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This Holiday Season, Host a Frugal Feast

Posted by Lori Reese on 10/2/17 5:30 AM
Topics: MBS Monthly Marketing Plans, Bookstore marketing

College-style culinary skills are hard won. It takes months of trial and error with a dorm room kitchen set — coffee mug, soup spoon, sugar packets — to create concoctions that satisfy students’ cravings. What’s more, circumstances usually force the average student to work on a micro-budget of a few dollars or less, increasing the challenge. This holiday season inspire a pilgrimage to your store. Host a Frugal Feast — a recipe contest, taste test and sale all in one. 

The event will not only drive foot traffic with the enticement of free food. It will showcase your store’s food and food-related items, and give students a chance to amaze audiences with their inventive, low-cost cuisine.

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Download: Marketing Kit
Download Kit

How it works

Have student chefs sign up to compete with the attached, downloadable recipe card. The card states the basic rules: all recipes must be microwave-friendly (i.e. capable of being prepared in a dorm room) and the total cost of ingredients must not add up to more than $2.50 per portion. If that sounds limiting, consider the wonders necessity can work with a single potato (25 cents), packet of ramen noodles (15 cents) or lone egg (10 cents).

The card also asks for students’ contact information, so you can alert them if it looks like an ingredient might disqualify them. Otherwise, all students need to do to secure a contest spot is fill out the card, make two servings of their entry and arrive at the right time on the day of the event.  

Choose dorm chef-friendly merchandise for your prizes — if your store sells such items. For example, first prize could be a mini-fridge, second prize an apron with your school’s mascot on the front and third a logoed coffee mug. Participants might also receive samples of food offerings or coupons for a free coffee or sandwich. If such prizes aren’t possible, simply offering winners a gift card or t-shirt will suffice.

Use the attached, downloadable flyer and poster to advertise the contest and seal, which you can schedule any time around the Thanksgiving holiday.

The big day

Set up a long table where student chefs can display their entries. Give all entrants a notecard on which to write down the name of their concoction and list the ingredients. Place plastic forks, spoons and toothpicks at either end of the table so that visitors can sample the delicacies. Ask chefs to divide entries into bite-size portions to encourage hygienic indulgence. Advise them to discourage double-dipping, especially if they’ve brought something like soup.

Nominate one or two student employees to be Official Taste Testers. Have them wear the attached, downloadable name tags and be sure to give them an opportunity to begin tasting right at the start of the event, so they have a chance to try everything.

Target thematically-appropriate items to discount 25% — holiday or kitchen items — or hand out coupons that allow students to take 25% off an item of their choice.  If your store offers its own foods, promote your budget-friendly snacks with free samples.

Throughout the event, take photos of student chefs with their entries and post them to social media. When the winners are announced, post pictures of them with the prizes and the Official Taste Testers.

The only thing students love more than free food is the chance to show off their bright ideas. To see creative dorm-room concoctions students have dreamed up in the past, check out this Pinterest page. Your store’s Frugal Feast is sure to bring joyful memories for months to come.

Social media marketing plan

Use all your social media channels to promote the Frugal Feast — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat.

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About Lori Reese

Lori Reese is a Marketing Copywriter with MBS. She has more than 15 years’ experience teaching in college and K-12 classrooms. In her free time, she loves reading, creative writing and playing with her three-legged cat, Boss.

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