote an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, complaining about his spending on lobbyists and efforts to skirt sales tax. The letter appears on an Occupy Amazon Facebook page.
The Amazon app went too far by using brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom then offering people a discount to buy on its website, said Cherysse Calhoun, who also is related to the Marcus Books founders.
“We’re having a hard enough time without Amazon snatching our customers from inside our stores,” she said Monday afternoon at the Oakland store on Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
“If that continues to happen, we’ll no longer exist.”
That said, comparison-shopping is nothing new. Smartphones just make it easier and faster than ever before through bar code scanning and voice recognition technology. But shoppers can choose whether or not to use Price Check.
“I come here because it’s local,” said Amy Ichnowski, who was browsing the shelves of Books Inc. in Alameda. The California chain has 13 locations, mostly in the Bay Area.
Books Inc. does cost more than Amazon, she said. But it’s worth it to support the store and Alameda’s economy. “If I’m here, I am here to spend locally,” she said.
Even a national book chain like Borders, which declared bankruptcy in 2010, suffered from Amazon’s discounts and sales tax exemptions.
“Amazon has been doing shifty things to us for a while,” said Jon Stich, a manager at Diesel bookstore. Workers at the small store on College Avenue in Oakland joined the backlash campaign by donning buttons that read “Occupy Amazon” and offered them to shoppers.
Price Check was “just another cog in their arsenal,” Stich said.
Amazon makes money even when shoppers browse its site looking for everything from toasters to ballet slippers and the latest bestseller for its e-reader Kindle.
Bookstores have no such advantage, said Judy Wheeler, the owner of Towne Center Books in Pleasanton. Amazon has not affected her business, said Wheele, who compared Price Check to walking into a restaurant and asking for a bite of dishes offered on the menu then going somewhere else. “It’s rude,” she said.
What’s your opinion of Amazon’s latest promotion? Do you agree with Johnson’s response? Share your input in the comments section below!
There are lots of events that bring large amounts of people to your campus. But, how do you direct that traffic to your store? For Morehead State University Bookstore, the answer to that question is fashion!
“We wanted to give those that were visiting something fun to do,” explained Cheryl Farmer, general manager. “It has been very well received; everyone enjoyed it.”
This year, they decided to try a slightly different approach by moving the event to Homecoming weekend. Just for a little added stress, it was the weekend after MBS Symposium!
“We wanted to take advantage of all the alumni on campus, so we gave it a try,” added Rebecca Holbrook, merchandise manager. “The timing worked out even better for us and generated more attendees. It was great!”
Despite the schedule change, the details of the event have remained the same. As a first step, the store recruits models to participate in the show.
“Our work-study students are basically automatically drafted to participate,” said Julie Ferguson, textbook manager. “Then, we start advertising to others on campus to get them involved.”
Using a cross-channel promotional strategy, the store spreads the word to everyone from students to faculty.
“We use Facebook and Twitter as well as posters around campus to find volunteers,” said Ferguson. “We also go in and talk with some of our sports management classes on campus and let them know about the event. It’s not hard though, every year we have to turn models away because we have too many, so we always end up with a list of participants for the next event!”
This strategy has proven successful, with a wide variety of models strutting their stuff down the store’s runway, which is set up in the student center lobby, just outside the store’s main entrance.
“We’ve recruited everyone from the head basketball coach and his two children to the women’s dance team!” Ferguson added. “Everyone is always excited to get involved.”
And, for a good reason, too! As a thank you to their models, the store offers several incentives.
“Each participant receives two store coupons: one that they can use on the day of the Fashion Show and one that they can bring back at a later date,” Farmer explained. “We also give them all a sports cinch bag filled with a variety of store merchandise. We try to customize them based on who’s receiving them, too. For instance, a child might get pompoms, pencils, candy and a stuffed mascot, whereas we may give students a tee shirt, tumblers, water bottles, decals, key chain and a coffee mug.”
For their work-study students, however, the store provides a little extra.
“Because they have to wear our branded merchandise to work, we give them a tee shirt that’s usually from the $9.99 price point,” Holbrook added. “It helps them have an additional option for work and helps us to increase the reach of our brand on campus, so it’s a win-win.”
Plus, all participants and attendees are treated to a free breakfast the morning of the show.
“We want to show them how much we appreciate their help in making the event a success,” Ferguson described.
“We try and match everyone with what we think would look best,” Ferguson said. “A lot of what we feature is new merchandise or special buys from the spring that weren’t worn in the past year’s show. But, we also try to hold back full size runs of one or two items when we get all of our merchandise in during July so that we can debut it there. “
Once they have all of their models, they advertise the event throughout campus and the community.
