Posts tagged in-store events
Few things get college students more excited than March Madness. Feelings of camaraderie, school spirit and competitiveness often run high during the annual event. But, what about schools that don’t have sports teams; who says they have to miss out on the fun?
That’s exactly what Nicole Martinez, textbook manager at Aims College Bookstore, thought. Although the school that her store serves doesn’t have a mascot or a basketball team, she was determined to offer the same entertaining atmosphere to students. So, in March, Martinez and her staff themed their monthly event around basketball by hosting a 3 point shootout!
“There’s a real misnomer that college bookstores are all about the money, but that’s just not the case,” she explained. “We try to host different activities each month that show our store in a different light; we’re here to help our students and give back in any way that we can. Our March Madness event was just another way to reinforce that mission.”
Using a variety of channels, Aims College Bookstore advertised the first-time event heavily, to ensure everyone had a chance to participate.
“We tried everything we could think of from posters to table tents,” Martinez said. “Probably the most effective strategy, however, was word-of-mouth. Our student employees walked around with 3×5 handouts and talked to students about what we had planned; it was a great way to connect with them on a more personal basis.”
Because this was the shootout’s inaugural year, Martinez wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to attendance.
“Honestly, my goal was for us to have at least 10 participants,” she admitted. “I was thrilled when our final count was 37 – that was so exciting!”
To ensure the event ran smoothly, the store also reached out to other departments on campus for volunteers who were willing to “shag” balls as students were shooting. At first, they simply put the request in a daily newsletter sent to all faculty and staff, but Martinez soon found another strategy to be much more effective.
“I only had one response after the newsletter, so I decided to reach out to some individuals on campus, who I work with directly, through email,” she said. “Because it was personal, I think it was easier to grab their attention and everyone was very willing to help.”
Hosted over two days, the March Madness Shootout was a big success. Participating students were invited to come into the gym during an assigned time period that fell within a two hour window each day.
Students then had 3 minutes to shoot as many 3 pointers as they could from a designated line. The person with the most points by the end of the competition was awarded with an 8” tablet and the runners-up received in-store gift cards.
“It was awesome,” Martinez emphasized. “I had one of our student employees, who is on our school’s student government committee, tell me that her friends called it the best event they’d been involved with since they’d been at Aims. I know that was hard for her to admit, since her committee works on planning a lot of events, but it meant so much to hear that!”
Students weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the event however. Martinez heard rave reviews from several volunteers, as well.
“They had so much fun and many of them asked me to put them down as volunteers for next year!” she said.
In the end, the March Madness Shootout was a big win for Aims College Bookstore.
“I really feel like it helped both students and faculty to see us in a new light. We’re shaping a more positive brand identity, and that’s really important.” she said. “We’re all very excited for next year’s event and new ideas are already floating around; I think it will really take off from here!”
After textbook rush, the winter months can be slow a time of year for college stores. So, Kutztown University Student Bookstore decided to create an event that would brighten students’ day and bring them into the store.
“Our goal was to do something fun and different to show our students how much we appreciate them,” explained Amanda Schaeffer, public relations manager. “We timed it to take place about two weeks before Spring Break, when everyone is suffering from the winter woes and could use a fun event to lift their spirits.”
Based on that concept, staff members settled on a beach theme, but with a twist; they called the event the Frozen Beach Bash! While in the planning stages, they realized a key element to the fun would be incentives, so Amanda and her team reached out to vendors for donations that they could use as prizes.
“Our buyers did a great job, and we ended up with quite a few different items,” she said. “We also keep a box of vendor samples and free products that we receive throughout the year and use those as prizes for events, too, so we had a lot to choose from.”
To spread the word to students, the store began putting postcards in shopping bags 10 days prior to the event. They also strategically placed posters in Residence Halls and Academic Buildings around campus, as well as included a short write-up in their weekly student e-newsletter and staff/faculty daily e-newsletter.
“All of those outlets are necessary, however, we focused a lot more energy on our social media pages,” Schaeffer explained. “We created an event on Facebook a few weeks before, and then teased the Frozen Beach Bash with photos of a backdrop we planned to use, as it progressed.”
“We used Instagram for most of the photos, but we put them on our Facebook page and tweeted them to our followers, too,” she added. “We knew that students would need to see what was building in order to get excited about it.”
On the day of the event, students were greeted by bookstore staff and asked if they wanted to spin the “Wheel of Prizes & Discounts” as they entered the store. Discounts ranged from 10-30% off one regularly priced apparel or gift item that day only.
