Buyback is a major part of a college store’s operations and tends to get a heavy promotional push — for the end of the term. Lower sales and the bustle that comes with students returning to campus tend to leave buys scheduled at the opening of the term neglected in terms of marketing muscle.
Jackets & Company Campus Store saw that as a missed opportunity. The Montana State University Billings campus store gave their opening buy more publicity, and the results showed. Their Spring 2015 opening buy did 50% more sales than the previous year’s.
Campus Store Director Chad Schreier noted that MSU Billings is a largely non-traditional campus, so hosting an opening wholesale buy was important for the store to help students who missed the opportunity to sell their books at the end of term.
“I know a lot of stores don’t put a ton of emphasis on a wholesale buy, but at the end of the day we’re happy to provide that service to the students who missed out on the regular buy because they either can’t access the online store off campus or are working during the day for that normal buyback,” he says. “That’s the primary reason, and secondarily, the opportunity to pull extra commission in is always welcome.”
In an aggressive message strategy starting two weeks out from the buy, Chad and his staff set up several posters and table tents across campus and in dining halls. The campus store also used regular social media posts and took advantage of the campus flatscreen network, which put notice of the buy into a rotation of slides in high-visibility, high-traffic areas throughout the university.
“When you order the posters and everything that was provided from MBS as part of your buyback package, you shouldn’t have any left over,” Chad says. “That was our goal — to get as much out there of the branded messaging as we have combined with as much digital exposure as possible; that provided us a very good return with that investment.”
Jackets & Co. also took advantage of its strong textbook reservation program enrollment and inserted flyers advertising the opening buy into boxes of reserved books.
Chad says the program’s success comes down to “a combination of advertising and location” that campus stores can all enjoy, especially if they take advantage of student staffers to manage social media and help spread advertising.
“Literally everything we did with this buy is something a student employee can do,” he says. “We allowed some of our student managers to own the advertising for this buyback, and it was fun to watch them make sure all the promos went out, and the messaging was done the way we wanted it.
“Don’t let something as simple as a winter buy get away from you because don’t have time to do it, we all have student resources and great op to give student employees some ownership of the store.”