It’s Time to Start Preparing Your Back to College Marketing Promotional Strategies

Student Brand Ambassadors
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It is never too early to start planning for back to school season and ways to promote your brand and product during this busy time of year. According to the National Retail Federation, the average family will spend more freely on school, college and dorm supplies. The 2016 total expected spend for K-12 and college was $75.8 billion, which is up from 2015’s $68 billion spend. The annual NRF survey concluded that 50% of back to college shoppers will start shopping three weeks to one month before coming back to school. With the end of the spring semester ahead, it is important to start looking at tips to prep for promoting your brand for the start of the fall semester. Here are some of the most successful back to school tips and promotions.

  • Be helpful and attentive

Prepping to head back to school can be a stressful time for both parents and students. Nicole Gardner, Dormify’s COO recommends that business owners personalize their back to school campaigns to highlight how their brand or service is helpful to their daily routine. She said, “Be helpful. It’s a stressful time for many parents and full of anxiety for students. Offer resources and accommodate customer requests when you can. Figure out if you’re speaking to the student or the parent and adjust your tone, messaging and your offers accordingly. Use all the customer data you have and get hyper-targeted; we find email to be the most effective marketing channel for accomplishing this.”

  • Coupons and discounts are attractive offers

Mike Catania, CTO of Promotion Code, recommends coupons as an effective strategy for local businesses. “Because they’re local, these businesses can tailor their offers not only to a specific school name (to build associative brand recognition), but they can also provide tiered offers based on grade levels. For example, a coupon offer that gives X percent storewide (where X represents the grade level of the incoming student) has been an extremely popular offer.” Celebrating students is another way to create positive buzz around your brand. Doug Messer, CEO of University Beyond said the company’s most successful back to school promotion was a holiday they created.

“We call it National Student Discount Day, and last year we had over 100 brands participate. On August 24, 2016, all participating brands came together to promote our website via Twitter, drive a mass audience to view and use the available discounts and sign up for our site.”


  • Promoting back to school outside of retail

Many back to school promotions rely on retail and online shops, but brands that offer services or other intangible products can still capitalize on the back to school season. For tutoring services, delivery services and other brands, it is important to recognize the strength of marketing your products around back to school. Run contests, visit student clubs, have a booth at fall activity fairs or advertising your services in the student newspaper are all effective ways to spread the message about your brand.

Ready to Get Started?

Download our back-to-school spending survey