Students often assume that online retailers are the only ones who offer competitive prices on textbooks. We all know that perception to be false, but, unless we say otherwise, they might not. That’s why Melissa Stotts, manager at Lake Region State College Bookstore, decided it was time to speak up for her store.
“We want students to recognize the value of our campus bookstore,” she explained. “There are so many ways that we go above and beyond for our customers and the ‘other guys,’ such as Chegg, Amazon, and Half.com, just don’t offer those advantages. So, our goal is to increase awareness of that fact.”
Based on this concept, Stotts and her staff created the ‘Stick With Us’ campaign, devoted to educating students about the many benefits of shopping on campus. The year-round effort includes advertising their message through multiple channels including everything from marketing materials at buyback to in-store events.
As a prime example, the LRSC Bookstore recently hosted an iPad 2 giveway to encourage students to buy their course materials in the store.
“Any student who purchased all of their required textbooks for all of their fall semester classes was eligible to enter the drawing,” Stotts said. “The student needed to be enrolled full time, either on campus or online, and the bookstore verified their course schedule against their original receipt.”
Along with increasing textbook sales, the promotion also clearly demonstrated the added-value provided by the store.
“Once students purchased their books with us, they realized that we do have competitive pricing,” she explained. “It was an easy way to reinforce our message and reward those who purchased from us.”
To promote the new giveaway, the store attended the Campus and Community Business Fair, showcasing a display with the tagline of ‘What have the other guys given you as a thank you for shopping with them?’
“We wanted to call attention to not only the exciting prize, but also the fact that our competitors don’t offer these perks,” she said. “Sometimes, students just need a little reminder!”
That reminder paid off in full for the store, with lots of student participation!
“Feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” she added. “Our students were so excited to see who won that they were checking our Facebook page constantly to see when it would be announced! The student who won had gone home for lunch, but one of her friends heard her name, called her cell phone, and the student was at the bookstore within minutes to claim her prize!”
Along with strong messaging, Stotts is also making an effort to enhance student perception through charitable contributions. Most recently, LRSC Bookstore sponsored a food drive to collect non-perishable food items for Minot, North Dakota residents, who experienced devastating flooding this past spring.
“To get students involved, we rewarded all participants who donated 3 items with $10 in 'bookstore bucks' to use in the store,” she explained. “We raised over 18 boxes of food for the cause; it was great to see the generosity of our campus really shine through!”
But, LRSC’s dedication to assisting the residents of Minot didn’t stop there! With the help of MBS, students were able to contribute to the actual restoration process, too!
“MBS sponsored sending our DECA club members to help clean up some of damaged homes and deliver the food we collected,” she added. “Altogether, nearly 200 students and staff from our campus and community were able to volunteer for the cause and the work they contributed was valued at over $260,000!”
By bringing students together for a common purpose, LRSC Bookstore was able to not only enhance their students’ opinion of their store but also make a difference in their community.
“You just have to find what’s important to your students and then ensure that your store meets that need,” she said. “We’re working hard to find new ways to show our students that we care; that’s what it’s all about!”