Sweepstakes Marketing to Millennials

Happening Now: “School’s In You Win!” Sweepstakes

The Back to School College Marketing Season officially kicks off each year with the School’s In You Win! Sweepstakes.    

Pottery Barn Dorm, the grand sponsor of this year’s sweepstakes, has been partnering with Barnes & Noble College Marketing for the past few years offering a Dorm Room Makeover valued at $2500!  Students can also win an Apple Watch from Airheads or 1 year of Mobile Phone Service from Lycamobile.

School’s In, You Win! is promoted nationally across 500 college campuses both on campus and through an integrated digital campaign.   After entering the sweepstakes, thousands of students will learn about each of the partners and their products and services, providing a unique opportunity to strategically increase brand awareness through custom sponsored content.

Sweepstakes Marketing to Millennials

“For the kinds of brands we introduce to our students, marketing has to be about a meaningful narrative,” explains Barnes & Noble College’s Marie Policastro, Director, Brand Partnerships and Market Research. “It’s about where we can provide the best value for our students and a return on investment, lead generation or sales for our partners,” she explains.

The School’s In, You Win! Sweepstakes does just that – we can’t wait to announce the winners of this year’s sweeps!

BNCM’s “Beat on the Street”: Marketing to Millennials

Today’s college students have a lot to say about marketing to Millennials, brands and how to win their customer loyalty.

We spoke with Indiana University student, Amanda Pollock, to get the real “Beat on the Street” regarding her thoughts about marketing to millennials.

Insights about Amanda:

Where cMarketing to Millennialsan we find you online: Facebook and Instagram, mainly to keep in touch with old friends.

 Must Have Beauty Items: Lotion, Mascara, Concealer

Brands you admire? 

  • Jansport, because they produce a high-quality product.
  • Sakroots, because every fabric pattern donates funds to different charitable organizations.
  • Amazon and Google, both because they are large companies that treat their employees very well.


If a brand is unknown, what is the best way it can capture your attention and engage your interest?

A witty advertisement that also has relevance to the product they are aiming to sell.

Thoughts on Customer Reviews?  I definitely take customer reviews into consideration when shopping, especially online.  If I hear that someone has had a bad experience it is unlikely that I will do business with this company.

If you could sit down for lunch with a Chief Marketing Director of one of your favorite brands, how would you recommend the company best build a long term relationship with you?  Make good quality products that are reasonably priced.

Amanda is a rising Senior at Indiana University in Bloomington, and will be transferring to IUPUI this fall in order to complete her degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences. After graduation, she hopes to work in the microbiological portion of a hospital laboratory, ultimately working to identify the organisms that make people sick so that the best treatments can be chosen. She has been a Barnes & Noble bookseller for over two years, having started during her first semester at Indiana University. In addition to working at Barnes & Noble, she has been working in the Indiana University Chemistry Laboratory in order to gain relevant experience for her future career. Outside of class and work, she enjoys volunteering, reading and watching Netflix. Two summers ago, she worked with Habitat for Humanity to build several homes for families in need back in her home county of Elkhart, Indiana.


“The Real Scoop” on College Marketing Part 2 – Discounts

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?


We are always looking for a deal, to save every penny we can – why is it that the world of student discounts is like a secret society?  You would think that every store would want to advertise their student discounts to entice us to shop there.  Most of the college student discount programs we found out about were through dorm mates, sorority sisters and upper classmen.

Knowing that you can get $5 off on the shirt you’ve been coveting or getting an extended warranty on your new laptop for free, will sway us to purchase with you over another retailer that doesn’t have the same type of discount program available.  Seriously, why would you want to keep this a secret?  Broadcast the fact that your brand has an exclusive discount program – Trust us, you won’t regret it.

After some digging of our own, we were excited to see that some of our favorite brands and stores had student discounts available.

Favorite Finds - Student Discounts



  • AT&T – Check to see if you can get a discount through your college!
  • Apple – $200 off a new Mac, $20 off an iPad
  • Spotify – $4.99/month for a Premium Membership
  • Dell University – Free 32” TV with purchase of select PC of 700$ or more
  • Microsoft Office 365 – $80 off a four year subscription


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

Tales from the Road: I was a Brand Ambassador

When I was in college, the brand ambassador phenomenon was buzzing, but it wasn’t until after college that I became fully immersed in the world of live promotions.  I wish I had known about brand ambassador opportunities in college that offered tons of people interaction, free samples, admittance to events I otherwise could not afford, and hourly rates at 3x or 4x minimum wage.  Why not?!

