Archive for March, 2012
For the past 12 years, I have studied the so-called generation gap through empirical research, and have found that stereotypes of millennials in the workplace are inconsistent at best and destructive at worst. Such stereotypes of millennials abound, and some may have a degree of truth. But as this massive cohort enters the workforce in increasing numbers, can companies afford to put their trust in these types of characterizations?
As part of two initiatives at the Center for Creative Leadership, we have collected data using online surveys from more than 13,000 participants in for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations. On the basis of those findings, I have identified five key myths that companies tend to subscribe to when it comes to their younger employees:
Myth #1: Millennials don’t want to be told what to do.
Because they spent their childhood being told by their parents that everything they did was wonderful, millennials are difficult to manage.
The reality: The idea that millennials are not willing to comply with authority is flat-out wrong. Our research shows (unexpectedly, I must admit) that millennials currently in the workforce are more willing to defer to authority than either baby boomers or Gen Xers. Specifically, in a sample of more than 5,000 respondents, millennials were more likely than boomers and Gen Xers to agree with statements such as “Employees should do what their manager tells them, even when they can’t see the reason for it.” One possible explanation for this behavior has to do with the coaching millennials received from their parents and teachers growing up: They learned at a young age that doing what an authority figure tells them is more likely to result in success (“what do I need to do to get an A?”), and therefore believe that doing what their managers tell them will have the same effect.
This presents a great opportunity for organizations to shape millennial employees’ behavior. Managers can improve millennials’ career trajectory (and make their own lives easier) by ensuring that they understand the organization’s culture and know what the expectations are. Millennials are more likely to thrive if they know the ingredients for success in the workplace, starting with the basics.
Myth #2: Millennials lack organizational loyalty.
They aren’t committed to their company, and will change jobs when offered a small increase in salary.
The reality: Our research shows that millennial employees have about the same level of organizational commitment as boomers and Gen Xers. Interestingly, people of all generations in our sample indicate that they are moderately committed to their organization. So why is this myth so prevalent? One reason is that young people of every generation change jobs more frequently than older people. Boomers changed jobs when they were in their 20s more frequently than they did when they were in their 30s and 40s (or 50s and 60s), and we saw the same pattern with Gen Xers. And there is no evidence to show that the pattern is changing with millennials.
A second possibility consistent with our data is that people at lower levels in organizations, who tend to be younger, are slightly less committed to their organization than people at higher levels. Those in the latter group are paid more and are responsible for organizational strategy, and are therefore likely to be more invested.
Myth #3: Millennials aren’t interested in their work.
Their lack of commitment to an organization is also demonstrated by their lack of interest in their job.
The reality: Our research clearly shows that millennials currently in the workplace are just as intrinsically motivated (“into” their work) as are boomers and Gen Xers. Although many older people seem to think millennials are just going through the motions, the data says that they are doing that no more than the two previous generations. That said, our data indicates that people at lower levels in organizations (who tend to be younger) are slightly less motivated by the content of their jobs than people at higher levels. When looking at people at the top and at the bottom, consider the differences between the content of their work, the scope of their impact, and the level of their autonomy.
Myth #4: Millennials are motivated by perks and high pay.
They are interested only in material rewards, and organizations will go bankrupt trying to satisfy the millennials’ desires.
The reality: In collecting data from more than 5,000 people age 22 to 80, we’ve found no relationship between a person’s generation and whether he or she is motivated by perks and high pay. In other words, millennials are about as motivated as boomers and Gen Xers by perks and money (although these factors don’t rank all that high for anyone, on average). Again, the real difference shows up between organizational levels. Our data indicates that people at lower levels in organizations — who make less money — are slightly more motivated by extrinsic rewards than people at higher levels in the organization.
You may think giving millennials that iPad or handing them that spot bonus or letting them bring their dog to work is going to increase their dedication to the job, but it won’t. It might make them think you (or your company) are cool (because everyone loves a free iPad, right?), but there is no evidence that it increases overall motivation.
Myth #5: Millennials want more work–life balance.
They want to spend lots of time outside the office, whereas boomers and Gen Xers are workaholics.
