The Core - A Blog by DMA Solutions
DMA Solutions Team
Posted by DMA Solutions TeamJuly 15, 2020 6:00 AM

Summer is here, which means… it’s time to start thinking about going back to school. As one of the biggest promotion seasons of the year, brands have to start planning months in advance. But when you don’t even know what next week is going to look like, it can be daunting. So let’s focus on what we do know and what isn’t likely to change.


First, let’s look at 4 possible scenarios speculated by EdSurge when it’s time for students to go back in the fall:

  1. Brick to Click - school starts in-person, but teachers are trained and ready to transfer online again in the event of another outbreak
  2. Click to Brick - school continues fully online learning in the fall with teachers preparing for better administration of virtual teaching, with the option for schools to reopen with potential altered schedules and face-to-face learning serving as a supplement to online learning. 
  3. Blended - a hybrid schedule where students attend in-person for a portion of the week, with younger students potentially receiving more frequent in-person instruction.
  4. Online - all instruction and programming will be provided online

While no one knows for sure what will happen, and it will largely be up to each individual school county and school district to decide, it’s highly likely that most students will be doing at least a portion of online learning, and that school days may look different with each passing week and day. With this in mind, it’s clear that typical “back-to-school” marketing campaigns must adapt to remain relevant and sensitive. Not everyone may be going back to an actual school building, and those who are may be less than excited about the new stricter guidelines, lack of recess, and inability to hug their friends. Our job as marketers is to continue to show empathy and do our part to make this transition easier on everyone, students, parents, faculty and staff alike. 


So how do we plan back-to-school content when we have no idea what reality will be like? We can start here:

Get Technical

Electronics are more necessary than ever, so when brainstorming prizes, think about what kids and families are relying on everyday. Things like tablets, airpods, Edge desks, smart pens, noise-cancelling headphones, in-home projectors, etc. are not only exciting but essential as students no longer have access to school technology and are forced to find ways to stay engaged at home. 


Focus on Teacher Appreciation

Many consider teachers at the frontlines of fighting this virus with all the extra work they have put into adapting content and managing student learning from a distance. Framing your content around appreciation for teachers is a sure way to be relevant regardless of how school looks. Consider having followers tag a teacher they love, post a picture with a teacher they are grateful for, or write a submission about the impact a teacher has made on them as an extra submission. 


Make Them Entertaining

We wrote last fall about the trend we are seeing in gamified promotions, and we believe now is as good a time as ever to step outside of the box. In a time where boredom is running high and more media than ever is competing for consumer attention, why not go the extra mile to make your promotion more engaging? 


Above All, Stick to What Works

Regardless of what the landscape looks like, we have consistently seen consumers respond well to promotions--in fact, several of the brands we manage have seen increased engagements in promotions run during the thick of COVID-19. As long as you do it tastefully, there’s no reason to disrupt your normal promotion schedule. In fact, it may even be a better time to run promotions as people are looking for good news (and free stuff) these days. 

Promotions continue to be a major driver in awareness and brand loyalty, so you can’t afford to let off the gas now. If you don’t know where to start, our team can help.

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