Posts tagged textbook sales
The following excerpt is from the article State representative introduces bill terminating textbook sales tax, written by Sydney Cohen, Aggie News Writer, for The California Aggie. To learn more about the proposed bill and what other professors had to say about it, view the full article.
On Feb. 19, State Rep. Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) proposed the Textbook Relief Act, which would exempt textbooks from sales tax in California. Donnelly said the initiative is an investment in California’s future.
According to Donnelly, California has a surplus of money that simply needs to be redistributed so that money isn’t wasted. Donnelly said that the sales tax exemption on textbooks wouldn’t be detrimental to the state’s budget.
“There’s money all over the place that we’re wasting on things. To me, this would be a sound investment because it essentially says we’re serious about producing an educated workforce — we’re willing to invest in students that show promise,” Donnelly said. “I want to make this the most prosperous and freest state in the Union so [that] everybody wants to come here.”
Donnelly estimates the tax exemption would put approximately $100 back in the pocket of the average California student.
“Our unit sales have increased based on our rental program,” Meley said.
Meley said she believes that although a tax break provides relief, the bookstore has been providing relief through the rental program.
As the assistant director of course materials, Meley seeks out as many variations of the course material as possible to ensure students are confident in their purchases.
“Quite a few instructors say, ‘I want this version because it costs less,’” Meley said.
According to Jason Lorgan, stores director at UC Davis, the rental program lowers the cost of textbooks by 70 percent and is utilized by 15,000 UC Davis students.
“Our goal is for as many students to have course material as possible, and at the lowest price,” Lorgan said.
Lorgan said that he believes instructors’ first priority is content, but that they are still concerned with price.
“We often hear from publishers that the conversations they used to have with faculty used to just be about content, and now it’s about content and price,” he said.
UC Davis political science professor Ethan Scheiner forgoes using a textbook for a low-cost course pack for his Political Science 2: Introduction to Comparative Politics class.
Scheiner said that if he found a textbook of equal or only slightly better content-value to his customized course pack, he would choose a course pack to save students money.
“If I wanted to, I could just grab [a textbook] and teach to the textbook, but the other part is to save students money,” Scheiner said. “I wouldn’t say the main driving force [to choosing a course pack] is to save students money, but it’s certainly a big part of my thinking.”
Scheiner said when it comes to students who study the social sciences and humanities, the Textbook Relief Act would have a lower impact because of the lesser use of textbooks in their courses. In contrast, he said the bill could save students in the natural sciences and related majors a much more significant amount of money simply because of the use of textbooks in their courses.
Donnelly said that supporters of the Textbook Relief Act should write emails proclaiming their support and deliver them through the Textbook Relief Act website. The website also provides a link to sign a petition to aid the bill in getting passed.
The following excerpt, from the article ‘For Many Students, Print Is Still King,’ was written by Jennifer Howard and published on The Chronicle of Higher Education. Although the media often stresses that eBooks outnumber print books, Howard reminds us with her relevant examples that this simply is not the case in the realm of higher education. Take a look at some real testimonies from publishers and professors alike in the following excerpt then read the full article for further insight.
Despite the hype about e-books, the classic textbook hasn’t gone away. In fact, the hold-it-in-your-hands book remains the first choice for many instructors and students.
Even as publishers scramble to produce new kinds of content for a digital learning environment, print is still king for many of the biggest-selling textbooks.
Students want cheaper textbooks and have gotten more creative about acquiring them, but most aren’t calling for a digital revolution, according to some recent surveys. “The vast majority of students still prefer print,” says Michael Wright, director of college sales at Norton.
Even publishers that have invested more heavily in new digital features say they’re not doing away with books but making them part of “customizable learning experiences,” to borrow a phrase from Pearson, the biggest player in the field. “We still print everything,” says Jerome Grant, the company’s chief learning officer for higher education. Pearson’s aim is not “to bias print or digital but to offer the experience in multiple formats.”
Think of this as the era of “print-plus,” when the most popular textbook option remains a book—often printed and bound, sometimes digital—plus whatever extras and enhancements professors and students are willing to pay for.
