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With different schools starting at different times, the back-to-school shopping season is longer than ever — which gives you plenty of time to cater to this very important (plus large and diverse) audience. Everyone from parents with young children to college and graduate students will be searching for ways to save. And all different types of small businesses can share the profits, whether you’re a clothing boutique, local sandwich shop, home goods store, or electronics supplier. Here are a few ideas to steer shoppers your way before class is in session.
1. Target students via social media
Kids of all ages influence purchase decisions, whether they’re buying for themselves (teenagers with babysitting money to burn) or trying to convince their parents why they need this year’s coolest book bag. This is where social media comes in. Get creative — if you’re a retail shop, host an Instagram contest and ask followers to post a picture of themselves wearing some of your items for the chance to win a back-to-school wardrobe. Build a back-to-school Pinterest board and post pictures of fall’s hottest trends on Facebook with links to the must-buy items you carry.
2. Offer timely discounts and sales on back-to-school supplies
We can all remember what a drag those first few days back in the classroom are. Give students something to look forward to by providing fun perks. If you’re an ice cream shop, serve up two-for-one scoops for the after-school crowd. If you run a bar or coffee shop, host a happy hour with drink specials. And we can’t stress enough the importance of sales on back-to-school supplies. Nothing delights students and parents more than saving on everyday items like pencils and notebooks. Bonus points for stocking creative stationery and items with kids’ favorite characters.
Once you decide what type of promotion you’d like to run, let people know. This is easy to do with Square’s email marketing service — which lets you quickly whip up marketing email to send to your customers. The tool makes it easy to target the right audience, too. Your customer lists are automatically segmented into loyal, casual, or lapsed customers. For more tips and tricks on marketing promotions, read our recent blog post on the subject.
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3. Host an event to attract customers
Campus bookstores, bars, and coffee shops can benefit from hosting lively weeknight activities like trivia nights, open-mic sessions, and movie screenings. Who wouldn’t want to break from study group to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Dazed and Confused? Whatever the event, serve up some kind of themed special — maybe a hot link inspired by Bueller’s Chez Quis sausage king stunt? Be sure to let people know about your event well ahead of time. Read up on our tips for marketing events to make sure you have a solid showing.
4. Start a frequent customer benefit
Punch cards are a great way to get more repeat customers. They work best at quick-service restaurants (pizza parlors, sandwich shops) and coffee shops, where you can offer a free sandwich or latte after seven or so purchases. Or if you’re a hair salon, you can present a punch card to keep students coming back for future cuts. Square’s punch card tool is easy to set up and track. Learn how you can put Square Loyalty to work for your business (and why it’s a no-brainer to do so).
5. Back to school means back to business
With summer on its way out, now is the time to capitalize on the back-to-business mentality. Vacations are over, the kids are heading back to school, and parents are finally starting to tackle home improvement projects. If you’re a contractor, handyman, or decorator, help them cross these to-do items off their checklists by providing a discount on your services, starting a referral program, or offering an incentive to call on you the next time they need help. Once you decide on a strategy, use Square’s marketing tools to help you get the word out.