Customer Portfolios' Blog

3 Ways to Make Your Back-to-School Campaigns Customer-Centric

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Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

You or your children have been out for summer break for a couple of weeks now. You are surfing the web or your smartphone for some fun summer things to plan when… you begin to see ads promoting backpacks and notebooks!

As a consumer, thinking about back-to-school is the last thing you want when you’ve just begun summer. But, we as marketers must always be 1-2 seasons ahead preparing campaigns for successful execution. Not only do we have to be prepared, but we also must make our brands top of mind amidst all other brands’ back-to-school products and services. How can you make your brand stand out with all those competitor brands’ messages?

While there is a big focus to pitch your brand’s top products of the season, it’s imperative to remain customer-centric and always keep the customer experience top of mind. Along with products, your campaign should put focus on an acquisition strategy, geographic location, and lifestyle stage. 


If you are acquiring customers for the first time during back-to-school, you will want to nurture them as well as get to know them. The goal is to convert them into a year-round customer, while understanding what BTS products caught their attention. You could have customers take a survey to learn more about what types of products/services interest them, while collecting personal information to better market to them. 

Geographic Location

Depending on where your customers live, they could be ready to be fully engaged with back-to-school messaging on July 1st (customers living in the South), or want to learn more about your summer line (customers living in the Northeast). While value and messaging should be consistent throughout your campaign, you should adhere to the timing of who receives what and when. Once all customers (or rather, your customers’ children) are back in school, you could do a follow up campaign to show everyone the type of style that was most popular around the country, and have customers compare to see if their style type matches their location!   

Lifestyle Stage

Utilizing existing customer back-to-school purchase data should be your biggest asset in standing out from other brands. Knowing the ages of the children along with the styles, colors, and sizes that have been purchased in the past can give your brand a leg up in experiential marketing. Brands can leverage this data to promote products based on what the child’s age/size/school year is going to be. 

While parents are primarily the ones doing the shopping, your campaigns should still be fun for everyone. Keep the brand’s values and messaging consistent, but tailor the execution to the customer’s lifestyle stage. Below are some examples of back-to-school campaigns you can use to involve customers of different lifestyle stages:

13+ children:

  • Enter a social media contest! Send in a picture to Instagram or Facebook wearing the latest line of BTS products, and enter to win a $200 gift card along with the chance of being in future communications!

College students:

  • Give back to your school! The university that purchases the most BTS products could win the chance of getting $15,000 donated for scholarships.
  • Enter a social media contest to say why your school deserves to have a day where your brand takes over the campus.


  • Email and/or direct mail promoting 5% of every purchase will go to a charity of your choice (customer can choose from 1 of 3 charities at purchase).

If you can build a relationship with the younger generation, and continue to market to them as they enter different lifestyle stages, you will be well on your way to keeping them as a best customer. 

In true summer reading fashion, here are the CliffsNotes if you just skipped to the end:

Back to School Campaign Cheat Sheet:

  • Use data to create a unique marketing experience.
  • Create a unique acquisition strategy to keep them as a year-round customer.
  • Keep geographic location in mind when launching.
  • Market based on lifestyle stage.
  • Keep it fun! 

Speaking of fun, here is a video of one of my favorite back to school initiatives when I was growing up. 

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