Jan 22, 2020

Promoting Products Persuasively

So I work for my college bookstore, but I was recently promoted from being on the floor to helping out with marketing, social media, and online sales. It means a little bit of packaging and shipping from the back room, and a little bit of online stuff. But I have to say, our online sales are pretty dismal. I feel like we could be selling a lot more. Sure we’re way out in a cornfield, which means that we don’t get a lot of foot traffic, but we can still ship stuff online! I talked to my supervisor, and she said I could take on this project. I think it would also be really good experience for me. What are some good ideas to boost our online sales?


You have picked out a great opportunity at your campus job, and any degree of experience is excellent resume-fodder for your first work post-grad. Far too many brick-and-mortar businesses don’t take advantage of the opportunities afforded by e-commerce, your college bookstore included. So what can you do for your campus job to boost sales online? As Inc. Magazine says, e-commerce meets customers where they are, and the key to making online sales is having a strong online presence. We’ll walk you through what to do, and, like any good business proposal, look at a few successful case studies to demonstrate what you can replicate.


If your college bookstore doesn’t have a Facebook account and doesn’t have an Instagram account, then make one, as of yesterday. But once you’ve made one, how do you ensure that your posts are converting into sales? The answer is to tell a story. Moustache Coffee Club, a coffee subscription service, outlines this concept perfectly on their website. When you subscribe to their coffee service and pick out the Culpan, you’re not just buying a bag of beans, you’re buying the work of the Rivas family from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, from a farm that’s more than 150 years old.


How do you apply this same sort of storytelling to social media marketing for your college bookstore? Maybe those logo sweaters on your back shelves look cool, but aren’t they just a little bit more enticing when they keep the cold away during a fall football game? For the alumni longing for their college days, scrolling through your Instagram feed, you’re suddenly not just selling a sweater, you’re selling the experience of cheering for the old alma mater. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in front of the right audience, with the right strategy, it is also worth a sale.


Building a presence on social media is important, but what practices work best for drawing people to the bookstore’s own site? You want to give people an excuse to come directly to your website in the first place, so-called “direct traffic.” One way to get people involved in your website is to give them the chance to participate in interactive experiences. For example, the specialty wallpaper site Wallpaper Boulevard includes a link for users to create their own idea boards. Idea boards are a tool interior designers use to lay out rooms, and by digitizing that tool on their own site, Wallpaper Boulevard lets users imagine how their products will look as part of their lives. What if you had a “design your dorm room” section on your site?


Another way to draw native traffic is to start a blog or podcast. Colleges are always inviting guest speakers and teachers to campus, so it might be interesting to have a series of blog posts featuring the diverse, smart people who sit down for “Coffee at the Bookstore.” Building a welcoming online space is just like building a welcoming offline space. You want people to feel like they are part of something, at home and comfortable. That way, when they order from you, they will feel like they are supporting their friends.

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