2015 Top Admissions Promotional Items

One thing that is true of the promotional products industry is there are literally THOUSANDS of products! It’s easy to search and search for the perfect idea with so many choices, which can get a bit overwhelming.

That’s where we come in.  We sort through the latest ideas for 2015 and organize them into categories to make it easier for you to find what applies to your school and organization.  We did just this with our notes and pictures from the PPAI Expo to highlight several trends and top promotional ideas for admissions departments.

New Ideas for Admissions

2015 promo ideas for admissions departments

New products for college admissions.

Starting at the top left, we’ll discuss how each promotional idea relates to admissions marketing.

  1. Custom Imprinted Box – 3D direct mail really makes a statement.  We’ve seen some creative admissions acceptance mailings, and we think a custom imprinted box would be a fun way to say, “You’re IN!”  For a smaller sized mailing, we especially like the Greeting Cube, which can be imprinted on both the inside and outside of the box. A higher value mailing could also be used to target specific student populations at various stages of the enrollment funnel.  According to the Direct Marketing Association, 3D mailings receive a 250% better response rate than standard mail, so it’s a great way to keep prospective students engaged with your school. For more direct mail ideas, see our Direct Mail Showroom.
  2. Mini Polaroid Camera – as we talked about in Help Students Picture Their Future at your School, a Polaroid camera would be a fun way to instantly provide a picture to a prospective student visiting campus.
  3. Tech Tattoos – These ultra removable decals are an inexpensive, safe and easy way to personalize electronic gadgets. The stickers are designed for laptops, tablets, e-readers, cell phones, music players, game consoles, and more. People love to show school spirit on their devices, making these tech tattoos ideal for prospective students (either in a direct mail piece with information or an event handout).  We also would recommend custom sticker sheets, such as the ones Wartburg College created with us.

    design your own sticker sheet

    A custom sticker sheet is another direct-mail friendly and new product for prospective students

  4. Luggage Tag – These high quality, embroidered luggage tags are a favorite idea for admitted students. It could easily be used in a get ready to “pack your bags” and come to our school themed event or mailing.
  5. Custom Pen Holder – Do you have a landmark on campus that would make a fun, custom pen holder?  This is a unique idea for high school couselors. There are so many options – check out the catalog here. Desk items are a gold standard among promotional products, meaning your brand gains more exposure when its displayed on a desk.
  6. DigiClean Mailer – We’ve written about the DigiClean many times (NACAC Top Products, DigiClean Testimonials, as one of our most popular tech screen cleaning promotional items.  DigiClean products come affixed to a direct mail card, so additional school information can be promoted on a larger space than the DigiClean itself. DigiClean and DigiGrip are items that literally “stick around” and resonate with tech-savvy prospective students. Click here for a link to the DigiClean Showroom.

Which items are you most interested in for your school or college? Let us know if you’ve seen any unique promotional products that colleges are using in the comments below.

Looking for more product ideas? See our Top New Promotional Products for Colleges blog post.

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


A Tech Item that Sticks Around

Did you know 81% of all promotional items are kept because of usefulness? This statistic directly ties to our most popular promotional tech item for students – the DigiClean – that can be used again and again to clean screens of electronic devices.

We have written about the DigiClean in the past, but as we have continued to work with schools on this product, we continue to learn more about why it is such an outstanding product.  This blog post highlights DigiClean’s key differentiating features and includes actual product reviews from our clients.

Reminder How it Works
As described in the DigiClean Phenomenom, it is safe and easy to use. Watch the video below for a demonstration.

DigiClean Plus Benefits

You’ll notice that we primarily sell the DigiClean Plus simply because it is the best device screen cleaner available on the market. Several key features make the DigiClean Plus a superior product:

  1. Aggressive adhesive can attach to any surface.  Some phones or cases have a matte finish or are rubberized. DigiClean Plus easily adheres to ALL mobile phones and almost all cases. According to the manufacturer’s video, the DigiClean original, a step down from the Plus Series, only adheres to 75% of mobile phones and 60% of smartphone cases, leaving the question: how important is it to have your branded promotional items work and be used? The newly released DigiClean Xtra has improved upon the original adhesive, but still remains a value-priced “good” but not best option.
  2. Two-sided imprint – DigiClean Plus uses a clear adhesive, so you can imprint on both sides with full color graphics.
  3. Anti-bacterial and Anti-microbial – prevents the growth of bacteria on the micro-fiber cloth.
  4. Long lasting. We have enjoyed using the DigiClean Plus on our own phones. Michael has frequently promoted and demonstrated how the DigiClean works on his iPhone. With heavy use, the DigiClean Plus has lasted Michael for one year.
  5. Included marketing postcard.  For no additional charge, clients can choose to have the final DigiClean adhered to either a 3.5″x6 marketing postcard  or a 2″x3.5″ business card, giving additional space for custom messaging, tracking URLs, or social media sites. This is preferred to other lower-cost screen cleaner products that come individually packaged in a plastic bag or bulk packaged in one large plastic bag. The postcard or business card make it easier to handout, store, and track the effectiveness of DigiCleans.
Digi Clean

