Back-to-school season is fast approaching. If your brand wants to earn their chunk of the expected $83.6B in back-to-school spending, now is the time to start strategizing your plan of attack. A few weeks ago, we wrote a piece that outlined the benefits of creating an advocacy marketing program to support your back-to-school efforts – including more social reach for your back-to-school content, higher levels of engagement and trust, higher spending levels, amongst others. Today, we’ll focus on the top ways your brand can incentivize your advocates to share your content during the back-to-school season. Whether it’s a sweepstakes, contest, or unlock-able reward, having strong advocacy marketing program incentives can be the magic ingredient you need to ensure your program graduates with honors.
General Best Practices For Incentivizing Fans And Advocates
Before we dive into specifics, let’s explore some incentivization best practices. As a rule, you want to ensure your program incentives:
1) Align With Your Advocates
In other words, know your audience! Choose an incentive that speaks to the demographic and psychographic makeup of your advocacy marketing program. Are you going after mom or dad? Do they have an elementary schooler, a high-schooler, or a college kid? Or do they have a combination of ages? The more your program incentives align with the needs and wants of your advocates, the stronger of a performance carrot you’ll have at your disposal.
2) Align With Your Brand
You also want to make sure your incentive makes sense from a branding perspective. If, for example, your brand prides itself on its eco-conscious nature, don’t choose an incentive that produces excess waste. Use your advocacy marketing program incentive to reinforce your key brand values with your #1 audience: your advocates!
3) Are Structured Properly
Do you know the difference between contests and sweepstakes? Do you know when to opt for a random winner over a high-points earner? You want the structure of your incentive to align with what you’re asking from your advocates. As an example, if you want to encourage your advocates to create user-generated content for your brand, consider structuring the incentive as a contest vs. a sweepstakes. Likewise, if you want all of your advocates to walk away with something for their efforts, consider a structure that rewards advocates once they hit a certain points threshold. Make sure your end goal and incentivisation structure are in strategic alignment and you’ll create a fan fervor.
Pro Tip: If you’re unsure what structure works best for you, we’re here to help! Our team of expert program strategists has literally worked with 1,000’s of campaigns. We’ll be glad to walk you through the pros and cons of each structure as well as ensure you’re up to speed on the latest from a compliance or legal standpoint.
4 Ways To Incentivize Your Advocacy Marketing Program For Back-to-School Shoppers
With the basics covered, let’s graduate to the next level.
1) Premiums (A.K.A: Swag)
We’re talking keychains, koozies, water bottles, hats, tee shirts, backpacks, mini-fridges, or any other giveaway item you can spend your marketing budget on. Branded or non-branded, the choice is yours depending on the ravenousness of your advocates. Premiums are particularly appealing to new and current college students, who typically have less discretionary income.
Want to give your premium incentive a bit more of a back-to-school flair? Consider incorporating school supplies into your prizing mix. High-end book bags, art supplies, mouse pads, lunch packs, and even pencils or pens, could be the perfect incentive to enticing your advocates to share, your branded content.
2) Back-to-School Makeover
For many students, heading back-to-school means finding that perfect First Day outfit. Sure, fashion, cosmetic, and apparel brands might have it easy when it comes to developing a makeover incentive, but that shouldn’t keep your brand from using one too! There are a variety of ways your brand can provide a back-to-school makeover, even if it’s just providing some extra spending cash.
You can also choose to incentivize your program’s parents or students. if your advocacy marketing group is primarily comprised of moms of high school students, you could choose to use incentives that would speak to the high schooler’s needs or choose incentives specifically geared towards the mom’s. After all, why should students have all the back-to-school fun?
3) Gift Cards
Gift cards are a perfect prize for back-to-school incentives. They are particularly effective for incentivizing university and college-aged advocates. As with your other incentives, it’s imperative to opt for gift cards that resonate with your advocacy group. For example, you wouldn’t want to give away a gift card to a restaurant or store in North Carolina if most of your advocates live in California.
School is expensive! Whether your advocates are raising elementary school children or college-bound adults, there are always going to be school-related bills to pay. When in doubt about how to best motivate your advocates, consider a monetary prize like a scholarship or book- or tuition-assistance. With the average college student borrowing over $30,000, even just the promise of a little bit of extra money can go a long way towards incentivizing your advocates.
Back-to-school season is only a few months away. This year, use the sharing power of your advocates to ensure your back-to-school marketing messages get the visibility they deserve.