There are lots of events that bring large amounts of people to your campus. But, how do you direct that traffic to your store? For Morehead State University Bookstore, the answer to that question is fashion!
For the past three years, they have taken advantage of the heavy flow of students and parents on campus during Family Weekend by hosting a Fashion Show.
“We wanted to give those that were visiting something fun to do,” explained Cheryl Farmer, general manager. “It has been very well received; everyone enjoyed it.”
This year, they decided to try a slightly different approach by moving the event to Homecoming weekend. Just for a little added stress, it was the weekend after MBS Symposium!
“We wanted to take advantage of all the alumni on campus, so we gave it a try,” added Rebecca Holbrook, merchandise manager. “The timing worked out even better for us and generated more attendees. It was great!”
Despite the schedule change, the details of the event have remained the same. As a first step, the store recruits models to participate in the show.
“Our work-study students are basically automatically drafted to participate,” said Julie Ferguson, textbook manager. “Then, we start advertising to others on campus to get them involved.”
Using a cross-channel promotional strategy, the store spreads the word to everyone from students to faculty.
“We use Facebook and Twitter as well as posters around campus to find volunteers,” said Ferguson. “We also go in and talk with some of our sports management classes on campus and let them know about the event. It’s not hard though, every year we have to turn models away because we have too many, so we always end up with a list of participants for the next event!”
This strategy has proven successful, with a wide variety of models strutting their stuff down the store’s runway, which is set up in the student center lobby, just outside the store’s main entrance.
“We’ve recruited everyone from the head basketball coach and his two children to the women’s dance team!” Ferguson added. “Everyone is always excited to get involved.”
And, for a good reason, too! As a thank you to their models, the store offers several incentives.
“Each participant receives two store coupons: one that they can use on the day of the Fashion Show and one that they can bring back at a later date,” Farmer explained. “We also give them all a sports cinch bag filled with a variety of store merchandise. We try to customize them based on who’s receiving them, too. For instance, a child might get pompoms, pencils, candy and a stuffed mascot, whereas we may give students a tee shirt, tumblers, water bottles, decals, key chain and a coffee mug.”
For their work-study students, however, the store provides a little extra.
“Because they have to wear our branded merchandise to work, we give them a tee shirt that’s usually from the $9.99 price point,” Holbrook added. “It helps them have an additional option for work and helps us to increase the reach of our brand on campus, so it’s a win-win.”
Plus, all participants and attendees are treated to a free breakfast the morning of the show.
“We want to show them how much we appreciate their help in making the event a success,” Ferguson described.
To determine who will wear what, the store asks students to fill out a brief questionnaire with their size and preferred style of clothing.
“We try and match everyone with what we think would look best,” Ferguson said. “A lot of what we feature is new merchandise or special buys from the spring that weren’t worn in the past year’s show. But, we also try to hold back full size runs of one or two items when we get all of our merchandise in during July so that we can debut it there. “
Once they have all of their models, they advertise the event throughout campus and the community.
“We take out an online ad with the local newspaper, post information to our website and social media pages, add it to the University newsfeed and calendar page, as well as put it on a postcard that goes out to all alumni about events that weekend,” Farmer explained.
This year's event was made even more exciting with a local celebrity and alumni hosting as Emcee.
"Amber Philpot is a news anchor out of Lexington and a popular alumni of MSU," said Ferguson. "That was a great addition to the show. We also had a finale’ that included the MSU All-girl squad cheerleaders and Beaker, MSU’s mascot."
That effort paid off this year with over 50 in attendance and a significant increase in sales for the store.
“When the show took place during Family Weekend, we typically had a 50-80% increase in sales over the same day the previous year,” Farmer explained. “With Homecoming, it was a little different because our sales are typically higher on that weekend anyway, but we still saw a 25% increase over last year. It was very exciting!”
All in all, the store believes the event is one that will only continue to grow in the future.
“It’s a blast,” Ferguson added. “We love the benefits that it brings to the store, but more importantly, the fun it offers to the students faculty, staff and alumni. That’s what it’s all about!”