After almost two years of being forced to learn online, many students (as well as their parents) are getting ready to completely return to in-person schooling. And while this may be a difficult transition for some, it also presents a great opportunity for businesses—especially print-on-demand powered online stores!
But, with all the small retailers and corporate giants vying for a piece of the back-to-school shopping pie, how can you make sure your POD business stands out?
Well, you better be prepared to jot down some notes because we’re sharing everything you need to know about marketing your POD business for the back-to-school season!
When Does The Season Actually Start?
Before we get into the tips and all the strategies you should be using to market your POD business for back-to-school, let’s figure out when the season actually starts.
While every school’s calendar is different, in general, the back-to-school season begins as soon as you feel the summer heat start to subside—which is usually around late July or early August. According to National Today, the latter is considered as the back-to-school month. This is why many schools and businesses typically kickstart their marketing campaigns during the first weeks of August.
Why the Back-to-School Season Matters
Now, why should you jump on the back-to-school marketing bandwagon if you can sell your products year-round? Well, here are a few reasons:
Back-to-School Shoppers Are Expected To Spend More This Year
As mentioned earlier, the education landscape has changed drastically in the past two years and it’s now starting to completely shift back to its pre-pandemic state. Thus, there’s now wonder why lots of students and parents are looking forward to it—and are even willing to spend more money on back-to-school shopping than they did last year.
In fact, according to Deloitte’s 2022 back-to-school survey, parents are projected to spend $661 per kid on average this year. This is an 8% increase from last year’s and 27% higher than 2019’s average spending.
Furthermore, the National Retail Federation’s survey revealed that families are prioritizing back-to-school expenses despite the inflation.
There Will Always Be a Demand for Back-to-School Products
In public schools alone, there were around 49.4 million students from pre kindergarten to 12th grade enrolled in 2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Of course, these figures do not yet include the number of those enrolled in private schools, as well as the college and university students in the U.S.
This just goes to show that there will always be a demand for back-to-school products, especially during this peak season. So, if you’re thinking of selling products like notebooks, school bags, and other stationeries, then this is definitely the perfect time to do so!
It’s a Great Time To Market Your New Products or Designs
If you’ve got a bunch of awesome designs in your back pocket waiting to be launched, then the back-to-school season is also the best time to do so. Since students will be needing new supplies anyway, this is the perfect opportunity to introduce your latest products or designs to them—especially the ones that are relevant to their needs and interests.
Getting To Know Your Target Shoppers
Depending on your products and brand identity, your target shoppers during the back-to-school season could be either students, parents, or both. So, to make sure that you’re marketing your POD business to the right audience, you first need to know exactly who they are.
To do this, consider creating buyer personas or fictional characters that represent your target market. This way, you’ll be able to identify their needs, pain points, and buying behavior—information that you can use to create strategies that will resonate with them.
Here are some market segments you can get started with:
Parents are among the biggest back-to-school shoppers because, well, they’re the ones footing the bill. What’s more, since they’ll be the ones accompanying their kids on shopping trips, they’re also the ones who have the final say when it comes to purchasing decisions.
To give you more insights on this market segment, here are a few statistics you might find interesting:
- 73% of the parents who responded to Brand Intelligence’s back-to-school survey said that they expect to spend the most on clothes such as shoes, shirts, etc.
- Mobile coupons influence the purchasing decisions of 89% of parents, according to Valpak‘s data.
- 25% or a quarter of parents go to Facebook for their children’s closet inspiration when shopping for back-to-school clothing items.
The High Schoolers
As kids grow, so does their level of involvement in back-to-school shopping. For instance, high schoolers are more likely to make their own decisions when it comes to the clothes and supplies they want, as well as do their own research on where to buy them.
If your brand is targeted towards teenagers, launching a back-to-school collection or marketing campaign is a great way to get their attention. And since this demographic is quite active on social media, you should also consider creating ads and content for platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
The College Kids
Another younger, tech-savvy market segment that’s worth targeting are college students. This group is known to be quite independent, so they’re more likely to do their research and compare prices before making a purchase.
When marketing to college students, it’s important to focus on the value and convenience your products can offer. And similar to the high schoolers, your best tools for reaching out to them are social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Alright, but how exactly can you market your POD business to these target groups? Well, here are five sure-fire marketing ideas to get you started:
Tip #1: Launch Your Own Back-to-School Collection
If you really want to make a splash during the back-to-school season, launching your own collection is the way to go. This will not only give you a chance to showcase your newest products and designs, but it will also help you attract new customers who are looking for fresh and trendy items.