Example of 3.5″x5″ included full color marketing post card with product instructions on back, and Digi Clean front and back.

Recent Product Reviews
Our customers have been kind enough to share their positive feedback on their DigiClean Plus orders. The consensus seems to be that Digi Clean is a great, high quality product that definitely has a “cool” factor.

DigiClean Plus – P+ Series (Pad) 5.0/5.0

Great Product

Our customers love them. Everything about these was awesome; the printing is beautiful on both the cleaner and the card, they stick like magic, and clean screens very well. They are our favorite promotional giveaway. Magellan did a wonderful job with the layout and turnaround time.


DigiClean Plus – B+ Series (Medium) 4.0/5.0

Great Product for the cost

Beware of knockoffs of this brand and type of product. I have tried other versions that are cheaper, but am glad I finally made the right call to go with Magellan and this specific product. You get what you pay for, and other companies’ version of this product is cheaper for a reason – the quality simply is not there. So while I wish this product could be cheaper, it is a good value for what you pay. The quality is high and the presentation of the product is excellent – it comes on its own “business card” with customize-able text. Other brands I have tried were delivered in a giant zip lock bag all jumbled together and sometimes stuck together. I highly recommend this specific version of a cell phone screen cleaner pad.


DigiClean Plus S+ Series Small 4.0/5.0

Cool, New, Hip Product

After the first minute of confusion when people pick it up and ask “What is this?” They really fall for this product. It is new and current and a great way of promoting our brand while making it a fun accessory for your smart phone.

The DigiClean remains sticky but it starts fraying around the edges. So that is my only concern is how long it can go before the fraying makes it unusable.

Overall I am very happy with this product and am very happy that there are directions for people on the backside.

Available Shapes and Sizes

Sizes range from small screen cleaners (I-Series and S-Series), standard to medium (A-Series and B-Series) and up to larger tablet or notebook cleaners (T-Series and P-Series). Numerous shapes, including squares, circles, heart, t-shirt, football, oval, and teddy bear, are available.

DigiClean Template

Artwork instructions and templates are included for both the DigiClean screen cleaner itself and the included business card or marketing card.  Please click on the links below to download the template.



Want to learn more about DigiClean? Read our case study, visit our DigiClean Product Showroom, or feel free to contact us.


Finding an effective, inexpensive and intriguing way to market to prospective students is a common dilemma that many colleges and universities have today. The DigiClean microfiber screen cleaner provides an easy solution to all three of those problems, all while giving prospective students something concrete that they will use every single day.

As stated, the DigiClean is a reusable microfiber screen cleaner that can be used for all personal electronic devices. The DigiClean features an adhesive underside, which makes for easy application to the back of a cell phone, iPad, Laptop or any other personal electronic device. What makes the DigiClean unique is that it can be used time and time again. The adhesive on the underside stays sticky regardless of how many times you use it! With the DigiClean, cleaning your electronics is as easy as peel, wipe clean and re-stick! If the DigiClean gets dirty, it can be washed under cold water and re-applied to the back of your electronic device. The DigiClean can be printed with full color custom artwork on both the microfiber and adhesive side. The DigiClean comes attached to a postcard sized mailer that also features full color custom artwork and provides a great space for colleges and universities to get information out to prospective students.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and Lakeland College both used the DigiClean to reel in potential freshman to their college campuses. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh featured their logo and motto on the DigiClean itself, and featured numerous links to their social media sites on the mailer to engage the prospective students. By providing a Twitter trend, a QR Code and other social media links, The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh created an easy and simple way to track the success of the DigiClean mailers. Lakeland College featured their logo and website on the DigiClean itself, and featured a link to their website as well as a QR code on the mailer.

The DigiCleans were well received in both instances, and were considered to be a successful marketing tool for both campuses!

Digi Clean