Even in the digital age, the role of the textbook is still central to the college learning process, yet obtaining one for a new student can sometimes seem an education in itself. Making matters worse is the fact that most freshmen are making decisions about selecting, purchasing and getting to know their course materials at the same time they are dealing with countless other college issues – from housing to homesickness.
“We know there are a lot of stressors with everything our students have to do to get ready for school,” explains Barnes & Noble College’s V.P. Marketing and Operations, Lisa Malat. “And we wanted to take some of that pressure off and help guide them through the textbook process.” As a result, Barnes & Noble College launched a new initiative to better prepare new students in time for this year’s Fall Rush. Based on student research, including input from last year’s freshman from around the country, the initiative was designed as not one, but a series of different programs under the collective banner of I Speak Textbook.
Designed with a multi-channel approach, the I Speak Textbook initiative included dynamic email communications, social media engagement and in-store events such as introductory textbook VIP Shopping Nights at over 200 campuses. The goal behind all of the programs was to help new students locate their specific course materials and educate them on the best format and purchasing options that would meet their individual needs.
At the heart of the campaign is a fun, compelling series of videos designed to explain the array of textbook choices and educate students about the resources available to them right from their campus bookstore. Presented in an animated sketch-video format, the videos were designed to be accessible and appealing to students while conveying essential textbook information.
At just over two minutes long, the first video in the series welcomed students to campus and explained some of the resources available from their bookstore. Subsequent videos offered help and advice on rental options, used books and buy-back programs, and choosing and selecting the right textbooks, with the final video in the series explaining how to obtain book lists and purchase course materials. The videos were promoted through multiple channels, which included e-mail campaigns that used dedicated e-mails to freshman, parents and new students; Facebook; YouTube; and featured at campus orientations.
Response to the I Speak Textbook video campaign was overwhelming, capturing almost 20,000 views on YouTube in one month. The campaign also provided 450,000 students access to more helpful information and communications personalized to their specific needs. “We knew we had to be part of the back-to-school conversation and do it in a way that was authentic and relevant and that would resonate,” Malat explains. The I Speak Textbook program has helped inform this year’s students about their course material options, and make their first term on campus just a little easier.