The ‘Comfort’ of Print
Julie K. Bartley, an associate professor of geology and chair of the geology department at Gustavus Adolphus College, hears the sentiment from her undergraduates. “Our students don’t really want to have e-books,” Ms. Bartley says. “What I hear from them a lot of times is that they feel some sort of comfort in being able to hold the thing in their hands.”
Her department’s decision to stick with a classic textbook has been driven partly by students’ preferences, partly by the college’s pedagogical philosophy. The “Principles of Geology” course that Ms. Bartley and her colleagues teach satisfies a core science requirement and serves as an introduction to the major. Any textbook it uses has to appeal both to general-ed students and rising science majors. The assigned text, Earth: Portrait of a Planet, Fourth Edition, published by Norton, “is neither excessively complicated nor excessively simplified,” Ms. Bartley says. “It’s right at the reading level of most of our students.”
The book requires some careful reading attention, which remains a priority for the college. At Gustavus Adolphus, Ms. Bartley says, “we feel that every college student should be able to read a relatively complicated, unfamiliar text.”
Students’ major concern about textbooks isn’t format but cost. “Probably the second biggest complaint in northern Minnesota after the weather is the cost of textbooks,” Ms. Bartley says. The department has used the book for several years. To accommodate the desire for used-book options, the instructors phased in the latest edition of the book so that the older edition could stay in use a little longer.
So far, supplemental online material hasn’t been a deciding factor in choosing a textbook, according to Ms. Bartley. “We don’t feel like it’s central enough to the way we teach,” she says, because the course revolves around what happens in the classroom.
‘A Fast Transition’
Pearson, too, has placed bigger bets on new kinds of digital services. Jerome Grant, the company’s chief learning officer, describes how, at Pearson, “print is simply one of the outputs” of a program that emphasizes combinations of content, applications, platforms, and services. “Today the dominant model is a sort of text-media value pack,” he says, “where people use something like MyLab for homework or remediation.” (MyLab offers interactive content designed to draw students into course material and help them test their knowledge.) Those “value packs” often include a textbook, bundled with digital materials and services.
Mr. Grant does not expect print products to vanish. “Do I envision a time when people won’t buy print? No,” he says. “Do I envision a time when the predominant distribution mechanism is digital? Absolutely.”
Over at John Wiley & Sons, Tim Stookesberry sees signs of “a fast transition from a print to a digital world.” He serves as Wiley’s vice president and editorial director for global education. Less than 50 percent of the company’s higher-education revenue still comes from “pure print products,” he says, down more than 5 percent from two years ago.
Decline does not spell doom for the old-school textbook, though. “Increasingly the issue is not either/or,” Mr. Stookesberry says of the nagging print-versus-digital question. “It’s a both-and-all conversation.”
VandalStore at University of Idaho has always been dedicated to offering excellent customer service and, as the collegiate retail landscape evolves, they’ve begun exploring new avenues to help them continue to excel in that area.
For instance, Larry Martin, associate manager, recently discovered a unique approach to keeping textbook costs down in a class where a publisher pack including both a book and an online access code was required.
Purchasing the textbook and access card separately meant that the access card alone would cost an additional $80, immediately eliminating that option.
“The professor incorporates the access code into homework and lesson plans, so it was important that we found a way for students to receive all of the materials that they needed at an affordable price,” he said.
If they purchased the bundle, then the access code only added $5 to the new net cost of the textbook; however Martin wanted to find a solution that let the textbook be reused. While submitting his MBS Rental quote, he noticed that the ISBN of the textbook included in the bundle was available for a rental guarantee, and that got him thinking of a new approach.
“We were able to get a 46% rebate guarantee on that title which made it a great deal for both our students and our store,” he explained. “So, I ordered the book under the combination ISBN from the publisher, and then moved that inventory to the textbook ISBN in TA2online.”
From there, Martin simply had to tag over the combination ISBN with the textbook ISBN to make it match his MBS Rental quote. He was ultimately able rent the textbook and access card for $88.50, as opposed to the $172.50 he would have had to sell the bundle for, saving students over $80!
“It was a really good deal,” he said. “When I told the professor of the course, he was very happy. He’d had a hard time getting behind the book because it wasn’t the most economical option, but because we were able to rent it, he felt much better about using it.”
