Back to School Means Back to the Marketing Drawing Board for Many Small Businesses

With summer coming to a close, most small businesses are preparing for an influx of business. (Sorry ice-cream shops, but this is usually the time of year where you’ll see your sales start to drop off). People are coming back from vacations and, depending on where your business is located, school is coming back in. This alone can mean a surge in business—a surge that you can take considerable advantage of if you know what you’re doing.

No matter what sort of business you own and/or operate, you need to pay attention to one very crucial fact: “back to school” season is only bested by Christmas in terms of the busiest shopping periods of the year.

If you’re a retailer or bookstore, the ways this can impact you are tremendous. But what about a business that has nothing at all to do with school? How can your business take full advantage of this crazy time of the year?

Here are some ideas and tips to consider as kids all over the country are preparing to fill their book bags once again and head back to school.

First, understand how you can tie your business to schools in the area.

If you have local colleges in the area, this should be an easy one for you. But the majority of small businesses have only the local public or private grade schools to rely on. In these cases, you can do something as simple as running an ad in a local paper, wishing students luck. Be sure to include basic information about your business, as it’s ot the kids that will pay attention to the ad, but the parents.

Grab their attention and give them a reason to remember your band or, better yet, to give you a call.

On the other hand, does the school REALLY need to be in your area?

Keep in mind that the Back to School season is universal. Everyone can identify with it because we’ve all been there in some form or another. Back to School season is a commonality that all businesses can relate to. There’s no real need to specify a particular school. It really boils down to another point on the calendar that gives businesses like yours to advertise special services, sales, or products.

Identify with the Parents.

Even if you don’t have kids, this is easy. The start of school means that the daily lives that parents have been enduring during summer—kids at home every day, for instance—is coming to an end and freeing up their schedules. Sure, all parents love their kids, but they also love the freedom of not having to worry with babysitters and the summer schedules of their kids.

Structure a special offer or deal around this fact. Give the parents another reason to celebrate by presenting them with special offers.

Identify with the Students: This is much easier if you’re targeting the college crowd. And while even college students may not be interested in your products or services, you can still make them the focal point of your marketing.

When you cater to students, you have more room to get creative with your marketing. This is a great time to experiment with your branding. See what you can do to help make your brand appeal to the college crowd and, perhaps, even get their older friends and/or parents interested in what your business has to offer.

Hold a Contest or Giveaway.

Any reason to hold a contest is a good one. Is your business one that could offer students some sort of discount? Do you offer anything that would get them interested in your business and, similarly, any giveaways or contests?

Look closely for an angle where your business could offer students something unique. Even if it’s just a free item like a shirt, mouse pad, or calendar, give students a reason to drop in (hey, college students are always looking for free stuff).

Using the Magic Word Helps.

 Sale. Back to School Sale. It even sounds like magic, doesn’t it? What can your business place on sale? If you don’t deal in products, maybe you can offer students and their families discounts on services.

Studies have shown time and time again that the word “SALE” does seem to have a lure on people. Often, it doesn’t even matter what the sale is for. If people think they will be saving money on anything, it gives them an incentive to check it out. The great part of this is the fact that any business can take full advantage of the magic of simply saying “sale.”

Location-Based Marketing

Find some high-traffic areas beat your business and post fliers and business cards that career to the back to school crowd. If you live near a college or a club that college students attend, you’ve hit the jackpot. It helps to think outside of the box here, though. What are some grocery stores, bookstores and coffee shops that the college kids in your area are frequenting? Place promotional material there as well.

If you don’t have the luxury of having a college nearby, it never hurts to do some mobile marketing. Make up QR codes and space them around colleges in nearby areas. Place ads in local papers. In terms of marketing, distance should never matter in a day and age where mobile marketing is booming.

Make Sure Your Mobile Marketing is Up to Par.

Speaking of mobile marketing, are you using this awesome tool to your advantage? College kids in particular are very tech savvy and are going to mobile marketing more than ever before. If you really want to reach your intended audience—parents and college students alike—you simply have to get on board with mobile marketing.

This allows busy students and parents to get in touch with you as they are on the go. The easier you are to access, the more likely you are to reign in some of that active back to school business.

School Spirit!

This will hurt some of you college basketball and football fans…but if you live in an area where a college team is a big deal, you need to at least pretend that you are also a fan. Even if you root for the rival, you need to suck it up and cater to the majority.

Coming up with sale-type tools in this regard is easy. Offer special discounts or freebies to anyone that comes into your store or shop wearing a shirt with the local team’s logo or colors. Offer great deals following a big victory. On this last example, pizzerias and bars all over the country have made a killing. What can your business do to get in on that same sort of success?

With these strategies—and maybe some of your own ideas and approaches—there is absolutely no reason that your business can’ find a way to take advantage of the back to school season. Take notes along the way, study hard, and see how you can improve on next year’s Back to School season as well!

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