It won’t be too long before another flood of students will wash over your campus and store. But despite the pending start of a new school year, we’re still in the heat of summer, and students are sure to work up a sweat moving in, running back and forth between orientation events and getting out and about on campus. This makes a perfect time for your store to help them cool off and show them you have more to offer than just books with a Welcome Back Beach Bash! While you’re helping students cool down and relax, you can bring your store outside and heat things up with a hot summer sidewalk sale to promote your store’s apparel, merchandise and textbook reservation. We know this time of year is one of the busiest for everyone on campus, so we’ve made it simple: just follow our outline and you’ll be sure to have a successful event.
Plan your event
- Set a date: Keep in mind that with returning students jumping back into club activities and incoming freshmen still getting oriented, there’s sure to be tons of events going on campus-wide. Take a look at what other activities are happening at the height of students returning and plan accordingly so you don’t overbook your students and cut into your attendance.
- Plan your location: Obviously a pool is going to be the best choice. If your campus doesn’t have a recreational pool, don’t fret: you can still have some aquatic fun to cool off. Host an event outdoors with inflatable pools, water guns or other wet features — if you can, set up a tarp and put down some sand around it to give it a true beachside feel. Be sure there’s space for a grill and to set up music equipment.
- Pick your merchandise: This is a perfect opportunity to showcase how your store sells more than books. You can help clear out some older inventory to make way for the new with T-shirts, college gear, tote bags or supplies. If you add any activities where people can earn prizes, you can foster more school spirit with a pair of tickets to an upcoming game, or keep the season going with summer-themed swag like beach towels and sunglasses. And while you’ve got them there, encourage them to take part in textbook reservation. Summer is a great time to get that done ahead of the curb, and will also let you grab their information for future marketing, making reaching students even easier when planning future events.
Promote your event
Get the word out about your event on social media, through email and with fliers in your store and around campus. We’ve already gone ahead and taken care of that for you with some designs, download them here.
Download: “Welcome Back Beach Bash” marketing kit
Kick off the party
Nothing says summer like cannonballs and beach towels. Burgers and hotdogs make for a perfect pool party meal, and you can also provide a treat to cool off, such as popsicles or ice cream. Supply beach balls for people to bounce around. And don’t forget the music! Have a live DJ, or just play a mix CD. Play a mix of the current summer hits and vintage surfer classics to get people in the mood to relax and have a good time by the pool with some friends.
And while they’re doing that, be sure to encourage students to take a few moments and browse your selection, without even having to leave the pool. A sidewalk sale can be set up anywhere and is great for moving clearance items like last year’s T-shirts and spirit gear. While they’re browsing, encourage students to reserve their textbooks now to save time and make it easier for both them and your staff.
Choose your activities
- Dive contests: Your students don’t have to be on the dive team to take part. Make it fun and informal with who can make the biggest cannonball splash or, (if they’re brave), who can do the biggest bellyflop. Have your crowd take part as the judges by applause, and give prizes to the winners.
- Hold a follow-up social media promotion: You’re going to be selling lots of spirit wear at the beginning of the semester, and where else would people wear it than at games? Hold a social media promotion where students who share photos of themselves decked out in spirit wear at the first game of the season get a coupon for a discount on purchases. Not only does this promote social media interaction and reward people for shopping at your store, but it’s a perfect way to encourage return customers!