Unique Spring Discounts for our College Graduates

Unique Spring Discounts for our College Graduates

This spring, Barnes & Noble College Marketing is thrilled to offer the Class of 2014 some awesome surprises! Our partners are setting our future graduates up for success and we love it. Ann Taylor is taking full advantage of our exclusive access to students by helping our female graduates build their professional wardrobes with a 15% discount. This is sure to come in handy for their upcoming job interviews. Contiki is offering grads $350 off their future summer travel plans. And finally, Hulu is promoting one month of free TV shows and movies!

623 Indiana University South Bend Ann Taylor Collateral Spring 2014

Renovation Transforms Binghamton University Bookstore from Store to Destination

“Wow, Bloomingdale’s has come to Binghamton!” That comment — amid similar ones — was overheard the day the Barnes & Noble at Binghamton University bookstore opened its doors after a considerable revamp.

“We were looking to transform the bookstore into more of a destination,” explains store manager Amanda Konopa. “We want students to say, ‘I’m going to hang out at the bookstore’ or ‘Meet me at the bookstore.’“

Part of that plan included new, soft seating in the store and high-top tables just outside its first-floor entrance, conveniently outfitted with power outlets. “This way, students power up their laptops or iPhones while having lunch or studying,” she says.”The goal is to provide an opportunity for them to see some of the new merchandise we’re carrying, which, hopefully, will translate into additional sales.”

University Union Renovation

The bookstore’s overhaul was done in conjunction with a large-scale renovation of the school’s University Union, which includes a career-development center, tutoring center, food courts, other student services, and the bookstore. On the day of the Union’s grand reopening, Konopa and the bookstore team were joined by Barnes & Noble College representatives Mike Christensen, project manager for design and construction; Territory Vice-President Ann Fraley; and Regional Manager Debbie Parker for a soft-opening of their own. As students got a first look at the completed store — which had remained open for business during construction — they got an opportunity to take a tour of the vastly improved space and admire the many upgrades.

One surprise for stylish students: a self-service Clinique counter, complete with cosmetics and skin care products. “While there are more than 700 Barnes & Noble College bookstores, we’re one of only 27 to have a Clinique counter,” explains Konopa. “And it’s getting a lot of interest from our students.” A new table and chairs have also found a home near the Clinique counter, an area too small for a product display, but too sizable to leave bare. According to employee reports, it’s a spot parents often are happy to discover while their children shop the store.

Shining A Light On School Pride

Major changes were also made on the second floor, which houses textbooks and a buy-back window. Before the bookstore’s renovation, books were arranged by college — there are six at the university — and then alphabetically by title and course number. This complicated setup was challenging for new students or employees who weren’t certain under which college the course fell. Now, books are alphabetized by department, which offers a much simpler solution. “It’s an easier system for workers and customers alike,” says student bookseller Kristen Cargill, a junior who participates in the bookstore’s manager and training program. “It’s much easier to find the books you need.”

The second floor’s buyback window also received a facelift, with colored LED lights and a pearl-finish backdrop, which reflects a color-washed glow. The LED light system can shine various colors, such as pink for Valentine’s Day or green on Fridays in a show of Bearcats pride (the university’s colors are green and white).

That show of Binghamton University spirit — particularly in the use of the school’s logo — was a conscious decision on the part of the strategic design team. “We used the athletic logo as a full-sized mural at our entrance, chrome lettering outside and inside the store, and large letters spelling ‘Binghamton’ inside the display window,” explains Konopa. “We all feel very proud to be part of the Binghamton community and this university.”

Before the transformation, the empty window space on the second floor provided a ho-hum view of rows of textbooks and shelving. Now, a 25-foot glass case provides ample space for a chic window display. Mannequins clad in school emblematic apparel showcase the bookstore’s offerings while demonstrating Binghamton pride. “On Valentine’s Day, students from the Binghamton Kickline served as live mannequins,” remembers Konopa. “They were wearing school apparel and winter merchandise that we carry in the store — it’s cold up here! — and they were blowing kisses from the window. Lots of students came by to take a look.

“We hope to do more of that,” she adds. “It’s a lot of fun and definitely brings more and more students into our store.” Distinctly a destination.

