Responsible for building relationships on over 720 campuses across the nation with students, parents and alumni, Barnes & Noble College’s Director of Consumer Marketing, Tamara Vostok, talks innovation, Millennials and why you’ll most likely find her on Etsy.
What is your role at Barnes & Noble College?
My role is to support a team of currently 12 people to get their jobs done. They work so hard. They are really the magic-makers across all of our channels; email, paid search, mobile, social media, web and in-store events. We’re really all relationship drivers.
How has marketing to students, parents and alumni changed over the past few years?
There have been so many great enhancements during the past few years. Marketing has become much more of a science by our using data, research and information about our customers. The strategies today are much more segmented, so we send customers the most relevant information at the most relevant times. We’re now able to market to new students differently than we would graduating seniors, parents and alumni. We can give each customer the information and offers that are best suited for them.
We also now are able to have two-way conversations with our customers through social media. This has been so valuable. With social media, we get instant feedback from our customers, provide constant customer service and create a voice for the brand through exclusive content and fun promotions.
Digital and mobile are key, as well. We focus on the channels where our customers are — on search engines, social media, email, mobile and online. Through new channels like our mobile app and our optimized mobile sites, we consistently see increases in conversions and sales on smaller screens.
Where did you attend school?
Undergrad Rutgers, Grad Penn.
I was a consumer researcher for an NBC O&O in Philadelphia, but my first job as a teenager was working for a pest control company. I was an admin, so fortunately I didn’t have to exterminate anything.
What are you working on right now?
What aren’t we working on?! There are always so many amazing opportunities and initiatives to work on to enhance the customer experience and to support our campus partners. From new research development to experiential events, we are constantly working on the next engaging program.
Favorite app or social media platform?
Pinterest! I can spend hours on it, although it always drives me to Etsy, and I end up shopping.
Why do you think Barnes & Noble College is a Millennial employer of choice?
This is a company that really encourages you to try, to test and to pilot. We’re always innovating — and we’re not fearful. Millennials want to hear that. Our belief is that every idea has value.
Who would you most like to meet?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Biggest challenge for higher education today?
Education on your own terms. Giving students the tools to learn, when and how they want to and allowing them to choose their own path.
It’s a hard copy version of Little Women that my mom had since she was twelve years old. The binding is falling apart, but I still love it.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
I would probably still be in TV. I love journalism.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at Barnes & Noble College?
Always broaden your skill set. I think the culture of the company allows you to do that. We don’t silo ourselves.
What is your proudest accomplishment at Barnes & Noble College?
My proudest accomplishment isn’t mine — it’s my team’s accomplishments that stand out. I am so honored and proud to work with such an amazing group of marketers who are true experts in their space. They use learnings to always enhance their campaigns each year, which is why we see such great success. They are a truly talented, hard working, and dedicated group. They are the best!!
Best day at Barnes & Noble College?
Every day is a great day. I have the best and most talented team, and we’re also friends. It’s a job, but we also have the greatest fun doing it.