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Top Promotional Products for Colleges in 2017

After exploring the PPAI Expo’s tradeshow floor in early January, the Magellan Promotions team came back with many great ideas that we’d love help you incorporate into your promotional product offering for 2017. Check out our favorite products for colleges below.

For pricing on any of these items, either click the item name, or visit our showroom.

Cell Phone Fan

What it is:

Have you ever held an outdoor event on a hot day where everyone is using your brochures as fans to keep themselves cool? Thanks to the cell phone fan, your event attendees can actually read those brochures instead of waving them around! The fan attaches to smart phones using the charging port and once plugged in can run up to 10 hours. With attachments for both Apple and Android phones, it’s usable by almost everyone.

Why we love it:

The cell phone fan is the perfect, budget-friendly summer event giveaway. On a hot day, your event attendees will definitely thank you for thinking of their comfort! Plus, the small size means it’s easy to throw in a purse or backpack for easy access after your event has ended. Any time your recipient wishes there was a breeze on a stiflingly hot day, they’ll be glad to have the cell phone fan around!

Find more information and pricing here.

econscious Full-Zip Up Hoodie

What it is:

The econscious brand makes organic and sustainable apparel out of organic cottons and recycled polyester that is durable, comfortable and stylish. Our favorite piece from the brand is their full-zip hoodie that is made from 80% organic cotton and 20% recycled polyester and comes in six different colors.

Why we love it:

Over the years we have seen our college partners becoming more and more environmentally aware, and we know that it is important to have apparel options that are eco-friendly. We love this piece because it is comfortable, stylish, and eco-friendly all at once! If you are looking to make a statement in both style and on the environment with your apparel, the econscious hoodie is the way to go.

Find more information and pricing here.

Custom Tote

What it is: 

We know just how hard it can be at times to find a bag you like in your schools colors if the colors are anything other than black, white, red or royal blue. This tote bag is the solution you’ve been looking for. Pick from a selection of fourteen different colors for the front and back panels, side gussets, handles and your logo.

Normally you’d expect that a custom bag like this is an overseas project with a 5,000 piece minimum and 90 day production, right? Not this time! Production time is under 10 working days, and you can go as low as 250 pieces.

Why we love it:

Reusable bags are always a popular giveaway since they can be used so many ways. We’ve been right there with you on project where you want to match a bag your school’s colors, but can’t find the right combination in a stock item, and we know how frustrating it can be when the colors you need just aren’t available. This bag gives you the flexibility to highlight your school’s colors, without requiring you to find the budget for an overseas project or having to figure out where to store thousands of bags you don’t need right away. It’s the perfect custom bag option for any school.

Find more information and pricing here.

Kanga Wallet

What it is:

The Kanga wallet is a new twist on the traditional phone wallet. Just like the original phone wallet, it attaches to the back of your phone to store credit cards, school IDs and more. But unlike the original, the Kanga is made of faux leather and looks more like the traditional folding wallet, and can hold up to seven cards. It even has a hidden pocket to hide a little bit of cash. For extra security, it also has a strap along the side that ensures that the wallet stays closed.

Why we love it:

The traditional silicone phone wallet has been popular with many of our clients for years, and we continue to sell it to departments across campus. We love the phone wallet – but it does have it’s limitations as it only recommends that you use it to store two cards. The Kanga phone wallet allows you to store up to seven, and it has a more professional look than the colored silicone wallet. It makes for great gifts for staff, or students about to graduate who are looking for their fist job.

Find more information and pricing here.

20oz Congito Byron Tumbler

What it is:

If you’ve ever had the chance to visit the Magellan Promotions headquarters, you’ll probably notice that we all have a Contigo tumbler or water bottle on our desks. When it comes to a high-quality, retail-name brand piece of drinkware, it’s hard to find something that will be better than the Contigo brand.

In 2016, the Congito Byron was introduced as an alternative to the Contigo Westloop as a less-expensive but still high-quality tumbler. The Byron tumbler is a double-wall, vacuum insulated tumbler with a SNAPSEAL lid, meaning that when the lid is closed you can throw it in a bag without worrying about it spilling. Trust us, we’ve tried it! This year’s introduction is a 20oz version, meaning that you can hold an extra 25% in the tumbler over the original version. It’s plenty big to satisfy anyone’s daily caffeine addition (we’d hope).