Shorty Award Finalists Get Social on Google+ Hangout

There are few places where social media has created a greater impact than in the world of higher education. With a highly social audience of tech-aware early adapters, colleges are pioneering new and creative ways to use platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and blogging to connect with both students and the wider campus community. For this reason,Barnes & Noble Colleges’ sponsoring of the 2014 Shorty Awards in the Most Social College#BNCollege category, is providing some hot competition among finalists eager to show their college at its most social. Senior Supervising Producer of the Shorty Awards, Natan Edelsburg, recently led a Google+ Hangout with this year’s finalists to discuss their views and ideas on how they have developed their university’s social presence.

Building Participation

With things moving so quickly in the world of social media, the first question Edelsburg put to the participants was what’s new and what’s changed in the social media landscape since last year’s Shorty’s? Some of the finalists are experimenting with platforms that are new to them, such as Monica Cowie, General Manager at the Barnes & Noble at Texas Tech bookstore, who has been holding events and promoting their hashtag to promote their entry into Twitter. It’s a participation that has taken Texas Tech all the way to the Shorty finals.

Others in the group have wide-ranging plans for their social participation. “We’re trying to go beyond the tweets and vines – which are a lot of fun – but we really wanted to show students and perspective students what COM was all about,” explains Greg Huntoon of Boston University’s College of Communication. “We wanted to make the college more accessible using social media tools,” he added. Together with fellow grad student, Andy Bunker, Huntoon created the #MyCom hashtag and started a podcast with some 40 episodes featuring interviews with professors and giving grad students a perspective on school life.

David Lang, Bookstore Manager at last year’s Shorty winner, West Virginia University (WVU), has found another way of getting student attention. “We think we probably have the first University President on Instagram,” he reports. Followers are able to track President E. Gordon Gee at various events around the campus, and have even prompted a rash of stylish students imitating his well-known preference for wearing bowties. Kimberly Davis, Social Media Coordinator at the University of Houston, has been using Snapchat to promote the college’s social media events. “We’re one of the first universities, and brands, to use it, gaining 1,500 friends and roughly 20 snaps a day,” she explains. Davis says the emphasis is on fun, and the channel provides a great excuse to take the school mascot out for photo calls, or reward students who wear their college red on Fridays.

Where Content Is King

Content is essential when it comes to social media, and Ryan Denham, a writer at Illinois State University, reports that he’s spending more time and seeing greater growth and audience engagement from Instagram. “We’re really pushing user-generated entries, and we’ve created contests with prizes to build content around a particular weekly theme,” he says. Increasingly, it seems, video is the content of choice, and Edelsburg complimented the finalists on many of their campaign videos.

New Jersey’s Rowan University produced the #RowanPROUD hashtag, featuring everything from a song about the things students love most about the university, to a mixture of Instagram and professionally produced videos. Meanwhile, at the University of Houston, a recently posted video of one of the school’s favorite professors being slimed went viral. Boston University’s Bunker said they have benefited from the home-grown pool of talent, comprised of the College of Communications’ writers, producers and editors who recently created ‘COM in a day,’ which chronicles a single day at the College of Communication. As a result, the #MyCom hashtag had been trending, particularly during the Red Sox’s participation in the World Series.

Using Participation As A Tool

All the participants agreed that while the majority of their social media efforts were directed at students, the take up by a wider audience of faculty, perspective students, and staff was vitally important to them. “It really resonates with alumni too,” reports Ryan Yarosh, Binghamton University’s Director of Media & Public Relations. “They really want to know what’s going on at Binghamton.”

“We found perspective students were already tweeting about acceptances to Rowan,” says Tori Russell, Social Media Coordinator at Rowan University. “It’s how they communicate,” she adds, “so we can use that social participation as a tool and help people that are applying to really see what it’s like to be here, even before they’re accepted.” Russell’s point speaks to the responsive nature and sense of two-way communication social media demands “We’ve learned to respond to students and answer them in a way a friend would,” she says. “It’s important to show we do care, we do see what they are writing to us, and we want to address any concerns,” she adds.

“Be open to new ideas, new technologies and to be aware of new platform opportunities,” advises WVU’s Lang. “Know what’s going on your campus, what your community is thinking and be aware of the next horizon and how the university needs to position itself,” he says. It was a theme echoed repeatedly through the Shortys’ Google+ Hangout, as Boston University’s Bunker explains, “Interact with people as much as you can and don’t let people think their tweets are falling on deaf ears. People like to feel they’re being heard. Be social — that’s the whole idea.”

The Shorty’s Award Ceremony will be held April 7th in New York City. To view the Shorty’s Google+ Hangout with the Barnes & Noble College finalists, plus links to some of their entries, click here.

