Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

Hundreds of Free Ways to Promote Your College Store

Posted by Abraham T. Dyer on 5/23/19 3:19 PM
Topics: college store promotions, Marketing to Students, social media marketing, scavenger hunt, college store marketing

What if your college store had one more employee who devoted 10 more hours each week to developing your campus store's marketing plans and materials? What could your store accomplish? You don't have to spend more on staffing to find out. We have already laid the groundwork and all you have to do is implement it.

Since 2011, Foreword Online has developed complete (and completely free) marketing plans, covering: holiday marketing, charity and community outreach, unique events and sales, faculty relations plans, and more. Below, sorted by time, topic and audience, are the plans and resources you need to keep your store's marketing fresh from month to month.

Take your pick and enjoy! Better yet, bookmark this page and come back as often as you need to get inspiration on how to bring more student traffic into your store.

Bookstore events and engaging contests

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Entertainment is key in these plans. Contests, games and events get the customer involved in the culture of your school and store. By focusing on something uniquely geared toward them and their interests, you become a destination worth coming back to.

Student-Designed T-Shirt Contest
Stay connected with students over the summer months by hosting a T-shirt Design Contest!
Host a Faculty & Staff Top Chef Competition
Host a cooking competition between your faculty and staff members, and have their creations judged by "celebrity" guests.
Build Loyalty from the Beginning with a Win the Window Contest
Offer students the chance to win the display in your store's window.
Celebrate Homecoming with a Week of Savings
Show your homecoming spirit with these events surrounding bookstore savings.
Slash Prices Next Friday the 13th
Take the opportunity to turn this well-known superstition into a fun sales event for your store.
App-y Hour: Arm Your Students with a Custom Mobile Toolbox
Show students the bookstore is there to help. Host an App-y Hour event that shares with students useful study and wellness apps.
(Pumpkin) Spice Up your Store this Autumn with a Fall Fest
Give your creative students an outlet to showcase their crafting and artisanal skills with a Fall Festival.
Groundhog Day Activities to Engage Students
After a long winter, it can seem like spring break is years away to students. A quirky Groundhog Day promotion is the perfect way to break up the monotony.
Build-a-Sundae Bookstore Tour
Build sundaes while you build customer loyalty. Help incoming students by giving them a delicious introduction to everything your store has to offer.
Go Green & Save Some Green
Reward your customers for helping the environment while shopping at your store.
4 College Graduation Events for College Stores
Give graduating students the send off they deserve.
Get Ready for Geek Week
Appeal to your campus's many nerds by hosting a Geek Week.
Flashback to the Freshest Decade with 90's Night
Take a trip down memory lane with 90's night.
Celebrate Movember with an In-Store Facial Hair Contest
Raise awareness (and have a little fun) with some mustache-themed events.

Scavenger hunt ideas

These longer-term events are a great way to not only catch your customers' attention but to keep it as well; and again, any time you add a little fun to the relationship, you create good will for your store, even after the event is over.

Freshman Scavenger Hunt
Gain students' loyalty when they first set foot on campus by hosting a Freshman Scavenger Hunt
Find Your Free Textbooks
Generate more store traffic with a contest that gives one winning student free textbook rentals for one year. 
Increase Traffic With a St. Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt
Find out how to engage students in a lively scavenger hunt with these step-by-step instructions.
National Tartan Day Scavenger Hunt and Flash Sale
Get everything you need to host a flash sale or scavenger hunt for National Tartan Day.

Marketing for holidays

These special times of year have instant recognition among students and provide a good framework for events and sales.

New Years
What’s Your New Year’s Anti-Resolution?
Showcase all the unpleasant things your store WON’T do for your customers with New Year’s Anti-Resolutions!
Valentine's Day
Spread the Love
Spread the love with a month-long promotion in honor of Valentine’s Day on February 14! Check out our fun ideas for each week.
Galentine's Day Celebration
Court your single students — and your local business community — with a Galentine’s Day or Guys Night In to build relationships with your customers!
Make It a Date with Your Store
Host a Valentine's Day date night at your store to generate business and grow your social media footprint.
April Fool's
Foolish Flash Promotion
Take advantage of April Fool’s Day to play a few pranks on your students and show them why they should shop with you with a Foolish Flash Promotion!
Cinco de Mayo
Celebrate with a Cinco de Mayo Sale and Raffle
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo and draw students into your store with a raffle and a $5 back promise.
A Festival of Silly Tricks and Sensational Treats
Plan a festival of silly tricks and sensational treats that will be sure to bring more students into your store.
Don't Fear the Foot Traffic
Take advantage of Halloween's popularity by planning some fun, seasonal events.
See How a Cyber Monday Sale Can Boost Holiday Revenue
Find out how college stores can make the most out of eCommerce this holiday season.
This Holiday Season, Host a Frugal Feast
This holiday season, host a contest that lets students show off their budget-friendly culinary skills.
Winter Holidays
How Can Collegiate Retailers Attract Last-Minute Shoppers?
Collegiate retailers can take these six easy steps to attract last-minute holiday shoppers.
12 Days of Giving Sale
Holiday plan to market to students, build engagement and drive more customers through your doors.
Bring Students in the Store with Holiday Events
Get in the spirit. Holiday-themed events are a great way to bring students to your store.
Jolabokaflod: Give the Gift of Books and Win Student Traffic
Host an easy sale event that celebrates the Icelandic tradition of giving books to help drive foot traffic and advertise buyback.