Why we love it:

Because of their superior quality, the 20oz Byron tumbler makes for a great gift for staff, guest speakers, alumni, donors and more. The value in the Contigo brand name and quality will show that you’re giving a gift of great value, but you won’t break the bank.

Find more information and pricing here.

Custom Dye-Sublimated Polos

What it is:

Our custom dye-sublimated polos allow you to fully design a polo from start to scratch with no limit on the number of colors or restrictions on logo placement that you would normally have on a polo with a standard left-chest embroidery. You have the ability to create a design that is completely unique, from design, to color, logo placement and more. With a online creation platform, you can design your apparel from scratch, or start with one of our premade designs. Within 30 days, we can produce and deliver as few as 4 custom shirts to you.

Why we love it:

Just like with the bags we previously talked about, we know that it can be hard to find a polo that perfectly matches your school’s colors, especially if you are looking for a specific PMS match or want to stand out from the crowd. You can create a piece that no one else on your campus will have. These polos are perfect for helping brand your staff apparel for events, making sure your brand stands out from the crowd.

To discuss information and pricing for a custom polo project, please contact one of our Account Managers.

Knit & Sublimated Socks

What it is:

We’ve seen knit socks before, and we’ve dye-sublimated socks too. The newest trend to hit our industry is combining the best of both decoration methods – a knit in foot and cuff, with a dye-sublimated ankle. This allows you to get the thicker feeling of knit in the foot of the sock, while getting the extra detail and full-color printing available through dye-sublimation on the ankle. Plus, with new developments in the dye-sublimation process, you no longer have to worry about the white background making your logo from being lost when worn. The new process dyes the threads deeper into the sock, helping maintain the integrity of the logo when worn.

Why we love it:

You can never have too many socks, right? Plus a good pair of socks can be a little expensive – which is why people will appreciate getting them as a gift. The combination of dye sublimation and knit-in decoration allows you to get really creative with the design and show off your brand in a new, unique way! Socks are great giveaways for fundraisers, athletic events, admissions events and more.

Find more information and pricing here.

Wine-O Wine Stopper

What it is:

Have you ever struggled with getting a wine bottle in your fridge once you put a wine stopper on it because it either doesn’t fit on the shelf or it’s too tall to fit in the door? Many of the wine stoppers in our industry are the taller style that add extra height to a wine bottle making it more difficult to fit in your fridge (but that just means you have to finish the bottle instead of putting it back in the fridge, right?). The Wine-O wine stopper is the solution, as it fits flat on the top of a wine bottle without adding too much height.

Why we love it:

The Wine-O wine stopper eliminates the struggle of trying to get a wine bottle with a stopper into your fridge, while at the same time having a sleek look that is the perfect accent for your logo. Imprinted with either a laser engrave (our favorite) or with UV ink, it is a very sleek gift. Wine-related gifts are always perfect for alumni giveaways and events, or fundraisers. Plus the low minimums and price under $4 means it’s the perfect budget-friendly giveaway.

Find more information and pricing here.

Omega Collection Tumbler

What it is:

Yeti-style tumblers were one of the most popular drinkware trends in our industry in 2016. But the double-walled, copper vacuum insulation that is used on Yeti-style tumblers means that they can require a bigger budget. The Omega Collection tumbler is a Yeti-style tumbler that won’t break the bank. Instead of the double-walled insulation, the Omega Collection tumbler is a single wall tumbler, cutting the prince almost in half from the double-walled option.

Why we love it:

The most recognizable thing about the Yeti brand is their look and style, and the Omega Collection tumbler lets you take that style but doesn’t break the bank. It comes in a few unique colors that will make your brand stand out. The straw also makes it easier to drink from, compared to many other Yeti-style tumblers that only have sip-through lids. If you’re looking for a great drinkware piece to use as a giveaway or gift, the Omega Collection is a great option!

Find more information and pricing here.

Ollie Computer Backpack

What it is:

Over the past year we’ve talked a lot about how the most popular items in our industry are our interpretations of retail brands, but at a less expensive price-point. The Ollie computer backpack is no exception. The Ollie mirrors the look of a Timbuk2 backpack, but at a much lower price point. Available in red, blue or black, the Ollie backpack can hold up to a 17″ laptop, and features a zippered accessory pocket, interior mesh pockets for organization, adjustable, padded shoulder straps and more.