Keeping with the summer beach theme, the store also offered a “Topless Sale,” with all sweatpants and shorts 25% off the lowest ticketed price. There were refreshments, as well; they had their local health food store come in for a product sampling and their partner, Rita’s Italian Ice, sold four beachy flavors of Italian Ice for $1 per cup.
In the afternoon, they offered students an even more unique opportunity by bringing in a Pepsi-sponsored flip book machine! Customers used it to record six seconds of video with their friends using a variety of silly props. Then, the video was turned into a flip book that they could take with them. (Watch a video of one of the flip books!)
One of the store’s very talented employees also built a beach backdrop, complete with a Kutztown surfboard, tiki man and other summer-themed props. They used it as the basis for a Twitter photo contest, where customers were encouraged to pose with friends and tweet the photo to @KutzBookstore, using #frozenbeachbash. At the end, the entire staff voted to determine the top two photos, and the winners received a digital camera as their prize.
“When we told students about the photo contest and flip book machine, it was neat to watch them be silly and laugh and just have a good time with it,” she described. “This was our first time using Twitter for a contest, and we were pleased and encouraged by the number of students who participated and were excited about it.”
There was also a raffle that anyone could enter to win either a Pepsi backpack or an iPod docking station, both sponsored by Pepsi, which added to the excitement of the day.
With so many fun activities, the Frozen Beach Bash drew a steady stream of students to the store throughout the event.
“It was so much fun for our store staff to see all of the students, staff and faculty having fun in our store. Groups of students would come in, spin the wheel and get really excited about a free prize or discount; it was great,” Schaeffer said.
With additional traffic throughout the day, the store saw an increase in sales of over $2,000 compared to the same day last year.
“The interaction we had on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram was all positive too, and we gained quite a few more followers,” she added. “We’re building conversation with our students, and they’re responding positively.”
The biggest benefit to the store, however, couldn’t be quantified in dollars or ‘likes.’ Schaeffer was most pleased by the impact the event made on students’ perception of the store.
“Like all college stores, we want to build trust with our students and show them that we are here for them,” she emphasized. “When students came to our event, they realized that we weren’t trying to sell them something; we were giving them something fun to do, and many of them left with great prizes.”
The staff agreed that the event was well worth the effort, and they hope to host more activities like the Frozen Beach Bash in the future.
“We were able to take a lot of photos and videos to use on our social media sites to show all of the other students who didn’t attend what they missed, so hopefully they will want to stop by next time,” she said. “Overall, we heard a lot of ‘thank you’ and ‘this was so much fun.’ Our goal was to make it a fun day for the students, and it was clear that everyone who came had a great time.”
Creating a social media page is simple enough, but getting your customers to engage with it can be no easy task. That’s why Dixie State University Campus Store continually looks for new ways to cross promote their social platforms and get students excited about interacting with them.
As a prime example, the store recently hosted a Cutest Couple Contest that encouraged students to interact with them via Facebook and Instagram. Starting in late January, they prompted students to pose with their college sweetheart and post the photo to the either social platform using the hashtag #dixiescutestcouple. They were even permitted to post once to each page as a strategy for increasing their odds of winning.
The store promoted the new initiative to students through a variety of channels.
The only requirements were that both participants were current Dixie State University students and that they each had proof of student identification. Once all the submissions were received, the race was on! Each entry competed to see who could collect the most ‘likes’ over the next three weeks.
“We had over 20 entries and all of them were eager to win,” Greenleaf said. “It really helped increase interaction on our pages and we gained quite a few new fans and followers in the process.”
The top 5 pairs were then invited into the store for a one-of-a-kind giveaway drawing. The store selected one couple at random for the grand prize: a one minute shopping spree! Standing back to back, the couple’s midsections were duct taped together and the 60 second countdown began.
“We gave them each a large shopping bag and set them loose in the store,” she said. “We roped off certain areas such as electronics, textbooks and computers, but other than that they had free reign!”
The two then raced against the clock while hoarding as much as they could into their shopping bags. The couples who had gathered for the drawing stayed to cheer them on, along with the store’s staff members.
“We played the Jeopardy theme song as they went, which created a fun atmosphere,” Greenleaf added.
By the end, the couple scored $1,500 worth of store merchandise!
