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Wichita State University Bookstore Achieves Viral Success with Video

Posted by Dean Asher on 7/29/13 11:00 PM
Topics: social media, MBS Systems inSite, college store stories, student employees, Marketing to Students

With the evolution of digital technology, society has become entranced by screens. From cell phones to computers, tablets to TVs, they have literally invaded every aspect of daily life. This shift has undoubtedly affected the way consumers shop and, as a result, the way retailers advertise.

That’s why college stores are developing new marketing strategies to grab their audience’s attention. For example, Wichita State University Bookstore has been exploring the effectiveness of broadcasting their message through video.

“We gained a really great web presence during our team’s time in the Final Four this spring, so we wanted to follow that up with additional ways to continue building online orders,” explained Andrea Stipp, assistant director.

Once the basketball buzz died down, they all quickly agreed that a video was their best chance at reaching their diverse audience of students and alumni.

The result was a parody of K-Mart’s viral hit “Ship My Pants” that quickly gained the University Bookstore over 1,200 hits on YouTube. Putting their own spin on the play on words, they created “Just Ship It” to promote their online ordering services, powered by MBS Systems inSite.

“In today’s society, everyone is so in tune with technology that they’re constantly looking down at their phone or laptop,” Stipp said. “You have to do something to stand out from the crowd. Comedy is a great way to catch and maintain people’s attention, so we decided to pursue that route.”

The video, which was written almost entirely by student employees and produced as well as edited on campus, became a fun way for the University Bookstore’s staff to bond.

“We had a great time making the commercial and I was really glad we could keep it all in-house,” she described. “As we brainstormed, you could just see the excitement and the teamwork that was coming out of it; it was a lot of fun!”

Because their student base includes several generations, Stipp and her staff did have some initial concerns about how the message would be received. But, they ultimately decided that the potential impact of the video outweighed the risk.

“We figured that, even if we received negative feedback, the project would still be a success because we would have created a video that reached several generations, and that was our goal,” she elaborated. “If they took the time to watch it, we were still getting our message across, regardless of whether they liked it.”

When the video debuted through the store’s social media channels, however, it was clear the response was anything but negative. ‘Just Ship It’ quickly gained them lots of likes, shares and retweets.

“Honestly, we have not received a single piece of negative feedback to date,” she explained. “Students love it; they think it’s hilarious!“

Based on that success, the University Bookstore is working to create two more funny videos that are scheduled to be released as students return to campus. For instance, one will advertise their in-store pickup service for textbooks, while the other will inform students of the ability to have their textbooks shipped directly to them.

“It’s a fun way to remind students to be proactive about the semester, rather than reactive,” Stipp added.

Throughout the experience, the store has learned that the key to a successful campaign is making their message exciting in the eyes of their audience, and they encourage other college stores to do the same.

“Don’t be afraid,” Stipp advised. “You only have a split second to capture students’ attention, so sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and hope that it works out in your favor.”

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