It’s hard to believe, but it’s already time again for backpacks and notebooks and rulers. Back to school is upon us! So how can your small business engage with busy parents and excited (or not as thrilled) children getting ready for the year ahead?
Even if you don’t sell school supplies, there is ample opportunity to jump on the bandwagon. Here are a few tips for small business marketing around the second most wonderful time of the year.
1. Think long term.
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Back to school season doesn’t end in September. Consider offering a new loyalty program that runs from September until June and encourages busy customers to buy more during the school year.
To sweeten the pot and encourage customers to buy, consider offering a small weekend getaway or vacation to a select customer who racks up the most loyalty points by June
2. Think like a busy parent.
What offer helps them overcome the challenges they face? Lack of time, harried schedules, simultaneous commitments, etc. What can you offer to them to solve their pain points?
Perhaps it’s a new service or special offer. Maybe it’s a product geared toward the parent instead of the children – for example, a spa could offer special pricing on treatments during standard school hours, a grocery store could start a new delivery service or a limo service could spin off an entirely new business division focused on local trips – a professional carpool if you will – shuttling groups of kids after school to popular destinations such as sports team practices or other activities.
3. Do Good.
Tie your special offers or events to encouraging kids to do well in school. For example, a restaurant could offer free meals to honor roll students who bring their families in on a specific date, or a local hair salon could discount services to kids who bring in their report card and show all As.
4. Partner Up.
Although schools themselves can be challenging to partner up with, parent groups such as the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) or sports moms and dads are more approachable and always looking for creative ways to raise awareness and funds.
Often, these partnership help promote your products or services if you share a part of the proceeds with their group. Working with such a partner extends your network and reach as well as your credibility.
I know in my town, the PTA works often with restaurants to promote a “support the schools” night where a percentage of proceeds from revenue on a particular night goes to the school.
This helps drive new business from people who appreciate spending their money somewhere that in turn, supports a good cause. It also drives new prospects who might not have otherwise known about or been a patron of your business.
5. Become a curriculum extension.
Many schools have had to cut out programs such as art or music lessons, or even sports, due to budget challenges. If your business falls into a related category, you can help support families who want opportunities for their children to participate in these important activities.
Offer special “school year” bundle pricing on music lessons, pottery classes, tennis lessons or art education. Companies and even individual tutors can benefit from filling any void a school may leave.
6. Be philanthropic.
It may sound cliché, and you may be thinking, ” we’re looking for ways to make money, not give it away,” but think long term.
Families have children in community schools for 12 years. If you can touch them emotionally early in the process, they are very likely to continue business with you well after one philanthropic endeavor.
You can choose to do one project or make it a yearly endeavor. Ideas can range from using a percentage of sales to buy school supplies for classrooms (teachers are always in need of help beyond their budget, and many spend their own money to get what they need), to having a clothing drive to donate winter coats to students in need.
If you’re a local sandwich shop perhaps you offer a low cost meal plan for the families in need of assistance so they have options outside of a standard school lunch.
From orthodontists to house cleaners, babysitters to grocery stores, Back to school season offers a plethora of marketing and business opportunities. Just remember to think like your customers – what do they need help with during this busy time – and you’re sure to conjure up a full year of special offers that drive more sales and awareness for your small business.