The reality: This myth is actually marginally accurate. Millennials are interested in work–life balance, but not much more than Gen Xers are. In fact, millennials and Gen Xers agree at about the same level that the demands of their work interfere with their personal lives. Although we see differences among the generations, they are small enough to lead me to think that such differences are more likely to be a result of issues related to life stage, such as having young children (which millennials and Gen Xers are more likely than boomers to have), than to represent a generational shift.
People under age 48 in 2012 (Gen Xers and millennials) don’t think work–life balance is a perk you earn from having been employed by an organization for a long time. Instead, they think of it as the way a reasonable workplace is run.
It turns out there’s a really simple way to cement customer loyalty—ask them what they think. In a recent survey from Cint, 62 percent of consumers say they would be more likely to purchase a brand’s product if the company asked for their opinions. And more than half say they’d be more loyal to the brand as a result.
Surveying your customers can benefit your business in many ways. You’ll gain insights to help you improve your product or service, find out what customers actually think of your business compared to your competition and be better able to target their needs.
In today’s Yelp-review-driven world, consumers increasingly expect to be asked their opinions: 77 percent of them believe companies are more interested in what they think than they were 10 years ago, and 69 percent believe businesses actually act on their advice.
So how can you conduct a survey that gleans useful results? Here are some tips.
Get online. Consumers overwhelmingly prefer tech when it comes to surveys; 91 percent cite “smartphone,” “Web” or “SMS” as their preferred methods. Just 4 percent like mail in surveys, and a mere 1 percent want to be surveyed by phone. There are many low- or no-cost online survey tools out there. Zoomerang is one I like that lets you do surveys online, on Facebook, or by mobile device and offers both free and premium plans.
Keep it short. How many times have you started to take an online survey only to get bogged down in a seemingly endless series of screens? The Cint survey found shorter is better. Forty percent of consumers will spend one to five minutes taking a survey; 30 percent will devote up to 10 minutes; and just 13 percent are happy to spend over 20 minutes. (I’m surprised that number is so high.) Remember, people are busy, so keep it short and simple.
Offer incentives. If your survey is short and focused on a topic (like customer satisfaction) that customers believe will ultimately benefit them, you may not need to offer a reward. But if you’re conducting a lengthier survey or doing market research to assess a product or service launch, some type of “carrot” might be necessary. Money (no surprise) is the best motivator for 55 percent of the respondents in the Cint survey, while 34 percent want free products and 6 percent are okay with vouchers. (If you offer a chance to win a prize, make sure you are following contest/sweepstakes rules in your state.)
Act on what you learn. There’s no point to doing a survey if you ignore the results, and keep doing what you’ve always done. Plus, in today’s socially-connected world, people who’ve taken the survey are likely to talk about it. Assess your survey results and use your customers’ feedback to make changes where they’re needed. Even if the results show that your customers are happy, you’re not home free. You need to regularly poll your customers to keep them satisfied.
How do you determine what your customers want? Share your tips on implementing store surveys in the comment section below!
Pinterest released a new page design for profile pages this week that will be advantageous for both pinners and businesses. The new design highlights the user profile in a large header and has added more connection options for a user to populate. The board’s image preview has gotten an update, along with the ability to arrange the boards with a drag and drop feature, so you can organize what boards will appear above the fold.
They have also improved functionality by moving main navigation elements and activity to a single bar just below the profile header.
Take a look at some of the other changes:
- New Profile Header contains social sharing icons and a new location icon that populates information provided in the profile settings.
- Activity with the boards and pins you create is now highlighted in a right side container.
- Stats/ Navigation of boards, pins, likes, and activity is now organized into a single bar below the header making it more accessible. The follow all (boards) button is front and center.
Board’s New Design:
- Name of board will show 22 characters before truncating the text and is hyperlinked.
- The board image is now using the most recent pin to the board as the larger thumbnail and then four smaller thumbnail previews of what is also pinned inside. At this time you can’t adapt how this image is created, it is based on recent posts.
- The stats for the board are also clearly defined above the image, showing how many pins are available in each board.
