Want a fun way to welcome incoming freshmen? Why not give them the chance to win great prizes? The staff at the URI Bookstore opened their doors and made the newcomers feel right at home by holding a raffle during Freshman Orientation.
With prizes including an iPad Air, a gift card to the bookstore and free textbooks for the fall semester, both staff and students were excited and engaged. This was a smart way to introduce the incoming students to the store and also kicked off a school year that promises to be chock-full of customer interaction with other targeted promotions and contests scheduled throughout.
At each of the eight Freshman Orientation sessions, the store saw a lot of interest in the contest. Alyssa Galuska, one of the staff members who works with marketing and special events, described the raffle as very successful. “We had a pretty great turnout overall, with a significant number of students and family members from each session enter the raffle. Between promoting the raffle to simply ringing out the customers, our staff had a number of opportunities to interact with the students and families on a personal level which makes the whole experience enjoyable.
Throughout the month of June, the bookstore staff promoted the raffle on Facebook and saw a notable increase in “likes” and ratings. In addition to their social media efforts, they sent out an email blast to students and parents before they arrived on campus for orientation. They also posted signage all over campus and set up tables with marketing materials in both the Student Union and in the building where parents would be checking in.
According to Galuska, getting to know the incoming students and their parents is a key factor for any college store’s success. “The textbook industry can be a difficult market so it’s crucial to establish a positive relationship with new students and their families right from the start. It’s equally important to alleviate any negative perceptions and do our best to educate them on the benefits of supporting the campus store.”
Events like the Freshman Raffle give the store a chance to promote other products and services as well. “It’s a great opportunity to promote what else we have to offer, such as our Box & Carry Program (textbook reservation), our Rhody Store Charge Program (payment plan), our MicroFridge Rental Program, Textbook Buyback, just to name a few,” Galuska said. “We certainly believe that events like this increase the likelihood that the customers we interacted with will return to the store.”
Throughout the year, the URI Bookstore holds contests and promotions, with the goal of building relationships with students and faculty by giving them a tangible incentive to visit the store. “We have everything from different coupons for discounts on clothing to our large Christmas sale where we offer refreshments, live music and free gift wrapping,” Galuska said. “We also make it a point to be at all special events on campus like Welcome Day, Commencement, Homecoming and Family Weekend.”