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Back-to-School Marketing Basics for 2021 & Beyond

September 7, 2021

marketing basics
Back to school is a signature, seasonal marketing push and a major sales driver for many companies’ Q4 (one of the best behind the sales jubilee that is the holiday season). However, since the onset of COVID, back to school has had a much different look and feel to it. 
While this year may be more lax when it comes to social distancing and remote coursework, it still exhibits a “new normal” that we’re all still getting used to. So how do you effectively capitalize on the marketing frenzy that is back to school, and should you even spend time and effort on it? Read on for some much-needed answers. 

Is It Worth It?

First things first, is it worth jumping on the back-to-school bandwagon for your brand? The answer can be found easy enough—if you know what you’re looking for. 
If you’re in a traditionally associated market, the answer is probably yes. Especially if you have an ecommerce component or are an ecommerce-exclusive retailer or service provider. While typical back-to-school specials are now in the rearview, there’s still a chance to snag those oh-so-coveted conversions in other ways. 
For instance, this is still the peak season for consumers who are late to the party for back-to-school basics like clothing and stationery. It’s also an opportune time to capitalize on season-specific messaging, such as school-associated parties, banquets, sports events, and more. 
In fact, if you’re school or student-affiliated in any way, your marketing should definitely show it. It might even drive heavy-hitting talking points you want your customer base to hear. For example, a ministry that works with private Christian schools will want to continue targeting key clientele. They can do this by emphasizing the back-to-school season with the schools and institutes they’re actively trying to converse with. Additionally, nonprofits that have a stake in student-centered, child-centered, or school-affiliated programming in some way or another will want to play up that aspect now and in the near future. 
Conversely, if you have no real tie to school-related functions or considerations, putting valuable marketing dollars behind a back-to-school campaign shouldn’t be a top priority for you. If you can’t readily justify it, don’t. Be strategic with your marketing, rather than arbitrarily tactile and/or tangible. Essentially, don’t just throw money into something in the hopes of a one-off chance that you might make money from it. 

What Trends Are Topping the Charts this Year?

Cost & Convenience. The fact of the matter remains this: People are still cost-conscious first, even in a back-to-school climate. The pandemic’s financial after-effects are still being felt to a degree by most. Because of this, many would-be consumers will be on the lookout for deals anywhere they can get them—and will be sparing with the money they do spend. If you’re not a direct consumer retailer, it’s still good to have this in the back of your mind and even in the front of your marketing. 
Additionally, convenience tops the trends this season. With the hurdles the past year-and-a-half have had, consumers want convenience from their back-to-school basics, as well as other key products and services you might provide. They want efficiency as well as cost-effectiveness. Thankfully, digital marketing practically builds convenience into messaging, targeting the customers or clientele you directly want to reach—and who actually want to hear from you. 
Easy Access. Convenience’s close relative, accessibility, is something that appeals to this year’s back-to-school crowd as well. Many have become accustomed to online shopping and buying—something 2020 all but necessitated. If you have an ecommerce presence, you’re already speaking consumers’ love language. Advance that even further with perks and/or pluses—such as free delivery for online purchases, curbside store pickup, BOGO bundles, and more. 

Utilize Digital Marketing to Your Advantage

One final note: you can use new trends and tools in digital marketing to help fuel your campaigns. For instance, TikTok has made significant inroads with younger generations. Plus, you can amplify your campaign without much front-end effort by repurposing existing collateral through things like Instagram Reels. If you’re not up to speed on either of these, not to worry. We can help you navigate the ever-changing landscape that is digital marketing in order to get your marketing where you want it to be. Reach out to us today for a no-hassle chat regarding your marketing!