Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

Your Store Marketing Keeps Crowds Coming

Posted by Jason Smallheer on 1/11/17 5:30 AM
Topics: college retail, sales strategies, Marketing to Students

You have a retail store in the best location. You carry the products your customers need, have an educated sales team, offer competitive prices; you should have a steady stream of customers, but business isn’t what it used to be. How can you bring more people through your door today? You can win at the marketing game without a huge budget.

Your Store Marketing Keeps Crowds ComingThe chalkboard

Telling your customers what they can expect on their way in the door is a win. Do you have a sale on hoodies today? Is an author doing a reading? Free coffee for no reason whatsoever? Placing a sandwich board outside your door tells the passerby, who may not have had you on their agenda, what you’re doing and gives them a reason to stop in. I once saw a sign in Wisconsin that read, “Writer’s block. Come give us ideas.” It got me in the door and I bought a foam cheesehead. Work with your team. You may have an amazing artist in your midst who is dying to let their creativity shine. Now they have a project, and an engaged employee is a happy employee.

Loyalty program

Nothing brings customers back in the door like saying, “Thank you for shopping with us. Here’s a gift.” However, there are countless loyalty programs on the market today. Coffee shops, auto parts stores, supermarkets and bookstores all offer loyalty programs enticing buyers to return. The area of opportunity is two-fold:

  1. Make signing up easy
  2. Make your program unique

Towson University in Maryland has a loyalty program rewarding customers for everything they purchase. The points accrued can be cashed in and placed on a store gift card used for anything in the store. Stacy Elofir, University Store director has found success by enrolling students during orientation, offering rewards for customer feedback and her store’s Tiger Rewards loyalty program currently has more than 23,000 members.

Social media

In today’s digital landscape a social media presence is essential. However, it’s also easy to get sucked into a social media black hole. Which resources do you use? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, the list goes on. Danville Community College implemented a social media strategy designed to engage the active student body. Using the four channels their customers frequent, they have been able to build and grow a social media following.

Give customers a reason to return

If a customer has already made a purchase from you, why should they return? Do they only come back when they need your product again? A customer who purchases from you is the “low-hanging fruit.” They simply need another reason to come back. Kaldi’s coffee in St. Louis capitalized on its current customers with an event. To engage customers, as well as other local baristas, Kaldi’s hosted a “Latte Art Throwdown.” The competition tested the barista’s ability to make amazing art in latte’ foam. The event brought in regulars, competitors and their friends and family.

Lifetime value of your customers

Purchasing a car does not generate the most profit for the dealership. The money is made from the multiple small services in the years you own the car. Routine oil changes, tires, detail jobs, etc. In your store, if a customer buys course materials, what else do you think they will need over time? Supplies, food, spirit gear and more. How many years will they be a student? It adds up.

Marketing to your customers in creative ways on a regular basis will keep you on their minds. If they don’t need something today, they will tomorrow. Keep your customers engaged and they will come back for more.


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