College Finances 101: Millennial Money Management

College is usually the first time that students start to manage money.  Tuition, text books, food, personal supplies, dorm room décor and other expenses can add up quickly.  While many students may take on a part time job or a paid internship in order to subsidize the many costs related to their college education, not everyone is prepared for the challenge.  Many students make mistakes that have long term financial consequences.  Therefore, it is essential to begin establishing good budgeting habits early on, in order to avoid the many pitfalls that can derail one’s future.  Picking the right bank is usually a good place to start.

According to a study from Think Finance[i],  millennials are using a mix of traditional and alternative financial services to manage their money, based on their financial needs.

  • 92% of millennials use a bank
  • 45% of millennials have used some form of alternative financial product or service — such as, a prepaid debit card, money transfer service, check cashing, pawn shop, payday loan, etc.[ii]

When it comes to banking, millennials definitely have their own set of service “must haves” including:

  • Personalized Banking
  • Real Time Data
  • Convenience
  • Minimum Fees

Personalized Banking

For the generation that epitomizes the “digital age of personalization”, it is obvious why millennials are seeking banks that offer services such as customized financial alerts.  It fits seamlessly into their lifestyle and gives them a greater sense of financial control.  Banking apps on their mobile phones put individual account money management in the palm of their hands.

Real Time Data

Millennials usually check their balance multiple times throughout the day.  This is why it is essential that their banks provide real time, accurate, financial information, in order to keep their millennial customers happy.  Any source of frustration or delay could seriously jeopardize customer loyalty and retention rates.


Millennials know that technological access to their bank can make their financial lives easier.

56% of millennials prefer handling their banking needs through their bank’s website.

59% of millennials believe online access to accounts is important in their choosing a bank

55% of millennials look for convenient bank branch locations

55% of millennials want 24/7 access to money through their bank.

Recently, usage of mobile apps for managing finances has increased substantially, with 29% of millennials reporting that they currently use a mobile app to help manage their money.[iii]


Fees are a big issue for college students who are on a limited budget.  The majority of millennials (83%) report that fees are the most important factor for them when choosing a bank.   69% look for specific policies such as “no surprise fees,”  “low fees,” or “easy to understand fees”.  Forty three percent (43%) point to “no overdraft fees”


As industry leaders in Millennial Marketing, BNCM wanted to get the real “Beat on the Street”,  so we reached out to one of our students, Senior, Oscar Chiluisa, a Biology major at New Jersey City University, to talk with him about his experiences with money management at college, and to ask him what is the best advice he’s been given about budgeting his finances.


Was your first year of college the first time you started managing your money?

No, I actually opened my own bank account during my senior year of high school when I started my first job.

Who advised you on money management, and what was the best advice?

Since I am a first generation American, originally I relied on advice from my older brother. But, eventually, I learned mostly on my own by reading articles and asking others.

How do you manage your finances at college?

I actually have two bank accounts.  Since I am currently working two jobs, I don’t want to lose any money on unnecessary fees, for things like withdrawals.  Those can really add up.  I use my ATM card multiple times during the day, sometimes for small, convenient purchases.  That’s why easy access is a big thing for me.  I wanted a bank that had lots of ATM’s around my school, and even one on campus.  I always use my ATM card.   I hardly ever carry around cash.  I think I’ve only written one check, in my entire life!  I do my banking online, and I also use my bank’s mobile app to check my balances.  I don’t want to incur overdraft fees, so I picked a bank that offered overdraft protection, which is a great service, especially for college students.  For depositing money, at one of my jobs, I am able to use direct deposit. At my second job, I get a check, which I am able to deposit directly at the bank or securely at one of my bank’s ATM machines.

What are your greatest challenges with money management away from home?

I think one of the biggest challenges is making a budget and sticking to it.  I’ve found that there are so many opportunities to make spontaneous purchases that can make you want to go off your budget. Sometimes friends will suggest a product or a place to eat, and it’s tempting to spend based on those suggestions.  You have to keep your budget in mind, all the time.

