Integrating Promotional Products in a New Era of Student Recruitment

Although complications from the pandemic are forcing many admissions teams to rethink their playbook, it’s also a chance to innovate and try new tactics, in a new era of student recruitment. 

With tried-and-true college fairs, visits, and admissions events being offered virtually, there are fewer chances for building meaningful in-person connections prospective students. But there’s still a way to help students feel that excitement, build these relationships, and increase the likelihood that students will enroll. Including promotional products in your outreach efforts has multiple benefits. You will help students develop positive perceptions of the school, maintain student interest throughout the admissions process, and create personal connections in an isolating time. 

That’s because promotional products offer benefits that can’t be replicated in other forms of marketing. Unlike print or digital communications, as products are used, displayed, or shared, they provide longer-lasting exposure to your brand and message. According to our proprietary research, we also know that promotional products get enrolled students excited about the college search and influence where they want to attend. 

There are a lot of ways to use promotional product marketing to do this, but we want to share a few “must-have” ideas to make your recruitment strategies more effective.

Convert More Leads to Inquiries
With reduced recruitment leading up to this year, and fewer names available from standardized tests, your pool of prospects might not be as robust as in years prior. This makes it more important than ever to identify interested inquiries who want to start the admissions process. One fun way to make this connection is by mailing a sticker postcard. This low-cost and high-impact item delivers the essential information you want them to have. And they get continuous reminders of the university as the students share and showcase the engaging stickers. 

Get the Attention of School Counselors
Admissions offices with great high school counselor relationships have an easier time moving students through the admissions process. But this year meeting in person with your counselors is not always possible. To maintain these strong connections, and keep counselors informed about the latest updates, consider sending a journal, along with a full color insert. It will stand out among all of the mail they receive, and gives a unique way of providing updated information they need to advise students.

Generate Interest in Speaking with Admissions
The admission staff probably won’t have the chance to meet in-person with students who are ideal for your university. This also makes it more challenging to have meaningful conversations virtually. So how can you increase the chances of them wanting to connect and talk about their interest? One option to entice targeted inquiries is with a branded coffee packet. Compared to an email invitation, this clever throwback to a coffee shop chat is an effective way to ask for a new kind of “coffee meeting.” It also helps them feel valued and wanted as future students of university.  

Keep the Excitement Going After Tours
Students and guests usually receive a promotional item after they attend a campus tour. That’s because these promotional products remind guests of the positive experience they had long after the tour. But for virtual tours, there needs to be a way to still make that important physical connection. One way to modify this tradition by mailing a face mask, along with a full size sticker sheet, as part of the post-tour follow up. Not only is this a solution developed as a response to our times, it’s also a low cost, high impact way for students to feel that personal connection.

Impress and Inform Admitted Students
Now more than ever, it’s important to “wow” admitted students because this traditional milestone now comes packed with new questions. Because of COVID-19, admitted students will want to be fully informed about policies that will affect their social and living experience. It’s possible to be both celebratory and informative using a thoughtfully assembled acceptance packet. Choose from a variety of customizable packaging and mailable items, to provide students with a way to celebrate their acceptance while including important details about social responsibility. Students will feel acknowledged for their accomplishment, use the products to show off their school pride among family and friends, and take to social media to brag about their acceptance.

Get More Commitments from Yield Events
Although yield events will most likely be different this spring they are still crucial to creating high-quality student engagement. There will be more pressure to get more admits to deposit but yield events will most likely not be held the same way as in the past. How can the team help students feel valued so that they want to become part of the community and choose to deposit? Leading up to a virtual yield event, consider sending a snack pack and a die cut sticker. This impactful touchpoint can serve as a reminder to attend and as a way to unify the attendees to feel a sense of community and togetherness. For smaller yield events, like scholarship ceremonies, knit hats are a way to celebrate this subset of the class using a product they are likely to wear and bring to campus.

Celebrate Deposits and Promote the University
As you acknowledge students for their commitment to enroll you can also get the university additional brand exposure. A great way to do this is by sending promotional products that students can share and display at their high school graduation parties. You could also send a mailable yard sign. This builds a level of commitment, helps students share their school pride and excitement, and also promotes the university brand.

Keep Students Committed During Anti-Melt Campaigns
Universities will continue to fiercely compete for deposited students. Even after the deposit deadline. So admissions teams will need to make sure their anti-melt campaigns are more effective than in prior years. Keep these commitments firm by sending a variety of mailable items in a perfectly-timed sequence. You will also keep their school spirit up, remind them you can’t wait to welcome them, and will help committed students recall all of the reasons why they want to attend the university. 

 

These are just some ways to enhance recruitment efforts with the strategic use of promotional product marketing. You can see that by including them throughout the entire process, you’ll strengthen the connections that students have with the university, and set your team up for success to help meet your enrollment goals in this challenging year.