If your back-to-school marketing strategy launches in late summer and wraps up after the first bell rings, it's time to re-think your approach. Take a moment to embrace a wider view of students. Sure, there's the elementary through high school population, but what about traditional and non-traditional college students or graduate school? Students attending schools that are in-service year-round is something to consider, as well. Marketing campaigns running from July through August are often too narrow in focus to include everyone who's heading to classes. Here's what to do.
Why Consider a Year-round Strategy?
It's common to focus on school marketing campaigns one to two months before the first day of public school sessions. This selling season is second only to holiday spending. In 2016, retailers ranked in $75.8 billion dollars in back-to-school sales, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). How could this number change if the season was extended?
The NRF explained in a separate report that 48 percent of families with children in grades K-12 completed school shopping as of early August last year. This meant many marketers were launching their promotions too late. On the other hand, college students continue to buy supplies through Labor Day to make spending easier on their budgets. They often wait to find out what specialty items they need after a week or two of classes, then stock up on those items plus the basics.
Now add in summer classes, eight-week expedited college courses and specialty senior citizen classes at local colleges, and you have students looking for supplies every month of the year. By considering a year-round strategy, you'll extend and customize your promotions and capture the attention of this diverse population.
Implementing a New Marketing Approach
Rather than putting a general back-to-school slant on your promotions, target your messages specifically to your key customer base. Look at the age groups, education levels and interests to customize the approach.
For example, is your product popular among retirees? Then use language that reflects non-traditional students such as "lifelong learning courses," "back to college" or even "classes for seniors." The corresponding imagery shouldn't reflect chalkboards, pencils and alphabet learning. Instead, use photos of senior citizens in a classroom setting and wording that encourages them to use your products or services to further their higher education experiences.
The NRF found that K-12 back-to-school purchasing is driven by coupons, in-store promotions and sales fliers — all items that can be digitized and shared on social media, blogs and website pages. Buyers are listening and ready to be presented with some great offers.
Create and implement a back-to-school marketing strategy that makes the grade with your target audience. Doing this early on can improve your bottom line.