Not surprisingly, students appreciated the savings as well.
“Nearly all the inventory moved for that title was rented,” Martin added.
The process was just as simple on the back end, as well.
“When students brought their rentals back, they had already used the access code, so that ISBN and packaging was gone,” he described. “All that was left was the textbook ISBN, which made it easy on our end. We were able to return virtually all of the rented copies to MBS and receive our guaranteed price in return.”
Overall, Martin believes the outcome was a win for everyone: students received the course materials they needed at a reduced price, the store gained sales and maintained margin, and MBS received more used books to rent again in the future.
Going forward, he hopes to utilize this strategy for even more courses.
“It just makes sense and if I can do it again, I will,” he said. “You just have to look for the opportunity. I’m sure other stores have created similar work-arounds to save their students money.””
Change is an admittedly difficult, yet necessary, part of any operation. Without it, companies can become quickly outdated in the ever-evolving marketplace. That’s why change has become such an integral aspect of collegiate retail. Recognizing this fact, BYU-Idaho University Store decided it was time to update their textbook department by reorganizing with textbooks shelved by author rather than course.
“We learned that San Diego State University Bookstore had been organizing their textbooks like this for nearly 30 years, so we wanted to learn more,” explained Ryan Buttars, merchandise supervisor. “There was some hesitation because it was a big change to make. However, after reviewing their program, we knew we had to try it.”
As with any new venture, there was a short adjustment period for students and faculty.
“We went through a few semesters with some confusion but, after that, it was smooth sailing,” Buttars said.
Since then, the store has seen several significant advantages from the reorganization.
“It’s an excellent space-saver because we don’t have to shelve a title in multiple locations for various courses,” he explained. “We also spend less time in preparation for rush periods and, as a result, spend less in payroll.”
For students, the change has made the book buying experience even more convenient.
“There’s less confusion in searching for books,” he said. “Students simply follow all of our signage and their book is right there. It’s very intuitive.”
The only drawback they have found is that some students browse for books by discipline, just out of curiosity.
“Those few patrons simply have to go to our text desk for assistance,” he added.
In fact, the newly organized textbook department was such a success that the other stores soon took notice. For example, BYU-Idaho University Store’s staff later helped Utah State University Bookstore and BYU Bookstore change their text department, too. Both stores found it to be just as beneficial.
“In the words of our director, Doug, Mason, “I can’t see why all college stores aren’t doing this!” added Buttars.
To those who are considering the change, Buttars strongly recommends it.
“Just because we’ve always done things a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way,” he stressed. “Every change you make should be done with the customer in mind, and this is one that will certainly make their experience more convenient. It’s been proven as an effective organization; I haven’t heard of one store that’s made the change and gone back to the old way.”
How does your store organize your textbook department? Share your feedback in the comments section!
When it comes to choosing the most affordable course materials, students are often confused. For years, Rusty Weldon, assistant director at Auburn University Bookstore, had tried to verbally communicate his expertise on the topic to students and their families. Dedicated to saving his customers the most money, however, he decided it was time to show them instead.
“Buying course materials has become a lot more complicated than it used to be, and I wanted to streamline that for our students,” he explained. “At times, it’s been difficult for us, as a store, to determine whether we should buy or rent certain titles, and we’ve learned a lot through the process. It’s important for us to share that knowledge with our students from an expert point of view.”
Based on their past experiences, Rusty and other members of the Auburn University Bookstore staff worked together to compile their knowledge into an organized marketing piece.
“I recruited two of my student employees to determine the content,” he described. “They have eight years of experience in the store between them, so it was neat to get their perspective and hear what they thought of the book buying process.”
Through their collaboration, the store produced a textbook buying guide organized into various sections with tabs that made it easy to locate information on several topics. Answering questions on everything from rentals to buyback, the informative guide was designed to walk students through the process of buying their textbooks.
“My student employees ultimately decided what information to include and how to present it in a way that their peers would find relevant,” he added. “The fact that it took on a student voice made it come across as authoritative without being heavy-handed.”
To debut the new buying guide, the store handed them out to new students and their families during several freshmen orientation sessions.
