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UVU Heats up Buyback Marketing with Hot Cocoa

Posted by Dean Asher on 12/13/15 11:00 PM
Topics: buyback, college store stories

As students study hard, juggle multiple finals and term papers and make travel arrangements for the winter break, it can be difficult for bookstores to make sure their buyback marketing is being heard.

UVU Bookstore employees hand out hot chocolate and buyback information to students as a free warm treat to beat the Orem, Utah cold. Each cup had a sticker that included the buy's time, in an effort to raise awareness for when students can get the best value for their titles.

That's why Utah Valley University Bookstore set out to find a promotion that was eye-catching but simple. Curriculum Material Manager David Morris said that in an effort to build a promotion that had no "gimmicks, games or time-consuming giveaways," his staff decided to hand out buyback information on campus in the form of warm, delicious hot chocolate.

"We liked the simple idea of hot chocolate and to focus on getting the word out to our students about buyback," Morris said. "We found a catering company to provide a good hot chocolate — not the campfire, watery hot chocolate but the rich, creamy kind. We placed buyback information on the cup, so they'd see it every time they took a sip."

UVU Bookstore's hot chocolate cups. Each cup had a sticker that stated the buy's dates and a promise to "get cash for textbooks no matter where you bought them" at UVU Bookstore. In addition to the cups, bookstore staff handed out flyers that featured more specific information, including the value for the top five books the store was looking to buy.

The catering company provided a five-gallon thermos that retains heat for about three hours, but that proved to be overkill. At three locations throughout campus, the store gave out 500 cups of hot chocolate from five thermos containers in about an hour and a half.

"The UVU Bookstore is centrally located on campus, but many of our students attend classes on the outskirts of the campus and don't usually come near the bookstore," Morris said of his decision to hold the event at multiple locations. "We wanted to get the information out to these students, so we chose three locations where students parked, came in from the bus, and in a building that is a good distance from the store."

The store developed the idea from an initial suggestion that they give out lemonade, deciding that may be a more appropriate promotion for a spring term. By spending about $1,400 for catering and materials, Morris felt it was a relatively low-cost promotion that was easy to execute.

"We feel that this simple approach will work better than past buyback (promotions,) and we hope it will spread the word across a larger area," he said.

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