About Oscar

Money Management

Oscar (nickname “Ock”) is a Senior at New Jersey City University where he is majoring in biology.  He is active on campus as Chapter President, Recruitment Chair, Community Service Chair and Library Pledge Educator for Psi Sigma Phi Multicultural Fraternity, Inc.  He is a member of the Biology Club, and is certified in First Aid and CPR/AED.  He also holds a SORA certification.  When Oscar is not busy studying, working at the University Bookstore, or participating in school activities, you might find him running in one of the area’s local races.  He has participated in the Lincoln Tunnel Challenge 5K, the Glow in the Dark 5K, and The City Challenge Obstacle Race, to name a few.  His hobbies include basketball, football, billiards, chess, dominoes, bowling, reading and watching movies.  He enjoys all types of music genres, ranging from classical to rock and rap. And he loves to find any excuse to get into a suit and get dressed up for a special occasion.


[i] “The Latest Thinking.” Think Finance [press]www,thinkfinance.com      

[ii] Malcolm, Hadley. “USA TODAY.” USATODAY.COM. N.p., May-June 2012. Web.

[iii] “Millennials Desperate for a Better Banking Experience.” The Financial Brand Marketing Insights for Banks Credit Unions. N.p., 17 Oct. 2013


Newly Renovated University of Houston Bookstore Celebrates Campus Community and Culture

After 18 months of construction, the new Barnes & Noble at University of Houston bookstore celebrated with a grand opening event. Students, faculty, university administrators and vendor partners filled the store as more than a hundred guests enjoyed a ribbon cutting ceremony, cake, free gifts and giveaways. The event not only showcased the completely renovated bookstore as an inviting social hub, but also represented the University’s mission of ‘community and culture.’

Transforming The Campus Store

Visitors to the new store will find a vastly improved two-story layout where they can enjoy an expanded selection of University of Houston merchandise and apparel on the first level and textbooks and academic supplies on the lower level. With the new shopper-friendly layout, the store was able to better optimize the shopping experience for its customers. Changing the design of the space also allowed the store to expand its lounge and study areas and include a technology bar where students and faculty can sit and plug in.

“Every time I go into the store, it’s constantly filled with students studying, socializing and relaxing,” said Marc Eckhart, Barnes & Noble College regional manager. “You can tell they love the new space. It’s truly become the social hub we hoped it would be.”

Renovations to the bookstore began in 2012 as part of the school’s plan to transform the building into an impressive new student center, now known as the University Center. In addition to the bookstore, the University Center also houses a new theater, expanded meeting and event spaces, a new food service cafeteria, and much more, making it – and the bookstore – a true campus destination.

Connecting To The Campus Culture

Another major goal for Barnes & Noble College was to ensure that the bookstore showcased the university’s brand and unique culture. Working closely with university representatives, student groups and other members of the campus community, the design team incorporated elements that highlight the university’s history and diversity. Plaques on each column of the store represent each college of the University, while the Houston skyline can be seen on the wall of the stairway.

Perhaps the most celebrated element of the new bookstore, however, is the iconic mural. Painted in 1972 by two student artists as a celebration of the school’s Mexican-American heritage, the mural had been the centerpiece of the former student meeting space, the Cougar Den, for the past 40 years.

“The mural has garnered so much attention in the bookstore,” said Felix Robinson, the store’s general manager. “It’s really made the students feel like the bookstore is connected to the school’s culture. Preserving it was vital to all of us, as we know it represents an important part of the university’s history.”

Esmeralda Valdez, Executive Director, Auxiliary Services at the University of Houston, agrees that the new store is very student-focused. “The team was very sensitive to the needs of the university as a whole, but most importantly to the needs of the students,” Valdez said. “Students feel real ownership over the new store. It’s created this new sense of pride and stewardship, and really validates what we’re all here to do.”

A Long Standing Partnership

The new bookstore stands as a true testament to the 27-year partnership that is shared between the University and Barnes & Noble College. With a strong spirit of collaboration throughout each step of the process, all parties worked together to create the kind of campus store that the University of Houston envisioned. “I think the university sees us as part of their team – and that’s really our goal – to be more than just an outside vendor, but a true partner,” explained Robinson. “We have strong relationships on campus and great support from the University, so everything we do is geared towards helping the university achieve its vision and goals – and this beautiful new store is helping us do exactly that.”

Valdez agrees. “Our partnership with Barnes & Noble College is extremely valuable, not only to us, but to our students,” she said. “They really understand our students and want them to be successful. Having a partner that is always a step ahead, always looking for innovative ways to serve our students, has made a huge difference on this campus.”