“They were ecstatic,” she described. “They even decided to share their winnings with the four other couples by divvying out Dixie sweatshirts, which was so generous. I think it’s fair to say that all five couples walked away feeling like winners!”
Greenleaf believes that the promotion was well worth the cost.
“It was fairly easy to implement, and the students did a lot of the work for us,” she said. “It definitely created a buzz and, by the end, we had 10 new brand advocates wearing our apparel around campus; it was great!”
Kevin Ault, manager of Kirkwood Community College Bookstore, may be new to the world of collegiate retail, but this buyback season, he brought some of his previous retail experience to the store with the goal of creating a buzz on campus.
Ault, who had only worked at the store since August, wanted to make buyback a positive experience for students, whether all of their books were purchased or not. To achieve that goal, he collaborated with Mary Beth Hanna, manager of the Iowa City campus bookstore. The pair started at their respective stores at approximately the same time and have teamed up on a lot of the changes they have made around campus. Together, they devised a way to ensure no one walked away empty-handed.
At each outdoor buying station, the stores set up sucker trees, with color-coded lollipops for students to choose from. Once students sold their books, they could take the sucker inside to find out which prize their lollipop color corresponded with.
“We bought about $120 worth of Dum Dum suckers, and had a total of about 4,000 students to stop by to claim them at our two campus locations,” explained Ault. “Our MBS buyers did a great job of encouraging students to come inside to claim their prize, which really helped generate traffic.”
By collaborating with their vendors, the stores didn’t have to invest a lot of money into the promotion, either. Many of the prizes, which ranged from an iTouch and an Xbox to candy bars and drink koozies, were donated, significantly reducing the cost.
“We had such great support from our vendors,” he added. “It was nice to be able to offer such a wide variety of prizes.”
This strategy allowed them to completely alter some students’ perception of both the bookstore and buyback in general. For instance, one student received just $5 for his book, but came inside to learn his lollipop had won him a new TV!
“We had a lot of wins like that; it turned what would have been a bad experience into an exciting and memorable one,” he said.
The stores didn’t rely solely on their vendors, however; some students received coupons for discounts ranging from 15 to 35 percent off an in-store purchase. This significantly increased sales in the apparel department during the seven day buyback, and is continuing to benefit traffic long after, as well.
“I decided not to include an expiration date on the coupons because, in my opinion, a sale is a sale,” he explained. “I wanted students to be able to use it whenever they needed, and we’ve seen quite a few continuing to redeem the coupons months later.”
Plus, the stores offered every student who sold their books the chance to win free textbooks for a semester by entering in a drawing.
“We basically created a rental contract for the two winning students at each location and used a credit card to secure the transaction as normal,” he described. “All of them were super excited; it saved them nearly $400 in textbooks!”
Regardless of what they received, Ault says students were thrilled to be walking away with a prize.
“We got a lot of positive feedback,” he explained. “Everyone was very excited about it and there’s still a lot of buzz about it, even now.”
Although the promotion was a big success, Ault admits the stores will likely only offer it at their December buys.
“We really went all-out with this, but I don’t want to ask my vendors for that kind of support every semester,” he explained. “My hope is to do something a little more low-key in spring and then bring the lollipop draw back each winter.”
Regardless of the promotion, Ault intends to keep student satisfaction central to each initiative.
“My ultimate goal is to give students a better perspective of our store,” he emphasized. “We can’t always give them the best price, but we can make their experience more enjoyable.”
Valentine’s Day is all about honoring those we care about, so many college stores took the opportunity to thank their loyal customers with fun events, interactive promotions, and even big sales. Take a look at how a few stores celebrated the occasion and the results they received:
“We had heart-shaped boxes of candy at the register, and each customer was offered the opportunity to pick a piece of chocolate, using tongs of course. One piece in each box had a little red sticker under it, and the lucky student who picked that piece won a MCC mug filled with candy! Although all of our customers could partake in the promotion, we only advertised it to our Facebook fans so they knew about it ahead of time.
We had other promotions and events going on in the store throughout the day, as well. We showed the movie Valentine’s Day with free popcorn, had a drawing that anyone who purchased a Coca Cola product could enter to win 4 ski lift tickets to Mountain Creek and had a table sale at an off-site location with discounted Valentine’s Day gifts on sale. So, it was a busy day!
Plus, all week long we had a ‘Favorite Candy Contest’ going on. We had 3 types of candy that the students could sample; M&M’s, Junior Mints and Raisinets. Each student could vote for their favorite candy flavor and the winning flavor will be on sale next week. It was definitely a sweet time to visit our store!
