How to Prepare Your Business for Back to School

Kathy Comella

Kathy Comella About The Author

August 13, 2020 at 11:30 AM

How to Prepare Your Business for Back to SchoolThe back-to-school season is quickly approaching and for many businesses, this is an incredibly hectic time. Parents and teachers are trying to decide what is most important for them to have as the year begins. While the nature of how people will return to the traditional classroom this year is still undetermined, students will still go back in some form. Teachers, parents, and kids must prepare for the upcoming school year. Likewise, businesses must be prepared for the back-to-school rush. As regulations continue to change, you are still able to be prepared for whatever the first day of half of the school year will look like.

The needs for this year look different than ever, and it’s imperative that all parties have everything they need to stay safe and productive as we adjust to a new normal. While education looks different this year, and some things are still up in the air, this is still a busy time for all. Here are some ways your business can prepare for the upcoming school year.

Positioning Your Business in the Back to School Rush

You want your business to actively be in front of consumers who are shopping for the approaching school season. As parents and teachers are shopping for the necessities for the upcoming year, you want your business to be the one that comes to mind. Take a look at your business and consider what you have to offer your consumers. Do you have products and services that they will need for the upcoming school year? Now is the time to run a promotion that will allow parents and students to take advantage of those options. For example, offer a deal where sanitation products are given at a discount or as a BOGO when a certain item is purchased. Do you offer services that can help make the educational journey easier? Highlight them as the school year approaches.

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Parents, teachers and students all have different needs and your ads will need to address each of them in order for you to be successful.  Find out what they are looking for and let them know that you have it. . Parents, for example, might be searching for deals on products that will make learning from home easier. While teachers might be interested in products and services that can help them keep their classrooms safe and clean as students return. As an industry leader, you must appeal to both in order to maximize your sales.

As you position your business for the back-to-school rush, consider the trends likely to appear in the upcoming year. Students may need to plan for both in-person and online learning. Where does your business fit into that equation? What can you offer that will help appeal to parents who might be concerned about sending their children back to school in person? What about those worried about managing online learning? Focus on those answers as you prepare your marketing materials for the season. 

Preparing for the Influx

Every year, during the back-to-school season, many stores experience an influx of business. To prepare for the rush, have more inventory on hand to fill the needs of your customers, and make a plan to handle increased purchasing of in-demand items. For example, some stores may want to consider limiting the number of units one shopper can buy of a particular item. Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes are likely to be highly popular this year. Likewise, many teachers and parents may be looking for mask options for their children, making them a hot item that will continue to sell quickly. Carefully consider the inventory you will need to prepare your business for this season and make sure you have the right quantities available. 

Running a Promotion

Take into consideration the unique needs of this particular season since they are different from years past. What are you offering that can be of use this school year? Maybe it’s a popular item that is always a hit during this season, or maybe it’s something unusual you are offering because of the circumstances. Can you bundle those products or offer a discount that will appeal to the back-to-school shopper? Offering bundle deals can provide convenience and assistance for parents and teachers, especially those who may need to utilize order pickups. For example, if your store offers back-to-school supplies, consider running a bundle promotion for teachers returning to their classroom that they can pick up curbside. This could include sanitary products and bulk quantities of everyday items like pencils, paper, folders, and name tags. 

While you're considering the promotions you want to run during this season, you may also want to do good for your community. Consider running a school supply drive or offering a specific educator discount. While many people might not be shopping in stores, and usual in-person events may be cancelled, these options can be easily offered virtually. For example, when checking out online, provide an option for them to add a pre-filled backpack to their order that will be donated to a student in need. Not only will this help get your name out in the community, but it will also help those in your area who are having difficulty. You can also support local organizations that provide computers to children doing distanced learning by donating a portion of the proceeds from each sale to help get laptops to students in need.

Advertising Your Offers

When it comes time to advertise your offers, you have plenty of marketing opportunities. You can opt for a TV commercial, run digital ads, or even send out emails to past customers. Evaluate when your ads should run based on when kids are returning to school or beginning remote learning sessions. It’s also important to consider how long and where your ads should run. Being strategic and taking into account the behaviors of your target audience is key in making those determinations.

Working closely with a local media partner can give you a better idea of the channels and platforms you need to use in order to effectively reach your target audience. Keep in mind that, when it comes to back-to-school ads, you want to target both teachers and parents. Parents are going to be looking for deals where they can buy all of their children’s school supplies in one place, at an affordable cost. Whereas teachers are going to be looking to shop in bulk to supply and decorate their classrooms, as well as provide learning tools, and cleaning products. Make sure that your messaging aligns with those who can benefit from what you have to offer. 

The back-to-school rush can be an incredibly beneficial time for your business. While the nature of how students will be returning to school seems to be changing constantly due to COVID, we do know that they will in some way. This is a great chance to position your company as one that supports families and teachers, and wants to help give students the best possible back-to-school experience. 

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