Why Barnes & Noble College Marketing?

People often ask me what it is that I do for a living – My response is simple, “I work for Barnes & Noble College.”
“Oh, like my Barnes & Noble that I was just at this weekend?”
“Actually, we are the official retail partner for over 700 colleges & universities.   We provide top brands with access to millions of Millennials, their parents and alumni…Barnes & Noble College Marketing is a marketing agency that sits within this retail environment.”

Another conversation I have been having lately is why would a brand want to work with Barnes & Noble College? Here’s how I like to frame it up:

Are Millennials & College Students your demographic?  We have over 10MM in-store transactions in our on-campus bookstores just during peak Back to School in August & September.  That is 10MM opportunities for your brand to engage your target demo!

Having a product launch?  We are working with Combos & AcneFree to get their product in the hands of their consumers.

Sold in store?  Use your MDF funding to drive your sales!

Not sold in store?  Not a  problem!  We have worked with Chevrolet & Honda to drive their messaging to our coveted audience & we definitely aren’t a car dealership.

National Ambassador Program launching & need space for your events?  We have official space on campus!

Interested in trend analysis on your products directly related to in-store sales?  We have an amazing research platform that will allow you to engage with your costumer about what products are sold in our stores & what else they might be looking for!

Cool new app or blog?  Let us share via our digital channels to increase your downloads and user demo.

We are SO much more than a retailer, the official college bookstore, we are also a marketing outlet!   Where else can brands can get  direct access to 5 Million College Students both on-campus and through their beloved smart phones & tablets via direct emails, social feeds and while shopping for their textbooks and collegiate gear?!

I bet I  have your interest peaked now, don’t I?  What are you waiting for?  CONTACT US before Back to School season to give your brand the attention it deserves.


stacey About the Author – Stacey Merkin

Stacey is Manager of Brand Partnerships.  A graduate of University of Delaware, Stacey has a B.S. in Social Work.  While her career took off in a different direction, being an event  planner at New York Magazine, she was social in her work!   Stacey lives in Basking Ridge, NJ with her husband, twin boys and dog.

College Marketing Best Practices


We love trying new and innovative ways to engage Millennials.  Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when designing your college marketing campaigns.

START A DIALOGUE The days of pushing brand messaging on an audience are long gone.  Start a dialogue! Give Millennials the space they need to connect with your brand on their terms.

THINK OUTSIDE THE FLYER  Students love stuff like door hangers, coasters, bookmarks, and memory sticks.  And remember: everyone loves a free sample.

TELL THEM WHAT THEY’LL GET Be sure to specifically quantify the benefits of a sale.  “$100 Off for College Students” has more of an impact than vague advertising language like “Special Discounts for a  Limited Time.”

THE CONTENT CRAZE  Explore the ways in which millennial interests overlap with your brand.  Engage them by including relevant content in all of your collateral and always tie your campaigns to  social media outlets.

STAY ON MESSAGE  Keep your signage focused with a clear and concise message.  Use bold creative with contrasting colors.  White space can also keep your design from  getting too cluttered and  hard to read.

HELP THEM HELP YOU Millennials appreciate and support companies that help people in need.  Incorporate a charitable element into your college marketing campaign.


The Mobile Payment Revolution

Mobile-payments, NFC, tap-to-pay – whatever you want to call it, it’s been a hot topic in retail for some time.    The payment options continue to be unveiled from Apple Pay to Android Pay, PayPal and Softcard.  More and more retailers and financial institutions are jumping on the bandwagon.  So how real is the excitement around mobile-payments?

Let’s review the basics:

The key to mobile payments is that first part – mobile!  If your phone isn’t NFC-enabled, you are not NFC-enabled.

About 95% of students have a smart phone, but as we all know, not all smart phones are created equal.  There are ways to tap-to-pay without your phone, but the real push into the mainstream will come from using the device that was already in your hand before you could reach for your credit card – the device that’s probably in your hands right now – your phone!