Our students expect us to have fun promotions and events like this. They would be disappointed to come in and find us not offering something fun for them to take part in. They stop by often just to see what is going on. Our Valentine’s Day promotions and all the others we do definitely increase traffic in our store and foster good relations with our students.
Overall, the day was a success; everyone loved the candy and the opportunity to win a prize. Who doesn’t like free candy!?”
-Mary Tutalo, assistant director
“On Valentine’s Day, we hosted a Cupid Shuffle Dance competition. We advertised the dance contest on our Facebook page by posting: ‘Cupid Shuffle on Valentine’s Day? We think yes! Come show us your moves to win a prize! One prize per dancer until prizes are gone! Starting now!’
The goal of our dance promotion was to pull students, faculty and staff into our store. It was an opportunity to allow them to have fun in the Campus Store. We had a large number of students visit the store for the competition; some wanted to participate and some came by just to watch.
It was a great way to draw students into our store by providing an entertaining break from classes. We have received many new items in the past month and this gave the students a chance to see all of our new arrivals, rather than just posting pictures of them to Facebook. We actually boosted sales that day!”
-Kelli Harrison, assistant manager
“Our store offered a free card-making station for students to create the perfect ‘love-made’ card. Our goal was to engage students and offer them something fun to do on Valentine’s Day. We wanted to make sure no one forgot about Valentine’s Day and to provide a creative outlet for those who wanted to offer a more personal touch.
Our student feedback was immediate and positive. They loved it! Minutes after setting up the table and posting the event to our Facebook and Twitter feeds, we had students stopping by to create their cards. We had several students creating cards all throughout the day.
The benefits to our store were many; we provided a fun, free event for students to participate in, helped students take care of their Valentine needs, increased store traffic as well as awareness of our art department and allowed our staff to interact with students in a fun, creative environment. Most importantly, however, we delivered value and service to our campus community.”
-Kari Erpenbach, marketing manager
“We recognized late in the fall semester that we had an opening in early spring for some kind of promotion. There was a big string of consecutive weeks on the calendar where we did not have anything special planned. Centering a promotion on-and-around Valentine’s Day and Fat Tuesday, since they fell on the same week this year, seemed logical. We hoped to generate sales approximating our annual Monster Sale that falls during Halloween.
Our Stupid Cupid sale was a pretty straightforward promotion with SDSU gear starting at 20% off and we seemed to get the desired response in terms of sales. The Facebook ad we posted received 120 likes and multiple shares, so we knew the word was getting out.
The sale lasted for three days, Tuesday, Feb. 12 – Thursday, Feb. 14. Comparing sales to the same days in the same week last year when we did not have a sale, our Stupid Cupid sale generated nearly three times the revenue in the imprinted apparel and gifts departments. These first-year numbers for Stupid Cupid were in the ballpark for what we did during our most recent Monster Sale.
It is a nice benefit when the register ka-chings a bit more than usual, but for a different reason than you may think. We are a not-for-profit campus auxiliary and the money we make goes back to the university to benefit student programs. We are pleased anytime we create and deliver on a new opportunity to better serve our students.”
-Ben Eisenstein, Manager, Marketing and Regalia
“I suppose it’s an unwritten rule that you’re not supposed to post your boss’s direct phone number on Facebook, however, I’m all for pushing the limit when it comes to marketing. The ’2nd Annual Sing To Our Boss Day’ held on Valentine’s Day is a recent example. Our Facebook fans were asked to call our boss and leave a message singing ‘We are never, ever getting back together’ by Taylor Swift. The person we determined to have the best rendition received a $25 gift card. [Listen to the winner's call here]
The overall goal was to engage our Facebook followers with an unusual post. I often try to make myself think like a consumer: what Facebook pages do I want to follow? Certainly ones that can have some fun. Even though we typically don’t get many brave souls to actually call in and sing, this contest certainly gets some buzz. My continuous goal is to give our store a personality, which will ultimately help detract from the ‘big bad bookstore’ stigma.”
-Erin Lambert, Marketing Supervisor
The Skidmore Shop is one store that knows how to connect with college students. Their array of social programming includes everything from a weekly Farmer’s Market to local restaurants who let students sample a big tasting menu at the store. One event that the store is known for, however, is Newfie Night.