“It was a good place to start the conversation because they’ve never gone through the book buying process before,” Weldon said.
This approach proved to be much more successful than the materials they had relied upon in the past.
“Before, we handed out a brochure but, because of its size, it wasn’t very detailed,” he explained. “As a result, we struggled to convey the information verbally by trying to squeeze a 30 minute conversation into two minutes.”
“The new format, however, is detailed enough that families can take it home and find the information they need to purchase textbooks right at their fingertips,” he added. “It resonates so much further.”
Weldon wasn’t the only one who found the new format to be more effective. Students and their families were impressed with the extensive information and appreciated the store’s effort.
“It’s been absolutely wildly popular!” he described. “We distributed over 1000 after just three orientation sessions, and both mom and dad walking away with them in many cases. We’ve also seen a better reception of our course materials than ever before; it’s been great.”
In fact, the new promotion is reaching further than Weldon or his staff ever anticipated.
“It really opened the door for us with staff and administration,” he explained. “After seeing all the information included in the buying guide, they agreed that course materials are complex enough a subject that we should be able to present to students about it during orientation. That’s something we’ve been working toward for 10 years, so it’s very exciting!”
The store’s commitment to helping Auburn students doesn’t end with this marketing piece, however. They continue to implement countless initiatives to save their customers money, including price comparison and rental textbooks, and are working to spread the word.
For example, the store saved students $859,000 on textbooks last year, alone. So, during orientation, they hung a huge banner outside the store, asking new students how much they could save them.
“It was a great head turner and conversation starter,” he said. “We’ve done a lot to ensure that we’re a low cost leader when it comes to course materials and concrete numbers help us prove that. Then, we’re able to follow up with our buying guide which shows them how shopping with us will save them money, too.”
Beyond the tangible benefits, Weldon believes the guide will also create an enhanced perception.
“Overall, I think it will help strengthen our brand. By positioning ourselves as an expert resource, we can establish trust with our students,” he explained. “We truly care about saving our students money and hopefully this will help them see that they have someone on their side; that we’re more than a just store, we’re a friend.”
Although the store unveiled the guide at freshmen orientation, Weldon and his staff don’t plan to stop there.
“We’ve already added an electronic version to our website because so many students are now purchasing textbooks from our online price comparison site; we’ll continue to spread the word to existing students during Fall rush, too” he said. “We’re hoping it’s a piece that has a lot of legs and reaches a lot of students.”
Rental programs offer significant upfront savings to students; however, not all are aware of the benefits. To help students better understand the advantages of his store’s program, Jeff Wieck, textbook program coordinator. of University Bookstore at Eastern Washington University, decided to show rather than tell them about the cost-saving option.
“Our program is fairly new and, as we got started, we took note that several students were able to gain substantial savings with textbook rentals,” he explained. “We wanted to bring that fact to the attention of our customers and figured that there was no better way to do that than by showing them real examples of how much their peers were saving.”
After working with a student to sort out questions about the program, Wieck realized that this customer presented the perfect opportunity to spread the word.
“He was trying to get his degree in 3 years and, as a result, had lots of books he needed to purchase for the 19 credit hours that he was enrolled in,” he said. “It would have cost him $600 to purchase those books new but, through our rental program, he was able to save nearly $450! It was really a no brainer to show that number off.”
Wieck approached the student and filled him in on his prospective rental promotion.
“I told him his story would make a great testimonial and he was on board right away,” he added. “He was very gracious and came into the store to have his picture taken for the ad; it worked out great.”
The store’s staff then collaborated to put the student’s testimonial and image on posters, which now hang in the store, and flyers that are handed on at the start of each quarter. According to Wieck, the advertising effort has been well worth it.
“Students listen to their peers and respect what they have to say,” he described. “I think seeing their fellow classmate’s savings really reinforced the benefits of our program.”
As for the future, Wieck plans to create a new poster for the fall quarter.
“We found another student whose books would have cost them $910 to purchase new, but was able to save $600 by renting,” he said. “I think we’ll probably continue to update the posters each time we find an increase in the amount saved.
It’s not too late: Register for our Get Ready to Rent webinars this week!
