With increased competition, it’s more important than ever to advertise the benefits of shopping at your store. One of the many ways college stores are effectively achieving this task is through incentives. For example, UIC Bookstore recently implemented a promotion that encouraged students to use their online textbook reservation program by offering them a free item.
The store wanted to drive students to their website and have them sign up for the program, which guarantees that they receive textbook business and students benefit from convenient service. So, they rewarded those who purchased over $250 worth of textbooks through online reservation with a free limited edition t-shirt, not sold in the store. Those who reserved and purchased over $500 worth of textbooks received the same exclusive design on a hooded sweatshirt.
“We recently rebranded our marketing materials and came up with a whole new marketing plan that focuses on the value we provide to students,” described Sara Didio, assistant director of Retail Operations.“This promotion was a part of that. We wanted to reinvent our message and initiatives to focus on all that we offer.”
The concept was a huge hit and generated a lot of excitement.
“Students really enjoy getting free stuff, so everyone was very happy,” she said. “We saw a 22% increase in online reservation orders over the previous year, and I was happy with that. There’s a lot of growth there.”
The free apparel used for the promotion featured the winning entry from a student t-shirt design contest that the store recently hosted, making its appeal even greater.
“We had no idea that so many students would be interested in that type of contest,” Didio explained. “It was very popular. We had students vote to pick the winner by number of likes on Facebook. The first place design was featured on a t-shirt sold in the store, and the 2nd place entry was used for this promotion.”
Not only were students eager to obtain the exclusive merchandise, they were also happy to wear it, which has helped create positive PR for the store long after rush.
“We gave away over 600 t-shirts and hoodies, and we see them all over campus now,” Didio described. “The back of them say ‘I Support the UIC Bookstore,’ so it’s been great publicity for us.”
In fact, the store is so satisfied with the results that they’re starting the cycle over again.
“We’re launching another t-shirt design contest this semester and will most likely offer a similar textbook reservation promotion, too,” she said. “It’s been a relatively inexpensive way to increase our market share and build loyalty. I think students see us as a more friendly location now, rather than just a place where they can buy books, and that’s the perception we’re focusing on enhancing with our new marketing efforts.”
Interested in hosting your own student t-shirt design contest? Check out our Marketing Plan here. Just need marketing materials for your textbook reservation program? No problem! Take a look at the free options we have available.