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Dickinson College Bookstore Increases On-Time Adoptions with a Sweet Surprise

Posted by admin on 10/6/13 11:00 PM
Topics: college store stories, faculty relations, Marketing to Students

On-time adoptions benefit everyone; your store, your students and even the faculty members who submit them. But that doesn’t mean receiving them is easy. Dickinson College Bookstore’s approach to tackling this tricky task is to use a simple, yet incredibly effective strategy: face-to-face communication.

These custom candy bar wrappers were printed on campus then affixed to Hershey's bars and hand delivered to faculty members.

“Our goal was to not only generate more on-time requisitions, but also to develop goodwill with faculty members and their Academic Department Coordinators,” explained Neil Sanders, assistant textbook manager. “We decided the best way to accomplish that was to visit each of them, and talk in person.”

On March 20, the store sent their usual email to the Academic Department Coordinators (ADC’s) with a textbook adoption letter attached, which could then be forwarded onto the faculty in their respective departments. The deadline for adoptions was April 15, so the store visited each department during the week of April 8 as a reminder.

Rather than appear empty-handed, however, they opted to bring along a small gift. They created custom candy bar wrappers that featured the link to their webpage and a reminder of the due date. The wrappers, which were printed on campus, were then affixed to Hershey’s bars and hand delivered around campus.

“The candy bars served as a goodwill gesture; something to show our appreciation for their efforts,” explained David Nelson, director.

“It was nice to have something to offer the faculty and the ADC’s when we stopped by. It set the tone for a two-sided conversation,” added Amy Holl, textbook manager.

The store was able to source the chocolate bars from the convenience store attached to their location, so they got them at cost, allowing them to only spend $158 on the promotion. If faculty members weren’t available, they simply placed a chocolate bar in their respective mail slot. The store sent one to the Provost and Assistant Provost, too.

“We were very free with our candy bars,” joked Nelson. “Of course, I had to test drive a few, too.”

Because it was the first time they had ever tried this approach, they weren’t sure what to expect. However, they were pleasantly surprised with the results.

“Everyone was very happy! We even got a few emails thanking us for the chocolate,” described Holl. “We recently analyzed our adoptions and we saw a fairly substantial increase, as well. In the fall of 2012, we received 32.7 percent of requisitions during the month of April when they’re due. This year, we received 50 percent, so we were very pleased with that.”

“The goodwill alone was worth the cost of the candy bars; it really paid off,” Sanders agreed.

To continue the effort, the store also offered a prize drawing for any faculty member who submitted an on-time adoption. Two winners and their ADC’s were awarded a $25 store gift card to thank them for their efforts.

“The winners were very excited,” Holl described.

Overall, the store considers their interactive approach to be a success and is already planning what they want to do in the future.

“This idea required minimal cost; we can make up the expense by just getting a few titles in early,” Holl said.

“It allowed us to develop goodwill between our store and the faculty members on campus. We didn’t get everyone to turn in their adoptions early, but it made them think about it sooner,” Sanders added.

“When it comes to faculty, I have one suggestion for other stores: to interact,” advised Nelson. “Interact with them in a more personal manner; not just online or over the phone. It makes a big difference!”

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