By partnering with a local club, the store brings nearly 20 Newfoundland dogs, known for their size, calm dispositions, and loyalty, into the store and surrounding student center on various occasions throughout the semester.
“We just set them free in the student center and let them run,” Bob Carlton, social programming administrator and technology sales, said. “Students love to come in and visit with them.”
According to Bob, the event is a great stress-reliever for students during busy times of the year, especially around finals.
“Many of our students are away from their home, friends, family and their pets, so they’re homesick,” he explained. “This is a way for them to connect with the same ideas at school and just take some time to have fun.”
The event also offers great exposure for the club, made up of owners and lovers of Newfies alike.
“They’ve been able to connect with potential volunteers and gain awareness for their organization, which is always a plus,” he added.
The Newfies aren’t the only dogs who have made an appearance in the store, either. Forrest, a golden retriever who belongs to an employee at the school’s Business Department, was the store’s original canine celebrity.
As a Hurricane Katrina rescue dog, he holds a special place in the hearts of Skidmore staff and students.
“After the Hurricane, no one had claimed him and so his current owner drove down and adopted him,” he explained. “He started coming to the store a lot after that and the students just love him. He’s the sweetest, most amazing dog.”
After many years of visits, however, Forrest has retired from the spotlight at The Skid Shop and the Newfies now fill the void that he left.
“I still have students who have graduated email me and ask how Forrest is doing,” he said. “They love to hear about him!”
These fun events are just a few examples that embody The Skidmore Shop’s mission: to provide an atmosphere that allows students to not think about school for awhile.
“College is hard, but it should be fun too,” Carlton stressed. “These events make students look at us differently. They usually think of a college store as the expensive place they go to buy textbooks. We’re trying to break that perception and show them that we’re not just here to take their money but to be a part of their college experience.”
Based on concepts they learned at CAMEX 2011, the staff of Del Val College Bookstore in Doylestown, Pennsylvania got an idea: to offer exclusive sales on their merchandise at a time that’s atypical to the store, but prime-time in the world of students – midnight! Now in its second year, their Midnight Madness sale has become one of the most anticipated events on campus.
“This generation is all about instantaneous rewards, so we decided to create a sense of urgency around our event; it’s offered for one night only and all the sales are for a limited time period,” explained Susan Peterson, assistant purchasing manager education & retail.
Adding to the intrigue, the event is only advertised for a week ahead of time. The store has found this prompts students to come in throughout the week and scope out where their favorite items are stocked so that they can head straight for that area when the sale starts.
“It’s almost a ‘Black Friday’ mentality,” Peterson added.
For example, the store offered 25% off all clothing apparel and gift items, a clearance rack of merchandise up to 60% off as well as $5 t-shirts this year.
“The t-shirts were a huge hit,” she said. “We didn’t announce where they were located, but students found them right away. People were walking away with six or seven in their hands; they made great holiday gifts, so we knew they’d go fast!”
Held from 9 p.m. through 11 p.m., the event brought in a steady stream of students eager to take advantage of the great deals.
“The first time we held the event, we didn’t know what to expect,” director Rob Hirsch described. “Students were lining up an hour before the doors even opened and it was what I would call ‘controlled mayhem.’ This year, we knew it would be huge, so we contacted security ahead of time to have them monitor the crowd.”
As expected, the second annual event was no exception and the store saw an even bigger turnout.
“We actually had to stop students from coming in at one point because we were at capacity!” Hirsch added.
With so many students in attendance, the impact on sales was just as huge. The store processed over 300 transactions that night alone, equaling $17,000 in sales.
“That may not seem like a lot to some stores, but we’re a small school,” explained Hirsch. “To put it into perspective, our campus recently combined two of our biggest events, Homecoming and Family Day; we made more in the two hours of our Midnight Madness sale than we did in that whole day.”
By hosting the sale later in the evening, staff members were also able to engage with students in a different way.
“It creates a unique atmosphere in the store,” he said. “We turn the music up and just have fun with it. Students love it!”
Customers aren’t the only ones who enjoy the event, however. Staff found that student employees were actually begging to come to work on the night of Midnight Madness.
“It’s not often that you have people asking to work,” Hirsch said. “But, they were all so excited. They really helped us create a buzz. We had them wear rental t-shirts so that they were easily identifiable but also engage with their friends in the crowd. They helped to keep the level of excitement high all night long.”
Adding to the entertainment, there were also giveaways throughout the evening. Staff members handed out raffle tickets to each individual as they entered the store, then announced numbers chosen at random.
