Schools Open Soon. Time to Plan Your Back-To-School Marketing Strategy.

Ready or not, the start of the school year will be here before you know it.

Agile Education Marketing analyzed its institutional database to find out when districts and schools will be opening their doors for 2018-19 and discovered that most classes resume the weeks of August 13 and August 20.

School district open dates, 2018-19 school year

(Click here for an even more detailed breakdown of school start dates, state-by-state.)

The weeks leading up to and after these start dates are a busy time for educators and education marketers. The back-to-school season also marks the start of the Awareness and Familiarity phase of the education purchasing cycle. This is a critical time to begin building relationships with educators before they make buying decisions in the spring and summer.

Who to Reach

Depending on what you sell, you may be able to snag a share of back-to-school purchasing by selling directly to teachers. Otherwise, you should focus on priming districts and schools to make larger purchases later in the year.

  1. Teachers: Teachers spend hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket on classroom supplies and supplemental materials every year, particularly around back-to-school season. Giving teachers back-to-school discounts that stretch their dollars is a win-win — you clinch the sale, and they save money.
  2. Districts and Schools: Most purchases for this school year are final, but educators are already forecasting large purchases for next year. In the early stages of their product research, it’s especially important to reach influencers. Their names may not be on the final purchasing agreement, but these educators can get you in front of decision-makers.

Focus on brand- and relationship-building. Get educators familiar with your name and your products by explaining who you are, what you can do to make their lives easier and how you are different from your competitors. Share this information through helpful content, and in exchange for that content, request contact information that you can feed into your sales pipeline and nurture throughout the school year.

How to Reach Them

A multi-channel marketing strategy is the best approach for the back-to-school season — or any phase of the education purchasing cycle. Specific tactics to consider include:

  1. Email: Email is effective for lead generation. In fact, 43 percent of administrators and 41 percent of teachers say they value email for communicating with vendors. Use email as a vehicle for promoting valuable, gated content such as whitepapers, case studies, videos, and newsletters.
  2. Direct Mail: Direct mail is essential to education marketing because it’s tangible and has a long life cycle — it can’t be deleted with a simple click. Prepare direct mail pieces that double as useful items that create brand presence within offices and school buildings, such as hallway banners, classroom worksheets, office calendars, and notebooks.
  3. Content: Educators value the web as a resource when planning education purchases. As many as 65 percent of teachers use search engines as their main information source for potential purchases. Content is a great way to drive search traffic to your site. Take inventory of what you have, and make plans to fill in any gaps.
  4. Social Media: Use social to engage with educators by sharing content. Also consider developing a sponsored post or ad strategy on your most effective channels. When putting together a social media marketing strategy, take advantage of tools that allow you to build list segments and serve targeted ads to those specific groups of educators.
  5. Webinars: Webinars are important for lead generation. This time of year, focus less on promotion and more on delivering helpful information around general methodologies or best practices relevant to your brand. When the webinar wraps up, post the recording to your website and promote it via email and social to gain more traction.

Know when the schools in your target market are opening so that you can develop a strong marketing and sales campaign for back-to-school. Use this data from Agile and the tips outlined above to reach educators at this critical time in the education purchasing cycle.

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About the Author

Mike LeClare is the Compilation and Data Quality Manager at Agile Education Marketing. Skilled in operations and data analysis, Mike leads a team of experts who compile complex information and conduct quality control to ensure Agile’s database is comprehensive, accurate and accessible to clients through a variety of convenient tools. Mike also applies his extensive knowledge of education information & data initiatives to lead special compilation efforts that require working closely with various state departments and districts to create information sets that are unique to Agile. Reach Mike at mleclare@agile-ed.com.

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