- The large follow button below the image will follow only that individual board when selected.
Pinterest is making a more business friendly push toward offering more pronounced brand exposure with the new header design. By also adapting the navigation on a page, it has created a more functional environment for members to interact with.
They will find it is easier to edit, manage, and organize boards, and learn about other profiles, by easily noting the page stats and viewing recent activity of pins. As more businesses start to become early adapters of this social sharing platform, we will explore the campaigns and marketing strategies making it a successful endeavor for them.
If you haven’t gotten a Pinterest account yet, we recommend posting to accounts (Facebook/Twitter) requesting an invite from a friend/follower, rather than requesting an account from Pinterest – which can take weeks with no response.
Does your store have a Pinterest account? Comment below and share with others how you’re using your account and the benefits you’ve seen so far!
With upfront savings on their minds, students across the country are demanding textbook rental. But, many college stores are hesitant to offer the option because of the extra labor and financial risk involved. Wichita State University Bookstore, who has offered rental for the past three semesters, was definitely no exception.
“We were very nervous!” admitted Lisa Fitzsimmons, course materials manager. “But, it was becoming such a popular choice that we knew we had to give it a chance. It was important to offer our students another affordable option.”
According to Fitzsimmons, the store’s biggest concern was the logistics of implementing a program.
“We were concerned about the effort it would take to get rental up and running both on the front end, of offering the books through our system, and the back end when students returned their books at the end of the semester,” she said. “It’s one thing to see or hear about how something will work, but it’s always different to actually experience it.”
Based on their apprehensions, the store decided to start small by renting only 5 titles in the fall of 2010 for some of their larger core classes where the option would have the most impact. After seeing how the process worked, however, they wished that they had rented more!
“It was much easier than any of us originally thought!” Fitzsimmons described. “The process wasn’t difficult at all and we were very relieved that the reality was much better than our expectations.”
In fact, the following semester, the store offered 125 titles for rent, demonstrating their confidence in the program. After that, rental at Wichita State has only continued to grow.
In the fall of 2011, the store took advantage of MBS Rental’s non-serialized option, which significantly reduced their labor and allowed them to expand the program yet again.
“It was an absolute night and day difference,” she explained. “Before, we would spend so much time placing stickers on our books, but that completely eliminated with non-serialized rental. Plus, we no longer have to worry about running out of inventory; we just assign the book as a rental, put it out there, and go on with our day. The reduced workload has been so valuable to us!”
Non-serialized rental saved time for the students too, with the ability to Rent at POS.
“We used to have a big line because students would have to stop and fill out their rental contract separately before checking out,” she said. “With Rent at POS, we’ve been able to greatly improve our processing time for rentals. Now, students just have to wait in one line and we print their contract directly on their receipt!”
Since their transition to non-serialized rental, Wichita State University Bookstore has seen increased use of their rental program, proving its popularity among students.
“This past semester, we rented approximately 6,000 textbooks which, on a campus of 15,000, means we’re renting to nearly half of the student population,” she explained. “They’re so excited to have the option of renting their textbooks and love how easy the process is; it’s been very successful!”
To stores who are considering starting a rental program, Fitzsimmons has one piece of advice: “Jump into it!”
“Enlist the help of everyone in your store and put your heads together to create a program that best meets your needs. Having a used book and/or systems provider who already has a great process in place made it much easier for us!” she said. “We were apprehensive at first and drug our feet, but it’s been a very good addition to the store. Especially once we converted to non-serialized rental; it’s been a breeze!”
Want more information on how MBS Rental works? Learn all the details here. Do you offer rental in your store? Share your experience in the comment section below!
The new Facebook Timeline is here and on Friday your Page will have to convert to the new layout. We understand that it can be overwhelming to make the switch, so we’re bringing you April’s Marketing Plan a little early to make the transition as smooth as possible!
This month, we’re offering you 16 creative Cover Photos that will capture your fans attention! We’ve designed these images with your students in mind, integrating the latest trends into each theme! Better yet, we’ve added promotional posters to go along with each Cover Photo so that you can implement an entire campaign for buyback, rush, or anytime in between!
