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Back-to-School brings in around $70 billion in sales each year, second to only Holiday in terms of seasonal sales. For many brands, this represents a vital piece of their overall yearly revenue. $70 billion is not an occasion to miss, or even approach halfheartedly. With that in mind, here are 3 essential questions you should ask yourself and consider before you dive any deeper into your BTS campaign planning. Answering the following will help ensure you are on your way towards a successful initiative. What do you want to accomplish and by when? Do you have enough time to execute? We're getting into crunch time with the back-to-school season quickly approaching. If you're not already working on your back-to-school strategy, you're probably going to miss out. A key question to address when laying out the foundation for any campaign is- do you have the correct amount of time needed to properly deploy your campaign? Timing should be paramount when planning because being short on time can affect the campaign execution, while launching too early could catch consumers in the wrong mind frame (still summer loving)- and therefore fail to strike when the iron is hot. It sounds simple, but having an accurate and achievable timeline is one of the most crucial components of campaign planning. Particularly when the campaign you are launching is dependent on seasonal timing. Have you utilized industry learnings to inform and optimize your campaign? Learning from previous campaigns before moving forward with your own plan can help inform your campaign strategy. To help catch you up to speed, here are a few Back-to-School best-in-class examples that are definitely worth a second look. You will find that the most successful campaigns typically involve highlighting a product, offering a stand-out deal, or even pledging that sales will benefit a good cause. Product features: When catchy creative campaigns catch fire, students typically fall victim to the popular following and can't resist the urge to get in on it too. See: Microsoft, Microsoft vs. Mini Fridge Hard to beat offers: The campaigns offering students legitimate deals leave customers walking away feeling valued, and that the company simply wanted to better their lives by offering such a great promotion. Such experiences will entice students to buy again or consider the brand for future purchases. See: Apple's $100 Back to School Gift Card Profit for Non-Profit: The ability to do good instead of just making a regular purchase is something that stands out in any consumer's mind. Substantial interactions that accomplish two tasks for the price of one is an experience to remember, offering consumers with a positive brand association for back-to-school (and years) to come. See (AMP's work): Staples for Students Does your plan include a post-campaign strategy that continues conversations? Many marketers make the mistake of approaching Back-to-School as a one-off campaign, which is thinking that can only lead to missed opportunities. BTS might be a once-a-year execution, but the customers you create during that time are still yours for the remainder of the year, not to mention years to come. Therefore, it is valuable to have a long-term plan in place for speaking to these same consumers at different points throughout the year. The solution is to approach your BTS campaign as a platform for generating a conversation with your target audience, and then utilizing that platform as a means for obtaining and collecting meaningful information from your consumers that will be used in post-BTS initiatives. Social channels are the perfect tool for initiating and maintaining this relationship with consumers. A nice campaign to reference in terms of generating a relationship with their consumers is American Eagle's 2012 'Live Your Life'? campaign. American Eagle asked consumers to share their individual style by submitting photos of themselves wearing their new back-to-school AE jeans. Fans and followers were asked to vote for their favorites, giving 15 finalists (with the most social votes) the opportunity to appear on the brand's blog, Facebook page and YouTube channel. In the end, 15 finalists were also to be featured in the American Eagle Spring campaign. Not only did the 'Live Your Life'? campaign reach and communicate with consumers through all social outlets and ask for consumer participation, it also planned for future engagement (goodbye BTS, hello Spring Campaign) and left fans feeling truly valued by the brand (social fans are now brand campaign stars). This is in no way a definitive list of ways to be successful during the Back to School season, so we would love to hear your thoughts on other best practices that you have seen. Sound off in the comments below.
When watching TV, reading a magazine or surfing the web, what is it that makes a brand's ad stop a consumer? Like art, it is subjective. While Impressionism may resonate with some, others gravitate towards Abstract and Pop Art. Similarly, the humor in an ad may be what is memorable to one, while others remember the music or unique camera angles. However, just because you remember the ad, doesn't mean that you can recall what brand it was for. When evaluating creative, on a subconscious level, consumers are probably asking themselves the following questions: Does this ad make me laugh? Does the ad evoke an emotional response in me? Do I remember the product? Am I already a fan of the brand? Will I talk about this ad with friends and family? This subject has come up on two different occasions during the past week. Sitting at a bar with friends on Friday night, one member of the group started talking about our favorite ads on the air right now. We all came from different industries ' marketing, consulting, technology. Only a few responses were the same ' Apple, Budweiser, Nike. One friend said Geico. Since there are currently three or four campaigns on the air, I was curious as to which one. His response, all of them. Whether the Cavemen, Gecko or the Rod Serling-esque announcer, he remembered that they were all Geico. And, more importantly, they all made him laugh. Does having that many different campaigns dilute their brand or cause consumer confusion? From my informal focus group of a few, apparently not. While at a TV shoot for one of my clients, we were talking about what a brand needs to do to stand apart from all the clutter in today's marketplace. The oversaturation of marketing messages is much greater today than even a decade ago. What are the campaigns we remember and why. We agreed that the use of music in Apple's iPod ads differentiates them. The PC vs. Mac campaign's simplicity against a white backdrop is now something other brands try to emulate. The Old Spice 'The Man Your Man Can Smell Like'? campaign brings the message to life in a 360 degree way. One thing was certain. As long as the ad reflects a brand's personality, goals and objectives, whether or not it is liked by the public is a matter of personal opinion. Ask the question the next time you are with a group of friends. Their answers might surprise you.