“We take out an online ad with the local newspaper, post information to our website and social media pages, add it to the University newsfeed and calendar page, as well as put it on a postcard that goes out to all alumni about events that weekend,” Farmer explained.
This year’s event was made even more exciting with a local celebrity and alumni hosting as Emcee.
“Amber Philpot is a news anchor out of Lexington and a popular alumni of MSU,” said Ferguson. “That was a great addition to the show. We also had a finale’ that included the MSU All-girl squad cheerleaders and Beaker, MSU’s mascot.”
That effort paid off this year with over 50 in attendance and a significant increase in sales for the store.
“When the show took place during Family Weekend, we typically had a 50-80% increase in sales over the same day the previous year,” Farmer explained. “With Homecoming, it was a little different because our sales are typically higher on that weekend anyway, but we still saw a 25% increase over last year. It was very exciting!”
All in all, the store believes the event is one that will only continue to grow in the future.
“It’s a blast,” Ferguson added. “We love the benefits that it brings to the store, but more importantly, the fun it offers to the students faculty, staff and alumni. That’s what it’s all about!”
Is Groupon the scourge or savior of small business? The online deals giant certainly is goodwill hunting this season by offering a $10 credit to the first 150,000 people who buy a local Groupon by Dec. 24.
A jab at Amazon.com? (The online retailer offered shoppers a $5 discount for standing inside a bricks-and-mortar store using its Price Check app to find lower prices online.)
Nada to do with Amazon, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason told the Associated Press. It’s just the Chicago-based company’s way of helping people to think local.
“I think people have over the years come to believe that they have to make this difficult choice between supporting local businesses…or getting a great price,” he said. “Groupon is here to remind people that they can do both.”
Groupon defines local as “any business, in or around your city, that has a physical presence–a place where you can walk in and shop.”
In September, Groupon also introduced Groupon Rewards, which allows buyers to unlock special deals from local businesses via repeat visits.
EBay also is supporting bricks-and-mortar business (though not small or local) while promoting PayPal (which it owns) this holiday season. Through today, the online retailer is offering $10 coupons to shoppers who spend $100 through PayPal at websites for Dick’s Sporting Goods, Aeropostale, Toys “R” Us, or Babies “R” Us, or the latter two’s eBay stores. The emailed $10 coupon can only be redeemed at a bricks-and-mortar location of the same retailer.
EBay is “trying to be the anti-Amazon in a sense,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco, told Bloomberg. The company is “positioning itself as a partner with traditional retailers, where as Amazon is trying to accelerate that shift away from stores.”
Over the past three weeks, we’ve had a blast watching stores compete in the Deck Our Wall Photo Contest, and it’s safe to say we were more than impressed with the outcome! To participate, stores simply had to submit their most spirited photo and then try to accrue the most votes.
With 24 festive entries, the competition was fierce! Many stores took advantage of the viral nature of social media and recruited their friends and co-workers to vote for their picture, helping us gain over 500 new fans on our page! But, only three entries could come out on top! So, without further ado, the winners are……
First Place: City College of San Francisco, winner of a Barnes and Noble NOOK Tablet
Second Place: UC Davis Stores, winner of a MBS Prize Pack
Third Place: Cal Poly Downtown Bookstore, winner of a half-gallon bottle of Show-Me BBQ Sauce
We’d like to send a huge thank you to all who participated!
Check out all the creative entries on the Photo Contest Tab on our Facebook Page!
The following article,Commemorative UMaine Ornament Helps Student Charity, written by Catherine Pegram, offers a great idea to college stores. By creating a unique piece of merchandise and offering a percentage of the purchase to a local or campus-run charity, your store can increase sales and enhance your students’ perception. Check out how UMaine is achieving this with their annual ornament to gather ideas for your own store!
A keepsake Christmas ornament for UMaine fans is now up for grabs and helping support a student charity. The University Bookstore is selling the commemorative ornament.
This is the 9th in the collection, each of which depicts a university landmark or symbol. This year’s design is modeled after Stevens Hall, the oldest building on campus.
Money made off the ornament sales goes to a different student charity each year. Circle K International, a college service organization that’s part of Kiwanis, will benefit from the 2011 ornament.
Colleen Gagnon, bookstore supervisor, says, “Total we have give out from the bookstore $30,000 to these different organizations. They are very grateful and it’s a great, great cause.”
The ornaments are $18.95 and the bookstore’s the only place you’ll find them.
Does your store already offer something similar? Tell us about it in the comments section!
The following excerpt, from the article, Facebook introduces private messages between business pages and fans, was written by Jon Russell for The Next Web (TNW).