Facebook does have some guidelines for Cover Photos and, based on our interpretation of their rules, we have ensured that each of our images meets their standards.
Check them all out and add one to your Timeline today!
While mobile stole the 2011 holiday spotlight, one thing that slid in under the radar is the fact that social media sites can help drive sales. Retailers must begin forming their social commerce strategy now, by looking at how their customers are behaving on social media channels both on their sites and across the Web.
Cross-Channel Marketing Guide
OK, it’s time to officially close the book on the 2011 holiday retail season and to shift our attention forward to 2012. For me personally, what makes it difficult to stop looking back are the new trends that emerged that will forever change holiday shopping. By now you know the story:
- Mobile made its mark, with 11 percent of online sales in December coming through a mobile device — an increase of 100 percent over December 2010.
- The empowered customer turned to multiple mobile devices including smartphones and tablets to conduct mobile shopping.
- While overshadowed by their mobile counterparts, social media sites such as Facebook proved they have an influence on consumer buying.
Now it’s time to begin looking at some of the smarter commerce approaches retailers can embrace to ensure they hit the bull’s-eye this 2012 holiday season. Following are some key issues to consider.
Mobile Commerce Is Here to Stay
We now know that mobile commerce is here to stay. In fact, we believe that mobile shopping rates will exceed 20 percent in 2012. A huge part of this growth will come via the iPad, which offers consumers an unparalleled experience, one which this past December drove more retail purchases than any other device.
In 2012, retailers will need to go the extra mile by creating a design and experience that fully takes advantage of the richness and the exploration capabilities of the device.
Next, take a leap of faith and embrace Quick Response Codes (QR Codes). QR Codes are unique bar codes that store a significantly larger amount of data. By scanning the code with a mobile device, consumers are instantly presented with a vast array of data about the company, including nearby locations, special offers and more.
While many feel that QR codes have missed the mark, with mobile shoppers in full swing, this technology represents one of the next big evolutionary rungs on the mobile commerce ladder. Push to make your business’s mobile commerce efforts even smarter by using QR Codes to connect consumers with rich, detailed information about the products that interest them the most, all through their mobile device.
Let’s Get Social
One thing that slid in under the radar is the fact that social media sites can help drive sales. Retailers must begin forming their social commerce strategy now, by looking at how their customers are behaving on social media channels both on their sites and across the Web.
Specifically, look at how consumers are sharing specials and promotions within their networks. Next determine if there are patterns that you can identify and replicate in 2012.
Additionally, take the time to decipher social sentiment. By embracing advances in analytics, businesses can regularly gain new insights into consumer perceptions of their brand that will ultimately help to predict their buying behavior.
It Can’t All be About Mobile and Social
While mobile and social are center stage, email remains one of the most effective ways to engage customers, as long as it’s not overdone. To be truly effective, marketing should be perceived as a service, not an intrusion.
For the 2012 season, begin examining the data gathered over the 2011 holiday effort. Specifically, look at the behaviors of customers to identify clear preferences for time, promotion, and how they consume your messages.
What days were they shopping most, and at what time of day? What devices were they using, and when? Now take this insight and target these shoppers with promotions and special deals at these precise times and on their preferred device.
Be Prepared to Start Early
One trend that was more pronounced this past season was the Thanksgiving shopper. In 2011, U.S. shoppers took advantage of early sales, which drove a 39.3 percent increase in online spending on turkey day, making Thanksgiving the official kickoff to the weekend of holiday shopping.
In 2012, retailers must begin promoting deals a day early and then be prepared to keep them fresh for Black Friday to ensure you keep shoppers interested.
When do you start planning your holiday sales strategy? Share your tips in the comments section!
Marketers know that Twitter is a valuable tool used to reach out to thousands of customers. But it’s not just the output of content that’s valuable — the people and other businesses you follow on social media are of equal worth.
Unless your account is private, you have no control over who is following you (unless you block them). However, you personally select your followers. But as a business with thousands of followers, is it wise to follow every single person who follows you?
