The back to school season has expanded over the years as different schools have shifted their annual start times. With clientele ranging from elementary-aged children and their parents to high schoolers to college students and instructors of all levels, many different types of businesses can take advantage of this profitable shopping period. By leveraging consumers’ desire to find some great deals, brands can attract ready and willing customers throughout the back to school season and beyond.
While it may seem to some that summer just began, August is just around the corner and this is a crucial time to get things in place for your back to school campaigns. With purposeful planning and thoughtful execution of your marketing strategies, your brand can impress clients in the weeks to come and encourage them to return for the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping season. Here are some ideas for getting your brand ready for back to school.
Social media platforms are excellent channels to get the word out about your back to school sales and specials. Less cumbersome than traditional websites, social media offer shoppers a convenient option for getting the most up-to-date information regarding sales and events.
Create campaigns specifically for Instagram, Facebook, and wherever else your target audience frequents. Include platform-specific codes when you post that consumers may use to receive a discount whether shopping online or in your brick and mortar location. Incentivize loyal followers by offering a discount when they comment, repost, or tag a friend. This strategy will not only encourage consumers to buy from you but will also provide a solid understanding of which social media platforms are driving paying customers through your physical and digital doors.
Speak directly to students in your posts on Instagram and Snapchat. Whether they are spending their own money or shopping with parents, students of all ages have a significant amount of influence on back to school spending. Encourage engagement and gain social proof by asking followers to post pictures of them interacting with your products or services on the social platform. Consider running a contest or rewarding user generated content in some way.
CUSTOMER LOYALTY PROGRAM
Offer benefits for frequent customers or for those consumers who reach a certain spending amount. You can have physical or digital punch cards to help shoppers track their progress towards a reward. Or you can offer gift cards for your store with different card amounts corresponding to how much the consumer has spent. You may want to leave the time frame for both the punch and gift cards open to encourage return shopping during the holiday season. Or, you may opt to require purchasing amounts to be met within a certain window of time to encourage shoppers to take advantage of your current sales and events.
HIGHLIGHT SALES ON ESSENTIALS
The most obvious items to promote are back to school essentials. Clothing, shoes, backpacks, and other bags are common items purchased during this time of year. Work multiple approaches to why students, parents, and teachers should take advantage of your specials whether you appeal to the parents of growing youngsters or the vanity of teenagers who need the latest and greatest styles. A service business can promote back to school haircuts, dentist appointments, manicures, and so on. School supplies are also something to highlight, especially if you can offer unique products to replace more traditional writing utensils and notebooks.
Even if your products or services are not directly related to school, you can create a back to school tie-in with a stretch of the imagination here and there. Home décor, linens, cleaning products, and such are all necessities for the dorm-bound college student. A car detailing business can market a “clean up the summer mess” special for both parents and teachers. In regards to teachers and other educational staff, they’ll jump at end of the season golfing prices, dining discounts, massages, and more. Consider how you might package multiple products or services to ease the shopping process for consumers and to boost your bottom line.
If you have a more adult life centered business, parents are finally heading back to a sense of normal routine after summer vacations and kids home day after day. Back to school season is an excellent time to offer specials on home improvement projects or other services that might have been put off during the busy summer season. Personal care businesses, such as hairdressers, manicurists, and massage therapists can offer discounts on "they've-gone-back to school" appointments.
If you have a brick and mortar location, you should capitalize on your ability to be an active member of your local community. You can involve your brand with area schools, sports teams, or fine arts programs. Sponsor shopping events that benefit specific schools or donate items for the summer Booster Club events.
You can also team up with other local businesses, especially those whose products or services complement your own, to sponsor a back to school promotion or event. Collaborating with other organizations offers excellent cross-promotion opportunities not only in person but also through email marketing and social media efforts.
EVENTS AND CONTESTS
We mentioned above, the idea of hosting an event to attract customers. Campus bookstores, bars, and coffee shops can benefit from hosting back to school trivia nights, open-mic sessions, or school themed movie screenings. Ensure your event is well attended by marketing the details ahead of time.
Contests are an excellent way to increase sales and generate buzz about your brand. A student-related contest is a natural option for a back to school themed contest. Or, depending on your products or services, hosting a teacher-themed contest might make more sense. Whoever your target audience, keep the focus on summer vacation or back to school.
If you have a solid working relationship with any other area businesses, you could pool your resources to offer more exciting prizes and to generate even more interest and sales. While ecommerce-based businesses might need to get crazy creative to run an event, an online contest is easy work. Create a contest related hashtag and use your social media platform of choice to create interest and excitement about your brand and to collect reusable user generated content.
It is important to figure out all of the logistics of your contest before it begins. Understand any contest rules that exist for the social platform you are using, create and post official rules, terms, and conditions of your contest, and ensure that your plan complies with any relative rules in your state.
Social media – communicate directly with your target groups and offer platform-specific deals.
Customer loyalty program – give consumers a reason to spend more and keep shopping with you even after we’ve made it through the back to school season.
Highlight sales on essentials – if your business is in the business of traditional back to school items, focus your marketing on those products. If you are a bit outside those traditional items, get creative!
Ancillary deals – as we said, get creative and offer back to school-related specials to people who may not be personally involved in education but that are impacted in the change of seasons just the same.
Community – be an active part of your community so consumers think of you throughout the year, not just when you have back to school sales banners hung.
Events and contests – people love the idea of coming together to celebrate just about anything and events can help consumers see the people and the story behind the brand. And contests, well, who doesn’t love the chance to win something?
The only real limit in regards to your back to school marketing campaigns is your imagination. Stay focused on the segments of your target audience that will realize the value of the deals you are offering. Help them see how your products or services will positively impact their lives as they head into the fall. Highlight the back-to-school season in your physical store, on your landing pages, social media posts, and email marketing campaigns.
The team at Strategy Driven Marketing understands how important it is to make the most of shopping seasons throughout the year. We also understand the importance of continuously working towards increased brand awareness and keeping the conversion rate as high as possible, regardless of the sales season.
We’d love to learn more about your business and help you create and execute a specifically tailored marketing plan that works for your brand throughout the calendar year. Start now to have your brand ready for back to school shoppers of all ages. Contact us today to get started!