How To Find NEW Approaches For OLD Back To School Marketing Strategies

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Summer is almost over and September is usually the month when everyone wakes up and picks up where they left off before those long hot days arrived. Back to school (BTS) is both an exciting and stressful period for almost everyone around, especially students and their parents. If you are into business of any kind, you surely weren’t  docile during this period, even though most of your clients may have been. Work flow may have been running slower than usual, but you were preparing for the busyness coming up.

Anyone who is a provider of any kind of goods or services can profit from BTS season if they are strategic and plan their campaigns on time. Whatever business you’re in, you can always offer endless types of promotions, discounts, sales, giveaways, special services applicable for this fairly wide target audience.The question is, do you know when to kick off with your BTS strategy?

Instead of giving last minute marketing tips I decided to go with a different approach of researching who your BTS consumers really are, combined with some traditional marketing strategies in order to find a perfect combination for more successful Back To School Seasons in the years that are yet to come.

BTS Strategy Should Cover A Whole Year

The huge mistake that most Marketers make is to push everything to these two-three months before school starts (and maybe some September one’s for last minute shoppers) when they should be researching, strategizing and making money throughout the whole school year. Whether you want to target younger students or college students, you need to realize that they, their teachers and their parents (family members) can be and are customers year round.

It’s not all about school supplies and discounts that they can use only for few late Summer weeks, it’s about seeing this season as an opportunity for 365 days of successful sales on the market that has constant needs. You as a business owner and marketer just need to recognize them on time.  

Yes, you should use traditional strategies that incorporate Marketing Campaigns such as:

  1. Social Media promotion and advertising
  2. Customizing your Newsletters
  3. Offering School Product Discounts
  4. Hosting Giveaways
  5. Hosting Seasonal Events
  6. Offering promotional prices for your services for BTS consumers
  7. Reaching schools to sponsor or co-host events
  8. Giving small things for FREE to BTS buyers

The more important move here is to recognize the time and the channels of distribution for your marketing ideas, in order to get the best possible outcome from your target group.

Knowing your BTS Consumers Really Matters

Let’s be realistic –  it’s impossible to satisfy the needs of the whole BTS consumer spectrum. What will be your niche market? Do you know who your perfect consumer really is?  Why waste resources to satisfy everyone, when you can simply choose your perfect audience and focus on optimizing your efforts in that direction.

Understanding diversity of your buyers and their purchasing needs and habits will greatly help you leverage your sales, you just need to do some serious research to get to know them, find channels that will meet their intention and you have to pop-up at the right time for them to spot you. Along with all this, you need to be attractive enough to keep their very short attention span long enough so they don’t scroll away. It’s not all about promoting your offers, there is more to it in finding the right time, ways and places to serve them, especially online places.


So are we talking about Elementary and High School students, or College students? All students will need school supplies, clothes and shoes but college students will need much more. They will probably take their appearance more into consideration, so they will shop for cosmetics and hair supplies as well. But aside from what they need, do we really know the demographics of college students? For instance, traditional concepts of college students are more diverse than ever before. They vary in age, interests and reasons for going to school/college  and let’s focus on that for a while.

Not all students are young (18 to 21). There are more and more parents, and “older” individuals, and by that I mean 30+ that need certain qualifications, or upgrading or simply want to learn new things and make important changes in their personal and business lives. These are usually individuals with families that automatically changes their whole priority list. You can offer discount on hipster backpack, but would a 34 year old student, with a kid or two want to buy that?

Research! Contact Universities and colleges in your area and ask for demographic information of their students. How many of them may be foreign students who have completely different taste than what western culture offers? Why not make a special offer just for them?

So if you are about to set up a Facebook or Google Ad and target college students aged 18 to 21 from Canada, you may miss out on an important piece of audience that could be  equally be interested if they could see offers that suit their needs.


When school starts habits and consumer needs of teachers also change. Over the Summer they want to relax, take a break, travel so you should target these needs earlier in the year. Come September they will be on a completely different schedule. They also have purchasing needs whether that be on behalf of school, or for themselves. Most of them also have families and kids, so they will have to spend double.  There is a lot of things they would want to get out of their way before the school timetable kicks in.

Did you ever consider forming a strategy that would target only teachers? Offer discount on formal and business  wear, give them 2 for the price of 1 discounts if they will be shopping as a parent for their kid and also as a school employee. Why not be a store, or a service provider who targets only them instead of trying to satisfy everyone who is “affected” by BTS season?


This leads us to parents,  probably the biggest BTS consumers since they are the ones who’s wallets get empty when kids are about to go back to school/college. Books, notebooks, clothes, shoes, backpacks, you name it. But what about parents needs? Yes, they will put their kids first, but this could easily be a perfect moment to offer them help.  This is very stressful period of the year for them and not just financially, but also emotionally. Some of them are sending their kid to school for the very first time, whereas there are others who can’t wait to see that School bus in front of the house. So, if you decide to make a campaign towards “helping stressful parents out during back to school period”, you may be surprised how many of them would like to take you on that offer. Simple free relaxing massage voucher for the parent, with the purchase of school supplies can do more magic than offering a small discount on some of your items that they may  or may not need.

Whatever your strategy is it should target parents more than anyone else, BUT it’s time to take a different look on a parent. What if they too are “back to school” too? Often the best time to start thinking about changes in your life is when you pack your kid(s) of to school and finally have some alone time to think about your own needs. Whether these be jewelry making classes, or maybe digital marketing courses, learning new crafts, or earning a new degree for their online career. So, if you offer any kind of courses or classes,this would be the perfect time to promote to this particular target group.

Consider being a  business that offers creative self improvement ideas and stress relief for parents this time of the year, not just yet another store taking more money from them that will go towards their kid(s) needs.

Find A Way To HELP Your BTS Consumer

So far we’ve learned that we need to dig deeper, research social and psychological aspects of our BTS consumers in order to find the right strategy that will target your niche perfectly. Also, I hope I helped you realize the importance of finding  all of the ways your business can HELP each target group.

What can you offer that would help: Students, Teachers, Parents and differentiate you from the rest?

Financially, by giving them discounts – definitely! But decide who are you targeting and what would be the best offer you can give that would help that group the most. Next step, your marketing campaigns should be built on highlighting these benefits and as a result,  bring you the best possible results on that field, instead of spending your resources on too much general ideas that may, or may not work.

Online Shopping Works 24/7 All 365 Days A Year

The one strategy that will help with all above mentioned is Internet use. Not everyone will walk buy your store, but one place that everyone will look for something they need is the world wide web. Even younger kids have smartphones and know their way around more than their parents. So, if they see something they like, they will do whatever it takes to make their parents to make the purchase. College students, on the other hand, are lazy to move and search, so they will try to find everything they need – online.

So, whether is January, or July, make sure to be present online, all the time. Items that are needed for school can be purchased any time, and September supplies don’t last forever. The important step is to recognize this on time and offer something that they will want to buy now whether they use it right away, or not. Just like you would buy winter items on Summer because they are on sale now, you can offer students discounts when they would least expect it and beat the competition.


To conclude, we all need to redefine what Back to School/College season is, who are our perfect consumers and how can we help them. Take some risks, choose a niche that may not be the most popular one in the most expected time, look at your customer from more than one, obvious perspective and stand up from your competition.To get to the perfect formula, business owners and marketers need to dig deeper, do some serious research in advance and throughout the whole year in order to leverage their strategies and capitalize it in the years ahead.

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