12 Ways To Capture Consumers’ Attention With A Back-To-School Campaign

As summer comes to a close and the new school year begins, back-to-school marketing campaigns are in full swing. From selling school supplies and college dorm furniture to promoting special deals on phones and travel, marketers work hard during this short but critical window of time to capture the attention of students and their parents.

Forbes Agency Council

To help marketers gain and retain the attention of this key demographic in the back-to-school season and beyond, 12 members of Forbes Agency Council share their best tips for advertisers and marketers who offer relevant products and services. Follow their advice to make your campaigns stand out from those of your competitors.

1. Leverage Influencers
There are many college- and school-focused creators, as well as parenting creators, who have the perfect audience, credibility and authority to promote products and services in that niche. Influencers bring amazing results because, for their audience, it feels like they are getting a recommendation from a friend. – Anastasia Cecchetto, Ace Influencers

2. Optimize Your Content And Messages
Creativity is the No. 1 variable in advertising performance. Optimizing your content and messaging to be aligned with back-to-school and the products and services you sell will drive the most relevant clicks. Brands need to ensure cross-channel content is aligned across media, email and the Web, and they need to start early enough to have 20 to 40 days of campaign messaging in the market to drive enough reach. – Tucker Matheson, Markacy

3. Incentivize UGC With Email And SMS Options
Email marketing and SMS marketing options incentivize students to share their own experiences with products and services; you can then use that user-generated content in campaigns to create more buzz around the product or service. Parents and students want an experience—create an option that provides both a financial incentive for the consumer and content for the brand. – Vix Reitano, Agency 6B

4. Utilize Social Media
Back-to-school is an overlooked retail opportunity, as it’s hard to get people focused on it until they’re actually in-store doing last-minute shopping. The real opportunity is online (with a focus on social media) using paid videos on Instagram and paid and organic opportunities on Pinterest, not to mention audio—by advertising to on-the-go parents who are streaming or listening to podcasts during afternoon drop-off and pickup. – Scott Harkey, OH Partners

5. Position Company Founders As Industry Experts
In public relations, position your brand’s founders and representatives as experts in the field of parenting, whether they are parents themselves or market to parents. Parents are looking for trustworthy and reliable brands that they can relate to. Also, it’s all about how you communicate your brand’s values and initiatives to the media. – Jessica Kopach, The JKO Agency

6. Highlight Convenience
Back-to-school shopping can be hectic. Leveraging new ad types can help push convenience messaging. For example, Google Shopping and local inventory ads have a new beta: pickup later. Advertisers can now enable pickup later in the attributes of their inventory feeds. Using this beta will help advertisers capture consumers’ attention while avoiding the back-to-school “rush hour.” – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures

7. Appeal To Consumers’ Emotions
Use visuals and content that appeal to emotions. Starting a new school year can be a stressful transition for both parents and students, so show why your offerings are the solution. Aim for content that is both visually appealing and informative. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

8. Begin As Soon As Possible
Start your back-to-school marketing campaign as early as possible, especially this year, as it’s the first school year for some kids to be back fully in person since 2020. Along with that comes excitement and retail demand. You can reach the students themselves through social media and use more traditional media outlets to reach the adults who are supporting their school transitions. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

9. Email A Promo Code To Existing Customers
For parents, your most cost-effective (and direct) approach is to email last year’s customers a back-to-school promo checkout code. For students, get their attention on all the biggest social media platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Each of these methods will need different messaging and creative tones, but both lead to the same place: more back-to-school purchases! – Bernard May, National Positions

10. Incorporate The Latest Trends
Consider the latest trends and developments your customers care about and incorporate them into your marketing plan. Remember that people will spend more this year because more students are returning to full-time education, and including a hot trend will grab their attention. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

11. Run TikTok Ads
We’re in unprecedented times. Our agency spent $100 last week on a test ad, which garnered 700 new followers in one day. ROI for website traffic is just as impressive. This is where students and parents alike are hanging out online. All ads need to be tailored to this 9:16 video experience. – Kelly Samuel, Snack Toronto

12. Highlight Price Comparisons
It’s all about the visuals and ensuring that your ads “stop the scroll” and your products are priced affordably. This year, parents are going to be looking for bargains and deals, so highlighting price comparisons will be key. – Dawn Sinkule, Digital Dawn