Fall is approaching and school will soon be back in session. While this is a relief for many parents, it may create open spots in your appointment book. With a little advance planning you can refresh and recharge for the fall season. Creating back-to-school promotions with themes, retail products, and targeted marketing can be a winning formula. Back-to-school  and back-to-college spending stimulates the economy. In 2015, back-to-school  spending came in at a whopping $68 billion — second only to holiday spending. Below are 12  strategies to help you get your share.

1. Take a Crash Course

Do your homework by identifying the schools and colleges in your immediate area. Research class colors, school colors, mascots, and mottos. Think beyond sports teams to include all school-related activities. The band, drama club, and other school groups are prime targets. You can usually find a school calendar of holidays and special events on the school district’s website. It will help you to plan for events like homecoming, school breaks, and parent-teacher conferences.

2. Highlight New Fall Trends

Create excitement for new fall colors and trends in your nail polish display area. Part of the back-to-school ritual is buying clothes and accessories. What better accessory is there than polish from the latest fall lines? Use scarves, sweaters, footballs, and other fall props to get your clients in the spirit of the season.

3. Decorate Throughout

Don’t limit those reminders of fall to your retail shelves. Freshen up your waiting area and guest bathroom by using themed props such as apples, rulers, #2 pencils, old books, globes, and chalkboards for shelf talkers.

4. Create Nail Art With Spirit

Take your back-to-school promotions to the next level by creating nail designs and color combinations that match the school and class colors in your area. You can get creative by including school mascots in your designs. Students, teachers, parents, and boosters are all your target market. Even schools that require student uniforms can join in on the fun.

5. Let Class Rings Rule

Class rings are an important part of the school scene for both guys and gals. Promotions can target high school students who are sporting their new class rings and also build on the nostalgia of high school days for those parents and clients who can still find their rings. Offer a complimentary add-on service when a client books an appointment and brings in her ring. Be sure to post photos of your clients online as they show off their rings along with their beautiful nail services.

6. Take a Tactical Approach.

Tammy Dennis, owner of Infinity Luxury Salon in Bingen, Wash., targets both students and parents in a single promotion. When a student books a service, a special offer is extended to the parent. Dennis offers a $15 gift card to the parent to use anywhere in the salon. “My goal is to win the parent as a client,” says Dennis. “If the parent is already a client, I add the gift to be used on a service they have never tried.”

7. Dedicate Mornings to Moms

Targeting your promotions to different groups at different times of the day will help fill your appointment book consistently. Morning hours — after the kids are loaded on the bus or dropped off at school — are a great time to reach out to stay-at-home moms and pops as well as mothers of preschoolers. Check your local area for mother’s day out programs, which give a much needed morning break to mothers of young children and create offerings tailored to these groups.

8. Host an After-School Event

Maximize those after-school hours with an event that targets teens, teachers, school employees, and parents. This is a great time for a flash-and-dash mini manicure, a teacher appreciation event, or a “Thank Goodness School Has Started” event to promote your services and retail products. Simple snacks and beverages make it a party. Trendsetting and image-conscious teens can be targeted with a special discount, loyalty program, or referral bonus for bringing in their friends. If you offer spray tanning, waxing, or other non-nail services, you can create a “teen package.”

9. Promote Side-by-Side Services

BFFs from moms to school friends to coworkers will appreciate the chance to catch up and enjoy a side-by-side manicure or pedicure. Include a take-home retail product for both friends to amp up the value of the package. Remember that retail products have a high perceived value well above your wholesale price. Promoting the full retail price in your package makes this a tempting offer.

10. Think Beyond the School Yard

Reach out to community colleges, sororities, and local alumni groups to offer custom packages. You may be able to book an event or group party in addition to just individual services. Hosting nail parties at your location or even on campus can be an income booster. Every town big or small has college sorority and alumni groups. Local groups of retired teachers are active across the country and are also a perfect target group.

11. School Supplies 101

Upcycle! Gather all your smaller sizes of retail products — mini polishes, cuticle oil, nail kits, hand sanitizers, and lotions — and feature them as locker-, backpack-, and briefcase-friendly sizes. By repurposing your summer travel sizes, you can create a display with a back-to-school theme. Take care to make your retail offerings age-specific. According to the most recent Piper Jaffray report Taking Stock With Teens, personal care and accessories spending is second only to food and clothing among this group. Polishes, hand and foot care products, and accessories can all be part of your teen retail mix.

12. Say Rah-Rah for Social Media

Use every social media method you can to promote in pictures and words the excitement a new semester brings. Teens and tweens are naturals when it comes to social media, so encourage them to brag about their visits in their posts. Keep you social account info visible and easy to find.  


Patti Biro is the founder and principal of Patti Biro and Associates (www.pattibiro.com), a consulting firm specializing in brand enrichment through creative special events, retail sales, and education in the beauty, spa, and wellness industry.

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