“Don’t fall into the trap of something I call a ‘courtesy’ follow — that is, following someone that has followed you out of a desire to appear grateful,” advises Sheena Medina, community manager at Fast Company.
Medina, who says this “does nothing but fill your stream with noise,” cites President Barack Obama’s account, @BarackObama, which at one point was following 702,586 users — the most on Twitter. The account, overwhelmed by tweets, is in dire need of a bit of damage control. But, unable to dump seven hundred thousand followers at once, the admins must slowly reduce its followers in order to keep the President’s social media-friendly image in tact.
On the other hand, some say that businesses should follow back, so that their followers may DM them privately.
“Here’s a way to look at it — would you put up a web page without adding your email address or a contact form so that people could reach out to you privately?” asks Laura “@Pistachio” Fitton, inbound marketing evangelist for HubSpot, and lead author of Twitter for Dummies. “As a business, not following someone back means you’re telling them, ‘Thanks for your support, but you’re not important enough to us to be willing to listen to you privately.’”
Fitton says she tries to reply to all of the genuine direct mentions, and when possible, she will thank or respond to @-mentions and retweets.
“Above and beyond that, stuff like retweeting their content, asking them questions and truly listening to their answers, giving them interesting stuff to interact with are all good ways to engage your community,” she says.
Both Fitton and Medina encourage businesses to refrain from using an automated “thanks for following” mention. If you do decide to follow everyone, authenticity is key. Your followers will be able to tell whether they’re talking to a robot or a person — and a real person is always more valuable on Twitter.
If you do decide not to follow everyone on Twitter, Medina advises to be strategic about curating your stream on Twitter — knowing your audience helps, but you must also think about what sort of content is going to be useful and entertaining to you.
“We’re not one-dimensional people,” says Medina. “And increasingly, businesses are using Twitter to show how multifaceted they are. Your stream should reflect the dynamics of your personality and business.”
Does your store follow every follower back? In what ways do you show appreciation to your fans? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
The following excerpt from the article, How to make cause marketing and sustainability part of your corporate DNA, was written by Shelly Lipton for SmartBlog on Leadership.
According to a 2010 Cone Cause Evolution study, 83% of Americans want to see brands support a cause; 91% think those companies should focus their efforts in the communities where they operate. And more than 40% say they buy certain brands because of the causes they are associated with.
So what’s the take-away here?
Acts of corporate kindness, programs that raise awareness for a cause, initiatives that are good and green really make really great business sense. The element of sustainability is the icing on the cake.
Cause-related marketing and sustainability used to be two different topics of discussion. But with the extraordinary pressure for companies to operate in a manner that preserves and protects natural resources and the environment, many companies are aligning themselves with causes that focus on sustainability.
To be truly effective in combining the two, an organization must really embrace the notion of sustainability and make it part of the corporate DNA. There is no room for “green-washing” in this game.
Companies that make cause marketing and sustainability part of their DNA can create positive social change and exceed their marketing and sales goals as a result.
There are five key elements to keep in mind in order to ensure that your efforts are successful:
1. Make sustainability part of a corporate mission, alongside the other core values of the company, to underscore your commitment.
Sustainability is a long-term, continuous responsibility. It begins in the C-suite all the way down to the mailroom — everyone must take ownership in the program. Leadership must set an example and get behind the cause of sustainability first.
Companies are using up natural resources — part of the mission must be to give back to the resources they are using and wasting. The value that corporations can yield by taking this stand is considerable.
2. Find ways to execute this mission in a way that is tangible with effects that are measurable.
Show through your corporate actions that you believe it’s important, that it’s part of your mission and here’s what you are doing about it.
3. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch — match social causes and charitable organizations to tie back to the company’s mission.
For example, if you are a company producing children’s products, align yourself with an organization that helps children in need. Make it related categorically. And if you can identify an organization with a strong sustainability component to the cause — you’ve just hit a home run.
4. Get your staff involved and encourage them to become champions of the cause as part of both a good will and team-building effort.
It goes back to the issue that consumers wish brands would support causes. The association makes someone want to buy a product because of it — the opportunity shouldn’t be limited to their consumer-facing involvement but also drilled down into the organization as well.
