How to Celebrate the Holidays DIY-Style

Making your campus store top-of-mind for students will not happen through cookie-cutter holiday discounts and promotions. Instead, what can impress students and build your brand is offering unique events. Aligning your holiday marketing events with the college’s party culture may sway students to your store first when they’re stocking up on school supplies or looking to splurge on a little something. Need fresh ideas that stand out? Look to campus student life to help you shape DIY holidays that are marketing calendar worthy.

Each college has a distinctive student life and those must-do student experiences that can inspire your holiday marketing. To spark your ideas and show you what to look for when building a DIY holiday, here are some examples of campus culture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, located here in Douglas Stewart Company’s hometown of Madison, Wisconsin.

Tap into Student Life on Campus

  • Badger Pride—On Wisconsin! — During New Student Orientation Week, each incoming Freshman receives a free white Bucky Badger T-shirt. Gearing students up for game days can encourage students to expand their school apparel and avoid standing out as a newbie on campus. Consider handing out t-shirts as part of homecoming events. And, if you work jointly with the college to offer free items, you may be able to reduce marketing costs.
  • Terrace Time — Relaxing by Lake Mendota on the historic Memorial Union Terrace is a favorite pastime for every Badger generation. You’ll see a mix of alumni, students, teachers, and families enjoying entertainment and food. Taking pictures with the iconic Terrace chairs is a must-do activity that inspired the school to sell these chairs, so people could take a bit of the UW wherever they live.

Consider launching a photo contest featuring an iconic campus landmark and include a campaign hashtag, your store’s hashtag, and the college’s hashtag (like #gobagers). You could give a few lucky participants a promotional discount on select items.

For more ideas, think about where the college’s students hang out to relax. If students like to kick back and drink while enjoying live bands on campus at places like the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union Terrace, then promote bottle openers and koozies on site. Or consider supporting an official campus event. Inspiration can even come from students themselves. North Central College’s Campus Store gave some students hands-on business experience as merchandise advisors, helping the store evolve around student needs.

As you plan your holiday marketing events, remember that your motivation is brand awareness and building, not discounting. Finding ways to make your store a part of campus life can help you become the go-to place for students to gear up without relying on markdowns this holiday season.

What unique celebrations does your college have? Feel free to comment below and offer suggestions to help others create DIY holidays.


Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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