Interested in offering rental or expanding your current program? Join us for one of three webinars this week as Lillian Howard, corporate marketing representative at MBS, shares the pricing strategies and marketing ideas that other stores have found effective, as well as the advantages of running an in-store program, like MBS Rental.
Select one of the following dates to register:
Nowadays, competition in the textbook industry is steep. That’s why University Store at Murray State University wanted to find a way to both increase their textbook purchases and reward those who were shopping with them. So, in the fall of 2011, the store decided to offer an incentive to those students who took advantage of their prepackage program.
“We hosted a VIP party that took place after-hours and invited only those students who had reserved their textbooks with us,” explained Karol Hardison, director. “Our prepackage program allows us to guarantee that we have a student’s book order, so the more participation we can get, the better!”
Because it was the first time they had implemented the event, the store didn’t have much time to advertise. Instead, they simply placed an invitation in each student’s prepackage box, asking them to stop by.
Unsure of what attendance would be like, Hardison and her staff were thrilled to find a crowd of students waiting with their invitations in hand when the party began.
To add to the exclusive atmosphere, staff blacked out the windows of the store, leaving only small holes where passersby could gain a glimpse of the fun happening inside.
“Students walking by would peer in and see all the activities going on; it was definitely a good way to spread the word,” Hardison added.
Once inside, staff handed attendees a raffle ticket which would be their key to much of the fun throughout the evening.
“We called random raffle numbers every 15 minutes for door prizes,” Hardison said. “We had several vendors donate items, so it wasn’t a huge expense for us.”
Students also had the chance to win prizes by completing a variety of activities at different stations set up throughout the store.
“Each department had their own unique minute-to-win-it game that was lead by a full-time staff member,” she said. ‘It was great because it gave students a chance to not only see what all we had to offer, but also to get acquainted with the actual employees that work in each department.”
One of the most popular games was called ‘Junk in the Trunk’ and involved students tying a tissue box full of ping pong balls around their waist, then trying to dislodge each of the balls from the box.
“They just loved it; there was definitely a lot of laughter coming from that department!” Hardison described.
Then, near the end of the night, the store called off 10 raffle numbers and invited the lucky winners to compete in backpack races!
Each of the ten participants was given the chance to try and fill a backpack with store merchandise in a designated period of time while their classmates watched and cheered them on. The only catch was that the students had to grab at least one item from each department and not exceed the $150 price limit.
“We had to practice ahead of time with our employees to determine a time limit that would allow the students to fill their backpack, while still making it challenging,” she explained. “It ended up working perfectly and the students had a blast! They were all asking when they would get a chance to compete, too!”
The store awarded each participant a vendor-donated backpack just for participating and the person who came closest to the $150 limit was then awarded all the contents of their backpack.
There were special deals for students during the event, too! The store offered discounts on merchandise from the vendors who sponsored the event, marking each promotional rack with balloons for easy identification.
“We didn’t expect to sell a lot, but we ended up having long lines at the register!” she described. “So, that’s something we definitely plan to increase in the future.”
With so many incentives, it’s easy to understand why the store received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
“We were very happy with the response we got from students,” Hardison said. “The event was extremely well attended, for not having been advertised very heavily, and we had a steady stream of students come in and out throughout the evening. They were all excited and having a good time, so it was a success!”
By interacting with the store’s staff, students also gained a new perspective on the store.
“It gave us a chance to get to know them on a personal basis and show them that we’re not the big bad bookstore that they hear about,” she described. “In fact, after the event, we had several attendees start stopping in every week just to say hi to the staff members that they’d met and see what’s new!”
Beyond the good times, the store saw a significant increase in their sales the following semester, even though the event is only held in the fall.
“Our prepackage numbers doubled, which resulted in an 11% increase in textbook sales!” she explained. “Because we had such a strong response, we’re already promoting next year’s event, especially to our incoming freshmen class during orientation events this summer. The real test will be this coming fall, when we see if those students decide to prepackage with us because of the party.”
To gain extra excitement from those who have already attended the prepackage party, the store is offering current students 5% off their textbooks and a free t-shirt, in addition to their invitation, if they reserve their textbooks by the end of finals.
