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Retailers Get Ready! Back to School Marketing Ideas for Your Local Business

School supplies scattered on a table with wooden blocks spelling "back to school"

By Christina Eschbacher, Marketing Manager & Diane Lee, Digital Marketing Strategist

Deals, Deals and More Deals

88 percent of in-store shoppers said price discount is the biggest deciding factor for choosing where they shop. Back-to-school shopping can be costly and nothing delights students and parents more than saving on necessary items like notebooks and crayons.

This is the time of year new teachers are looking for the new “go-to” local spots for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Offer deals specifically designed to target local school district teachers and staff for the built in loyalty effect. Your customers will respond to being appreciated and you create an emotional connection.

If your line of business isn’t related to back-to-school supplies, get creative to take advantage of the heavier foot traffic! If you run an ice cream shop, satisfy hungry back-to-school shoppers by serving two-for- one scoops!

Get Local

Small business owners are an integral part of the communities in which they live and work. So why not capitalize on your home ground advantage? Grass roots efforts are worthwhile during this time of year especially. Participate in local events and attract new and existing customers with customized product and service offerings. Curate a sampling of what your business can offer to compliment the event theme.

This year, our Village at Allen in Allen, Texas participated in SportsFest – a community event held at the local skate park where business owners are invited to host a booth for families to come out and learn about the city’s youth sports leagues. We handed out coupons and offers as inserts in goodie bags for the kids and recruited new memberships for our Village Kids Club at the arts and craft area.

Host an event to attract customers

Small businesses can benefit from teaming up with each other. There is strength in numbers so get together with your neighboring stores, coffee shops, restaurants to host a back-to-school promotion or event. For example, you could join forces to throw a block party to offer food, live music, special giveaways, and games. Block party not only brings community members together but also help local businesses to meet and talk with their consumers.

If you’re a tenant at a shopping center, reach out to the center’s management team to see if you can host a collaborative event. For instance, Topgolf at the Village at Allen, hosted a Village Kids Club event where local families came out and the kids learned basic golf techniques. It was before the launching of Topgolf’s summer camp and what a timely event it was to promote their summer camp.

Leverage community boards and blogs

Spend time on identifying popular local blogs on community news, styles, food and DIY tips – whatever best aligns with your business needs. Advertising on the local blogs is affordable and more importantly, caters to niche consumers. Digital ads allow for precise tracking enabling you to get insights on how your ad performed. Another way to advertise your back-to-school event or sales is to use an announcement board at your community centers or grocery stores. Create an eye-catching flyer that includes the latest deals, promotions and discounts. The best thing about this method is that it won’t cost you a penny.

Get tapped into social media locally

With the ever-changing social media landscape, it’s important to stay up to speed. Currently, there is a trend in Facebook group creation. Facebook has transformed the user interface on mobile and desktop platforms to bring groups to the top of feeds creating an opportunity for small businesses to become very in-tune to what is important to local residents including finding conversations where customers are searching for your products and services! Spend some time finding your local resident groups, request to join, and participate in the conversations. Through this form of social listening, announce new business openings, raise awareness for existing businesses, and even cultivate leasing prospects.

Attract and retain customers

Retaining customers is equally important as attracting them. During the back-to-school season, thank them for choosing to shop with you by offering gift cards or designated amount off their next purchase. If you’re a service provider like hair salon, you could offer special discounts on services for a limited time.

Also, invest time to understand how customers learned about your business or what drew them in to visit your store. Many businesses will include bounce backs in the form of promotion codes or encoding bar codes on coupons for capturing data through point of sale. When you are knowledgeable about these details, it will become apparent which efforts are most effective and you can scale efforts accordingly.


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