“I contacted several of our vendors who were very generous and donated prizes,” Peterson explained. “It’s so important to get them involved. It helps make our event even more successful and at a minimal cost to us.”
Between the giveaways and deep discounts, students from across campus attended the event and that was ultimately the biggest benefit according to both Peterson and Hirsch.
“There were students in the store who we haven’t seen all semester, so it’s a really good way for us to get to know them and make them think positively of our store,” Peterson said. “It’s all about building that loyalty.”
“Spending money on textbooks can sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow, so this is a great PR opportunity for us,” she added. “It shows them that the bookstore can be a place that they come to hang out, not just to shop, and that’s so important.”
Between the holidays, a once-in-a-century kind of date, buyback, and even the end of the world predictions, December 2012 offered lots of opportunities for creative events in college stores! Take a look as a few discuss how they promoted these exciting occurrences and the engagement they were able to create with students as a result!
University Store Draws a Big Crowd with Deep Discounts
“Wow! Our 12/12/12 sale was truly awesome. We did something similar last year for 11/11/11 but this was even better.
We started out with the idea of offering a pair of sweatpants that we got on clearance and had a significant quantity of, but once we started reviewing our stock, we were able to add t-shirts, sweatpants, and sweatshirts in a variety of sizes and styles for both men’s and women’s.
My fear was that we would have this major build up and nothing to show for it. That the complaints would outweigh the fun and goodwill that we were trying to achieve; so we kept adding more merchandise, and it definitely paid off.
Our sale started on 12/12/12 at 12 p.m. and ran the rest of the day. The turnout was amazing and we had buyback set up right beside the event. Students were going to their dorms to get their books to sell and then using that money for the event; it was really cool! We advertised the event in our store window 2 weeks prior, as well as tweeted and posted on Facebook, of course, and the student feedback was great. We had customers and staffers alike begging for info on the sale and “what was in the boxes.” There was a definite buzz!
At noon, we unveiled that everything in the boxes was a flat $5 – no catch, no minimum purchase, buy as much as you like! This made the sale easy to understand and arms full of product left the store. We had a $30,000 day and half of that was this promo. We also had a great buyback day and finals hadn’t even started yet. All together, over 1600 pairs of sweatpants went out of the door in less than 20 minutes; that is success!
Feedback was excellent, too. There were in-store comments as well as Twitter and Facebook posts about the Ustore having a “Black Wednesday sale” and “helping with all of their X-Mas shopping,” plus the numerous texts that went out to their friends while waiting in line for their armfuls of swag. The benefits were countless: we increased sales, created buzz, showed goodwill toward our customers, had some fun, and even cleaned out product. I am already thinking about next year and what we can do!”
-Stacy Elofir, Director
UMBC Bookstore Offers Exclusive Savings on 12/12/12
“On 12/12/12 from 12 noon to 12:59 p.m. we offered two styles of hooded sweatshirts for $12.99 each. One was a full zip regularly priced at $36.99 and the other was a pull-over regularly priced at $34.99. This promotion was only advertised on Facebook and Twitter, and customers had to show they like or follow us to receive the discount.
We put intentionally vague signs on the racks with the eligible sweatshirts. The signs stated “12/12/12 from 12 noon to 12:59 p.m.” and included the Facebook and Twitter logos with QR codes corresponding to the promotion on each medium. That way it was clear which items were on sale while maintaining the exclusivity of the promotion. It also sparked curiosity among customers in the store that didn’t know about the sale.
The date just happened to fall on our Study Day, the day between the end of classes and the first day of finals, so most students were available and welcomed the break from studying.
Student reception was extremely positive. At about 11:45 a crowd started to form around the racks with the hoodies on them. Customers wasted no time searching for the sizes they needed and queuing up waiting for the clock to strike noon.
Customers who wandered in to the store during that hour not knowing about the sale were happy to like and follow us on the spot in order to take advantage of the discount. We had laptops set up to make this easy. Most everyone expressed appreciation for the great deal and excitement about the opportunity to take part in it. Even the school’s institutional Twitter account helped us promote by counting down how many minutes were left until the sale ended.
Students continued to come to the store throughout the day and even days later asking about the sale and when we were going to do something like that again. There were some who expressed disappointment in not knowing about the promotion ahead of time, but it was a great opportunity to invite those people to engage with us on social media so that they don’t miss out on future sales and events.
