As students, teachers, and parents prepare for another school year, owners of small technology and IT businesses have a tremendous opportunity to bring in new revenue. Sure, it's easy to see how large electronics retailers can benefit from back-to-school sales, but smaller businesses can also tap into the market of returning students and teachers. (For more tips on growing your IT firm, check out our Business Tips section.)
Capitalize on the Back-to-School Season
Here's a look at four ways small tech firms can capitalize on the back-to-school season to increase revenue.
#1: Target Teachers, Students, and Parents in Back-to-School Promotions
Whether you design apps, repair computers, or offer consulting services, you have something to offer students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Take some time to identify school-specific needs that you can meet, then target your potential clients by…
- Making arrangements with local colleges to set up demonstrations of products or booths outlining your services at beginning-of-semester fairs or other events when local businesses introduce themselves to students.
- Offering a free seminar for local teachers demonstrating how they can use various types of technology in the classroom.
- Winning over parents with offers for bundled products or services - say, giving a discount for a semester's worth of as-needed repairs.
#2: Play to Your Strength: Personalize the Experience
While big box stores may be able to undercut you on prices, they often can't offer the type of personal customer service smaller businesses excel at. Win over the student body (and their parents) by…
- Offering referral discounts or bonuses. Students are often broke, so any way they can save money (or help their friends save money) helps get them through the door.
- Supporting the things they care about. Build brand recognition by sponsoring a local sports team or other event at a college or high school. This helps establish your business as an invested part of the community.
- Keeping student-friendly hours. If you serve primarily a college clientele, late-night hours might be more important than those in the early morning. Be aware of busy times (e.g., finals and midterms), and offer extra hours when they'll be most appreciated.
#3: Educate Your Clients and Prospective Clients - For Free
Winning long-term clients isn't just about selling great products or services. It's about establishing relationships that go beyond the transaction. One way to build relationships is to educate the people in your target audience about how your products or services can make their lives better.
Offer back-to-school promotions that include…
- Brochures, newsletters, emails, or a website explaining the basics of cyber safety for college students and their parents. Most people are aware that they should be concerned about cyber security, but few understand how to actually protect themselves.
- Tips for taking efficient notes during lectures. With the help of a word processor or audio recorder, students who understand technology can take excellent notes that help them throughout their college careers.
- Address elementary school students (and prepare literature for their parents) about staying safe online. This message will be more about protecting them from predators than keeping their credit card info out of the hands of criminals. (More information about warding off data breaches.)
#4: Advertise for an Intern or Part-Time Employee at Local Schools
Finally, consider partnering with a high school or college to bring in part-time workers or interns. This helps your business in three ways: first, it gets your name out there to potential clients; second, it builds goodwill with the larger community of students and parents; and third, it lets you bring in additional manpower when you don't need a fulltime employee.
Manage Your Risks as You Grow
As you launch promotions for the new school year, keep in mind that with any new product or service comes the potential for new risks. Be sure your business is ready to handle the influx of customers that a popular promotion might bring.
Writtten by Brenna Lemieux - check her out at Google+ or Twitter