Most people who work for companies have little idea what causes their employer is associated with. When you develop a program that empowers employees to get involved, it becomes an extraordinary team-building effort. It becomes part of the DNA of the corporate culture.
5. Promote the value of what you are bringing, not only to the environment but to the cause, and the corporation.
Think about the notion of the mantra, “If a tree falls in the woods does anyone hear it?” Remember that the real value proposition is letting people know the good you are doing without pandering.
If you have achieved positive results and you are finding a solution that is meaningful — share it. Present yourself as a corporate role model.
Looking for ways to be more sustainable? Designed specifically for college stores, One Planet Books collects textbooks that have no current market value to ensure that none are thrown away or discarded in landfills. Better yet, we provide everything you need to participate and even pay you for each carton you send to us!
You maintain complete control of those funds, too, and can choose to donate them to any campus or community organization you choose, creating the perfect opportunity for effective cause marketing! To learn more, talk to your MBS Representative!
Get to know your target customer base a little better in this insightful article, Generation Y: Meet the new financial decision makers, written by Francine Kopun, Retail Reporter for the The Star.
Generation Y has become the biggest buying force in the marketplace, filling their closets to bursting with brands and advising their parents on what cars to buy, vacations to take and even what clothes they should wear.
Their parents are listening.
“I think the big difference is that parents have asked this generation their opinion since they were old enough to speak,” according to Kit Yarrow, author of Gen Buy, How Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings are Revolutionizing Retail.
“Parents today care more what their kids think. They consider their kids to be knowledgeable about trends.”
There has never been a shopping generation like Generation Y, according Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University.
“They’re huge – a bigger demographic than Baby Boomers. They spend more money and they’re more enthusiastic shoppers,” Yarrow said.
According to Yarrow, as many as 80 per cent of family vehicle purchases are influenced by teenagers living at home.
Although definitions of the demographic differ, Yarrow includes people born between 1980 and 2000 as part of Generation Y – about 83-million people in the U.S.
Yarrow believes the shift in the balance of power came about in part because the traditional hierarchy within families – in which parents made most major decisions without seeking input from their children – has been flattened out by our child-centered society.
Children gained authority in the home during the 1980s and 1990s, when they essentially provided in-house tech-support to parents baffled by VCRs. Parents have since caught up with technology, but they’re still seeking advice from their kids, says Yarrow.
Their children are, after all, shopping experts.
Boomers only had a few must-haves growing up in the 1960s and 70s – a pair of Levi’s, a pair of adidas, a bicycle and a Walkman.
Today’s teenagers have wardrobes of branded clothing, from designer shoes to purses. They pine for the latest in electronic gadgetry and often get it.
They are changing the retail landscape.
The generation that grew up with technology in hand is notoriously impatient, which makes them less tolerant of ambiguity, says Yarrow. Inundated with information, they are looking for curators who can whittle things down to what is relevant to them.
They are used to instant feedback, and want to be heard and acknowledged in the retail process, says Yarrow. They want honesty. They want to hear about mistakes with an apology rather than learn something has been swept under a rug.
Their brains are wired for speed, not focus. They are more easily bored, shop 24/7 and believe new is better, that innovation is cool. They like to make their own stuff, as the success of Etsy.com has shown, and even make their own stars, like Justin Bieber, who shot to fame on YouTube.
Yarrow said retailers have to connect with their customers on numerous different channels, and in new ways, to generate interest and loyalty from Generation Y.
She cited as an example Purina, which gains brand awareness by funding animal welfare efforts.
With graduation just around the corner, The College Store at Hobart and William Smith Colleges wanted to take the time to say thank you to their loyal customers before they transitioned to the next phase of their lives. In an effort to show their appreciation, the store recently hosted an exclusive celebration called Senior Salute.
“We wanted to find a way to thank them for their patronage and really recognize their accomplishments,” explained Lucille Smart, director. “We also have several products and services available for graduation, so the event served as an easy way for students to access all of them at once.”
