Small Business Strategies for Back-to-School 2019

Back-to-school spending is expected to reach $27.8 billion this year! That averages out to $519 per student for children in grades K to 12, according to Deloitte’s annual “Back-to-School Survey.”

If your business offers education-centered products or services you’re probably in good shape for the fall rush. However, even if you don’t have products specifically tailored for back-to-school, you can get creative to take advantage of the season. Here are some ideas to consider:

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Create a Pop-up Shop

According to recent research, the pop-up business segment has grown to be valued at $50 billion in the U.S. A pop-up shop is a temporary retail space created for a short-term run. It’s an area where brands—usually ones without a physical presence—can interact with current and potential customers. One example is from a leading chain of yoga studios in Southern California. Yogaworks regularly invites small business vendors to display their yoga-related products like clothing, self-care items, and healthy foods. The vendors benefit from a built-in audience and Yogaworks benefits by drawing in customers who might be interested in a class or membership.

The Shopify blog has an article packed with information about this retail option and how it can work to your advantage: Pop-Up Shops 101: Everything You Need to Know to Try Temporary Retail.

Target Teachers

Don’t forget about educators! Teachers make up a consumer group of 6.7 million spending an average $1.5 billion per year. They also spend an average of $490 out of their own pockets to fund their classroom needs. Offering a teacher discount is a great way to show support.

A survey from Agile Education Marketing asked teachers what type of promotions get their attention. They reported:

  • 83% like a free gift with purchase
  • 35% like free shipping
  • 34% like a small discount off the whole purchase
  • 25% like Buy One Get One (BOGO) specials
  • 21% like a larger discount

Use these insights to craft promotions that teachers will appreciate.

Don’t Forget About Parents

Back-to-school can be a joyous yet stressful time for parents. They’re busy trying to figure out drop off and pick up logistics and after school activities all while spending lots of money. Consider a putting together a prize basket stuffed with creative goods targeting parents. You could include items like a bottle of wine or a gift card to a local restaurant. After all, parents control the purse strings and everyone wants to feel appreciated.

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Partner with an Online Influencer

Peer recommendations work and a growing digital marketing tactic is to partner with online influencers to promote your products or services. There’s no shortage of “mommy bloggers” and others who are well-known in the parenting space. To find the right fit for your business, look at the influencer’s audience to see if it aligns with your target customer base.

Check out their reach and other promotions they might have participated in with a small business. Remember, partnering with an influencer is a direct reflection of your brand. Make sure it’s the right fit.

Throw a Party

If you have a physical location, consider holding a “Back-to-School Party”. You can offer special discounts or product bundles along with a fun atmosphere-think balloons, face painting, snacks, and music. Parents are the ultimate decision makers but creating a kid-friendly party can help draw them into your store. Use social media and signage to promote your event and be sure to have plenty of inventory and staff on hand.

Hold a School Supply Drive

It won’t be hard to find a school or organization in your community in need of school supplies. Ask customers and employees to donate school supplies for children who don’t have access to what they need. Have a donation box in your store or an online link where shoppers can participate. You’ll get customer’s attention and support a worthy cause.

Consider Outside Funding

Review your sales for previous years to determine if you need to hire extra help, increase marketing, or purchase inventory for the back-to-school season. Remember, the busy holiday season is coming and you need to be prepared.

Consider a low-cost SBA loan, a bank term loan or an accounts receivable credit line to help you prepare. Not sure how funding can help your business? Check out this article from the SmartBiz Small Business Blog: 5 Ways Successful Companies Can Benefit from a Loan.

Want more? Our article from 2016 has additional strategies you can use like leveraging social media, paying attention to your online reviews, and creating promotional products.

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