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College Store Events to Finish the School Year Strong

Posted by Liz Schulte on 3/6/23 6:45 AM
Topics: bookstore events, campus bookstore marketing, college retail revenue

Now is a good time to start planning your store’s end-of-term events to maximize sales before most students head home for break. Both in-store and online events are a great way to engage customers and encourage repeat shoppers. We have compiled four ideas to help you drive more traffic to the campus store this spring.

College-Store-Events-to-Finish-the-School-Year-Strong_FO-Header_Proof-v1_2302244 College Store Events to Host Before Summer

Graduation Extravaganza

An effective marketing strategy is to host an event that fosters or creates interest. One way to do that is to create an event for a large group with a similar interest, such as a graduation sales event.

Audience: Current graduates and friends and families of graduates

Marketing: Create targeted email lists and send promotional emails to those select customers.

*Pro Tip: Tools like the MBS CRM will help you take your marketing to the next level

Event: As graduating students look back on their time in school, nostalgia is common. Before those students cross the stage, encourage them to head into the store and get one more item to celebrate their time in school.

As many stores also supply graduation regalia, it might be a good idea to tie this sale to any grad night events that your store already does. If your store doesn’t do any existing graduation events, maybe create a selfie wall in the store where graduating students can stop by to take pictures with their friends.

For this event, offer graduating students an amount off any purchase. Display t-shirts, office supplies, coffee mugs, diploma frames, etc. A tempting deal that lets each student pick out an item or items that appeals most to them might give your store the largest return on investment.

The second part of this sale is reaching the families of the graduate. If you have access to email addresses of the graduating students’ parents or families, don’t forget to send them a special offer as well. They might be looking for that perfect graduation gift and your store can help them out.

Summer Hype

Another effective marketing strategy is to generate demand. Utilize FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to create a demand for merchandise you sell in your store. Examples that work well for this are flash sales, influencer marketing and fun events like scavenger hunts.

Audience: All students.

Marketing: With this type of event, you want to go all out on your marketing efforts with the goal of generating excitement and enthusiasm. Social media is a great tool for instant posting that helps create FOMO, especially video. If you have a student worker or anyone at the store comfortable with making videos, make sure they are wearing the weekly or daily special in the promotional video.

Event: No matter what age a student is, summer approaching is always exciting. Warm weather, a break from stress and most importantly finals are over. Take advantage of summer anticipation with a countdown to summer event.

You could choose to make your countdown event a weekly or daily sales event. Select one item to place on sale each day or week and then promote that sales event. You can choose to offer the price for an entire day or for a limited amount of time. The idea is to get customers excited to come into the store.

You can also assign a theme to the products you are offering on sale. Summer essentials: t-shirts, shorts, tanks, headphones, sunglasses, flipflops, etc. Goodbye winter: sweatshirts, hats, gloves, scarves, etc. Choose whatever items make the most sense for your store.

Thank You for Your Business

A customer appreciation sale reminds customers that it pays to shop local. This type of event helps your store increase brand awareness because it generates word of mouth. The customers who get to take part in the sale tell their friends about the great deal they got at the campus store.

Audience: Customers who shopped in your store this term (or whatever time frame you would like to assign).

Marketing: Create an email list for all the customers who have purchased from your store within the set time frame and email them an invitation to the sales event.

Event: Bringing back existing customers is always a win. Research tells us that it is much harder to win new customers than it is to keep your existing customers happy. So this event is designed to do just that.

Rather than creating another normal sales event, try something a little different this time. Do you have old stock that you would like to get rid of? Offer repeat customers a free gift with any purchase. It doesn’t have to be a large gift or even all the same gifts. Just select the merchandise you would like to clear from your store and set up the event.

You could even put the free gifts in a simple brown paper bag and let customers select their own mystery bag. The idea is to bring customers back through the door and to encourage then to make a purchase, even something small.

Make the Most of Buyback and Rental Returns

End of term also means it is time for buyback and rental returns. Use this opportunity when students are bringing back their books to generate some new sales.

Audience: Everyone who purchased or rented course materials

Marketing: Your store’s typical buyback and rental return messaging. MBS system partners: don’t forget to use inSite Alerts to quickly remind students about rental returns and buyback via email or text message.

Event: There is no need to recreate the wheel with an event like this. As students are bringing back their books, take the opportunity to make them an additional offer. Give students money or a percentage off in the store that day because they brought their old textbooks and rentals back to you.

Print a paper coupon or flyer to hand to students. Or, if you are more digitally inclined, create a promo code that students are given after they turn in their books to use online or take to the store.

Hosting end of term events is a good way to reenergize sales and remind students, faculty and staff what a great resource the campus store is to the community. What end-of-term events have worked best in your store?



Find out how MBS can help you reduce overhead, save students money and  streamline operations with a tailored retail management system. Learn More


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