To spread the word, the store set about cross-channel marketing Senior Salute. Smart and her staff started their advertising efforts by mailing a ‘Save the Date’ to students three weeks prior to the event. Then, a week later, they sent a similar mailer to their students’ parents letting them know what their son or daughter was invited to.
“Our hope was that parents would encourage their students to take advantage of all the discounts we had going on and it definitely seemed to work!” she said. “We had parents calling and asking if we could assist their student with certain things and there were even a few parents who attended; it was great!”
They also distributed posters in high density senior areas, hung signs in-store, posted information on their website and social media pages, and sent out email reminders. Then, to reinforce all the exciting offers students could receive at Senior Salute, the store sent one last invitation a week before the event with a special token included.
“We gave them a Wooden Nickel that could be redeemed during the event for free raffle tickets,” Smart said. “It was just another way that we hoped to bring in traffic.”
All of their marketing efforts paid off, however, with a line of students waiting outside the store for Senior Salute to begin!
In fact, the event, which was held from 5-9pm after the store had closed to the public, had over 50% of the senior class in attendance! To enter, students had to show staff their campus ID at the door and be checked off of a list of those with senior status obtained from the Registrar’s office.
“The fact that it was exclusive to them helped make it even more special,” she added.
To create a celebratory atmosphere, the store was adorned with a festive décor complete with custom balloons imprinted with Senior Salute as well as a cap and mortarboard. Adding to the fun, the store catered dinner which included pizzas, chili, hummus and pita bread, fruit kabobs, and cheese and crackers.
There was dessert, too! They served cookies in shape of a diploma and mortarboard frosted with the color of each college and a sheet cake with a congratulatory message.
“I had a few students tell me that they were almost teary-eyed when they walked in and saw everything,” Smart described. “It made them feel as though they had been acknowledged as seniors, and that was the ultimate goal!”
Along with an appetizing menu, the store had lots of specials, which helped to drive both sales and interest. They offered 20% off storewide, with a few exceptions such as textbooks, electronics and special orders, plus an additional 15% off select product categories each hour, with a limit per product category per student.
“For instance, from 5-6 pm students received an extra discount on t-shirts, 6-7 pm was hats, 7-8 pm was sweatpants, and during the final hour it was sweatshirts,” she explained. “Many students stuck around or came back later in the evening so that they could receive the discount on a certain product.”
The strategy was certainly effective as the store saw strong sales every hour.
“We did three times the volume of sales in those 4 hours than we do for an entire day, typically,” Smart said. “It was absolutely fantastic!”
Beyond sales, students also had the opportunity to win prizes through a raffle. With the help of over 54 vendors, the store was able to give away 52 gift baskets valued between $45 and $197!
“Our vendors were just amazing! Their generosity helped us offer so many great prizes and we’re planning to send them thank you cards to show our appreciation,” Smart said.
Once they redeemed their Wooden Nickel, students had the chance to put their raffle tickets in a bucket beside each basket so that they could choose which products they were most interested in winning.
They also received one raffle ticket for every $10 in purchases, with the store “rounding up” generously. Students frequently had long strands of tickets in hand as they viewed the basket choices before making their selections.
“We had quite a variety including a college chair, diploma frame, college jewelry and imprinted items, all in an equal distribution for both Hobart College and William Smith College,” she said. “Students really liked that they had the chance to choose where their tickets went; it gave them a sense of control in the process and they were very excited!”
With all the festive activities, Senior Salute added up to be a huge success for the store!
“It was all positive buzz that night,” she described. “The mood was absolutely jovial and students were so happy to have time to visit with friends that they typically don’t see very often in a fun environment.”
Even after the event, students had lots of good feedback to share, according to Smart.
“We did a survey after the fact to see what students thought,” she explained. “We asked five quick questions: what did you like best, what did you like least, what would you add, what would you change and what other thoughts would you share with us. We had a great response with an overwhelming amount of compliments and very helpful, constructive feedback!”
In fact, the event generated so much buzz that underclassmen are already asking if the event will be available to them when they graduate!
“It was a definite success!” said Smart. “We now expect Senior Salute to become a signature event with both participation and sales growing every year!”