By Helen Morris, Marketing and Media Sales Co-ordinator, Warwick Students’ Union
For the previous three years, card sales had remained largely unchanged and it was felt that we could be doing more to increase revenue, not only at the beginning of the first term, but throughout the whole year. Consequently, a more rigorous promotional plan was put in place and sales have shot up by 62 per cent this year.
We started the NUS extra promotional campaign by having a more prominent and permanent presence on the home page of the Warwick Students’ Union website, to ensure all students were aware of the card and all the new discounts, competitions and offers available to them.
Internal outlet offers
We also highlighted all our internal food and beverage (F&B) offers that were available to students on production of an NUS extra card. Our F&B managers devised some great value offers, in each of our food outlets and bars, which added value to the NUS extra Card.
We made it evident that the NUS extra food and beverage deals would be available to card holders throughout the whole of the year, not just term one, and that some of the deals would remain constant, while others would be updated.
Not many students could ignore the fact that they could save lots of money in the SU outlets by using an NUS extra card: upgrading any drink from a small to a large for free; adding an extra filling to their baguette, salad box or jacket potato; or getting a free starter when ordering any two main courses together.
By maintaining regular offers, students become accustomed to using their NUS extra card in our different outlets, which also helped to build student loyalty to the SU outlets. Using strategically placed point of sale materials made other students aware of the internal NUS extra deals they were missing out on!
F&B outlet staff were well briefed in all the offers that were available in their particular outlets, and they all remember to ask students at the point of payment if they had any NUS extra card. Outlet promotions were publicised across all SU media, and the street team (the SU’s student staff distribution team) used word of mouth promotion each week in the halls of residences to further promote these internal offers.
Sell the benefits
Our other strategy for increasing card sales was to act on all the NUS extra promotional emails that were sent to us on a regular basis by the NUS extra team. This was not something we had done proactively in previous years.
Each time a new NUS extra email was received, we would create an article about it, selling the benefits of the new promotion and then distribute this information via Twitter, Facebook and the SU website. We would also include the new promotion or competition in the weekly all-member email.
I believe this approach helped to ensure continuous card sales throughout the year, as it made students aware that the card still had value, even if a significant amount of time had passed from when the card was bought.
We were also proactive in promoting the NUS extra card at different times throughout the year, alongside other internal and external promotions. So, if we were giving away free goodies, helping out at elections, or carrying out surveys for example, we would capitalise on these opportunities to promote the NUS extra card too.
If we were anticipating a day with high footfall through the union because an external event was occurring, we would take advantage of this opportunity by using our street team for NUS extra card promotion.
The feedback I received from student staff members participating in these promotional events made me aware that this was a valuable forum for promoting and selling the card. Some students were still not fully versed in all that the card could offer them, despite all the promotional advertising that had been done throughout the year!
It was also noted that in this relaxed environment, student staff could take time to explain the wide variety of benefits the NUS extra card could offer students. The street team were able to give their feedback and opinions to other students on how they had benefitted by using the card and what type of savings they had been able to make for themselves, thus giving them a true insight into the value of the card.
Seasonal promotions were also used more this year to help maintain sales after the initial sales period had subsided somewhat. So, apart from the obvious seasonal promotions of Easter and Christmas, we also used other seasonal opportunities (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine ’s Day) to promote the card discounts that students could obtain if they were buying presents for these occasions.
As the NUS extra cards are delivered promptly and very reliably, we were able to use specific dates in our seasonal promotions, as a ‘call to action.’ This tactic ensured that students were more likely to buy the card instantly, and we could guarantee that the card would arrive on time in order for them to use it for this specific reason.