Back to School time is an excellent opportunity for retailers to reconnect with existing customers and to attract new customers to your store – regardless of the type of products you sell.
Back to School is also an excellent season in which independent retailers can demonstrate their point of difference over big players like supermarkets, Big W, Officeworks and the like in the back to School and general stationery stakes. This is the time for the small business to shine folks!
Here are some free marketing suggestions (some mainstream and some left field) designed to help you attract customers and get them shopping your Back to School range. Most of these marketing tips can be tried without spending too much money:
Tell a visual story in-store. Get an old school desk and create a display showing your back to School supplies being used.
- Support a local school. Invite current and past students to tell their school stories through a display in your window or in store on a large noticeboard. The stories could be in the form of text on a page, a collage or photos.
- School stories. Invite customers, young and old to share their school stories in 50 words or less. Create an entry form. Stick the stories up on a wall for all to read. Offer a small prize for the best story.
- Old School Photos. Get customers 25 and over to bring in their favourite old school photo. Offer a small price for the best. Maybe group the photos: 25 to 40; 40 to 60; 60+. This could be an educational display as well as a beacon for nostalgia buffs.
- Run a sale for teachers. Consider giving teachers a special discount of anything (within reason) in store. Getting teachers in could help bring the students in.
- Discount by value. Offer a discount to customers who spend over a certain amount – respecting their loyalty to your business.
- Dress in uniforms. Have a day or two when all shop floor employees dress in school uniform.
- Be an information hub. Create a bulletin board of local school events – reminding parents of engagement opportunities. This should be maintained through the school year and done in association with the school.
- Host a shopping event. While you still have back to school stock on the shop floor host an event with games and prizes where you have all back to School stock on special. This should be a Back to School themed event and promoted well in advance.
- Host a bake sale. Invite a fund raising group connected with a local school to host a bake sale or a sausage sizzle out the front of your store on a couple of days through the Back to School sale season.
- Holiday fun. Run a competition for kinder and primary students inviting art entries showing their favourite part of the school holidays. Put the art on show. Offer a small prize. Parents will love the activity opportunity and the entrants will love seeing their work on show.
- Teacher gifts. If you have teacher gifts left over from your Christmas sales, put these out as some students may want to get the year off to a good start.
- Student gifts. Family and friends may want to give students a nice gift to acknowledge the start of the new year – maybe they are starting at a new school. Create a display of gifts especially for students.
No matter how big or small Back to School is in your store, it is an opportunity to have some fun and strengthen your connection with the local community.
While originally developed for Australian newsagents, these marketing tips could work in many different retail situations.