Michael Wolaver shared an interesting excerpt related to promotional products from a book he was reading called The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus with 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes. In the chapter called “The Nitty Gritty of Getting the Best Buyers,” the author talks about specific tactics used to land dream clients.
Through a multi-pronged, targeted direct mail campaign to the biggest OEM manufacturers, the sales team was able to schedule appointments with half of their top 100 dream prospects. These appointments were extremely successful with 100% testing the product and ultimately making a purchase.
How did they achieve such a successful campaign? The answer is simple – great marketing helped them gain attention and stand out from competitors.
Details on the Direct Mail Campaign
First, they sent out an offer letter that promoted free education and research – something that was valued among their prospects.
Two weeks later, a similar offer letter was sent, but this letter included a promotional item. A Rubik’s Cube with the headline: “This Rubik’s Cube has more than four billion possible combinations. Fortunately, there are only five that you need to worry about when it comes to being a successful manufacturer in the new millennium. Don’t be puzzled by the dangers facing manufacturers! Get our free education today!”
Follow up phone calls and role play to fine tune their script further enhanced the effectiveness of the mailing with the Rubik’s Cube.
Over the next five months, mailings with promotional items were sent to their dream prospects. Catchy headlines tie in with the products, such as:
- Flashlight: “Don’t be in the dark about the five biggest dangers facing manufacturers.”
- Compass: “Most companies are losing direction when it comes to manufacturing in today’s environment. Don’t be one of them. Get our report on the five biggest dangers facing manufacturers today.”
- Tape Measure: “If you want to measure up to the highest manufacturing standards, get our free report on the five most dangerous trends facing manufacturers.”
Each promotional item and message tied in with the company’s theme and overall strategy. With repetition and follow up phone calls, the company’s brand and offer resonated with their audience, leading to half of the recipients to schedule meetings.
Isn’t that Costly?
Yes, it DOES cost more when you invest in 3D mailings that include promotional items. However, such an investment to a TARGETED group of top prospects was a worthwhile expenditure because it helped open the door and ultimately make sales for the sales people who conducted follow up calls. A promotional item is much more memorable than receiving a letter alone. Who could forget receiving a Rubik’s cube after all?!
As with any marketing cost, the bottom lined must be considered. In this case, if the mailers helped secure just ONE new client, which were the biggest companies the company would target, it would pay for the mailers for twenty years.
Clever, Targeted Marketing Works
The targeted direct mail campaign, follow-up calls, and appointments helped turn this company around from losing money to making $2 million dollars the following year. Investing in promotional items and unique mailings truly helped gain top prospects’ attention, build a positive brand image, and generate sales.
One huge client even said in a follow-up call
“Oh, yes, I am so glad you called. I just HAVE to have you come here and meet with me… Because I’ve been getting all those little gifts of yours and I just think your marketing is super.”
Consistent, creative, and targeted marketing can help you gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. For some ideas on how to enhance your direct mail efforts, read our blog post or contact us for an Idea-Storm session.
For direct mail that really stands out in the mail pile and grabs attention consider adding dimension, eye-catching colors, and a promotional item. According to industry research, investing in direct mail will help deliver a bigger bang for your buck. Consider the following stats:
- 4.4% is the average response rate of standard mail (Direct Marketing Association).
- 3D mailings receive a 250% better response rate than standard mail (Direct Marketing Association)
- A direct mail piece that includes a promotional item can increase response rates by 50% (Silver Marketing Group Study).
While a color imprint, unique shape or bright sticker may help draw more eyeballs to standard flat mail, 3D packaging provides a larger canvas for imprinting artwork and messaging. Here are a few 3D direct mail ideas that can enhance your next mail campaign:
Imprinted Mailing Pack
One sample that exemplifies this is the Poly Pak.
Imprint in full color on both sides of the packaging to showcase your company. This would be one way to spruce up mailing envelopes used for sending literature.