Facebook has begun introducing a new feature which allows business pages to receive private messages from their fans on the social network.
The new communications option, which has appeared for Asia-based admins only so far — although this could be down to time difference — is a significant introduction that will allow businesses to interact more closely with customers on the service than ever before.
Consumer facing businesses will find the feature particularly useful as it enables more personal communication with individual customers, opening the possible of a greater level of customer service on Facebook. The move is also likely to cut down on the pain of off-topic comments on company pages and reduce communication lost when Facebook fans fail to take their comments to customer service channels outside of the social network.
The move isn’t an all out opportunity for business to contact customers, however, as communication must be initiated by the customer. However, once that has been done, the conversation is open to both parties.
A possible negative effect of the new messaging feature and less public communication with brands, could be lower rates of organic growth for business pages. Facebook socialises each fan’s interactions with a page — sharing likes, shares, comments, and other interactions fans make there, with their friends — which can help raise a page’s visibility. So, more private messages may lead to less public comments, which could curtail this growth somewhat.
The introduction comes as Google claims that it has raised the stakes for social customer services through Google+, as Bradley Horowitz, who heads up the social network, recently explained.
Horowitz believes Google+ is offering a new way for companies to interact with customers, thanks to customer differentiation — with companies able to grade their followers to gold, silver or bronze levels — and Hangouts which offers the possibility to “really put a face on a brand” when dealing with customers.
Twitter also allows customers to reach out to companies directly, however — under current terms — both company and customer must be following each other and conversations are constrained to the service’s 140 character maximum.
What do you think? Will you take advantage of the option? Share your opinion in the comments section!
The following article, Tri-County Tech’s campus store lowers per-student cost of books, was written by Anna Mitchell for IndependentMail.com. Congratulations to TCTC Campus Store for the great feature; you deserve it!
At $413 a semester, books and supplies cost full-time students at Tri-County Technical College a third less than the national average.
Kevin Steele, the college’s manager of administrative services, said he’d prefer to students spend even less, more like $220.
“That’s a very aggressive goal, but we have to think that way,” Steele said. “Our online competition — they are thinking that way.”
Steele updated the school’s commissioners this week on the campus store’s operations and savings he’s ferreted out through technology, inventory control and new programs. Unlike many college bookstores, such as the Barnes and Noble at Clemson University, Tri-County Tech’s store has not been leased out to a national chain.
By tracking inventory, Steele said, he was able to reduce orders by $600,000 — a saving in staff time and postage returning unneeded books.
“It’s much more of an industry model,” he said.
The goal, Steele said, is to help retain students by limiting their costs and making the experience as quick and convenient as possible. Books and supplies are the second-highest expense most students face when getting an education, he said.
Under Steele’s watch, Tech’s campus store has started online sales, which exceeded $600,000 last year; launched a student marketplace for textbook sales and swaps; established book buy-back counters at satellite campuses in Anderson and Easley; expanded electronic book offerings; and, as of last week, offered book rentals for the first time.
The store’s Facebook page has about 1,300 members — compared with fewer than 400 at Piedmont Tech and no such Web presence at tech schools in Greenville and Spartanburg. Students can ask questions on that page and get answers in a few minutes, he said.
The rentals started in time for the spring semester, Steele said, and could save students 30 to 75 percent on their books.
“We engage technology and engage students where they are at,” Steele said.
Steele said he sells about 700 laptops and electronic tables for students who are using digital books. He said he wants to sell the device, load a student’s coursework on it, and send him on his way ready for class.
“By 2020, nobody will be carrying any books,” he said. “Ebooks can save students 30 to 60 percent.”
The campus store makes a 9 percent profit on sales, about half the national average. He said tight staffing helps make the numbers work. He has four employees and has a high sales rate for his store’s retail space.
Average sales per square foot nationally amount to $1,050, compared with $2,591 at Tech.
To keep lines at a minimum, Steele has over the past six years decreased the time customers spend buying books for the semester from an average of three hours to 45 minutes.
“When people see a line, they won’t come in,” he said.
The campus’s online store gives students access to the bookstore from home, and pre-orders for books shrink lines, he said. The store takes about 3,500 students orders on books a year.
“We don’t want any roadblocks,” Steele said. “A mom may have only 45 minutes to get her books and get on with life.”
Look around any college campus and you’ll see them everywhere: cell phones. Your students don’t leave home without them and use them constantly, making them the perfect resource for reaching your target audience.
“For every giveaway we offer, I have students text in to win,” explained Ed Hays, assistant manager. “That provides us with benefits that are two-fold: first, we’re able to collect their phone number for future promotions, while also encouraging them to participate in our current sales or contests.”
