What do you need to consider for your back-to-school marketing?

Back to School Marketing

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Can September hurry up and get here please?  Signed, lovingly, all working parents.  Yes, we love our little darlings, and our rush to get them back to school is only because we deeply care about their education.


It has nothing to do with them moping around the house, messing up everything you have just tidied.  Nor is it because their last art project is still congealed in the carpet.  And what is that racket they have been listening to?

I think the apt question is: when did we get so old?

The thing is, thanks to our good old friend Colin Coronavirus, we have all been cooped up, working from home, home-schooling, and living in each other faces since March.  We can joke about looking forward to the kids all trooping back to school.

But in fact, for the time since summer was invented, we are having mixed feelings about sending them back.

And this might just change the way we design our back-to-school marketing campaigns.

BAck to school

Many people are still a bit anxious

The media seem to be finding experts everywhere now.  And, all our push notifications are telling us that the experts are talking about a second wave.  The experts think this, that, and they know the date of the apocalypse.  

Whether or not this is all true, the word “expert” is very powerful.  And that means people are still really worried about this predicted “second wave”. 

You can’t blame people for being anxious.

Whilst some cities are being locked down, and there are spikes everywhere else, people aren’t entirely sure of the future.  There is yet to be a published plan that can convincingly guarantee the children’s health and safety.

Rumour has it that children won’t be going back until January.

Rumour has it that children will be going back on a week-on-week-off basis.

And, rumour has a lot of ideas that aren’t confirmed.  And that only adds to the anxiety of the parents who must try and consider how they will balance more time off with the clarion call to get back into the offices.

The back-to-school marketing has to adopt a different tone in 2020.

building a bunker

Let’s start by easing the panic

There is enough panic going around now, that it is a worry that “While Stocks Last” campaigns will cease to be effective.  Many shoppers fell prey to their anxiety and began stockpiling, or panic-buying, products at the beginning of lockdown.  Do you remember how we marvelled at how charitable and forward thinking they were?

No, and neither do they.

In fact, this behaviour was satirised, and the shoppers condemned by the media and public alike for their behaviour.  On social media, many called the shoppers out for their selfish attitudes. 

Now, if we are honest, we recognise the symptoms, don’t we?

It’s building a bunker in your back garden for the impending nuclear holocaust.   

It’s the mainstream media having fun on both sides of the fence.  On the first instance, they created the panic through their sensationalised accounts of COVID-19.  Then, when everyone reacted, they began pointing out the futility of panic buying.

Now, I don’t think people will fall for it again.  So, now we need to start easing the panic, especially when it comes to discussing our children going back to school.

So, let’s tell people it’s OK to start thinking positively about it.

Take a reassuring and understanding tone

In previous years, there was always an urgency on the back-to-school campaigns.  They often began on the first week of the school holidays, so you were likely on your third argument about an untidy bedroom when you were presented with the images of kids looking smart and well-kempt.  To many parents, especially those pulling their hair in fistfuls, this is a powerful image.

But it is less likely to work right now.

Parents may need coaxing and reminding that it is still OK to procrastinate.  Your understanding and reassurance could be more valuable to parents than a low price.

Point out your contactless delivery service.  Highlight your same (or next) day deliveries.  Give advice to parents about how to get the right sizes for their children’s clothing without having to use a fitting room.  Anything you can do to reassure the parents that you are taking the pandemic seriously will be worth more than a flash sale.

Powerful feeling prospects

Share important back-to-school information

As the government deliberates over exactly how the lockdown will end for our children, share the information to your customers.  By involving yourself in the conversation you are better able to hear their concerns.

There is no more powerful a tool than knowing how your prospects feel.

By sharing this information, and by further social listening, you will be able to create better informed back-to-school marketing campaigns. 

Wrapping up

The world of the year is “unprecedented”.

We don’t know exactly how long this word stretches, do we?  Are we looking at an unprecedented Halloween, Christmas, and New Year?  Will “unprecedented” become “normal”?  How much of society has COVID-19 altered?

The back-to-school marketing campaigns are not the first to have been affected this year.  And, we are pretty sure they won’t be the last.

But there have been positives emerging from the depths of the pandemic.  Discussion and information have roosted in our marketing campaigns.  More and more, people are looking to be educated.  People are looking for good information, people are looking for value.

The least we can do is provide it for them.

If there is anything you wish to add to the conversation, please let me know by commenting below.

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