The Greeting Cube
For smaller packages with more durability, the Greeting Cube is an ideal option. Saint Louis University used this packaging to mail USB drives to prospective students for the John Cook School of Business. Imagine what your school, business or organization could create for each of the panels by looking at the Saint Louis University images below:
Pricing includes the cube assembly, product insertion, and shrink-wrapping. Additional personalization is available through variable printing, so individual names could be imprinted for an additional charge.
Another 3D packaging mailing option is BookWear, a shrink wrapped book-shaped package that contains a promotional item. As indicated in the recruiting college students information, BookWear has a high open rate and conversion rate due to its novel appeal. Here is one collegiate sample of a compressed t-shirt inside of BookWear:
The standard print area for BookWear is 9 inches wide by 4.5 inches high, though custom sizes are available. See our BookWear Showroom for more details. You can also view this YouTube video to see other samples of BookWear items.
3D Direct Mail Case Study
Last but not least, we recently helped law firm DeWitt Ross & Stevens with a 3D mailing that included an imprinted phone stand promotional item and informational insert. This was a very creative and successful branding initiative for the firm. Learn more about how we helped recommend the right promotional item and more specific details of their prospecting mail campaign in our 3D Direct Mail Case Study.
3D or lumpy mail is a worthwhile investment for helping increase response rates and overall effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns. For more ideas, peruse our direct mail showroom, or contact us for more information.
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
Starting at the top left, we’ll discuss how each promotional idea relates to admissions marketing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Our office loved getting a sample of a recent sticker sheet we ran for Wartburg College.
Isn’t it pretty?
We have talked about stickers and decals before (see our Decal Buying Guide), and we think this is such a fun, low-cost promotional item for schools and colleges. When ordering a quantity of 5,000, the price is $0.20 each! Increase to 10,000 and the price goes down to $0.13 each.
Currently Wartburg is using these sticker sheets in deposited student mailings.
Stickers are also ideal for state fairs, college fairs, open house events, and college readiness programs at area K-12 schools.
Students and kids alike would appreciate a variety of stickers to promote your school.
Similar to a custom sticker sheet, another new product that we highlighted in 2015 Top New Promotional Products for Colleges is a sheet of Tech Tattoos. Specifically designed to adhere to laptops, phones, tablets and more, these vinyl decals will remove without leaving behind the adhesive. This would be a great product to use in alumni mailings, where a higher quality decal may better target the intended audience.
More Direct Mail Ideas
In addition to custom sticker sheets and Tech Tattoos, we have a showroom full of direct mail ideas. Check out the Direct Mail Premium Showroom for inspiration.
What do you think of the sticker sheets? What is your favorite item to receive as part of a direct mail piece?
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
In working with over 100 colleges nationwide, we start to see some patterns across campuses. Similar promotional items are purchased to help make schools more memorable for prospective students. Differences occur, however, in exactly how promo items are used and integrated into recruitment marketing. Direct mail, high school counselor gifts, event support, social media integration, campus tours, and open houses are just a few common applications. Whatever the use, promotional items WORK to effectively reach prospective students. Without further ado, here’s our list of five most popular items for admissions departments:
Top 5 Most Popular Admissions Promotional Items
1. Table Covers – a college fair and event “must-have”
Table covers are available in several styles:
- Fitted: spandex, full-color option (pictured above), inverted, pleated corners.
- Throw: draped across table.
Choose from 6 foot, 8 foot, or Convertible lengths. For maximum impact, a full-color wrap imprinting is available in the fitted spandex table cover. Additional table covers allow for full- color or single-color imprints on the front panel. To view some of our favorite table covers, visit our event support showroom.
2. Pennants – most iconic of ALL promotional items for colleges. Prospective and current students, staff, and alumni (especially those who are high school counselors and teachers) will proudly display a pennant to show their loyalty, endorsement, and plain old LOVE for a school.
Want to learn more about pennant material types and pricing options? Look no further than our Pennant Buying Guide.
