Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

For College Stores, It's a Marathon

Posted by Kate Seat on 11/8/16 8:02 AM
Topics: Marketing to Students

For most retailers, the busiest time of the year is approaching. The carols start playing, holiday decorations appear — if they haven’t already been up since August — and managers nationwide start hiring seasonal help to accommodate increased crowd volume and extended hours.  

As a college store leader, you face an entirely different set of challenges.

 College Retail is a Marathon

Black Friday, which has traditionally been the busiest day of the year in retail, means an empty campus for you. Instead of a slow build throughout the season, you’ll have crowds at rush and buyback, and may see little or no foot traffic during the rest of December.

How can you turn these slower sales days into opportunities to attract more business?

Begin by changing the way you think about the term as a whole: Imagine that you and your team are running a marathon, rather than sprinting from event to event.

Treating your busiest periods as separate occasions consumes needless energy and may cause you to miss out on later opportunities, not to mention risking a burned out staff.

Instead, borrow the principle behind conditional statements like “if this, then that” to simplify a semester’s worth of planning. For example, if it’s a game day, your staff will know in advance that your hours will be extended, that you can expect 20% more foot traffic and that you’ll need to have a display showcasing your sales ready before you close the night before.

Using an event planning checklist will help you clarify the details and make sure you and your staff will have the supplies you need.

Plan ahead. In January, take the time to sketch out a strategy for as much of the upcoming year as possible, starting with significant dates like rush, class start date, buyback and graduation and building out your event schedule from there. Don’t forget to check campus and local event calendars for opportunities to work with other groups.

College retail is a marathon not a sprint

Great, but what about right now?

There’s still time to plan a successful event for the rest of this term. Here’s how:

Use the resources at your disposal. If you’ve had a successful promotion in the past, what parts could you reuse? Be creative and recycle ideas, supplies and decorations with simple updates. As long as you are providing something of value to your customers, whether in savings, treats or a fun experience, they’ll be receptive.

Find out what else is happening on campus. If other local groups have an event planned, ask if your store can participate in some way. Earn some social karma by offering to help promote the event through social media and by sharing information with your customers. 

Investigate some ready-made solutions. Each month on Foreword Online, we bring you new marketing plans, complete with customizable marketing materials. Take a look at some of the options suitable for a short-notice promotion:

 MBS Promo Guide


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