school busAlthough the kids don’t want to hear it, back to school time is fast approaching. Many states offer tax free shopping weekends to spur economic growth and give shoppers a well needed break for their wallets. For Small Businesses, this can be a great opportunity to drum up some business and increase traffic both in-store and online. Here are some suggestions for taking advantage of tax free weekend in your business.

Use Social Media to announce special offers and discounts. Let people know that you are doing something special and give them a reason to come into your store. Shoppers love a bargain, and even a small incentive may drive enough foot traffic to offset any discount that you provide. Once customers are in your location, encourage them to join your mailing list (this helps you promote the next sale), ask them to follow you on Facebook and or Twitter, and to rate your business of sites like Yelp and Foursquare. An easy way to get their friends involved is to offer them a small discount or gift for tweeting out or updating their status with a message that you provide, such as “I did my tax free shopping at Your Business Name!”. Be sure that they actually post the message to their timeline before punching in the discount.

Make sure your information is correct. Is your website up to date? Now is the time to make sure that operating hours are correct, and your phone number and address are easy to find. If you’re adding extra hours, be sure to let customers know this by posting the information prominently on your website. If you run an e-commerce website, make sure that the sales tax settings are correct.

Set the stage for return visits. Give shoppers a reason to visit you after the sale is over. Give them a coupon for a discount for a future purchase in the weeks following the tax free weekend. If they are making a purchase on your website, offer free shipping on the next order if you don’t already do so—it may encourage them to make an even larger purchase.

What you don’t have anything special for back to school? Even if your business isn’t typically considered part of the back to school frenzy, you can use the occasion to remind people of the services that you do offer. Parents will be driving their kids back to school. If you sell tires, encourage them to stop by for a free tire safety inspection. With kids back in school, perhaps Mom will have a little more time on her hands. Now is the time to let her know about your mid-morning relaxation treatments at your Spa.

With Summer vacation almost over, back to school may be a sad time for children. However, it can be a great time for your small business. The same tools that you use to effectively promote your small business during the tax free shopping weekend, can also be used to drive traffic in the upcoming holiday season. If you don’t have your strategy in place, there’s no need to panic. There’s still a little time to do your homework and refine it before the school-bell rings.