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Think Outside the Pencil Box – 6 Ideas for Back to School Marketing

6 Ideas for Back to School MarketingIt’s that time of year again. Store aisles everywhere are festooned with crayons, glue, and stacks of composition notebooks. Retailers begin planning their back-to-school campaigns for books, supplies, electronics, and clothing well ahead of time, and with good reason: According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 44.5% of shoppers do their back-to-school shopping three weeks to one month before school starts.

So how can your business take advantage of this season? You may not sell erasers or book bags, but you can definitely turn the hype to your advantage. Here are six ideas to help you plan your own back-to-school marketing ideas.

1. Think outside the pencil box.

Some businesses can make an easy connection between school and their product or service: discounts or special offers on tutoring, school supplies, or educational software are obvious. Does it seem like too much of a stretch for your business? With a little imagination, anything can have a back-to-school spin: Cleaning supplies for dorm rooms or classroom. Personal services that save time at a hectic time of year. Think about how you can help.

2. Back to school = the end of summer.

Labor Day is coming up. It’s time for a last hurrah for summertime fun. Some of your customers are enjoying back-to-school time, while some may be plugging their ears and singing “la la la” to avoid school reminders. How can you help customers enjoy these last precious summer days?

3. Don’t forget college students.

It’s not just younger kids buying washable markers and glittery sneakers. In August, students and parents are packing, buying supplies for dorms and apartments, and planning for a long drive. Young adults are on the verge of a major next step even if they’ve not living away from home. Parents are getting ready for empty nesting and maybe more freedom and leisure time. How can your service or product help?

4. Teachers are customers too.

Teachers are having a hectic time right now. Offer them something special to show how much they’re appreciated in your community: a discount, a freebie, even just a special shout-out to teachers on social media.

5. Team up with schools

A while ago we wrote about partnering with nonprofits. Now is the time for your business to reach out to your local school and its parent group. Some ideas include school supply drives, sponsorships that get your logo on t-shirts and banners, and fundraising events such as restaurant nights or special shopping days. Never turn down a chance to make a great impression in your community.

6. Share back-to-school stories.

Here’s where storytelling comes in again. Do you have customers or employees that are students, or have kids going back to school? Are you nostalgic (or not) for your school days? Take the ideas above and use them not only for special promotions or sales, but for building your brand. Take advantage of social media such as Facebook and Twitter for storytelling. Newsletters and blog posts let you get more in-depth with your back-to-school stories. Going to school is a big deal for many students and families; now is the time to make an emotional connection with them.

At back-to-school time, consumers (and businesses) are finishing up vacations and getting back to work with refreshed vigor. It’s not just about pencils, erasers, and spiral-bound notebooks. Whether you’re a consumer business or B2B, you can find a way to work back-to-school time into your marketing plans—and your brand.