It’s no secret that today’s college students are tech-savvy, and it’s clear that they are the first to adopt, endorse, or shame a new product if it doesn’t make the cut as “innovative.”  In today’s fast-paced world of technology, the approval of college students is all but necessary to succeed in the mainstream.

As students begin recycling their outdated phones for NFC-enabled models, we’ll see an increase in students (and everyone) using mobile payments.  And let’s not forget the excitement surrounding the Apple Watch and other smartwatches, which might make NFC popularity explode!

BNC Research conducted a survey to get the facts beyond the basics – what did college students have to say about the Mobile Payment Revolution?

  • For those students who have taken the plunge into mobile payments, 70% find the technology more convenient than credit/debit cards.
  • 60% of these users wish they could tap-to-pay for every one of their transactions.  Every. Single. Transaction.
  • 90% of mobile payments users think retailers who accept mobile payments are forward-thinking.
  • 87% feel that they would tap-to-pay more often if mobile payments were more widely accepted.
  • As for students as a whole? Outside of the early adopters, users and non-users alike say they plan to use mobile payments more often in the future.

In other words, it’s just a matter of time.  It’s clear that these findings show great promise for the future of mobile payments.

The biggest sell for me? It has to be the added convenience that mobile payments can add to the transaction experience.  The Millennial generation is all about convenience.  With diminishing attention spans and the never-ending push to put everything imaginable into one device, mobile-payments seem like the surefire way to reducing the bulk of your wallet for a new, streamlined, fast and instinctive way to get what you want.

Here at BNCM, we’re looking forward to the mobile payments revolution, when students and consumers alike can pay for anything with just the tap of their phone, their watch, their…whatever shows up next.

mobile payment future

The future is coming. We’ll keep you posted.

   Source:  BNC Research Mobile-Wallet Study, February 2015


“The Real Scoop” on College Marketing Part 1 – Samples

Our summer interns, Lindsey & Cayla, share “The Real Scoop” on college marketing and what they really want brands to know.

As college students, we can tell you first hand that we want brands to connect with us.  It’s the first time we can decide for ourselves what we want to buy without the input of our parents/guardians.   When we get to discover who we want to be, how we want to dress, what we really like to eat for breakfast and decide which brands we want to identify with.  We are excited to try new things, make our own decisions and buy what WE want.

What do we want brands to know?


Whether its food, accessories, or hygienic products – we will never turn down free samples!  If it’s a new brand or product, even better!   That free sample might just turn this college student into a major brand advocate.

Perfect example, when we found out that BaubleBar was targeting female students with samples this Back to School season, we had to know more!  What were they giving out?  How do we get one?  We were on Baublebar.com in less than 5 minutes checking them out and let us tell you – super cute jewelry and awesome prices!!   We didn’t even get a free sample and we are already talking about the brand and what they offer.  It was that simple – instant brand advocate!

We put together a Wish List of brands that we’ve seen sample on our friends campuses as well as our own, and others that we would love to see on our campuses in the future!

Snacks:  Clif Bar,  That’s It (delish fruit bars), Combos – New Sweet & Salty flavors!, Doritos, Nutella (YUMMY!!!), Stride (or any gum!)

Drinks:  Zico Coconut Water, Bai and 5 Hour (every college student needs a lift now & then!)

Accessories: BaubleBar, Vineyard Vines Sunglasses and Croakies, Stickers for your computer

Health/Beauty: Garnier-Mini shampoos, conditioners and other hair products are always fun to test out!, Eos, Razors, Benefit Cosmetics  (or just bring that awesome kiosk!!!)

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “The Real Scoop” on College Marketing coming next month!


College Marketing

Product Sampling Program at 80 College Campuses features Speed Stick Gear

According to BNC Research, college students are 85% more likely to buy a product after receiving a free sample. This spring, Speed Stick capitalized on this trend by distributing over 300,000 product samples of Speed Stick Gear antiperspirant to male, college students at over 80 college campuses.