“These promotions are just another way for us to have fun with our students and show them that they’re special; because they are!” Hardison said. “We’re definitely looking forward to continually growing our initiatives in the future!”
Does your store offer a textbook reservation program? How do you promote it? Share your ideas in the comments section below!
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 following excerpt is from the article, 3 Successful Small Business Cause Marketing Campaigns, written by Stacey Politi for the American Express Open Forum.
In 2010, the fourth annual goodpurpose study conducted by Edelman, showed that “86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on those of business.” This overwhelming majority has led a large portion of businesses, big and small, to listen up and take action. When a large business rolls out a cause marketing campaign the consumer can’t escape it–there is a barrage of print, TV and web ads, but how is a small business to get the word out? Well, Facebook, of course.
According to a New York Times study, “The Psychology of Sharing,” 84% of people share via social media because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about. The case seems to be the same for small businesses as well, because Facebook has reported that the 2011 holiday season saw more small businesses leverage the power of Facebook to cause market than ever before.
Research from Constant Contact in October 2011 shows that Facebook is the most commonly used social media tactic for small businesses to connect one-on-one with customers. The ease of contact and desire to share social interests has led many small businesses to take a stab at cause marketing during the recent holiday season, an marketing tactic that will continue through 2012.
Here are three companies that made the most of the holiday season via smart cause marketing.
The Los Angeles-based company Sprinkles works hard year-round to hold its title as “the charitable cupcake bakery.” For the 2011 holiday season, founders Candace and Charles Nelson felt a toy drive would be the perfect way to engage their customers in a little holiday philanthropy. Toy bins were placed in each of their ten locations, and heavy promotion ran on Facebook through organic means and Facebook ads. For the holiday season, Sprinkles customers helped to donate 1,400 toys to local children’s organizations and hospitals, including Toys for Tots.
“Facebook is a direct line of communication to our customers. Anytime we want to get a timely message out, the first thing we do is post to our Facebook Pages,” says Social Media Manager Nicole Schwartz. “Customers in each market were excited to see that toys were being donated to local charities. Of course, they were also excited to get a free cupcake for their good deed!”
Adapt the Idea to Your College Store:
While your store may not carry cupcakes, offering a promotional item in exchange for a donation is a great way to enhance your store’s image and gain additional traffic.
Consider integrating this concept into your two main bookstore events, buyback and rush. Ask students to bring a can food donation to buyback to receive an extra prize on top of cash, such as a branded lanyard or promotional t-shirt. Or, ask students to donate a $1 of their buyback cash to receive a discounted coupon to use on textbooks the following semester during rush. The possibilities are endless!
HOCOA San Diego
Drive two hours south of the Sprinkles headquarters, and you’ll find Sam Goodwin and the HOCOA San Diego home repair network. Goodwin knew he wanted to run a cause marketing campaign for the 2011 holiday season, but wasn’t sure what cause to support. It wasn’t long after that he received an e-mail from the Interfaith Oceanside Food Pantry, which spoke of the pantry’s empty shelves and need for aid.
“The e-mail from the food pantry pulled at my heartstrings, and I had to jump on the opportunity to make promoting kindness my business,” Goodwin says.
For Goodwin’s campaign he did not offer cupcakes in exchange for toys, but promised that for every new Like his Facebook page he would donate one can of food to the local pantry. Goodwin sat by as his Facebook page gained fans and was proud to give people “an opportunity to help others this holiday season through a simple mouse click.”
Adapt the Idea to Your College Store:
This type of promotion is a great way to gain a stronger social media following during a time when your store has lots of traffic. Set up a station outside of buyback where students can easily log-on to their social networks and ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your page, then pledge to donate a specific dollar amount or designated item for each new fan!
Just be sure you have the funds necessary to follow through with your promotion; we suggest setting a limit of ‘likes’ or ‘follows,’ such as up to 200, to ensure you maintain control.