Nearly 200 sweatshirts were sold during that hour with the line continuing to stay steady right up until the end. Total sales for that day totaled over $20,000, more than doubling the amount of sales from Study Day last year (about $8,000). We also received well over 100 new Facebook likes and Twitter followers during the promotion.
Overall it was a big success!”
-Austin Kidwell, Marketing/Online Community Manager
Moravian College Bookstore Spreads Textbook Selling Cheer with 8 Days of Buyback
“Our promotion worked on the same premise as the 12 Days of Christmas song where each day our students received one new benefit during our buyback. On the 1st day of buyback my bookstore gave to me gift wrapping for free. We brought a greyhound in the store on the 2nd day, followed by a drawing of 3 random winners who received a golf umbrella, an Under Armour book bag, and a t-shirt of their choice on the 3rd day.
Students received free stress balls on the 4th day of buyback and lots of cookies on the 5th. The 6th day we had winter sales a flashing with 25% off select gift merchandise including wine glasses, pet gifts, desk accessories for the real world, as well as ornaments. The 7th day of buyback encouraged students to find the lucky number seven to win decals, key chains and other small prizes and then, lastly, on the 8th day we had the eggnog a flowing.
To promote the festivities, we created a video with our student employees singing the benefits of each day. Our customers had really positive feedback about the video; everyone loved seeing their friends act silly which generated interest in the store and the promotions going on.
This strategy helped us bring in more traffic during buyback week, but more importantly has been maintaining the positive image of our store. We aren’t the same stringent bookstore; we are much more in tune with students, being goofy and poking fun at ourselves. We started that tone at the beginning of the year and it makes us not only more approachable as a staff but also makes the store more inviting to mull around in.”
-Kari Jackson, Bookstore Manager
Blue Colt Bookstore Offers Big Bargains in Mystery Sale
“We wanted to show our appreciation to our customers and get as many people in the store as possible, so we hosted a mystery sale on 12/12/12. Because we were able to order specially-priced merchandise, we offered each item at a great bargain. We had a combination of a t-shirt, sweatpants, and a matching hoodie all available at a low price plus a 12% discount off every order in the store. That meant that our customers could purchase all three items for less than $30. We had Santa there helping people find sizes and mingling with crowd, too.
Our turnout was unfortunately a little lower than we would have liked because other campus activities that offered free food were taking place during the same time period. We weren’t aware of that when we began planning. Those who bought the on-sale products absolutely loved the deal though, and were very appreciative. We were also able to move merchandise that we otherwise wouldn’t have sold at this time of year, including even some spring textbooks!
Even though we didn’t have as many in-store customers, we did see our Facebook fan base increase daily. We offer a deal a day during the month of December and as students heard about our sales from their friends they would ‘like’ our page to find out what the next one was. The mystery sale, along with the other deals we offer throughout the year, really help us show students that we’re not just a boring textbook store; we do care about them and are here to offer value and have fun, too.”
-Karen Katt, Director
Auburn University Bookstore Reaches Online Shoppers with 12 Days of Savings
This December, we offered a 12 Days of Savings promotion in which one item per day was deeply discounted for that day only. Because our students are not on campus at this time of year, we targeted off-campus students by making the sale exclusive to online web-orders. We promoted each daily deal on our website, via email and through social media. On-sale items included a variety of merchandise such as Sherpa fleece blankets, Under Armour jackets, Bob Marley headphones and even a diagonal striped tie.
The deals were determined by looking at our inventory and picking items that we really wanted to move by January that also would make great gifts. Because each deal lasted only the one day, we were able to take steeper discounts on each item.
Overall, the promotion was a success and allowed us to create added value for our customers, sell through a lot of the stock we needed to move and add dollars to our bottom line.
-Jennifer Edwards, Marketing Specialist
How did your store celebrate in the month of December? Share your sales or promotions in the comments section below.
The University Bookstore, Morehead State University, Morehead, KY, wanted to do something special for the institution’s 125th anniversary. It came up with an advertising campaign using the tagline, “Something old is new again,” and YouTube videos featuring locations and businesses around campus long familiar to anyone who has been part of the Morehead community.
The deliberately vague ads created a buzz and kept people guessing until the store unveiled a new line of vintage tees depicting local landmarks as the finale of its annual fashion show prior to the Homecoming football game.
“It’s not just about the tee shirts,” said Manager Cheryl Farmer. “People who went to Morehead State know about Jim Bo’s. They know about Lockegee.”