Spurred by my college internship where I got a taste of events and sponsorship activation, I accepted a job after graduation with an experiential marketing agency.  My first project was to help hire 300+ brand ambassadors on college campuses across the country.  As a recent graduate I thought to myself, where was this opportunity when I was in college?!  I would have done this!


Challenged with the question of how to reach college students, I suggested we contact student groups,Greek life organizations, and marketing professors who could communicate this paid, hands on marketing opportunity to students.  When I was in college, those are the channels that would have delivered the message to my ears.


A few months later, it was MY turn.  I was the brand ambassador.  And not just for a 1 or even 2 day event.  No, I hit the road for THREE MONTHS straight on a mobile tour.


I, along with my fellow Tour Manager, drove a 24 foot box truck across the country, literally!  And slept in a hotel room every night.  Every week, we rolled into a different city and activated events for four days straight.  Every week, we hired, trained, and managed several local brand ambassadors.  From California to New York, there were many, many stories. Some unusual, some scary, and some downright hilarious…

Stay tuned for more Tales from the Road!


About the Author – Kendra Ninaltowski

Kendra is an Account Manager.  She is a graduate of Penn State University, where she majored in Marketing and was a member of the Business Fraternity Delta Sigma Pi.  Before coming to BNCM, she spent three years traveling across the country doing experiential marketing for major brands in the telecommunications and sporting goods industries.   In her spare time she enjoys hiking, biking, snowboarding & DIY projects around the house/making gifts for friends.



Research Platform Fosters Connections with Brands

From its enviable position as a leading operator of more than 700 campus bookstores, Barnes & Noble College has a front-row seat to the needs, preferences and behaviors of the nation’s students. Barnes & Noble College’s research platform and on-campus and digital engagement strategies have established trusted and enduring relationships with millions of Millennials during a key stage of their lives.

This market research platform is now being expanded in an effort to help the company’s partners – colleges and universities, consumer brands and publishers – better understand the thinking, behaviors and expectations of current and future generations of college students.


Barnes & Noble College believes its research platform is an opportunity not only to develop insight into the student experience, but also provide an opportunity to build more effective and meaningful campus programs.

“We partner and work closely with brands to ensure they engage with students in timely, relevant and inspiring ways, and with the kind of dialogue that will foster long-lasting relationships extending beyond graduation with the ability to deliver ongoing results,” explains Marie Policastro, Director, Partnership Marketing and Research, Barnes & Noble College.

Most recently, those kinds of partnerships have produced research examining student preferences and behaviors in areas as diverse as the automotive, café and convenience, and personal beauty categories. Upcoming initiatives include a groundbreaking, intensive study on Generation Z and their academic preferences and expectations for college, followed by an in-depth look at non-traditional students, veterans and first-generation college students.The College Student Millennial Mindset

An example of how the company provides that strategic advantage is in the research initiative the company recently developed to support universities’ focus on student and alumni outcomes. The College Student Mindset for Career Preparation & Success represented a unique and in-depth study examining students’ level of career preparation; their perception of what skills and experiences are desired by companies; and what they are looking for in work experiences, training and benefits. Developing from far more than a singular academic research study, the insights provided inspired an experiential program Barnes & Noble College that delivers a combination of in-person and online workshops to equip students with the tools, resources and skills they need to position themselves for early career success.

“We are part of the social and structural fabric of our campuses, and it gives us a deep understanding of the nuances of each school’s culture,” Policastro says, “When that understanding is combined with the insights our market research platform provides, consumer brand marketers have what they need to build powerful, emotional connections with the millions of students we serve.”

Capabilities of the Barnes & Noble College research platform include a full suite of quantitative research, qualitative research, ethnographic research, omnibus studies, shopper insight research and on-site testing with data and analytics powered by proprietary faculty and student online research panels. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

DownloBNC Research Logoad a copy of The College Student Mindset for Career Preparation & Success.  
 Contact us today to learn more about our research offerings.  