Using a third-party service called EZTexting, the store implements the text promotions 1-3 times per month.
“It’s really easy to use,” he said. “We pay a monthly fee based on how many promotions we intend to implement, choose a keyword for students to text, and they provide the rest. I can go in and download the phone numbers that have opted in at any time and create an Excel sheet with them to choose a random winner.”
For instance, the store recently held a cash giveaway during their textbook buyback, allowing students to enter through text messaging. Each day, three randomly selected students were selected to receive $50 in cash during the store’s five day buyback.
“I’ve realized that students seem to respond much better to cash incentives than they do other prizes, there’s something about having that large dollar amount in your hand that’s much more tangible,” he described. “Of course I want them to spend it in the store, but it seems that cash creates a different level of excitement and makes our promotions more enticing.”
To enter, students simply had to sell their books at one of the store’s two locations, and receive a designated keyword from the buyer there. Then, they could text that word to a specified number as entry into the contest.
“We changed the keyword at each location every day,” he explained. “That way if someone sold their books on Monday, they couldn’t continue to enter throughout the week.”
To attract even more students to enter the contest, the store then showcased the winners through their social media pages. Each of lucky recipients were asked to write how they were going to spend their buyback money on a whiteboard and pose for a picture with it!
“I’d seen another store do something similar awhile back, and it inspired me to give it a try,” he added. “It seemed like a fun way to show others all the ways buyback money could be spent!”
The store’s mobile messaging promotions go beyond just buyback, however. During football season, the store runs a secret sale on t-shirts before every home game.
“I’m able to include an image in the text messages too, so that students can see the item we have on special, and that really creates excitement,” he said. “For example, we created a special shirt for a big game we were playing, advertised the sale to our text message database and were able to completely sell out within 12 minutes! It was amazing!”
The store has found the messages are an effective way to send reminders, too.
“Over the summer, we texted everyone in our database to let them know that textbook reservations were available on our website,” he explained. “As a result, we received the highest number of online reservations we had ever had because we were able to directly communicate with them through a medium that they pay attention to.”
Feedback from the students has been just as positive, too!
“Overall, we’ve heard very good things,” Hays said. “It’s a quick, easy and non-invasive way for them to participate, and they’re always very excited when they win!”
With over 2,500 numbers in their opt-in database, the store has clearly had great success with this approach.
“I’m able to directly market to about 25% of our student population through text messaging and that number is only growing,” said Hays. “Our opt-out rate is less than 1% during any given promotion, too, so it’s been very effective. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves in the future.”
Has your store tried text messaging marketing? Share your experience or advice with others below by commenting!
The following excerpt is from the article Twitter Joins Facebook, Google, Launches ‘Brand Pages’ for Marketers, written by Cotton Delo for AdAge.com.
Twitter is looking to strengthen its relationship with advertisers by launching brand pages that will be unveiled today as part of a more comprehensive redesign.
Brand pages have two key elements, both of them free. They can be customized with large header images that advertisers can use to display their logo and tagline more prominently than under the standard format, where branded elements of the page design are often partially covered by the time line of tweets. Brands can also choose to keep a particular tweet at the top of their time line, and that top tweet also auto-expands to reveal an embedded photo or video from Flickr, YouTube or other sources, without requiring the user to take action.
Additionally, they separate out a brand’s @ replies and mentions, which Chief Revenue Officer Adam Bain noted is important for a customer-service oriented company like JetBlue, one of the launch partners, which frequently responds to users but wanted a way to keep its messaging from getting diluted.
“A tweet’s only 140 characters,” said Mr. Bain. “[Brand page are] like an invitation to learn more. When consumers want to learn more, spend more time or get deeper in terms of engagement, we think they’ll end up on the brand page.”
Twitter is launching brand pages with 21 marketers including big names such as American Express, Best Buy, Bing, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Dell , and Disney, among others. The general release date is said to be sometime in the coming months.
Key Benefits to Brands:
- Customizable Headers: Brands will have the ability to further express their marketing message with a larger profile image and a customizable header.
- Promoted Tweets: Brands can control the message visitors see when they first come to the profile page by selecting a certain tweet to remain at the top of the timeline. This is a way to showcase relevant content, such as promotions or educational material without the risk of it being lost in the timeline.
- Auto Expand Embedded Content: Promoted content will also go beyond simple links and actually show the content, auto-expanding to reveal photos or videos from various sources.
- Optimized Moderation: The update now allows brands to separate their @ replies & mentions. This will be extremely useful for those that manage the day-to-day engagement on behalf of brands.
What do you think of the new changes? Will your store create a Twitter brand page once they become available? Share your opinion below!