Why we love it:

Backpacks have been trending within the bags category in our industry, and the Ollie is a sharp-looking option that won’t blow your budget. The retail-brand style means that it will appeal to college students, and they’d be happy to wear it around campus promoting your brand. Perfect for scholarship events, admissions giveaways and more, you can’t go wrong with the Ollie computer backpack!

Find more information and pricing here.

Would one or more of these items be perfect for branding your company in 2017? Contact one of our Account Managers or check out our showroom for more information and pricing.

The Keyboard Sticker

Keyboard Sticker Blog Post

I bet many (if not all) of your incoming freshmen applied to your school through your website – most likely sitting at a computer. During the next four years of their lives, your students will spend countless hours on their computers – writing and researching papers, completing homework assignments and more. And that’s just the incoming class of 2020. Think about all the ways that your constituents use their computers – students writing papers, alumni making donations and faculty advising their students, just to name a few.

Since computers and technology are such an integral part of life today for your current and prospective students, alumni, faculty and more, what better way to keep your brand right in front of them than by using their own computers as a promotional item?

UW Keyboard Sticker

University of Wisconsin’s Keyboard Sticker

Our exclusively designed keyboard sticker is an inexpensive, engaging and unique way to do just that. You can customize any computer key with a ½” sticker, quickly making a keyboard the hard-to-miss advertisement for your institution.

These keyboard stickers have been a hit with many of our clients and they are the perfect way for you to reach out to current and perspective students, donors, alumni and more.

Many schools have used the same template, but do you want to switch it up? We can do that! Add more keys, make a bigger card, or even turn the keyboard sticker into a postcard. If you can design it, we can do it.

Email your Account Manager to discuss how the keyboard sticker could be the next great addition to your marketing platform.

Top Products of NACAC 2014

Mid-September Michael and Paige headed to Indianapolis for the NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) National Conference. The show was a huge success with over 6000 attendees!

In talking with professionals who stopped by our booth, Michael identified promotional products that stood out.  Four popular items, pictured below, related to tech items and social media photo sharing.  Want to view more top promotional products?  Visit our NACAC 2014 Showroom.

Nacac top promo products

A few favorite items in our booth

 

The DigiClean screen cleaner continues to be a popular item (and is something we have highlighted in this post and this case study). Attendees loved the phone wallets and portable chargers we handed out. The custom frame received a lot of interest too, especially for tying in fun photo sharing with campus tours and admitted student days. Read our case study on the UW-Madison custom frame for more details.

Funnel Art for Web AwarenessAdditional popular case studies for admissions were featured on our booth handout to further illustrate how promotional items can effectively be used throughout each stage of the enrollment funnel to:

Some of our favorite NACAC moments in our booth (besides meeting with so many wonderful admissions professionals) were some surprise visitors!

mascots in booth

From the conference socials to running the 5K, Michael and Paige had an awesome time connecting with and learning from so many schools. Contact Michael to talk about how we can be a marketing resource for your school!

Paige and Michael IUPUI Mascot cropped

Paige & Michael with the IUPUI Mascot

What were your highlights of NACAC 2014?  Let us know what promotional products were your favorites!

 

 

 

 

Help Stop the Melt – 5 Ways to Integrate Promotional Products into Social Media

“Most schools will see a melt of 2-3% of their incoming class,” according to Bob Patterson, the Director of College Outreach for Zinch, a Chegg service, who discussed Summer Melt on edTech Digest.

Some of the strategies he outlined to prevent summer melt included creating a social network for deposited students and simply getting students excited about coming to campus.

Students Engaged Online = Less Likely to Melt

Encouraging accepted and deposited students to join and participate in a school’s social media sites is a common goal at EVERY higher education institution throughout the year, and most importantly during summer. To increase participation, it may take some incentive for students to actively post on an incoming class’ social media site.

To increase social media engagement, many colleges creatively use promotional products to promote and drive usage on incoming class sites.  A tangible item is a fun way of saying “thank-you for choosing our school” and an appreciated reminder of your school and its dedicated social media sites over summer. Here are a few promotional product ideas that collegiate clients frequently integrate with their social media campaigns:

Product Ideas for Social Media Integration

  1. Contests: Use promotional items as a prize on social media contests. Ripon College hosted a water bottle photo contest with the Class of 2017.  It was successful in creating engagement with the new class, leading to many new interactions and conversations in the social media space. Learn more in the Ripon College Case Study.
    Ripon College Water Bottles used in Facebook Contest

