The college experience is not complete without a few trips to the bookstore. Serving as the "hub" on campus, with providing everything a student needs to succeed on campus, it is important that the store remain as relevant to the student as possible. In doing so, we wanted to provide you with some tips to market your bookstore to college students so that they keep coming back for more!
1. Be where they are
Millennials are a highly social audience, and use digital more than ever before. It is crucial for you to be where they are, and communicate with them in the ways they are used to communicating with retail and brands likes yours. Social media platforms are a great start. Ensure that you have an active presence on the platforms your students are already using to communicate with each other, like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Be sure to post photos from your store, announce sales online, showcase your new products or even spotlight your student workers! This is sure to gain a ton of engagement from your student audience.
2. Sponsor an on-campus event
Talk to your college about hosting an on-campus, in-store event. You can also giveaway some freebies, because let's face it, college students LOVE free giveaways! Provide them a free lunch, or hold a raffle for some must-have items within the store. Students will definitely flock to the store if they are feeling luck enough for a chance to win. And it's a great way to showcase some of the new items in the store, or any major sales taking place.
3. Unique is key!
Stock up on cool and unique products for your audience and be ahead of the trends! Take notice in what your student body is wishing for, or talking about. If there are certain products students are wanting but can't get to off-campus, perhaps see if that product can be bought and sold within your campus store. Keep your ear to the ground to figure out what products students are talking about and majority are after. Once you have this knowledge and can sell it within the store, then make sure to advertise it! Soon you will have students coming directly to you for the resources and must-have items that are on their wish-list. And hopefully, you will have students buying more than what they came for.
4. Create an inviting space
With so many areas on campus vying for the students attention, make sure to make your bookstore an inviting place and one they want to continue to visit throughout the year. You can decorate with your school's colors, play trendy radio stations, or entice them with something that makes them curious to stop in the store. For example, make your store a winter wonderland during the colder months, or get spooky for Halloween. Either way, you want to make your store an inviting place that is some place your students can't walk away from without stopping inside.
5. Hold "themed" sales
Retail stores are always holding particular themed sales during major and minor holidays, or current event happenings. With the uniqueness of your college bookstore, be sure to capitalize on the events happening around campus as well, like certain sporting events or other organizations hosting campus-wide events. Get creative with the type of themed sales you want to have, like hosting a Super Bowl sale with discount on supplies and the ability to grab a square for the big game! Or, if you're nearing the end of the term, be sure to throw an awesome 'End of the Year Summer sale!'
6. Win over the 'rents
Heading off to college for a lot of students means getting their independence which most have always longed for. For parents, though, they not only are looking forward to this new experience for their son or daughter but they are also wanting to make sure that their student has everything he or she needs to succeed. With that said, it will also be important to market to parents, letting them know that there is a "one-stop-shop" directly on campus for all of their essential needs. You can set up a variety of advertisements around campus during move-in days, orientations, and campus tours to let parents know where they can get all their students needs to make sure they leave them in good hands!
7. Remember your audience
While your store might be in the center of campus, make sure to accommodate every student that frequents your surrounding campus community. Be sure not to forget about those that commute to school or those that live in off-campus housing. Find ways to attract them to the store, and provide spaces for them to sit and stay awhile, before heading off for home.
8. Utilize your student workers
There is no better way to appeal to your target audience than by going to the source itself, beginning with your student workers! If you're unsure of what to post on social media, or where to place a certain advertisement, don't be afraid to ask your student workers what their opinions are, or if they'd like to do a social media takeover. This is a great way to let them get creative and showcase their own talents and ideas within the store. It can also help them find a sense of pride within their work, knowing they directly contribute to it!