And the Oscar goes to…. Twitter

Thoughts from BNCM’s Millennial In-Residence, Chelsea Fives


How to Optimize Millennial Outreach with Social Media

During Sunday night’s Oscar performance, between Ellen’s “selfie” and the infamous pizza party, it was Twitter that definitely stole the show.  If there’s one thing to learn from Sunday’s event, it is that Twitter is a great way to reach millennials – you just have to do it right.  Twitter not only provides a great platform for millennial outreach, but it also provides a unique opportunity to connect with more of them, simply by communicating strategically and effectively.

Over 14.7 million tweets were sent during the Oscars, so the challenge becomes how to make your tweet something worth reading.

Live Tweeting

Millennials are “netizens”.  We live in an eternally connected world.  We are known to check email, voice mail, social media and Twitter every five minutes.  Sunday’s Oscars illustrated an interesting millennial phenomenon.  Even if we weren’t watching the live performance, we were scrolling through our Twitter feed to find out information about it – who won an Oscar, who had the best speech, and who was the best dressed.  After all, we are known for our famous “FOMO” (fear of missing out) mentality.

Millennials have begun looking to brands to educate and inform them on many topics in a very customized and personal way.  We expect our favorite brands to share with us what’s going on in the world, as it relates to their industry and our favorite products.  During the Oscar’s broadcast, hundreds of brands were live tweeting about individual celebrities, awards, quotes from the winners’ acceptance speeches, fashion, live performances, and the “selfie” seen around the world.   If you have the opportunity to incorporate live tweeting such a well-renowned event into your marketing strategy, utilize it! With the 43 million people watching the Oscar’s, you’re bound to catch the attention of a millennial or two.

Here are my top five tips on how to effectively reach your millennial audience by leveraging the power of Twitter:

 1.    Do Your Research – Stand Out on the Feed

Even though communication on Twitter is limited to 140 characters, that doesn’t mean you are limited in what you have to say – quite the contrary.  Do your research on a target event, the peopled involved, and the background history.  By tweeting new or little known facts, you can offer your followers content that they could not get anywhere else.   The more exclusive the tweet, the more likely it will stand out on the rest of our Twitter feed.  By incorporating this information into your feed content, millennials will be excited to share the new and interesting facts with our friends and followers, possibly netting new followers for your brand.

2.    Heads Up – Get Ahead of the Game

 If you are planning on incorporating a large event, such as the Oscars, into your social media marketing strategy, you must be sure to plan ahead.  Let your followers know well in advance that you are the account to follow during the event.  Many brands, including Ellen, were pumping up their followers a week prior to the Oscars.  Engage us with questions like, “Are you ready for the Oscars?” or, “Who do you think is going to own the Red Carpet this year?”  This way, we will rely on your posts for the most recent updates when the event goes live.

3.    Make it Relatable – Content is Key

 A meaningful Tweet must incorporate more than just your content as the night rolls on.  Your online communication must be about something that your followers can relate to on a deeper level.  Tweeting an inspiring quote in an acceptance speech, a funny joke, or a biographical fact on one of the events’ participants are all topics that many people can relate to.  These examples also provide great retweeting opportunities for your account.

4.    Start a Conversation – Talk with Us, Not at Us

Millennials are constantly bombarded with advertisements.  Between social media, email, web, and television, it’s no wonder why we have simply begun to tune them out.  We are smart enough to know when a brand is just marketing for their own benefit.  We want brands to care about us and put some effort into their marketing by addressing our specific needs.  So how can you show that you genuinely care?  Start an ongoing conversation.  Talk with us, rather than at us.

One great way of engaging with followers is by asking them questions.  Millennials love sharing their input and opinion with brands. Give us something to think about and respond to. This way, if we reply to your question, your Twitter account will be in our feed for all of our followers to see.  If not, maybe you’ll get a favorite, and that’s pretty awesome too.

5.    Know Your Business –Get Creative with it

 Some brands have it easier than others when it comes to millennials.  For the Oscars, the entertainment, fashion, and news industry clearly had a plethora of opportunities to post with unique and industry specific information.  If you find that your brand really doesn’t have many things to relate to on an initial level, make a trajectory move – try to think outside the box.  Even if you only post one or two tweets, you are showing us that your brand is relevant to our lives and our interests.

The 2014 Oscars have certainly reinforced that Twitter has become an important factor in any millennial marketing strategy. Whatever you decide to tweet about, make it count. Don’t just tweet to tweet – because we’ll know that it’s just noise.  Get creative; often the most unique posts get the most attention.