    Ripon College Water Bottles used in Facebook Contest

  2. Imprinting Twitter handles and social media accounts on a t-shirt.  Bloomfield College has been hosting a t-shirt promotion for three years.  Once students took a picture of themselves with their Accept Certificate and posted it online, they would be mailed a t-shirt.  According to Bloomfield College, each year the number of posts surpasses the previous year, making this promotion a big hit with students.  Learn more in the Bloomfield College T-shirt and Social Media Promotion Case Study.
    bloomfield-college-tshirt

    Bloomfield College T-Shirt and Social Media Promotion

  3. Stickers / Decals: These are a low-cost, direct-mail-friendly item that can easily be imprinted to direct students to social media sites for admitted / deposited students.  One college we worked with created bumper stickers to include in an admitted student mailing.  Students were encouraged to post pictures of themselves with the bumper sticker on the admitted student Facebook page.
    Midland Prep Two Sided Postcard Decal

    Postcard on one side and decals on the other. Available in white or clear with an adhesive or static cling

  4. Phone Screen Cleaner: The DigiClean phone screen cleaner is one of our most popular tech items with colleges.  It comes pre-attached to a postcard or business card, leaving an ample canvas for featuring a QR code, social media icons, and hashtags for incoming students. Read more in the DigiClean Case Study.
    DigClean Mobile Phone Screen Cleaner comes pre-affixed to a postcard, making it ideal for direct mail, not to mention extremely useful for students.

    DigClean Mobile Phone Screen Cleaner comes pre-affixed to a postcard, making it ideal for direct mail, not to mention extremely useful for students.

  5. Picture-worthy Promo Items:  a custom frame with the hashtag #FutureBadgers for the University of Wisconsin – Madison was used to integrate social media into campus tours, allowing prospective students show their excitement and actively endorse UW Madison to their own social networks.  This frame could also be created for Class of 2018 at admitted student days or orientation activities. Learn more about it in the Custom Frame Case Study.
    Future-Badgers-Frame-Campus-tour

    Custom Frame is a fun photo-opp for students with a specific hashtag for online sharing.

Social media plays a key role in building community and helping students find their place at your school.  It’s essential to effectively promote admitted / deposited student sites to minimize the melt.  Consider using promotional products to help engage and excite students throughout summer.

Promotional Marketing for College Recruitment

When thinking about promotional products, we have been putting ourselves in the shoes of our admissions clients. We understand that the stakes for recruiting students have never been higher.

This makes your school’s marketing tactics even more important.  You need to be memorable.  Print, online, TV, radio, events and direct mail are all common elements of any college’s marketing mix. Where does promotional marketing fit in? The answer is easy – just about anywhere.  When properly thought-out, promotional items are easily integrated into your existing marketing plans.

As with any successful marketing campaign, it’s essential to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.  A relevant and useful promotional item can reinforce a marketing message to your audience, and repeat exposure increases the likelihood of recall and eventual action. Based on recall alone, promotional items rank higher than other media types.

Comparing advertising recall

Source: PPAI Research

The bottom line: promotional products WORK for recruiting college students. Picture a high school student seeing your college’s billboard, online ad, and using a branded phone screen cleaner from a campus event all in the same day. It’s the perfect way to keep your brand in front of a target audience – exactly what’s needed for a longer decision-making process of selecting a college.

Based on our experience working with admissions departments, we’ve broken down the enrollment funnel into three key areas categorized by marketing goals:

  1. Raise Awareness
  2. Increase Engagement
  3. Create Excitement

Read case studies, download our Admissions Marketing Checklist, and receive product ideas on these pages.

Chat with us! 

Join #EMchat on Thursday, November 21 at 9:00 pm EST to talk promotional marketing for recruiting college students.

Not available to chat? Look for the #EMchat transcript, PastChats, or feel free to contact us for a recap and more information.

 

 

Enhancing International Student Recruitment with Promotional Marketing

The U.S. will be the fastest growing international student destination over the next decade, according to a report released by the British Council’s Education Intelligence as featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  A record high: 764,495 international students came to the U.S. for the 2011-2012 academic year as noted in Open Doors 2012 Fast Facts.   The report also indicates the top ten countries of origin: China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Mexico, and Turkey.  Outside of the top ten, Iran, Venezuela, and Spain have experienced double-digit growth rates in the number of students studying in the United States.

