September is the unofficial “personal rebranding” month as hundreds of thousands of students return to school, freshly committed to raise their GPAs, shape varsity or borrow a goth aesthetic. As one of the largest shopping seasons of its first year( second only to the holiday season ), it’s also an excellent branding opportunity for small businesses.
We spoke to several business owners and marketing experts on how SMBs can prepare for back-to-school season.
1. Stock up for an increase in sales volume.
This year, the National Retail Federation( NRF) has predicted record back-to-school spending, with an average of $ 696.70 per K-1 2 family and working $ 976.78 per household with a college student. That builds for a total blended expend of $80.7 billion across the country.
It’s not just the Crayola vendors who should be stocking up their inventory. The NRF also forecast total back-to-school spending in the following areas, graded according to expected sales.
Top back-to-school season categories 😛 TAGEND
Clothing and accessories( omitting shoes) Electronics or computer-related equipment Shoes School supplies
Top back-to-college categories 😛 TAGEND
Electronics or computer-related equipment: $13.1 billion Garment and accessories( eliminating shoes ): $8.3 billion Dorm or suite furnishings: $6.7 billion Meat pieces: $5.5 billion Shoes: $5.3 billion Personal care pieces: $4.5 billion School renders:$ 4 billion Gift cards: $3.7 billion Collegiate labelled gear: $3.5 billion
2. Create a marketing campaign with a back-to-school season tie-in.
For the retail industries listed above as well as peripheral services like tutoring, hair salons and food subscription services, clever back-to-school tie-ins are an excellent way to capture some of that sales volume.
Effective campaigns should serve as primers, letting your customer know how your business can be of use during back-to-school season.
“Your[ email marketing] subject pipelines need to let the user know that they will save time by opting to open the email, ” said Tom Buchok, founder of MailCharts. For example, “recently, Gap used a theme cable similar to ‘7 Styles, 5 Outfits for the First Week of School.’ As a parent, wouldn’t that sound great, to forgo the mode pairings and merely select a size, click, and purchase? “
Less obvious businesses can also creatively employ back-to-school tie-ins. Often enough, it’s only a matter of labels.
“We recently deployed a Yelp campaign to coincide with back-to-school, ” said Sam White, marketing manager of Del Mar Jiu-Jitsu Club. “We outlook ourselves as an after-school program including classes for children ranged 3 to 9+. “
3. Familiarize yourself with local school hours.
Most schools post their class planneds and holiday dockets online. Knowing when class gets out each day and when breaches roll around can help you not only predict traffic, but align your planned to meet your customers’ schedules. For example, Del Mar timed its kids’ categories to fit school hours, White said.
Knowing class planneds can also open up promotional possibilities. Hospitality services can set up packets during three-day weekends, or coffee shops can promote before-school specials for educators- bonus levels for a loyalty or incentive program to make it a daily procedure throughout the school year.
4. Meet the customers where they are.
Spending may be up, but September is still a hectic time of year. Parents, both students and educators are going to opt for convenience. With simply 16% of respondents to an NRF survey saying they plan to use neighbourhood or small and medium-sized businesses for one of the purposes of their back-to-school shopping, SMBs cannot expect “the consumers ” to approach them first.
One way to accommodate this is by meeting back-to-school consumers where they are, White said- school. “We’re doing community events and going to the schools to introduce ourselves and the program.”
For e-commerce, another strategy is to offer free send, something that 90% of K-1 2 and 80% of college customers plan to take advantage of. For a demographic that’s still molding their lifelong spending habits, an investment like this may pay off as students are converted into repeat customers.
5. Know your back-to-school season shoppers.
For those marketing to elementary school-age infants, your products and services may be intended for kids, but parents have the power of the purse. This entails marketing should be tailored to parents’ concerns.
“History has shown that offering as many touchpoints with mothers assists lower comprehended dangers for parents who are concerned is not simply with jiu-jitsu, ” White said, “but, even more importantly, who they will entrust their kids’ security with.”
Beyond elementary school, students are making more of their own purchasing decisions, which is where direct social media marketing may come into play. Teens are spending $36.71 on average, up from $30.88 in 2009, while preteens are spending $26.40, up from $11.94 in 2009.
“Members of Generation Z are clearly becoming more involved with back-to-school purchasing decisions rather than leaving the choices up to Mom and Dad, ” said Matthew Shay, chairwoman and CEO of the NRF, in a statement posted.
Given gender stereotypes about shopping, what may come as a surprise is the NRF’s finding that boys invest considerably more during back-to-school season than women- significant differences of $182.50 for K-1 2 and $391.19 for back-to-college shopping. Direct your advertising campaign accordingly.
Read more: business.com