Come Back to School With Us!

It’s almost that time of year when the nights get cooler, days get shorter and it’s time to head back to school!

Upper classmen can’t wait to get back to campus, see their friends and get back into the swing of things.  For freshmen and new students, it’s most likely their first time away from home.  As excited as they are, finding their way and learning the ropes on campus can be a bit overwhelming.    Regardless of student status, we are here to help!   From textbooks to collegiate gear, stocking up on snacks to grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend.

maniOne of our favorite back to school events is our VIP Nights.   These special events are all about celebrating back to school by adding value and excitement to our students’ first few weeks on campus.  The bookstore comes to life with music, food, and brand activations.  Each student has the opportunity to be personally guided through the event by our booksellers, so they can discover new products along the way, and connect with brands.

Back to school is a great time to connect and engage with students whether at events, through email or providing students with samples of your product.

The opportunities to engage with Millennials is endless – don’t you want to come back to school with us?!


sameSamantha is a Senior Marketing Specialist.  She graduated from Fairleigh Dickenson University with a major in Marketing and a minor in Advertising.  She began her career at BNCM as a college intern, and enjoyed it so much,  it grew into a permanent position.  Outside of the office, Samantha enjoys cooking, hosting dinner parties for friends at home, hiking with her husband and 2 pups, and doing anything adventurous outdoors.

College Marketing at Elon University

Part of what makes Barnes & Noble College Marketing (BNCM) unique is our direct access to over 5 million college students on more than 700 campuses.

Elon University’s Campus Highlights

Students:  5,600 Undergraduates and 700+ Graduate students

Student Life:  There is an active Greek presence, as well as 40 student dorms on campus

Sports:  Elon has NCAA Division 1 Sports on campus – Football, Basketball and Baseball are popular.

Top Brand Experiences on Campus

Hulu – Students were offered special discounts from Hulu during Back-to-School move-in.

KIND – Part of a national college marketing program with BNCM that distributed over 500,000 free KIND samples to students.

Microsoft – Student Ambassadors hosted experiential events that educated students about the capabilities of Windows 8 through live demos.

Ann Taylor – Female students in Elon’s 2014 graduating class, were given a coupon in their cap and gown packages for 15% off Ann Taylor’s stylish fashions, in-store or online.

Our Face on Campus is Carly Mayer

 Carly’s insights on Elon University’s students

“Like most Millennials, students at Elon are brand conscious and focused on quality.  They consistently shop for and buy products that are more high-end.  They are not “trendy” but rather they are consistent in their taste for classic styles.”

“In terms of convenience, Elon students put a big emphasis on buying natural and organic products whenever possible. Our students tend to favor candy and gum that is fruit flavored or peppermint flavored.”

We asked Carly, What are the top 3 brands on Elon’s marketing wish list?

  1. JCrew – “Our students loved the Ann Taylor discount promotion last year. J.Crew is very popular on campus, and I think our students would respond to any similar promotion with the same enthusiasm.”
  2. HiChew – “Our students would really enjoy a sampling program with this popular product.”
  3. Eclipse Gum – “Peppermint or spearmint flavored candy and gum are top sellers on campus, so I’d love to see a brand like Eclipse do a sampling program for our students.”

Unique Traditions at Elon University

Each year entering students are given an acorn, symbolizing the beginning of their Elon journey, at the end of New Student Convocation.  When they graduate, as part of the Commencement ceremony, students are given an oak sapling in recognition of the Hebrew origin of the school’s name (Elon is Oak in Hebrew).

One of Elon’s most cherished traditions is College Coffee.  Each Tuesday from 9:40 until 10:20AM the entire Elon community gathers for conversation over coffee and pastries.

The mascot of the University gets its name from the 1923 fire that destroyed almost the entire campus.  Much like a Phoenix is reborn from the ashes the school rebuilt and was able to “rise from the ashes”.


About the Author – Kristyn Zylka

Kristyn Zylka is an Account Manager.  She is a graduate of Georgetown University.  After having worked in the fields of management consulting and public relations for over a decade, she was attracted to BNCM for the opportunity to work with a distinguished list of national brands that partner with BNCM for their Millennial marketing activities.  In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, swimming, kayaking, traveling and exploring new restaurants and museums.