Each summer, in preparation for the new school year, colleges are flooded with a tide of students arriving on campus for the first time. But what happens after graduation – when their college days have ended and fade to a distant, though happy, memory? The lessons learned and friendships made as a student can last a lifetime, and the link between alumni and their former college lives can be significant. While they may be leaving campus life behind, their connection to their school can be lasting.
It may not be surprising then that a recent survey conducted by Barnes & Noble College reveals over 80 percent of alumni want stronger connections to their university. It’s a relationship the college bookstore can help deliver before a student’s first day on campus − and now it’s powering a new initiative to help colleges maintain a stronger connection with their alumni.
Even in a digital age, the campus bookstore has become a hub of academic and social life for students, and is central to building stronger relationships between the student body and the university. As part of the Partnership for Success program, an ongoing collaborative initiative with campus partners to build and support the college brand, Barnes & Noble College has successfully nurtured a culture where it can develop programs such as Igniting the New Student Connection. These initiatives are designed to form relationships from day one, but those connections can go beyond graduation as Lisa Malat, Vice President Marketing and Operations for Barnes & Noble College explains. “It’s not enough to just focus on current students,” she says. “We’re really going to be leveraging our research capability with a focus on alumni. So this year, we’re going to be launching new programs to help support that affinity.”
Debuting this fall, Igniting the Alumni Connection is aimed not just at graduates, but will also involve students, parents and faculty in a move designed to celebrate and promote the school’s brand. To ensure college ties remain strong, the Igniting the Alumni Connection, a customized loyalty program that works with a school’s alumni association, will help to build and enhance relationships with alumni. As a conduit for everything from car bumper stickers to favorite school sports attire and souvenirs, the campus store will create and develop new opportunities to support the school’s brand with a stronger emphasis on alumni offerings.
The latest research also revealed that 75 percent of alumni wanted to hear more about alumni specific promotions from their campus store, and nearly 60 percent of alumni surveyed said they shop the store online. These findings will be the basis of email communications tied to nostalgia-invoking events such as back-to-school, homecoming and graduation, and also include the holiday shopping season. Each of these offers will direct shoppers to a newly designed campus store website, fully customized in school colors, and with information and products that will most appeal to alumni.
By working together, universities, alumni associations and campus bookstores can ensure alumni stay connected to their schools throughout every chapter of their lives – maintaining a deep sense of school spirit and pride.