To make your collection stand out, start by coming up with a unique theme or story that your target shoppers can relate to. For example, if you’re targeting high schoolers, you can create a collection inspired by their favorite Netflix show or movie.
Back-to-School Items You Can Sell
Need some inspiration for your back-to-school collection? Here are a few items that are always in demand during this season:
If you plan to target the parents of the little ones, consider coming out with a line of kids’ activewear. With the physical education classes and after-school sports, parents will definitely be on the lookout for comfortable and durable clothes that can withstand all the wear and tear.
You can start by coming up with designs for pieces like jersey tees. Then, once you have a few mock-ups ready, you can add a few more items like face towels and comfy shorts.
Stationeries (e.g., notebooks, pens, pencils, etc.)
Of course, the back-to-school shopping list wouldn’t be complete without stationeries. So, if you want to appeal to the high school and college crowd, you can come out with your own line of notebooks, pens, and pencils.
To make your products more attractive to students, you can offer them at a discounted rate when they buy in bulk. You can also add a little something extra, like custom-printed stickers, to make them more fun and unique.
Another item that will definitely be in demand among college students is a laptop case. Considering how expensive laptops can be, students will want to make sure their investment is well-protected.
You can offer to make customized ones with the student’s name or initials. You can also add a pop of color or design to make it more stylish and trendy.
Eco-friendly tote bags have been gaining popularity in recent years due to the growing awareness of the importance of sustainability. And since college students are always on the go, they’ll definitely find a use for it.
The great thing about tote bags is they basically work like a blank canvas that you can design however you want. So, if you’re targeting a certain market segment, like artsy students, you can come up with designs that reflect their personality and interests.
Dorm Decors and Essentials
During this season, dormers are also on the lookout for affordable yet stylish decors and essentials that can make their small space feel more like home. If you sell home decors or anything that can be used as dorm essentials, make sure to include them in your back-to-school collection.
Tip #2: Create an Engaging Social Media Campaign
There’s no better way to reach out to your target market than through social media. After all, this is where they’re most likely spending a good chunk of their time.
To make your back-to-school campaign on these platforms more engaging, try using a mix of photos, videos, and infographics. You can also run a contest or a giveaway to further pique their interest.
And of course, don’t forget to use the appropriate hashtags to reach out to a wider audience. For example, you can use hashtags like #backtoschoolshopping or #firstdayofschool.
Tip #3: Partner Up With the Right Brands & Organizations
Another great way to entice students and their parents to shop at your store is by partnering up with the right brands and organizations. For example, you can team up with those that support underprivileged students such as the Kids In Need Foundation. For every purchase made, you can donate a portion of the proceeds to this organization or any other charity of your choice. You can also work with a college or university in your area and offer students a discount on their back-to-school shopping.
Not only will this help you attract more customers, but it’s also a great way to give back to the community.
Tip #4: Offer Exclusive Deals and Discounts
Of course, with the competition being so stiff, you’ll also need to offer exclusive deals and discounts that students and their parents can’t resist. After all, they are on the lookout for the best deals on back-to-school supplies.
To make sure your offers are truly irresistible, you can try bundling some of your best-selling items together and offer them at a discounted price. You can also come up with a loyalty program where students can earn points for every purchase they make. These points can then be redeemed for discounts on future purchases.
Tip #5: Get EXTRA Creative With Your Marketing Tactics!
That’s right! All the tips we’ve mentioned so far are just some of the basics. To really make your back-to-school marketing campaign stand out, you’ll need to get extra creative with your tactics.
For example, instead of simply posting your products’ photos on your IG and Facebook pages, why not come up with a short video featuring your products in action? You can also hold live selling sessions on IG where you can answer questions in real-time and offer one-time discounts to viewers.
Additionally, if you’re targeting Gen Z shoppers, fun and witty memes are always a great idea. You can also take advantage of Snapchat or Instagram’s AR filter feature and come up with your own filters that students can use when posting about their back-to-school adventures and shopping haul.
In short, the possibilities are endless! Just make sure to let your creativity shine through and you’ll definitely come up with a marketing campaign that’s impossible to ignore.
Welcome the Back-to-School Season With a Bang!
And that’s a wrap! With your irresistible POD designs and these marketing tips, you’re all set to take on the back-to-school season. Just remember to have fun with it and enjoy the process. After all, it’s not every day that you get to be part of your customers’ most exciting time of the year!