There’s simply no denying that the fall season is a make-or-break time of year for many brands for one reason: back-to-school advertising. Kids kindergarten through college-age are heading back to their respective campuses, and they have shopping lists brimming with must-have items for the new academic year. For parents and kids alike, emotions are running high – and brands should exhibit the same enthusiasm and energy. 

Your brand has the opportunity to check off those shopping lists and create exceptional back to school experiences for both kids and their frantic parents. Which… is easier said than done. If your team is strategizing your back to school campaigns, we’re here to help (with over 30 years of experience and countless client success stories). 

Let’s get started on our top 10 for creating back to school ads that grab attention and employing marketing tactics that drive results!

When should back to school marketing campaigns launch?

“Back to school” season is actually drawn out, depending on where you are in the country. So how do you know when to start advertising for back to school season when the starting date is different for every state, county, and individual school?

There are a few patterns to consider when determining when to launch. Research shows that in July, back to school items like clothes and footwear spike (in addition to supplies like binders, pencils, and notebooks). By August, food and snacks peak in consumption.

Additionally, when these shopping excursions occur, there’s one thing driving purchasing behavior: price. Because of these long lists of supplies (and likely, multiple kids in the equation), savvy parents are deal-hunting and getting creative to make the most of their back to school budgets. 

1. Start with the right products

Your first and most important step when it comes to launching your back to school advertising campaign this year is to select the right products so your campaign won’t fall flat. 

To find the right products to feature, look through your historical data and determine which of your products have sold best in the past. Next, take a peek at market trends over time using Google Trends. You can search any keyword and determine its popularity over time, especially before and after 2020. For example, if you sell backpacks, you can enter brands like “Jansport” to understand when searches are on the rise (historically, during July and August).

2. Demonstrate how your products fit into people’s lives

Example: Office Depot. Office Depot nailed it in a couple departments here! Not only did they demonstrate their product being used but they utilized user-generated content to make their point. A double win!

Simply putting your products on the shelf is not enough to entice shoppers to buy. Instead, showcase how your products seamlessly fit into customers’ lives. Set up in-store demonstrations for products, like using desks to display school supplies. And use demonstrations in your marketing collateral to really paint a picture for your target shoppers. Showing off possible product uses will help shoppers understand how to use their product, and potentially see a need they didn’t know they had.

Read next: 5 Things Marketers Should Know About Teen Cause Marketing Campaigns [Download Included!]

3. Publish content that’s valuable to your back to school shoppers

Do more than simply selling your products for your shoppers. Publish content that’s valuable to the challenges they may be facing and that are relevant to your niche. Educating your shoppers will convey trust in your brand and product. It shows that you are working to find the right solution, rather than any solution.

Even though parents are typically the ones in charge of back to school shopping, you can’t ignore the kids—because nothing sells like trends. So what are kids crazy about? Whatever trend kids are talking about is the product they will be begging their parents to buy them so they can show it off at school. 

Prioritize both creating products that are in line with what’s cool, and finding ways to implement current trends into your product selection.

Read next: Marketing to High School Students: 4 Strategies That Make An Impact

5. Reach more shoppers by employing omnichannel solutions

This back to school shopping season is not one your brand wants to miss out on by failing to effectively target shoppers. Gain repeat impressions and measurable action by employing omnichannel solutions as back to school season approaches. Target customers through print media, out-of-home media, digital media, streaming, and email and social retargeting.

For over 30 years, Refuel Agency has successfully delivered award-winning, data-driven campaigns based on our extensive media network, and our omnichannel solutions boost campaign performance for our clients. Learn more about our omnichannel solutions here.

6. Keep your website organized

Example: Target. Target’s back to school section on their website is clearly broken down by product so shoppers can find exactly what they need, when they need it.

Back to school shopping isn’t exactly what’s known as parents’ favorite activity. Your shoppers want to be able to find the items they’re looking for quickly and easily, and they want to know their kids have everything they need. 

So make it easy for them! Keep your website organized and easy to navigate. Create collections that shoppers can browse, and make the process as easy as possible. You’ll ensure that your customers will always come back!

7. Consider special deals for educators

Students and their parents aren’t the only ones shopping for school supplies. Their teachers are scrambling to equip their classrooms with the supplies they need for their students, too! Target teachers with special deals and targeted campaigns. Show your appreciation by curated collections and deals that apply just to them.

8. Market “change” as your back to school product

Even if you don’t sell back to school products for kids and high school students, this time of year marks major transitions in many people’s lives—and that transition is marketable! There are many products that apply to people making big life changes, from office supplies to gym memberships to meal delivery services. Back to school season is a big selling period across the board.

Read next: 6 Examples of Brands That Got Gen Z Marketing Right

9. Time it right for best back-to-school ROI

Successful back-to-school advertising is a two-step process with specific timing for each step. First, you want to make an impact during the traditional summer back-to-school shopping time period (usually July and August). This is the time to use email and social extension to reach both parents and teens during the excitement of school shopping.

The second step is reaching students in school for our #10 tip…

10. Marketing to high school students with in-school campaigns

Once school is back in session is often when many students and parents realize what they REALLY need for the school year—be it the must-have school supplies or the on-trend clothing. This is the time to make an impact with in-school media. Our research has shown that in-school media sparks conversation among students, and that students are highly influenced by their peers. Your brand has the opportunity to enter the feedback loop by sparking conversations in-school and making an impression on students through the conversations they have with each other.

Are you ready to create a back to school advertising campaign that will drive results? Contact Refuel Agency today for your custom plan.