Ask the Experts: Back-to-School Marketing Is All About Social

Back-to-school season is here; is your retail business prepared?

In an ideal world, you would have had a back-to-school marketing plan ready to execute starting back in April. But let’s be honest, as a local business owner, you’re juggling multiple things at once and sometimes your planning isn’t as up-to-date as you’d like it to be. Never fear — we asked a slew of marketing experts about how to plan the best back-to-school marketing plan for local retailers, and their resounding advice was social.

With social media, you can get a campaign up and running pretty quickly, so even if you’re a bit behind with your back-to-school marketing, you can still make a big impact. See what advice the experts had to offer.

“One of the best ways local retailers can compete against big-box stores is via social advertising. What other marketing channel allows you to geographically target an area most likely to walk into your store and specific demographics that align with your prospective customer base? Not only can social advertising on Facebook and Twitter drive in-store traffic, but it also provides a cost-effective way of building brand awareness and social engagements through likes, shares and comments. 

These engagements are important in driving social proof and peer-to-peer engagements. As always, consumers rely on the reviews and thoughts of their network when it comes to finding deals and the best places to shop. By driving likes, comments, shares and overall engagements via social advertising, local retailers can harness the power of this peer-to-peer marketing to impact their businesses.”

-Andy Groller, VP of Advertising, DragonSearch


“We have helped several local businesses drive more local traffic during the back-to-school shopping season. For example, we have a client that owns a local retail shop and he needed to drive more traffic to the establishment for the upcoming season. In April, we launched a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter that promoted their upcoming back-to-school sales, free shipping, and exclusive discounts. We recommend that any business starts promoting for a shopping season early as possible. By offering his customers coupons and free shipping before many of the other retailers, he was able to reach his shopping season revenue goals.”

-Rachel Coley, Founder & CEO, The Brandiful Group


“My tip for small businesses to draw in sales for back-to-school shopping is to run a boosted Facebook offer. Parents are generally looking for discounts, coupons and sales when shopping for back to school. Offer a discount, such as 10 percent off or $20 off your purchase of $100 or more. Use the offer option on Facebook to create this and boost it for $20 to start. Make sure to target parents in your area.”

-Tracy Willis, Content Strategist, N2Q Consulting


“Start acknowledging the customers you already have on Instagram, and encourage Instagram shares through a simple bonus program. Many, many back-to school shoppers have Instagram installed on their phones, and anytime they have a great experience at a restaurant, a retail location or a place where their kids are playing, they pull out their phone, take a picture and automatically tag that location in their photo. When people tag this location, they're providing social proof to their friends. They're saying ‘Look at all the great stuff that's happening here.’”

-Spencer Smith, Principal, Spencer X Smith Consulting


“Use Facebook's Local Awareness Ads and detailed targeting to hit your ideal personas. Facebook's advertising and audience targeting has gotten incredibly specific over the years. Small retailers could now target parents of children ages 5-12 within 5 miles of their store. If their offer can compete with the big players, or if they can strike a chord with their campaign, they can win. Reviews also come into play here as well. You can spend less 
than $100 and make thousands of impressions.”

-Andrew Choco, VP of Marketing, Directive Consulting

This is part 3 of 5 in our Back-To-School blog series. Make sure to check out the other posts here:

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