Back-to-School Marketing 101—10 Tips and Trends

No matter where you shop on a regular basis—online or in person, it’s likely you’ve seen several displays and/or advertisements for school supplies and college dorm room accessories since mid-July. 

Back-to-school season is one of the most significant retail dates after the holidays. In fact, the global school and college supplies market is valued at $108.1 billion and is expected to increase by almost $15.12 billion by 2024.

That said, if your business is in an industry that could benefit from back-to-school marketing, continue reading for some of the best tips and hottest trends going around.

7 Marketing Tips for Back-to-School Season 

1. Send Back-to-School Promotional Postcards

Direct mail is actually one of the most effective marketing tactics for college-aged Americans. Sending back-to-school postcards—whether it be for recruitment or the promotion of a product—is a promising way to engage current and future students before fall semester begins.

>>> Related Resource: How to Plan Perfect Promotional Postcards For Prospective Students

2. Launch Seasonal Marketing Efforts On Time

Although most schools are heading back to class now, it’s important to research when the peak shopping season is for your market region—and for some, that happens to be after school is in session. It’s common for teachers and professors to provide a supply list on the first day back. So instead of launching your campaign mid-July, consider making the big push toward the end of August. 

3. Update Marketing Graphics to a Seasonal Aesthetic

Giving your customers a seasonal feel with a uniquely themed design is a great way to lean into back-to-school marketing. Whether it’s redesigning your storefront to match the back-to-school aesthetic, or updating your homepage with seasonal messages and visuals, this is a great tactic to bring in new traffic. 

4. Implement a Multichannel Marketing Campaign

Using a multichannel marketing campaign during back-to-school season will help you cover all your bases. Your marketing efforts don’t need to stop at direct mail—you can hit your target audience with a double-whammy by implementing a display advertising campaign after they receive their mail.

>>> Learn how Associates International can help you get your first multichannel campaign up and running

5. Put Together a Giveaway

Gen-Z and Millennials thrive off of giveaways because it helps them identify your brand and reminds them of your business when they’re ready to make a purchase. Consider running a back-to-school contest or giveaway to get your target customers involved with your brand. 

6. Launch a Back-to-School Sale

Let’s face it, we all love a good sale—which is why businesses need to take advantage of this opportunity to draw people to their brand. Think about it: Unless you have brand loyalty, when you’re in a store and see folders or pens on sale, you’re likely going to choose the less expensive option. 

7. Participate in Sales Tax Holidays

In the mix of all the other businesses doing similar back-to-school marketing, one of the greatest ways to get your brand noticed is by participating in a sales tax holiday. Sixteen states across the country take part in the back-to-school sales tax initiative. However, there are only certain products that qualify—get yours included on that list to stand out against your competition.

Top 3 Back-to-School Marketing Trends

  1. Influencer Marketing
    Today’s online creators have the authenticity consumers are looking for. This provides your brand the ample opportunity to drive the right kind of engagement in a targeted way by allowing influencers to tell their own authentic stories. Whether it be leveraging an influencer’s following or implementing a paid campaign with them, using these familiar faces that students are already loyal to is the perfect way to enhance your back-to-school efforts.
  1. Online Shopping
    Research shows 30.3% of U.S. parents said they were already planning to shop online for their back-to-school needs, with another 8.1% planning to take advantage of curbside pickup. That said, it’s important to go out of your way to make the online shopping experience on your website top notch so consumers remember your brand this time next year. Creating a simple and modern user experience will help keep your brand top-of-mind—and when you utilize retargeting ads as part of your digital marketing strategy, your target’s most recent visit to your site won’t be their last.
  1. Relatable Shopping Experience
    Going into the new school year looks different for everyone. It’s important to keep this in mind as you’re creating back-to-school products and marketing them. To create a customized experience for your audience, show how your products can benefit them and meet their unique needs. Do this by reflecting your target audience (e.g. college students or grade-school children) in your marketing visuals.

Back-to-School Starts Now

It’s never too late to implement one (or more) of these back-to-school marketing campaigns—especially when you work with a vendor that moves quickly like Associates International. Reach out to us today for help in getting your efforts up and running.

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