New student orientation

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. These plans help you start off on the right foot with the incoming class.

New Student Midnight Markdown
Introduce first-years to your store with a sales event just for them.
Lend a Hand on Move-In Day
Help make the transition to college less stressful by offering resources and assistance to freshmen and their families.
Marketing Made Easy
Take a look at these new options and themes to target freshmen and faculty, as well as help you advertise during rush.

Start-of-term rush and buyback

You know better than anyone the opportunities and struggles that come with buyback and rush. A little extra help promoting these events and running them smoothly goes a long way.

A Quick Guide to Last-Minute Buyback Promotions
Follow these easy-to-use tips to maximize your textbook buyback marketing efforts.
4 Proven Ways to Make Buyback Merry
Discover the four P's that ensure students leave buyback feeling happy.
Six Strategies to Bring Students to Your Buyback This Term
Make sure your store doesn’t fall behind on promoting this spring’s buyback with these six ideas on how to increase student traffic.
The Last-Minute Buyback Plan
Easily implemented ideas your store can use to ensure your buyback is a success.
Be Happy at Buyback
If students leave buyback feeling like they didn’t receive a fair price, it can affect the way they perceive your store. Make sure they leave smiling.
The Greatest Deals on Earth
What better way to make your buyback event the biggest it's ever been than to turn it into an (organized) circus?
Bring Them Back with Buyback Bucks
Only see most of your students when they buy and sell back books each semester? Increase the likelihood of additional visits by offering Buyback Bucks!
Make Rush Convenient for Students
Three ways to increase student convenience and produce big results for your college store.
Rush Right In
We’ve devised an easy-to-execute giveaway and ways to let your customers know how your store can help them achieve their goals for the new year!
The Price is Right at Textbook Rush
Bookstore events inspired by the popular game show "The Price is Right."

Spring and summer seasonal marketing

After the long fall and winter nights, ignite interest among students with events that remind them just how much fun is to come, and keep sales up over the long summer days.

Spring into Savings
Spring is in the air. Here's a retail sale plan designed to generate sales prior to buyback.
April Showers Bring May Flowers
Drive some sales before buyback with this free marketing plan.
Spring Break Photo Contest
Interact with your students even while they’re away from campus and gain lots of new social media fans with a Spring Break Photo Contest!
Bookstore Block Party Blowout
Celebrate summer by staying open late and getting to know members of your community with a Bookstore Block Party Blowout!
Welcome Back Beach Bash
Summer is a perfect time for your store to help returning students cool off and show them you have more to offer than just books with a Welcome Back Beach Bash!

Promoting your store through eCommerce and social media

You have to meet your customers where they are. These marketing plans specialized in reaching students online.

5 Best Practices for Connecting with Gen Z on Social Media
Discover how Gen Z's unique characteristics influence social media trends.
3 Attention-grabbing Social Media Ideas for College Stores
Social media is one of the best marketing tools college stores can use to reach their audience.
Promote Your Website Off-line
If you build it, they will come. That may work for baseball, but unfortunately it probably won't get much traffic for your web store.
Think, Plan, Do with a Year's-Worth of Marketing Plans
Take advantage of a slower time in the store to plan these 10 social media marketing campaigns throughout the year.
Creating Content More People Want and Engaging Your Audience
Ten ways to stand out from the crowd on Instagram. (In two parts.)
Snap to It: Three Snapchat Marketing Ideas
How to make Snapchat work for your business.
Increase Student Interest with Pinterest
Providing relevant Pinterest boards for your students is an easy way to connect with them. Find out how to get started with this month's marketing plan:
Laugh Off Bookstore Misconceptions by Reading Mean Tweets
Find out how you can make the social media feedback you receive work for you with this month's marketing plan.