McKinnon Insurance and Park Street Pizza
And in the Midwest, Joel McKinnon of McKinnon Insurance and his friend, Rocky Shanower, owner of Park Street Pizza, both Ohio residents and trustees on the board of their local United Way of Tuscarawas County, have started a new tradition: “Chowdown to Help the Town.” For a full day in December, Shanower closed his pizza parlor to the public, and McKinnon donates his time and car, to deliver pies.
The tradition began last December with a simple Facebook event that quickly led to status updates and posts that encouraged locals to order lunch from Park Street Pizza. The post read, “If your office is having a holiday party that day, why not order from us? We give 15% of the sales directly to our local United Way!” McKinnon recalls, proudly.
McKinnon and Shanower take great pride in the Chowdown event and see it as an opportunity to give back to the very community that supports their businesses year-round. Though McKinnon hopes to promote next year’s Chowdown through other media channels as well, he admits, “The results would not be what they are without the viral effect that Facebook can generate.”
Adapt The Idea to Your College Store:
Generate traffic during slower times of the year by having a mid-semester party that gives students a reprieve from studying and the chance to help their community.
Invite local restaurants or vendors to provide their specialties to students at your in-store event, with the agreement that a portion of their proceeds go to charity. They’ll benefit from added exposure and you’ll have lots of students shopping your store! At the end of the day, donate a portion of your own proceeds to the same cause or match the visiting vendors’ contribution!
Each of the three businesses say they will be running similar cause-related campaigns again at the end of 2012 and plan for bigger and better results. When asked to offer other small business owners cause marketing advice, Sam Goodwin of HOCOA San Diego replied, “I recognize that there are many great charities out there who need help, but choose a cause close to your heart, the heart of your business and the heart of your customers and you won’t go wrong.”
Dedicated to offering affordable course materials, Kutztown University Student Bookstore gives away free textbooks each semester. But, to keep it fun for students, they find a new way to present this benefit every so often.
“We’ve always had an emergency textbook fund for students who might lose their books in a fire, flood or even burglary,” explained Amanda Schaeffer, public relations manager. “For years, we’ve taken donation books left behind during buyback and tried to get whatever money we could by selling them online. Over the years, there has been so much money left over, that we wanted to find a way to make it benefit the students.”
In the past, for example, the store initiated a ‘Begging for Books’ promotion, which allowed students to submit a brief essay on why they deserved free textbooks for a chance to be one of the lucky recipients. When entries began to decline, however, the store decided to try a new approach.
“We wanted to make it a little easier for students to participate and to offer them instant gratification for buying from us,” Schaeffer said. “So, this semester we decided to do something completely random by giving an instant reward in the store and the room where they can pick up their online orders.”
With five lucky winners daily, the store awarded randomly selected students by paying for their most expensive item during checkout!
“We predetermined all of the winning locations and times before our rush started on Monday,” she described. “When it was time for each winner, we started ringing a cowbell and took balloons to the register or web order room and started cheering for the winning customer. We let them know that they were a lucky winner, and that their most expensive item was going be free!”
The students’ reactions were just what the store had been hoping for!
“Some of them were immediately excited, and others needed to be convinced that we were serious; they were in disbelief!” she said. “It didn’t seem to matter if it was a free notebook or a $200 textbook, the students were genuinely grateful and thrilled to be saving some money.”
To publicize the event, the store reached out to students through both traditional and digital channels.
“We advertised with in-store signage and plasma TV screen ads within our Student Union,” she explained. “We let fans know on our own Facebook page, plus the University’s Facebook page shared our posts so we were able to receive some great PR and additional exposure. Each semester, we also send out a postcard to students reminding them to place their textbook orders early, so we included this promotion there, too!”
With excited students and steady traffic, the benefits of the promotion far outweighed the costs, according to Schaeffer.
“Overall, we spent $1,253.77 on 15 winners,” she said. “The average amount spent on
each student was $83.58. The goal of these back-to-school promotions is to take the surplus emergency fund money we make from donated books and give it back to our students, so we were very happy to see the excitement and the buzz that was generated around campus!”
To others who are looking for promotions to help enhance their image and exposure with students, Schaeffer has just one piece of advice:
“Keep reinforcing the fact that you’re here to offer your students more affordable options and then do promotions like this one to prove it,” she said. “The more you can spread that message, the better off your store will be!”