Back-to-School Small Business Promotion Ideas

What happened to summer? It seems like we were just celebrating Dads and Grads and now it’s time for the kiddos to get back to school.

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The ninth annual back-to-school survey from Deloitte, reveals the latest trends likely to impact spending in the 2016 school season. School supplies, clothing and backpacks are at the top of the list. On average, parents will spend $488 for clothing, accessories, school supplies, computers and other electronics for their children this year.

Even if you don’t carry these specific products, there are still ways to capitalize on the back-to-school season.

1. Embrace Social Media

According to a Crowdtap Study exploring consumer behavior ahead of this shopping season, Pinterest is a top platform for U.S. shoppers. Blogs and other social media platforms rival traditional advertising for purchase influence.

If social media is part of your marketing plan, provide valuable content that your target customers will find helpful. This could be information about setting a back-to-school budget, consumer reviews of products or an exploration of the latest fashion trends. For a small amount of money, you can easily ramp up Facebook advertising. Facebook ads let you specifically target your audience like ads to parents of children in a certain age group, in a specific school district or in the neighborhood near your store.

2. Hold a Special Event

It’s no secret that parents get way more shopping done when the kiddos are occupied. Consider bringing in kid-friendly entertainment. A clown, a balloon artist or other entertainer can draw in a crowd. Provide popcorn or cookies for an inexpensive treat. Offer special in-store, one-day-only special pricing to encourage same day purchases.

3. Review Your Online Reputation

Now is a great time to look at your Yelp reviews or other online comments about your business. If you have any unfavorable comments, address those immediately. If you have a particularly specific and glowing review, consider featuring it prominently on your website or marketing materials.


Sponsor a Giveaway

If your store doesn’t carry specific back-to-school items, you can still get in on the season. Put together an “Essential Back-to-School” gift basket to giveaway. Get creative! You can even include a treat for the parents like a bottle of wine to help kick off the school year.

Cross Promote

Pair up with another business and offer special bundled deals or discounts. You might go in on an event together or share advertising costs highlighting both businesses.

Create Promotional Items

Everyone loves free swag. Order up some water bottles, recyclable bags or branded pencils that customers can take with them. This type of promotion can reach far and wide and encourage repeat business. Research shows that promotional items stay around a long time, reminding customers about your business.


To target parents, donate products, services or cash to a local school in exchange for a banner or other highly visible promotion. You can donate specific items to support a sports program, library or art class. If the school has a special event coming up, offer to provide water or other needed goods. This is a great time to giveaway branded items.

As you know, being prepared for potential sales spike is vital. Start planning for the holidays (starting with Halloween) now. You’ll be ahead of the game – always an important small business strategy.