Top of the class: Four back-to-school promotion ideas

Running back-to-school promotions will put you on the honor roll.


Back-to-school promotions are a huge opportunity for engaging the parents and advertisers in your community.

People love bragging about their kids and taking pictures of them – I know I do! The only thing they love more is sharing those pictures, especially if there is a prize.

According to the National Retail Federation, families with children are expected to spend over $600 on electronics and apparel this year. In total, over $68 billion will be spent on back to school.

We have seen many media companies profit off back-to-school initiatives. Learn how you too can capitalize on it by adding one of these promotions to your calendar:

Back-to-School Sweepstakes

It’s no surprise back-to-school sweepstakes are a hit in many markets. Sweeps have the broadest reach of any promotion type. Their low barrier to enter results in lots of entries and encourages social sharing. Also, sweeps are quick to setup and easy to sponsor.

Back-to-school sweepstakes come in many variations with many different prize offerings. Prizes vary from a school supply shopping spree to a cash giveaway – or even a spa day for mom.

School-Themed Quizzes

Quizzes are a creative way to tap into back-to-school fever. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Are You Smarter Than a Middle Schooler?
  • Which TV High School Should You Go To?
  • How Well Can You Spell?
  • Which (Local City) High School Mascot Are You?
  • Name That Famous Movie High School

Plus, with our library of turnkey quizzes, you have plenty of ready-to-run or ready-to-customize quizzes just waiting for you to use on your site!

First-Day-of-School Photo Contest

Which parents don’t take photos of their kids on the first day of school? Since most people have these photos, it makes for a great photo contest category. Not only does everyone already have photos of their children, but they likely have these photos on every single device they own.

Lots of small and mid-sized business sponsors are interested in sponsoring these contests because they appeal to a niche audience – women who are often decision-makers in their households. Try targeting children’s retailers, daycares, tutoring centers, pediatricians, banks, and grocery stores for this promotion.

Instagram Hashtag Photo Sweeps

Love the previous two ideas? Our next promotion type combines them and also adds social media to the mix.

Instagram sweepstakes, where people enter to win by posting a photo along with a specific hashtag, are not only easy for you to set up and for your audience to enter, but they are also inherently viral. Every single entry will appear in the photo stream of every entrant’s followers, allowing you to greatly expand your reach and engagement. Due to this, they are an easy sell to a wide variety of advertisers.

Instagram is very popular with younger demographics, and 73% of users are between the ages of 15 and 35. This audience is also highly engaged. According to Pew Research Center, almost half (49%) of Instagram users are on the platform daily, with 32% checking in several times a day.

Matt Coen is president and co-founder of Second Street, a Saint Louis-based provider of private-label online promotions platforms for media companies