The following article was written by our very own Marketing Representative, Beth Gallagher for the California Association of College Stores (CACS) newsletter.
Students often have mixed feelings about buyback. They hear all sorts of things from their friends about buyback, and their peers often pass on incorrect information simply because they don’t understand how buyback works. Students worry they won’t get a lot back for their books. They don’t know why some books get rejected. They imagine long lines. Maybe they heard about grumpy buyback buyers. The best way to win over your customer is to make buyback easy and fun. Make buyback an event for students!
In “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath, they write about how Disney’s theme park employees create memorable experiences for their customers. Disney uses language to convey concretely to their employees their mission. Employees are “cast members;” customers are “guests.” When cast members walk around the park, they are “onstage” and jobs are “performances.” Disney employees cannot mistake or forget their mission when every aspect of their training and work culture reinforces it.
In your stores, you do not have to get as creative with language, but are your buyback buyers aware of their full mission? Do they understand they are there to create good customer service experiences for your students? Are they aware of the impact they have on students’ perceptions of your store as a whole? Are they greeting your customers? Do they convey good and bad news well and in a pleasant manner? Are they helpful even if students ask questions not relevant to buyback?
Buyback interactions not only affect whether students sell books, but also whether students come back to buy books and other items. If students are treated well at buyback, they will have positive associations of your store. Those positive associations can be the tipping point for them to patronize your store versus buying online, especially when all other items like price are comparable or close. Make it explicit to buyers that a temporary position for them can have a long-term impact for your store. They are brand ambassadors!
For a generation of digital natives that are used to being wooed by advertisers and surveyed on their opinions, passive advertising falls ﬂat. You need to engage them and make them feel valued. Making buyback an event does that! In many ways buyback is like a “party.” You make preparations for your “guests,” your students. You send out your “invitations” by advertising on your campus and online, and you hope students show up. Buyers act as “hosts” for students that show up.
You will need funds and ideas to throw your buyback party, but if you’re crafty and thrifty, you do not need to spend a lot. Most stores partner with wholesalers for their buys, and usually that means stores receive co-op funds for their buyback promotions. Coming up with ideas is the hardest part! Analyze who your customers are and what they like. Talk to your student employees about promotions. All help you create and ﬁne tune ideas that appeal to your customer demographic and not just to you. Students know when an idea is trying too hard to be cool. Fun is easier to aim for!