To get direct access to their target demographic, Speed Stick partnered with Barnes & Noble College Marketing (BNCM) to leverage our direct access on campus and college students.  Speed Stick was able to take advantage of the busy graduation season, as well as the heavy, end-of-semester, in-store traffic at our college bookstores, in order to maximize the impact of their product sampling program.  Speed Stick also included a $2.00 off coupon towards a future purchase with the free sample, which will definitely come in handy when students need to restock, and drive future sales!

Speed Stick Gear is engineered with Dry Core™ technology for sweat protection that lasts up to 48 hours.  The product is a perfect fit for the millennial male college student who is active and always on the go.

Some of the colleges that participated in this product sampling program included Texas A&M, Ohio State University, Babson College, West Virginia University, and University of Maryland, College Park.

Want to get your product in front of 5 Million College Students?   We are the perfect solution.


College Graduation – Now Get to Work!

 The last of the caps & gowns have been picked up  and our marketing has now shifted towards Back to School.  College Graduation season at our 650+ campuses is officially over.

College Graduation is a major rite of passage – one that is marked with gifts, travel, parties and most importantly, the beginning of your career.   As featured in NEXT, Max Roberts, chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble College, offered this lesson during his commencement speech at Troy University “My advice is, do a good job of picking the people you surround yourself with, pick the best bosses, mentors and partners — and then, no doubt, you will not only graduate with honors today, but will graduate life with honors.”  

When asked how they spent their College Graduation, the BNCM team was quick to share their experiences.

“Immediately following graduation my family hosted a picnic to celebrate this monumental occasion with none other than my favorite, ice-cream cake.  That following Monday I started my first “big girl” job, as I am sure you can tell I couldn’t wait to get out into the real world.”  Samantha Evans, Senior Marketing Specialist – Fairleigh Dickinson University

“I didn’t walk with my class for graduation – I didn’t want to miss a day of work!”  Marie Policastro, Director Brand Partnerships & Research – Rutgers University

According to BNC Research, over 96% of students plan to either begin a job or attend graduate school after graduation, regardless if they plan to travel and volunteer.   

Samantha & Marie certainly support this finding!

“Not only did my family take me to Punta Cana the Spring Break prior to graduation as a pre-graduation gift, but we celebrated after graduation at the Omni Hotel in New Haven, CT with friends and family.  Following dinner I spent a week at the beach before starting my first job.”  Steven McSpiritt, Market Research Coordinator – Quinnipiac University

“My family and I celebrated my college graduation with a trip to the beach.  After that, I headed south to Washington DC, to pursue a great internship opportunity, which would be an amazing foundation for my future career aspirations.”  Kristyn Zylka,  Account Manager– Georgetown University

“My parents gave me a Movado watch (my first “grown up” watch!) as my college graduation gift, but the 10 day cruise in the Caribbean with a high school friend was a trip I will never forget!” Stacey Merkin, Manager Brand Partnerships– University of Delaware

“My family and friends put together a photo book spanning my entire four years of college in chronological order – kind of like a personal yearbook for my college years!  The book was filled with fun pictures and comments, and it is a memorable keepsake that I still reference when “remember when…” conversations start.” Kendra Ninaltowski, Account Manager – Penn State

“My family and friends celebrated my college graduation going out to my favorite restaurant.  It was very meaningful to have relatives who live far away, travel for the occasion.”  Carolyn Gemra, Marketing Coordinator – Fairleigh Dickinson University

Barnes & Noble College Introduces Mobile App for Millennial Students

There is no question that college students love technology.  They have grown up in a world where smartphones and tablets have made it fast and easy to find information and buy products.  This trend has inspired retailers to look for new ways to stay connected with their millennial customers.  Mobile apps have emerged as key instruments to building and maintaining relationships with this target demographic.

