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Think Plan Do: 2020 Online Marketing Plan

Posted by Liz Schulte on 9/2/20 6:30 AM
Topics: MBS Monthly Marketing Plans, Bookstore marketing, online marketing

Online sales are an essential part of retail. As customers depend on online ordering, it is important your college store’s marketing and sale events offer deals students can take advantage of online. This third installment of the Think, Plan, Do marketing plan focuses entirely on online marketing to engage students with your eCommerce site throughout the year.

Think Plan Do 2020A college store online shopping marketing plan for each season

Download: Marketing Kit
Think Plan Do Marketing Plan Kit
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As classes are about to start for fall term, the bookstore has a very important role to play in making sure students have their books for class. Whether online or in person, students need learning materials. Consider planning a campaign to encourage student online orders.

Online ordering can help you control store traffic so you can maintain social distancing requirements. Offer students the option to have their materials shipped to them or in-store pickup. Schedule pick-up times for students to come get their orders so the store has a steady flow of student traffic.

Another aspect to consider in this is faculty. Be sure to reach out to faculty members as they are preparing their syllabi. Ask them to tell students to get their books from the bookstore and include your store’s URL along with the required textbooks in the syllabus. Many students wait until classes start to pick up materials. Faculty recommendations could go a long way in getting students to shop with your bookstore.

In your campaign include:

  • Student emails (if possible)
  • Text messaging (if possible)
  • Social media
  • Faculty communication

Marketing materials included:

  • When you download the marketing kit, you will get editable social media images to promote the event. Check out the examples below. 




Celebrate the end of term with a Finals Flash Sale. Social media is perfect for creating FOMO (fear of missing out). Choose a day before finals week and set up hourly flash sales, pairing some of your most popular items with the merchandise you want to move. Set each sale to go for an hour and at the top of the hour do a Facebook Live video showing the items for sale.

Talk about each item, highlighting the quality and any good online reviews that the product has gotten. If possible, have a student model the products. Create a special online promo code that students can use to get the special flash sale prices.

When the order is shipped or picked up, include in the package another online promo code that students can use at a later date.

Marketing materials:

  • When you download the marketing kit, you will get editable social media images to promote the event. Check out the examples below. 



In those chilly, rainy spring months, consider an event that warms from the inside out. Host an online cooking competition to engage students by letting them show off their culinary creativity and expertise to their friends, family and campus without having to leave the comfort of their own kitchen.  

When planning your spring online competition, think about your favorite cooking shows and how they could be adapted for your students.

Cooking competition ideas

  • Mystery pairings – Select two to four ingredients that could be found in your on-campus convenience store and challenge contestants to create a cohesive dish from the ingredients that both tastes and looks appealing. Don’t be afraid to select ingredients that don’t traditionally go together. The more challenging it is, the more fun participants and spectators will have.

    Because this is an online competition, the dishes will be judged by appearance and the contestants’ descriptions of the dish. Recruit a few judges who would be willing to judge via a live video (or record and post a video of the judges reviewing the picture of each entry). Have fun with judging and remember to balance the good and bad aspects of each dish.

    Select a prize for the winning entry and let students know when your next event or sale will be. Consider holding this type of challenge multiple times to build an audience. Also, if there is interest, you could hold a faculty and staff challenge as well.

  • Microwave Heroes – Maybe all students don’t have access to a kitchen. Create an event for the microwave-inclined cooks on your campus. Challenge students to assemble their best, most delectable and visually appealing ramen dish. Or, their very best mug cake. You could even challenge them to prepare a three-course microwave meal.

    Again, this dish is being judged online so appearance and description are the only elements that can be judged. Challenge the students to expand their culinary vocabulary and sell their dish. Avoid empty words like delicious, yummy, good, etc. and go for the descriptors that create a mental flavor profile that will make the judges crave the dish in the image in front of them.

    Also, consider collecting recipes from participants that you can share on your social media pages to continue to provide engaging content even after the event.

  • Bake a Cake Challenge – Baking and decorating requires a significant amount of skill, patience and creative talent. This challenge could be taken in two directions. One could ask for beautiful master pieces of confectionary wizardry, or you may decide to embrace the always funny Pinterest fails (this is when your attempt to make a creative dessert doesn’t quite come out like the picture). You could even decide to offer both sides of the competition.

    Select a creative cake or cupcake image and challenge contestants to do their best to make a cake that looks like the image. Those who succeed would enter the Confectionary Wizardry side of the competition and those who didn’t quite hit the mark would enter the “But I bet it tastes good” side of the competition.

Marketing materials:

  • When you download the marketing kit, you will get editable social media images to promote the event. Check out the examples below. 




During summer students probably won’t be as active on your website or with the campus. However, if they follow you on social media, now is the perfect time to initiate social media shopping on the channels that facilitate it (i.e. Facebook and Instagram).

Students tend to gravitate more toward Instagram than Facebook. However, you might have more faculty, staff and parents follow you on Facebook. We suggest setting up shopping on both channels, giving customers the options to purchase directly on the sites they are already regularly visiting.

Follow this guide to setting up social media shopping.

Once you have social media shopping set up, run a couple targeted ads featuring your merchandise with great deals. This will help let students know this option is available to them. 

To increase online sales, your store needs to be consistent in promoting your website to students and offer exclusive online incentives that will bring shoppers to your eCommerce site. As you plan for the next school year and beyond, be sure to include specific plans for engaging customers online.


Featuring a range of in-store events and online promotions, our customizable  marketing plans come with step-by-step instructions to help you increase  customer loyalty and drive interaction. Check Them Out


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