3 Back To School Lessons For Marketers

Posted by WhatRunsWhere on September 2, 2014
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BacktoSchool (1)

Time to pull out the pencils and erasers, and put away the bathing suit– that’s right, it’s back to school time. But this doesn’t just affect the K-12 and post-secondary crowd. Instead of upcoming essays and exams, marketers have to ramp up for busy season and ad-heavy holidays like Black Friday and Christmas. After a low-key summer on the beach, this can be a little (or a lot) overwhelming.

As students are entering new schools and grades, marketers are entering a new age of advertising – with new forms of technology and new strategies to take hold of. This can be a huge learning curve at any time of year, but even more-so with an increasing amount of consumers using new forms of media for back to school shopping. Research suggests that people are actively seeking out online deals for supplies, and rely on all forms of digital media for their buying process.

Properly targeting back to school shoppers was previously just about the typical supplies (pens, paper, etc.), but now marketers have to jump into the clothing and electronics categories as well. When marketing back to school, you are now marketing an entire lifestyle to an eager-to-buy set of consumers.

For your back to school marketing inspiration, let’s see how 3 advertisers have adopted top-performing strategies…

1. First we’ll start with the basics – School Supplies from Staples

In their first display ad, Staples targets a specific group – children going back to school. They aim to catch their attention with recognizable cartoon characters and bright colors. One of the dominant traffic sources for this ad is freekidscrafts.com – by placing it here, they’re placing it on a site that kids and parents are likely to look at together. This way the child will see the advertisement, and encourage the parent to investigate actually buying the products.

The second ad has a different focus. This one emphasizes all of the deals at Staples. It’s not specifically just targeting back to school shoppers, but they did release the ad in early August – when this crowd generally goes to Staples, and are seeking out deals.

staplesBoth Display Ads

2. Next, let’s check out back to school fashion – with Clothes from Sears

Sears is really catching on to the lifestyle focus of going back to school. Students going back to class generally want to look cool and trendy, and also document this via social media. Both Sears’ display and mobile ads show children in bold, colorful clothing, looking happy and confident. The text is simple and represents the same attitude shown in the images.

What’s important to note about these ads is how they play off of social media as well – Sears coined the hashtag #backtowha , and this makes it easy for students with smartphones to link their new back to school clothes with Sears. And finally, Sears is also aware of deal-hunters out there this season and show a huge 50% off sale they have going on. Needless to say, they have their bases covered.

searsdisplay1Display Ad

Mobile Ad

3. And lastly, let’s get to the fun stuff – Electronics with Best Buy

Electronics are sought out this time of year mostly by students going on to College. These are people who are probably shopping for themselves for the first time. So they likely want something new (like a smartphone or laptop)… but not something that empties their wallet. Best Buy picks up on this with their campaign for college student deals.

In terms of device, they know to keep their message straight to the point for mobile, and to explain more features with desktop – properly taking advantage of the media size.

Display Ad

Mobile Ad

Back to School, Back to Work…

As is evident from these 3 advertisers, a lot of thought is put into advertising in the back to school market, especially with taking new media into account. From targeting kids or parents, to incorporating social media, to optimizing messages for device size – advertisers have a lot of options to consider. This can be hard, especially after a slow summer. But, if advertisers do enough of their homework, they can get an A+ head start on busy season.


Topics: Online Marketing, Digital Advertising, Online Advertising


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