Jim Bo’s, a landmark hamburger joint frequented by students, was featured in one of the videos and included a special appearance from Jim Bo himself. Lockegee is a famous rock formation in the nearby Daniel Boone National Forest that is a must-see for most Morehead students.
“We had an alum named Amber Philpot, who’s a local news anchor, do the Lockegee video,” Farmer said. “It’s really a gorgeous spot. And everyone around here remembers Jim Bo’s. He fed a ton of students and when we went to shoot the video, he was there and agreed to be in it.”
The Jim Bo’s video also features Bill Redwine, associate vice president for auxiliary services at Morehead, along with his son Brett. Both Redwines graduated from Morehead.
“When we told Bill about our idea, he loved it,” Farmer said. “He said if the idea was the only thing we brought back from CAMEX, sending us was worth it.”
The idea started at CAMEX 2012 in Salt Lake City with Farmer’s visit to the Campus One Sportswear booth. She worked with the vendor on special designs for shirts depicting places around the campus as a reminder of days gone by in the community.
“Our vendor said a lot of people were going with nonlogo items,” she said. “You can get kind of tired wearing athletic marks all the time, but our shirts are something that’s still Morehead and part of Morehead State history.”
There are nine vintage tees in the series. The shirts introduced at the fashion show featured a pair of local taverns, along with the Lockegee rock and Jim Bo’s. Other shirts highlight an old Morehead pool hall, the marquee from a downtown theater, and a service station.
“It’s great artwork that’s going to appeal to people even if the kids don’t know the place,” Farmer said. “They are going to like them anyway because they’re pretty sharp.”
“People were talking about the ad and everyone thought we were going to bring out a vintage athletic mark,” Farmer said. “We were just going to do a print ad with some banners and Facebook teasers, but the videos have been the biggest hit. They are well done and don’t say you have to buy something in the bookstore.
“We wanted the videos to tie into the 125th anniversary, get people interested, and have them think about their memories.”
Cooking competitions are all the rage on television and University of Dayton Bookstore has brought the trend to campus with their annual Iron Chef Dayton: Ramen Noodle Cook-Off!
“When we began, cooking shows were very popular and the idea of using a low-budget ingredient like Ramen noodles was a creative way for us to have college students identify with it,” explained Julie Banks, retail operations manager.
“We wanted to do something different that didn’t necessarily tie back to the bookstore,” she said. “This event isn’t about getting students to buy; it’s really about the interaction.”
The first event was such a success that the store has continued it ever since. Now in its fifth year, it’s grown to become a favorite among students.
The premise of the cook-off is simple: to create the best original dish using Ramen noodles. Students, faculty and staff are all invited to participate either as individuals or as a team and must construct their meals in 25 minutes or less. They simply have to complete an entry form, detailing their contact information, availability and the ingredients necessary for their dish to join the fun.
“We provide them with one package of Ramen noodles as well as the ingredients they need to prepare their dish,” said Banks. “They’re also allowed to bring in up to $2.00 worth of personal ingredients on the day of the competition.”
Hosted in the lobby of a dorm that’s connected to the store, the cook-off begins around noon with the final round concluding in the early evening. Because of its location, it typically draws quite a crowd.
“Everyone loves it,” she added. “Each participant usually brings a fan club with them to cheer them on and we have passerby’s stop to see what it’s all about, too. It’s always fun and entertaining; we’ve received a lot of positive feedback.”
“I’m always impressed at what students come up with,” she described. “We’ve seen Ramen lasagna, lots of elaborate Asian-style dishes, and even had students use the dry noodles as a topping for a Thai salad!”
As participants prepare their dishes, an MC keeps the crowd engaged by playing music, interviewing participants, and updating the audience on their progress. Once the dishes are completed, a panel of local ‘celebrities’ are present to judge each entry, based on a variety of criteria. The winner and runner-up are then announced and awarded their prizes.
Once the entries have been judged, the store divides them up and lets the audience sample each one.
“Students love free food, so they’re always excited for that part,” she added. “We also distribute recipe cards of each dish to the audience and have Ramen Noodle cookbooks that we sell at the store on hand for those that are interested.”
With this year’s cook-off just a few days away, Banks and her staff are already anticipating another successful event.
“We’re hoping for a high level of participation, as always,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what they come up with!”
Interested in hosting a similar event? Check out our Marketing Plan with instructions on how to easily host a Faculty and Staff Top Chef competition!