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A Quick Guide to Last-Minute Buyback Promotions

Posted by Liz Schulte on 4/26/18 10:30 AM
Topics: buyback, bookstore events, Bookstore marketing, textbook buyback

Buyback is just around the corner, but it isn’t too late to encourage students to sell their textbooks back to your college store. Follow this easy-to-use checklist to make sure you maximize your buyback marketing efforts.

A Quick Guide to Last-Minute Buyback PromotionsA guide to buyback promotions

Students are inundated with marketing messages. That means they fail to notice most attempts to catch their attention. Because of this, your store has to do more to spread the word about your campus buyback. Below are some easy ways you can snap students’ attention this spring. 

Social media

One thing has clearly caught students’ collective eye: social media. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 utilize multiple social media channels numerous times a day.

  • 94 percent use YouTube
  • 80 percent use Facebook
  • 78 percent use Snapchat
  • 71 percent use Instagram
  • 45 percent use Twitter

When marketing any event, social media is a must. But, how can you get the most return for your efforts?


  • Post multiple times a day about the event. Social media is popular and interesting because it is constantly changing. To make sure more people see your message, plan a posting schedule. Vary the message as much as you can, but post about buyback several times before the event.
  • Use emojis, memes and gifs in some of your posts to help increase.
  • Post at different times of the day.
  • Set aside time to schedule all the social media messages you want to post at once. It will save you from having to make time to post on social media during the rest of the week.
  • Add variety by utilizing video, live streaming, images, simple statuses and shares.
  • Ask other social media accounts run by your college to share the information on their pages. 

Platform specific tips:


  • Set up a Facebook ad – Facebook allows you to set your own advertising budget, making it a great option college stores no matter your budget. The ad will help you reach more of your targeted audience and will also run on Instagram.
  • Ask your student workers to share the post – Students tend to be friends with other students. Having them share the post is a good way to increase your student reach and boost your post.


  • Utilize hashtags – Hashtags helps with the visibility of your post. Use your college hashtag and any others that relate.
  • Start your own mini-influencer campaign – Recruit student employees to help advertise buyback by sharing the store’s message on social media. Give the students a code and tell them that when people use it while selling back their textbooks, the student employee and the seller get something in return. Even a small incentive could have a big payoff.


  • Create a buyback-specific filter – Snapchat is one of students’ favorite social media platforms. Follow the easy to use site to set up a filter that students can apply to pictures. Set a budget in advance and stick to it. You can set specific geofenced areas and specific times for the filter to be available to help save on cost.
  • Create Snapchat stories about buyback – Stories stay around longer than a Snap. Tell a quick, compelling story about buyback designed to entertain and give students a reason to come to the event.


  • Use hashtags – Like Instagram, hashtags play a vital role on Twitter.


  • Get attention with video – Video can be added to any platform. Make a commercial or entertaining video about buyback. Make sure you give direction on the tone you want to set and the message you want to impart, but most importantly, have fun with it.
  • Do a YouTube ad – YouTube is a huge draw for students. You can use targeted advertising to help you reach the audience you want. If your store has access to a high quality, fun, short video and an advertising budget, consider investing in a YouTube ad.

Traditional channels

Even in the digital age, traditional marketing methods still produce results. Don’t skip these advertising steps for your buyback event.

  • Flyers – Flyers are an inexpensive way to reach your audience. You can hang them in some of the highest traffic areas on campus, but remember you are competing for student attention. Make sure the flyers are creative enough to catch a student’s eye.
  • Emails – Email is far from irrelevant. With email, students can look at the message when it is most convenient to them, and you are delivering the message directly to their phones. In fact, two-thirds of emails are read on a smartphone or tablet. Check out this post to see expert advice on how to increase your email reach.

Creating a buyback destination

Making students aware of buyback is only part of the battle. It also helps to give students a reason to attend buyback beyond selling back their textbooks. Like everyone else, students love to feel like they are getting a good deal. Here are some ways to attract student attention.

  • Incentives – Incentives can be a great way to catch student attention and drive future traffic back to your store. Many college stores have looked to big-box retail for marketing ideas. Offering things like store bucks or bounce-back coupons will drive more traffic into your store after the event. Store bucks are where students can earn a certain amount of “free” money to spend in your store, like Kohls cash. A bounce-back coupon is a coupon that is handed out that entices students to return to you store.
  • Themed event – A compelling event theme can attract the attention of students who missed your advertising. Themes take more time and planning but are a great way to drive organic traffic to your event and can change the tone of buyback.
  • Give away food or drinks – College students rarely pass up the opportunity for free food. Some schools have used popcorn to help draw attention and others have handed out water bottles with stickers about buyback attached to them. Whatever you choose, just make sure the message about your buyback event is getting across.

Ways to start promotions on your next buyback

The perfect time to start planning your next buyback is right after this spring’s buyback is over. What worked and didn’t work will still be fresh in your mind, and you can get a jumpstart on the event and promotion. Below is a list of steps you can take now that will boost future buyback events.

  • Make a list – List places you advertised the most recent buyback and how effective it was for driving student traffic.
  • Scout out new opportunities – Keep an ongoing list of places you find or hear about where you can advertise for free or popular student destinations that will share your posts on social media. This will give you a good list to start with when it is time to promote your next event. Consider including off-campus locations frequented by students.
  • Set a schedule – When you know the date of your next buyback, plan your promotion schedule. Give yourself plenty of time to build a buzz —Wichita State’s college store starts promotions three weeks ahead of the event. For each week leading up to the event create a list of goals you want to accomplish.
  • Be active on campus – Being a part of campus events helps keep your store on students’ radars. Throughout the term, be as active as possible and build student relationships and trust so they are more likely to follow your store on social media and read your emails.
  • Measure your ROI – For every advertisement you set up, determine if there is a way to track the results. For example, if you did a social media ad, you can check out the analytics about the ad’s reach and engagement, but don’t stop there. Also, ask students who come to buyback how they heard about the event and keep a tally. This information shows you the ad’s return on investment. It will narrow your focus for the next event and determine the methods that work best for you.
  • Start a buyback reminder site – A buyback reminder site gives students a place where they can enter their email address to be automatically notified when your store is buying back the books they purchased and told how much they can receive for those books. Not only do these messages remind students about buyback, they encourage immediate action and boost transparency.

A solid promotional plan can help you with more than just buyback. It can be used for other events and sales that keep the flow of traffic to your campus store steady. Keep your store’s branding strong in all of your marketing efforts by setting a consistent tone and look. As the industry and your community evolves, watch for new opportunities that will allow your store to expand its reach and bring in more customers.

With social media, word of mouth and a little bit of ice cream, the University  of Montana Bookstore turned its buyback into an end-of-year celebration. Read  the story

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