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How to stand out from your competitors during Back-To-School?

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Back-To-School is an important period for many brands. After the summer break, business speeds up and everything gets back to normal. For online retailers, it’s also the beginning of a marathon few months which will include Black Friday, Christmas shopping and the Christmas sales. Back-to-School preparations often need to be made in advance. For example, school bags and other school supplies are generally on sale in supermarkets from July. Whether your activity is seasonal or not, it’s time to get ready for September now!

Plan your content and campaigns in advance

To stand out, you need to be ready before everyone else. Rather than rushing around at the end of August, it’s better to plan your content for your inbound marketing strategy. Infographics, videos, blog articles, competitions, special offers, email marketing: it’s the right time to prepare and to be proactive, rather than reactive. To do so, you’ll find the following best practices to be particularly helpful:

  • Create and share an editorial calendar: it will remind you of the content which needs to be produced, the editorial line and the people involved (copywriter, proofreader, the person responsible for approval, integration, design, etc.).
  • Prepare content based on your personas: loyal customers and prospective new customers for a specific range shouldn’t be addressed in the same way. Personas are profiles of your customers. They have a personality and needs which must be met with the right content.
  • Recycle evergreen content: this is existing content which is unaffected by the latest news. Once it’s been written and published, it can be recycled regularly, sometimes with slight changes being made to it. You can invest in specialist software to share evergreen content on social media so that you never run out.

Monitor your competitors

Information is power. Whether it’s on social media, blogs or professional networks, you should always keep an eye on your competitors to avoid any surprises. There’s a wide range of powerful and affordable monitoring tools for B2B and B2C which you can use to see what your competitors are doing, how they’re doing it and how they’re communicating. For those with a smaller budget, Google Alerts can be just as relevant, as long as you focus on the right keywords.

Focus on your customers’ needs

Depending on your business and your market, you need a personalised, direct approach. Let’s take two examples.

In B2C, September can be a difficult period in terms of finances: consumers have spent lots while on holiday and back-to-school costs can be expensive. It’s a good time to launch special offers: free delivery, easier returns/exchanges, promotional codes, etc.

In B2B, it’s time for companies to update their strategic plans, review their budgets and adapt their business strategies. So it’s best to wait for the right time to make contact again (aim for around 15 September, for example) and to organise free webinars and new engaging content (white papers, blog articles, etc.) to reconnect with consumers.

Develop excellent storytelling

Storytelling is the ability to transform a simple act (a purchase) into a unique, meaningful experience. It creates an emotional connection with a brand. Storytelling is the art of telling stories which must be relevant and personalised to appeal to your customers.

Brand values, events, customer feedback, new product launches: there are plenty of options for excellent storytelling this September. You can even use newsjacking to take advantage of a news story by using it as a pretext for communication.

Launch a new offering

Back-To-School is also a period for a fresh start. So it’s not surprising that it’s a time when many brands choose to present their latest products (as is the case with the new iPhone, for example). Are you feeling inspired?

You can schedule a launch event, either online or in store, to present a new product offering, an updated range, new features and more. With the right campaign, it’s also an opportunity to get people talking about you.

Standing out from your competitors during Back-To-School is important, but it can only be done if you have a clear strategy in place. Without a strategy, you risk being in permanent “action mode”, rather than being able to take a proactive approach. If you’re interested in managing short-term pressure more efficiently, there are a number of approaches which can work for you throughout the year, including affiliate marketing, automation and inbound marketing.

Contact our team of experts in campaign management and performance if you’d like some help with your September strategy!

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