Marketing concept for Back to School Sale Design with Alarm Clock, Colorful Pencil, Brush and other Learning Items on Square Grid and

6 Steps to Prepare for Your Back-to-School Sale

Summer is here, but for savvy small business owners, now is the best time to start thinking about the back-to-school season. Back-to-school season is often a wonderful opportunity for small business owners to boost revenue and engage with your community. Don’t let the “lazy days of summer” fool you. It’s so important to plan during the summer months for a successful back-to-school sale.

Why Back-to-School Sales Are Essential for Small Businesses

Parents, guardians, and children in the United States spent an estimated total of $41.5 billion during the back-to-school shopping season last year. This translates to roughly $890 per American household. Therefore, hosting a back-to-school sale is likely a prime opportunity to boost your bottom line following summer vacations and perhaps lackluster sales.

The benefits of a back-to-school sale reach beyond the potential for an immediate revenue boost. Your business will also benefit from increased foot and/or online traffic and increased brand awareness and engagement around your brand. Both of which support growing your loyal customer base. 

When to Start Planning

Begin your planning in early summer to allow ample time for strategizing, implementation, and promotion. Doing so will support you in maximizing the brand awareness and revenue potential of the shopping season.

How to Create a Successful Back-to-School Sale

If running a back-to-school sale is new to you, it might feel overwhelming. Follow these six steps and you’ll be well on your way to hosting your first (or next) back-to-school sale!

1. Define Your Target Audience

When you think of the current audience(s) you serve, which segment is most likely to positively respond to a back-to-school sale? Before continuing to the next step, fully describe who you are targeting.

2. Offer Compelling Discounts and Promotions

Now that you have defined your audience, what discounts or promotions will resonate with this audience the most? Below are a few ideas to consider. You might also ask a few of your favorite clients or fans to share their favorite promotions.

  • Attractive Discounts: Entice customers with significant markdowns on popular back-to-school items or services.  
  • Bundle Deals: Encourage larger purchases by offering discounts on combined items. 
  • Buy One, Get One (BOGO) Offers: Increase your sales volume with BOGO deals. Decide ahead if you will honor one item at fifty percent off. Include these details on any coupons or marketing materials. 
  • Doorbuster Deals: For fast sales in a limited time, offer a few limited-time, deeply discounted items to attract customers to your store or website.

3. Create a Back-to-School Atmosphere for Your Campaign Assets

When preparing your marketing concept, consider the tone you want to set for your audience. Be creative in how you can incorporate the back-to-school concept into your online and print marketing materials, email sales flyers, and if you have a brick-and-mortar store, your sales area.

Once you have your concept, design marketing collateral using visuals that appeal to your target audience and carry this into your social media campaigns, print ads, and relevant website pages.

This is a great opportunity to collaborate with influencers who might promote your products or services to their engaged audience.

4. Extend Your Reach

Now that you have your campaign assets, be sure to utilize your website, social media, and email newsletters to promote your sale. To reach an even wider audience, also consider flyers, in-store signage, and local advertising.

To extend your reach further, get creative! Take time and consider who you can partner with. Are there local schools or non-profits that benefit school-age children to whom you could donate a portion of your sales? Are there exclusive discounts you can offer to students or staff of a specific school? Are there other business owners you could cross-promote with?  Could your business be a backpack collection point for less fortunate families that need a little help?  

5. Consider Unique Approaches

Because back-to-school sales are known to have success, they are also common. How can you make your business sale stand out? Again, put on your creative hat and have some fun! Here are two ideas to get you started.

  • Organize a fun event at your store with special discounts, activities, and refreshments to create excitement and attract families. Include fun giveaways to entice more of your audience into your store.
  • Collaborate with another business to bring your goods and services to their location. This can be a win-win for you, the businesses you partner with, and your audience.

6. Evaluate Your Resources

Back-to-school season is a busy time for both parents and small businesses. Before your big sale, review your staffing, inventory, and marketing resources to ensure your business is ready to handle increased demand.

For expert guidance on developing and executing a winning back-to-school strategy, contact Autumn Edmiston at Edmiston Group. With expertise in marketing, strategic planning, and business development, we can help you navigate this back-to-school season.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh-based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

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