BTS 2020: A Marketer's Challenges

Back to School. The phrase that children dread and parents celebrate is now shrouded in uncertainty and brands are looking for ways to salvage what was an $80 billion retail season. Marketing budgets are shifting away from previous outlets like social media, consumers are confused about what they need to buy to prepare for the Fall season, and everyone wants answers, but no one seems to have any.

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To be perfectly honest, we don’t have all the answers, either. No one possibly could. However, here are some truths and realities you can count on even without consulting a crystal ball:

  • Those 56.6 million K-12 school kids haven’t stopped growing in quarantine — they’ll still need new clothes as the weather changes. And they will still be eating snacks and lunches. Every. Single. Day.
  • No matter where they are learning, kids will need school supplies. And if school stays online, so will all those parents helping at home — and this time, they have a chance to prepare.
  • Spring fundraisers were mostly a bust, which means the pressure is on for fall. Online ordering for premium candies, candles, etc., or a drive-through/takeout restaurant partnership works, quarantine or no quarantine.

It’s simply not an easy time to be a marketer. To help out, we’ve summarized three possible scenarios for how BTS could go down this year, based on an amazing guide developed by Criteo and Retail Dive to help brands with their BTS 2020 planning:

  1. Business as Usual (Grade D: optimistic and unfortunately unlikely). On the positive side, a quick return to normal retail habits and operations could trigger some shopping. However, retailers would have to go into overdrive on very short notice, and many consumers will likely stick to their “new normal” of online shopping.
  2. Alternative Openings (Grade A-: looking likely). Semester delays, in-school and online hybrids, and staggered classes are all on the table for both lower and higher education. This option will likely increase the need for goods, but decisions may differ by location.
  3. Economic Interference (Grade B+: very possible). Even if schools are fully open, the economy is rebounding slowly. Messaging will need to address this without cheapening your brand. You will need to identify your customers’ new touchpoints and reach them where they are emotionally comfortable.

No matter what the scenario, one clear theme is emerging from the fog of confusion — and that is flexibility. For the best chance at success this Fall, marketers must be able to nimbly adjust their plans and messaging in response to any major shifts. And the best platform to make that happen is digital. 

Among marketers, SignUp is respected for offering creative solutions to help reach the audience you need, a hyper-targeted group of 20M+ influential, involved moms, teachers, community leaders, and volunteers. We bring flexible, digital strategies to fit any scenario — could a path to success be any clearer?

So when you’re ready, we’re here to help you engage with parents — to remind them of the value your brand offers in meeting their needs, no matter where their kids will be in September.


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