Remember when you were young and everything in life revolved around the school events calendar?
Seasons weren’t marked by dates, but by school breaks. Holidays weren’t one-day events, but week-long lessons capped off by classroom parties. And though they weren’t recognized by the rest of the world, certain occasions — school dances, midterms, recitals, graduation — generated more excitement or anxiety than Christmas morning.
Most marketers already know that seasonal content can be a great way to engage audiences. But those targeting educators often overlook the special times, events, and rituals that are unique to the school environment. When marketers incorporate school “holidays” into their strategy, they don’t just build bonds with students, parents, and educators; they cement their company as an integral part of school year traditions.
In addition to district- and school-specific events, these six school year holidays are smart additions to your company’s marketing calendar:
1. Back-to-school season
The beginning of a new school year is a time for fresh starts and new faces. But for most teachers in the United States, it’s also a time of steep costs. Teachers spend an estimated $1.75 billion per year on classroom supplies, or almost $500 per teacher, with new teachers spending the most to get their first classroom ready for students.
So what can brands to do to ease teachers’ back-to-school burden? Keep things simple by offering special discounts, perhaps in exchange for following your company on social media. According to our “Teachers as Consumers” report, 46 percent of teachers will click “Like” or follow brands to receive discounts.
For an innovative way to get on teachers’ good side, try hosting a teacher shower. We recently teamed up with office supply company Quill to throw one, which honored a first-time teacher in Chicago by providing him with tons of classroom supplies. The event not only helped a deserving educator, but also showed the entire community that Quill cares about education.
2. Winter holidays
For students, the weeks leading up to winter break are full of gingerbread house contests and carol singing. But it’s also a time that students, faculty, and staff come together to give back to their community. From canned food drives to winter coat collections, educators strive to teach students the importance of sharing and caring for others during the winter holidays.
Your company can get into the holiday spirit by sponsoring fundraising efforts, volunteering your team’s time, or donating needed supplies. It’s a smart way to get your company’s name out there, but more importantly, it’s a great way to help students and families in need. Just don’t forget to give hardworking educators a gift, too. Something as simple as new whiteboard markers or a gift card to their favorite restaurant can create positive memories in teachers’ minds.
3. Snow days
What kid — and, let’s be honest, teacher — doesn’t love a snow day? Pretty much anyone who gets the call for a snow day feels like they’re getting a special gift from Mother Nature herself.
As a marketer, you may not be able to predict snow days, but you can help celebrate them. When wintery weather approaches, start sharing special snow day content, offering snow day promotions, or sending jubilant messages to parents and educators. You could even step it up a notch by gifting craft supplies, games, and educational resources for students to use at home on snow days. Or you could sponsor a school’s access to an online platform or website to keep kids learning, even when they’re snowed in.
4. Testing season
The polar opposite of snow days for teachers and students is testing time, which is usually in March or early April. Without some brand-sponsored relief, testing days can overflow with tension. Annual achievement test scores are typically tied to things like school accreditation, funding, and teacher pay, so it’s critical for students to be at the top of their game.
Take the pressure off during testing season by offering special treats that acknowledge the hard work of teachers and students. Small prizes, from branded erasers to healthy snacks, can boost motivation and keep students’ spirits high. To go above and beyond, sponsor a breakfast for an in-need school district to help every student start the testing day off right.
5. Teacher appreciation week
While teachers should be celebrated all year long, there’s a week in May specifically set aside to thank all the wonderful teachers out there. This is the perfect time for your brand to get a little personal. Share stories of teachers who helped shape your team’s lives on your social media. Better yet, share them with a group dedicated to teachers, such as WeAreTeachers on Facebook.
Other than swapping stories, this week is a great chance to offer thank-you discounts to teachers. For example, last year fast-casual chain Chipotle had buy-one-get-one offer for educators, shoe company Aerosoles gave teachers 15 percent off, and some Major League Baseball teams offered discounted tickets to teachers on certain nights. When it comes to teacher discounts, it’s tough to go wrong.
6. Graduation time
There’s no party like an end-of-school party! Although school supply giveaways may be better left for the next August, there are still plenty of ways that brands can get in on the fun.
Start by simply congratulating students, teachers, and parents on a job well done. It’s free, and it’s definitely deserved. Help graduating seniors get ready for college with dorm room essentials, and promote temporary employment opportunities to teachers looking to make some extra money over the summer. Or plan a big giveaway — like a new computer or a $1,000 gift card — for a nail-biting end-of-year raffle.
In the education world, school-related holidays matter just as much, if not more, than real holidays like Christmas and the Fourth of July. They’re can’t-miss opportunities to demonstrate your company’s commitment to education and to engage teachers, parents, and students.
Need help building a data-driven campaign around your next school celebration? We’ve got you covered. Download “Marketing to Educators: What You Need to Ace the Test” to learn how to make the most of your brand’s big day.