As summer winds down, it’s time to ramp up your plans for another season that can be crucially important for your small business: back to school. It’s an important opportunity in itself, and it also kicks off fall, which of course leads into the critical post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping season. So if you make the right moves attracting and impressing shoppers at back-to-school time, you could be ensuring strong business for months to come. Here are some ideas for getting ready for back to school.
Offer special deals and discounts on key items
The back-to-school shopping season is a competitive one, so students (and parents) are going to be looking for the best prices for the items on their lists. If your business sells clothing or gear for school, make your store stands out with a sale on essentials. And if you operate a coffee shop, cafe, or bakery, you can still get in on this busy time by offering special deals for parents and students in the morning (like a pastry with a coffee drink) or after school for a pre-dinner snack. Make sure you promote your specials through email marketing to your customer base (which is quick and easy to do with Square Email Marketing) and on social media.
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Get involved with local schools
Small, local businesses are part of the fabric of the community, so you should capitalize on your home team advantage. There are lots of ways to do this, including hosting fundraisers for high school sports teams or music programs, throwing shopping nights that benefit schools, and donating items for raffles.
Of course, you could run the greatest deals in town, but it doesn’t matter unless people know about them. Shoppers are increasingly turning to social media over businesses’ websites to get the most up-to-date information on sales, events, and special store hours, so it makes sense to focus your messaging efforts on outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Offer your followers a discount when they mention a special code that you post on social media, or when they tag their friends, comment, or repost. When you incentivize shoppers to follow you on social media, you can believe that they’ll pay attention to your posts both now and in the future.
If you operate a clothing boutique, create Pinterest boards and lists of the season’s must-have trends, essentials, and gear. On Pinterest, this can be a mix of street style images, favorite fall quotes, and, of course, images from your e-commerce site. On Instagram, every day you can post an image of your top 10 trend picks for fall. When followers start looking to you for trend advice and styling ideas, it’s more likely that they’ll also come in to shop.
Reward shoppers with gift cards
Back to school is an expensive time for students and parents, so thank them for choosing to shop with you by offering gift cards for your business when they spend a certain amount during a specific window of time. Then, when you have new merchandise and sales, or when the holidays are approaching, email a reminder to these gift card holders and give them a reason to visit you again.
Team up with other area businesses
When it comes to small businesses, there is strength in numbers, so get together with other stores, coffee shops, and restaurants in the area for a back-to-school promotion or event. For example, you could join forces (and resources) with nearby businesses to throw a weekend block party with food, live music, and lots of great deals. And, when you collaborate with other neighborhood businesses, that also means great cross-promotion opportunities through email marketing and social media.