Country of focus aside, all of the data points to the importance of international recruiting for U.S. schools and colleges.  In this post, we’ll examine the basics of international recruiting and incorporating promotional marketing into your overall marketing strategy.

International Recruiting: The Essentials

While the U.S. is already among the most popular destination for international students, each school has the unique opportunity to build its brand to stand out from other institutions. According to a Noel Levitz White Paper, Reaching Beyond Borders: Key Issues in Recruiting and Retaining International Students, academic quality matters most to students with campus safety and security being a top concern.  In addition to these areas, international recruiters need to emphasize key differentiators: campus size, diverse student body, location etc. to “sell” a university’s experience.

Defining your Audience

Beyond solely targeting students, it’s important to also reach out to the many people who help influence students: parents, local alumni, international organizations, and agents.  As you know, some parents are extremely involved in their students’ academic decisions, so it’s not uncommon to be communicating with them directly.  Local alumni and current students also serve as brand ambassadors, sharing their experience via social media or in person at events. Such endorsements become valuable (and free) word of mouth advertising and influential peer endorsements.  Parents often hire private agents to help students select and gain admission to top U.S. schools, so it’s important make agents aware of your school.  Finally, partnering with trade organizations, such as Education USA can increase a school’s understanding, promotion, and overall reach within a given area.

Tailoring your Marketing Mix

Colleges typically utilize webinars, email, electronic viewbooks, website, mobile site, event support, and promotional marketing for international recruiting. While advertising in the local market may not be attainable or within budget, promotional marketing can be incorporated through university recruiters and professors traveling abroad (or at international trade events held in the U.S.), international alumni associations, overseas agents or advisors via events or direct mail.   Special considerations should be given to ensure any direct mail premiums or hand-carried items would clear customs.

Promotional marketing works for recruiting international students because it is:

  1. Targeted & Brand Relevant
  2. Useful and Appreciated Advertising
  3. An Implied Endorsement

Targeted & Brand Relevant: Traditionally thought of as the marketing medium that starts a relationship, promotional products can be extremely targeted to the lifestyle of a prospective international student, while still being relevant to your brand.  When appealing to the habits and interests of students with a promotional item, a school can increase the likelihood that the item will be used, which in turn, increases the item’s effectiveness.

Useful and Appreciated Advertising: A tangible, useful branded item can be a daily reminder of a school or college (81% of products are kept because of usefulness). Promotional items are the only form of advertising that make recipients say, “thank you.”  Students will also stand in line for free promotional items.

Implied Endorsement: Lending itself to social sharing, promotional products are also an implied endorsement of your school.  This is important for word of mouth marketing to peers. Similarly, promotional items can be used to market to the high school counselors, advisors, and agents located abroad.  Either hand out items at fly-in’s or events, or mail counselors promotional items for their students interested in studying in the United States, as they are the local “face of your school.”

International Recruiting Product Ideas  

In brainstorming product ideas for international students, we subscribed to the idea that “smaller is better.”  Think of items that can easily be shipped overseas, or packed in a suitcase to reach alumni, agents, or high school advisors (that will also clear customs). As in any marketing campaign, the promotional item should be tailored to the target audience and local customs. Some ideas we like:

Long-term Strategy

The key to successfully growing an international student base is a long-term commitment in specific target countries.  Many students are already convinced that the U.S. is their top choice, so it’s up to each school to effectively brand and promote its academic experience and build relationships to become THE choice for international students.

Additional Resources

 

Supporting Admissions with Promotional Marketing

As with anything in life, sometimes it just comes down to timing.

We sent a mailing to our professional contacts with a sample of a unique product: the web key. Though at first glance they don’t look too exciting, web keys are cool and useful for several reasons:

  1. Targeted: web keys drive traffic to a specific URL when plugged into a USB port
  2. Measurable: use web metrics to track results
  3. Cost: web keys are less expensive than USB drives

Dana Grennier at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) received our mailing and sample web key at just the right time. She was part of a team that was launching a new social network platform called Bridge, developed in partnership with 7Summits. The web key was the perfect promotional item to promote Bridge to prospective students.

Beyond traditional marketing tactics, MSOE staff handed out web keys at college fairs, high school visits, open house events, and other higher education meetings.  Read the full story on how promotional marketing supported MSOE admissions’ goals in our case study library.  

Web Key promoting Bridge

Front and back of the Web Key used to promote the new Bridge website: a platform for high school students to interact with admissions.