Last-Minute Tips to Capture Back-to-School Sales
As consumers, thinking about back-to-school (BTS) is the last thing we want in summer’s waning days. As marketers, however, we must always be one to two seasons ahead, preparing campaigns for successful execution. Still, there are some last-minute guidelines to remember as students — and retail marketers — go back to school.
Any final preparation must help make our brands top of mind amidst all other brands’ BTS products and services. While there's a big focus to pitch your brand’s top products of the season, you need to remain customer-centric and always keep the customer experience top of mind. Along with products, your campaigns should focus on an acquisition strategy, geographic location and lifestyle stage.
If you're acquiring customers for the first time during BTS, you'll want to make sure you nurture them, as well as get to know them. The goal is to convert them into a year-round customer, while understanding what BTS products caught their attention. You could have them take a survey to learn more about what types of products and services interest them, while collecting personal information to better market to them.
Depending on where your customers live, they could be ready to be fully engaged with BTS messaging on July 1 (customers living in the South), or want to learn more about your summer line (customers living in the Northeast). While value and messaging should be consistent throughout your campaign, adhere to the timing of who receives what and when. Once all customers (or rather, your customers’ children) are back in school, you could do a follow-up campaign to show everyone the type of style that was most popular around the country, and have customers compare to see if their style type matches their location.
Using existing customer BTS purchase data should be your biggest asset to stand out from other brands. Knowing the ages of the children along with the styles, colors and sizes that have been purchased in the past can give your brand a leg up in experiential marketing. Brands can leverage this data to promote products based on what the child’s age/size/school year is going to be. In addition, you could put fun facts about the grade the child is entering to show that you value them as a customer.
While parents are primarily the ones doing the shopping, your campaigns should still be fun for everyone. Keep your brand’s values and messaging consistent, but tailor the execution to the customer’s lifestyle stage. Below are some examples of BTS campaigns that you can use to involve customers of different lifestyle stages:
- 13 years and older: Enter a social media contest! Send in a picture to Instagram or Facebook wearing the latest line of BTS products, and enter to win a $200 gift card along with the chance of being in future communications.
- College students: Give back to your school! The university that purchases the most BTS products could win the chance of getting $15,000 donated for scholarships. Enter a social media contest to tell us why your school deserves to have a day where our brand takes over the campus.
- Parents/teachers: Email and/or direct mail promoting 5 percent of every purchase will go to a charity of their choice (customers can choose from one of three charities at purchase).
If you can build a relationship with the younger generation and continue to market to them as they enter different lifestyle stages, you'll be well on your way to keeping them as a best customer.
In true summer reading fashion, here are the Cliffs Notes if you just skipped to the end:
Back-to-School Campaign Cheat Sheet
- Use data to create a unique marketing experience.
- Create a unique acquisition strategy to keep them as a year-round customer.
- Keep geographic location in mind when launching.
- Market based on lifestyle stage.
- Keep it fun!
Speaking of fun, here was one of my favorite BTS campaigns when I was growing up.