Bringing attention to charity

I know we said that fun, fun, fun is a great way to get your audience involved, but sometimes, giving back is the best way to strike a chord with students and the campus community. Tap into some innate goodness and naturally positive PR by showing your store has heart.

Clear Out the Clutter
To get you ready for this season of new beginnings, we’ve designed a plan to help you and your students give back to your community and declutter!
Swap and Shop at Your Campus Store
Hosting a Swap & Shop event is a great way to get your customers to come into your store, clear out inventory and showcase new products!
Raise Awareness on Campus When You 'Paint It Pink'
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Through “pink” efforts, much attention is garnered for awareness and a cure. Help contribute!
Turn Black Friday into Green Friday to Support Charities
Tap into your customers' sense of social consciousness and put a giving spin on a day of bargain shopping with our Green Friday promotion.
Better Your Buyback with a Competition for Charity
Create a positive image for your bookstore through buyback.

Fostering good community relations

Promoting your store isn't all about getting into the hearts and minds of students. The local community, faculty, alumni, parents and superfans are a large part of your audience as well. Connect with them in meaningful ways through these strategies.

How to Win Gen Z’s Loyalty for Your Store
Discover how to easily drive more Gen Z foot traffic.
Reach Nontraditional Students in a Nontraditional Way
A few ideas of how your store can engage with nontraditional students.
Make a Plan to Increase College Store Traffic
Develop a plan to turn slower months into growth for your college store.
Spread the Word on Student Savings
Show everyone what vital role you play in the success of your institution by spreading the word on student savings!
Host a Shop Local Buy Local Event
Encourage your customers to help out the local community.
Future Fan in Training
Give kids a day they’ll never forget and offer parents merchandise for prices they’ll always remember with the Future Fan in Training Day!
Boost Return Business through Customer Loyalty Month
Make it all about your customers and show them how much you value their interest in your store with our latest marketing plan: Customer Loyalty Month!

Marketing to faculty

One group that merits special attention is faculty. They are your first-touch ambassadors for your largest audience — students. Cultivating positive relationships with faculty is essential for a successful college store.

Communicating With Faculty About Early Adoptions
The four best practices when building professional relationships with faculty that will create a lasting rapport.
3 Ways You Need to Reach Faculty About Adoptions
Advice from a former teacher about how to communicate with faculty,
Winning Over Faculty for Successful Textbook Adoption
Adoptions may seem like a simple task to your store, but for a faculty member who spends their time focused on classwork and grading, that may not be the case.
Leveraging Campus Celebrities to Market to Students
Every school has their staff members who are local celebrities.Give these people the kind of exposure they deserve, while also promoting your own store.
Get Ready for a Fun February Feud
A game show night will bring students and faculty into your store for a burst of welcome fun.

Highlighting literary culture

Whether or not your campus store is a "book" store, books, authors and literary culture provide a great backdrop to get customers' imaginations rolling.

Mystery May: Fall in Love with a Great Book
This marketing event is simple, engaging and easy to manage. Select one or all of these ideas to entice customers into the store using a little bit of mystery.
Celebrate Booktober
After a few months of being back at school, it’s time to give your students a break and have some fun.
Throw a Salute to Seuss Bash
Celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday with some Seuss-themed marketing events.
Spark Community Imagination with Story Hour
Plan for a whimsical and fun children’s story hour to remind parents families are welcome in your store.

Leveraging interest in sports

Rah! Rah! Rah! There's a reason we all get so worked up for our favorite teams. Using that momentum is another great way to get fans into the store to shop for gear.

Tackle the Competition During Rush
As football season intensifies with the approaching playoffs, your store is preparing for an influx of students as they start a new semester.
Bracket Battle in the College Store
Take March Madness to a new level with this marketing idea.
Host a Grand Slam of a Sale
Whether your school has a baseball team or you want to show pride for the nearest franchise, you can score a home run with a Grand Slam of a Sale!
Host a DIY Game Day Shirt Extravaganza
Help students embrace their creativity with a fun, spirit-boosting DIY t-shirt event.

Large scale and long term marketing plans (Read: 'lots of options')

Why pick just one? These plans offer multiple ideas you can use year-round.

Think, Plan, Do: 2018 Marketing Plan
Get a year’s worth of college store events and sales that can be scheduled and organized over summer.
Host a Series of Short Month Sales
Celebrate the shortest month of the year with some fun sales.
3 Easy Ways to Drive Foot Traffic
Here are three ways guaranteed to bring students through your door.

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