3. Decals – Ideal for direct mail. We have created decals and stickers for several admissions clients that are included in admitted and deposited student mailings. Many decals have been successfully tied to social media photo contests.
One option we like is the new custom postcard decal (pictured above) because it can be mailed without an outer envelope.
4. Stone Coaster – This is an example of a popular desk item to keep your school top of mind with high school counselors.
This absorbent coaster stone is perfect for a favorite mug. It comes nicely packaged in a small box, so it’s ready to hand-out and recognize key constituents.
5. Pens – an essential admissions item
Where would you be at an event without pens? This is a mainstay in every admissions department. Choose from a wide variety of thickness, grips, clicks, colors and price points to fit your objectives and budget. Search our online catalog, or contact us to help you narrow down the thousands of pen options.
Following the technology trends, stylus pens have been extremely popular lately.
What did you think of the list? Are there favorite promotional products that you would add? We’d love to hear what you think!
Tchotchkes. Trinkets. Trash. Swag. Promotional products go by so many names. The power of promotional products is much greater than just the “stuff.” Promotional products can motivate, recognize, brand, appreciate, communicate, and start a relationship. With over 83% of people saying that they like receiving promotional items, this is truly a marketing medium that is here to stay – whatever you decide to call it.
In terms of media sales, promotional items are an $18 billion industry that is growing. In 2012 sales were up 4.4%, reaching the highest level in five years and the third-best year ever. UPDATE – Last year sales reached the $19.8 Billion mark, making it the industry’s best year ever!!
While it’s smaller than other media types, as indicated in the chart below, promotional products are an effective part of any marketing mix.
Promotional items can easily be integrated with other forms of media, such as product placement, event marketing, and direct mail – just to name a few. Look at this brief list of examples:
- Coca Cola Cups used by American Idol Judges
- Coffee mug used by local news anchor
- Apparel worn for TV / video appearance
- Banners placed for best camera angles
- Crowd events: apparel, banners, hats
- FUN, free item as an instant reminder of your brand experience
- For more detail on events, read How to integrate promotional products into college events.
Gain higher response rates when including a direct mail premium. In a Silver Marketing Group Study, the direct mail piece that included a promotional item increased response rates by 50%. In addition, the direct mail piece that featured an offer for a promotional item increased response rates by 400%, when compared to a letter only. Some ideas to consider:
- Three-dimensional mailing with a promotional item
- Larger size or colorful direct mail piece with an offer of a promotional item
- Encourage visiting your booth at event – for example send ½ of a pen and receive the other ½ at the booth
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. Repeat exposure increases the likelihood of recall, which can ultimately lead to action. PPAI research shows that more purchases are made after a consumer receives a promotional product than after viewing a TV, print, or online ad. Promotional items stay in front of your target audience to help close the deal.
When planning to buy promotional items, be sure that it is tied into a plan. Too often promotional items become an afterthought, which can limit its effectiveness of reinforcing a brand’s message. Rely on an experience promotional consultant, who will understand overall objectives and the target audience to select a useful item that will be appreciated. We at Magellan Collegiate Promotions are here to help make promotional marketing work in tandem with existing efforts to help rise above the stigma of “trinkets and trash.” Contact us for ideas on more than just tchotchkes.
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After researching, presenting, and helping our clients select the best promotional items for their projects, we really enjoy receiving feedback on the item and the results of our client’s overall program. It is truly rewarding to know that we have played a part in an organization’s efforts to meet their goals. This positive feedback is what makes our jobs fun and exciting each and every day!
When we reconnected with our friends at Ripon College, we were thrilled to hear about their Class of 2017 Water Bottle Photo Contest program. This was the first time they incorporated promotional items in their strategy to encourage newly admitted and deposited students to interact with the Class of 2017 Facebook page. They mailed students a stainless steel water bottle packaged in a red mailing tube, so it would definitely stand out.
This contest was successful in creating engagement with the new class, leading to new interactions and conversations in the social media space.
Want to learn more about the contest and featured water bottle? Click on our link below to read our case study: