Creating fans for life is something every store would love to do. It provides an enthusiasm and continued support that lasts longer than four to six years, and it can help bolster enrollment numbers in the future.
One key way to accomplish that can be focusing on kids. And we don’t mean the 18-to-20-something-year-old “kids” who attend your school and hang out on campus — we mean children and their families from your surrounding community. Reaching them can be easier than you might think: all you need is the right big event to grab their interest.
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! It’s a perfect time of year to focus on community outreach with fewer students on campus for the summer, and showcasing a fun afternoon event for kids can help keep them — and their families — excited about what your store has to offer.
Organize your Future Fan in Training Day event
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No matter what size community in which your school is located, there are young children. Encourage them to become an Eagle, Tiger, Bulldog or whatever your mascot may be and give them a day of fun, food and prizes.
First, you’ll need to pick fun activities you can host with your Future Fan in Training Day that will get kids excited. This will be based a lot on where you can host the event. You can feature free face painting — you can even paint their faces to look like the mascot! If you have an outdoor space or a larger open area in your store, you could also provide a bounce house, carnival games or other fun activities. Wherever you hold your Future Fan in Training Day, you can serve food like hot dogs and popsicles, or healthy snacks like fruit and veggies. You could also host activities that will let them make something to take home and remember your event, like making picture-frames or tie-died logo t-shirts.
If you have any student athletes who are available and willing, this can be a great opportunity to get kids enthusiastic about your team as well. Host meet-and-greets, offer autographs or let children play a game of catch or shoot some hoops. Future quarterbacks, pitchers and centers will get excited about a chance to play with a real local celebrity, and it gives parents a photo op they’ll cherish.
But don’t forget the parents and guardians: give them something to do while they’re at your store. Host a sale on youth-sized spirit wear, gifts, toys, stuffed animals depicting your mascot or matching event shirts for their children and themselves. You can also showcase any children’s books you might have in store. In addition to moving some higher-margin products, this is a great opportunity to shatter some of the common myths that plague college retailers: that you only sell books, or you only cater to students. And with the right mobile POS option, you can sell anywhere you hold your event.
And of course, don’t forget to invite your mascot to come out and play. In addition to the fun and games, what better way to get children excited than to give them an opportunity to meet your school’s mascot with a chance to pose for photos.
Littlest fan contest
We’re big fans of social contests, and parents are big fans of showing off how cute their little ones are. That’s where the Littlest Fan Contest comes in.
First, you’ll need to pick your prizes. They can be an array of logoed outfits from your store, or children’s books you or a partner business in the community sell. You could also offer free tickets to an upcoming game or games. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s exciting for both kids and their families alike, and helps further your mission of instilling and promoting school spirit.
Then, begin the contest. Encourage parents and guardians to submit photos of their children wearing your team’s memorabilia, having fun at a game or doing another school spirit-related activity to your Instagram, Facebook or other social site of your choice.
Contestants will have up to a deadline you define to achieve the most likes or favorites on their image. The winner gets announced at the event. If you expect a large turnout or have lots of merchandise to give away, you can offer prizes by age division.