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The Cheats Guide to Acing Back-to-School

Who needs CliffsNotes when you’ve got us? We share some targeting and creative ideas to help fuel your back-to-school marketing efforts.

The Cheats Guide to Acing Back-to-School

4 Min Read

As summer winds down and students nationwide begrudgingly get their school supplies (and latest fall fashions?) ready for another school year—there’s also a lot happening behind the scenes in the marketing world as advertisers ramp up their campaigns for what will be a busy back-to-school (and looming Q4) season. And, since price-conscious consumers are scouting out deals earlier than usual to beat inflation, Q4 timelines are being moved forward, too. You’ll find more tips in our back-to-school guide here and here; however, we understand the challenges that come with juggling two of the biggest shopping holidays at one time, which is why we’ve put together the cheat’s guide to help you shortcut your way to success this quarter and a half. 

Read on as we show you how to curate the perfect audience segments and then the best ways to reach them with your creative.

Perfecting the Back-to-School Shopper Profile

We’ve covered some of the out-of-the-box audience segments beyond the usual back-to-school set, but we also understand that each brand is unique and that these audiences might need a little bit of tinkering. Below are some pointers on finessing that audience strategy to a tee—bookmark this post as you can utilize this same approach for other campaigns or holidays throughout the year.

  • Who’s Your Audience? Identify the problem that your product and/or service solves, then determine who could benefit from it. For example, if you’re a specialty shoe retailer selling orthopedic designed footwear for kids and students—your target audience would be more niche beyond students. You could even target orthopedic practitioners who sell or recommend products to their patients, for example.
  • Map Out the Customer Journey: The beauty of advertising on platforms like MNTN Performance TV is that it is a full-funnel solution that reaches consumers no matter where they are in their journey. However, it helps to understand how a customer goes from A to B before launching your campaigns. Demographic factors influence the type of device and platform usage—and therefore impact your marketing mix.
  • Create Your Customer Profile: Now that you know how, where and when a user  interacts with your brand—you’re able to paint a better picture of your audience segment. Mix up demographics and psychographic variables including age, income level, family size, occupation, marital status, likes and dislikes.

Go Beyond the BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free)

Everyone loves a good BOGOF offer, but we get it—not all brands have the budget (or perhaps inventory) to offer such a deal. In times like this, it’s time to get a little crafty with your campaign offerings. Below are some promotions for consideration:

  • Bundle It: If you thought holiday shopping checklists were long, think again. Back-to-school is a whole ordeal for customers—not only do students want the latest school supplies to get them started, but also a whole new outfit to match. Promoting back-to-school bundles attracts busy customers who don’t have the time to shop from different places, and gives you an opportunity to cross, and up-sell.
  • Pull Back From the Sell: Your ad creative doesn’t always have to focus on deep discounts to make an impact—in times of economic uncertainty, consumers are also looking to live and spend more “authentically,” as indicated in the chart below (customers prioritize affordability, closely followed by experiences). Provide value to your customers by advertising a back-to-school shopping list, or even some tips to help quell those back-to-school nerves (both for parents and students).
Since October 2021, Consumers Have Shifted Priorities in Response to Emerging Disruptions
  • Not Selling Back-to-School Products? No Problem: If you’re wondering whether to skip advertising during back-to-school because you’re not a school supply retailer—don’t. Back-to-school always means the end of summer and a chance for renewal and change. Think of it like spring cleaning’s redux—and think about what this season means for your audience before building out campaign ideas for it. For example, if you’re an automotive retailer, this is a great opportunity to communicate in your messaging why this is a good time to buy a new car (new vehicle for the kids? Or perhaps an upgraded way to get students to school safely?). 
  • Looking Back to Look Forward: Back-to-school celebrates a new school year, with most advertisers taking this sentiment when approaching their campaigns. But nostalgia is a very real (and powerful) tool in advertising. Cereal brand Kellogg’s utilized this emotion in their back-to-school TV campaign during the pandemic, which told the story of a young boy’s experience of lockdown with his father as he prepared to return to school.

It’s not too late to get started on these campaign ideas—if you need a head start, learn more about MNTN’s Creative-as-a-Subscription™ offering to bundle creative with your media buys—or for turnkey assets, lean on QuickFrame by MNTN’s network of global creators to repurpose your existing assets into CTV quality creative in no time.

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