With access to over 5 million college students, Barnes & Noble College has introduced a mobile app for all of their 700 college bookstores.  The app is seen as a key extension to the services the bookstores provides for students including notifications of sales and special events happening in the store.  The app also features exclusive offers and discounts for mobile users. Rather than working in isolation to the brick-and-mortar bookstore,  Barnes & Noble College’s Director of Consumer Marketing, Tamara Vostok, believes the app fits perfectly into the way millennials shop, and positions the campus retailer firmly on the cutting edge of how those preferences are changing the retail experience. “Usage of mobile apps are so high among students — 98 percent of our customers have smart phones, and many of our campus partners are using or developing their own apps,” she explains.  Click here to read more.



College Marketing at University of Maryland, College Park

Part of what makes Barnes & Noble College Marketing unique is our direct access to a network of over 700 on-campus college bookstores, and the store managers who help us execute our programs, in market.  They help us ensure that our students receive exceptional customer service during our marketing programs and throughout the year.

BNCM interviewed bookstore manager, Myra Haley, at Store #370, University of Maryland, College Park Bookstore, to get some insights on her store, and her experience with our company.

Bookstore Location:

We are located in the Stamp Student Union, with entrances on the ground floor and basement level.

370_UnivMaryland_Photo_Interior3How many college students does the bookstore serve?

We have 26,000 undergrads and 10,000 graduate students who visit the bookstore many times throughout their college career.

What is the most popular major(s) at your university?

According to the students, Business and Engineering are two of our most popular majors at University of Maryland, but criminology and economics are noteworthy, as well.

How many years have you worked with BNC?

14 years


What makes your bookstore unique? (merchandise, events, etc?)

We embrace the students’ and alumni passion for their school and their state.  Our school colors are those of the Maryland Flag – which include red, white, black and gold.  You can find Maryland Flag products ranging from socks and leggings to hats and mugs, throughout our store!  Maryland Pride and its enthusiastic fan base make our bookstore unlike any other.

What has been your favorite/most successful college marketing program at the bookstore?

We’ve hosted two amazing events this academic year.  The first was our VIP event at the start of the fall semester for our new students.  Over 2,000 students attended the event.  We had a balloon artist, snacks and music.  The second and most attended event was our Grad Fair in early March.  All students attending May commencement were invited to attend the celebration and pick up their regalia, get a first look at diploma frames, and receive announcements.  Many of our University departments were in attendance, as well.  Our students favorite marketing programs were the Contiki travel contest and the Ann Taylor coupons (most of our ladies asked for more than one!).  Students also love our free sampling programs and are always asking at checkout what offers are currently available or what promos will be coming next!

370_UnivMaryland_Photo_StoreManagerMyra Head Shot

In what ways does the bookstore also serve the local community?

We sponsor author events in our store and on campus.  These events are often attended by local community members and they always enjoy the readings and the opportunity to engage with the writers.  We also partner with many student groups on campus that work with at risk middle school students at local schools.  We partner with them to provide reading events and scavenger hunts.

What is the “best kept secret” about your bookstore?

Currently our best kept secret is our new Children’s Activities and our friendly knowledgeable staff!

Fun University of Maryland facts and trivia:

Our mascot’s name is Testudo.  He is a terrapin – therefore University of Maryland students are often called “the Terps”.  Our famous tagline is “Fear the Turtle”.

In terms of funny student traditions – there are several Testudo statues on campus: one at our Comcast arena, one at the Stamp Student Union, one at the Mckeldin Library (just to name a few).  All the students know to rub Testudo’s nose for good luck when passing by.

Students have many favorite places on campus.  The mall is the prettiest and greenest space on campus and is at its best in the spring.  Byrd stadium is located on campus and always at the center of the action on game day.

Some of our famous alums include Jim Henson who graduated from UMD in 1960. We have an awesome bronze statue of him and Kermit the Frog sitting on a bench in front of the Stamp Student Union.

Another funny note is the campus has a nuclear reactor across the street from a fully functioning farm that includes cattle, horses, sheep and pigs.