Case Study: Carthage College and the Tassel Topper

Help Students Picture Their Future at your School

Help students picture their future at your school with creative custom frames.


Custom Frame showcases a prospective student on a campus visit. Image credit @uwadmissions

This is a fun, themed promotional item that can easily be incorporated into campus yield events, direct mail, and additional marketing ideas. The custom frame helps achieve the goal of engaging students in a memorable way with a social media component. We created this custom frame for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and wrote about it in this case study. Here’s our guide for how to use a custom frame at your school.

How to use a Custom Frame – On Campus

This oversize custom is an ideal event-related photo opportunity! Here are a few pointers for using the frame:

  1. Pick a favorite spot on campus to have custom frames setup during a campus tour, open house, or yield event. Think of a picturesque, iconic spot on campus.
  2. Assign staff members or current students to have prospective students pose with the frame as part of your event or visit. If staffing is limited, place on a stand to keep it in place.
  3. Another staff member should take pictures with a Polaroid and / or camera phone.
  4. Share digital pictures via social media using the hashtag imprinted on the custom frame. Email, tag, or private message students a copy of the picture. If using a Polaroid, pictures can be shared with students on the spot and posted to a bulletin board.
admitted students custom frame

Check out these #AdmittedBadgers at a yield event. Image credit @uwadmissions

Direct Mail Ideas

Remind students of their on campus experience by mailing a smaller, magnetic frame along with a thank you note. The note can include a generic picture of the magnetic frame displaying a picture taken with the large custom frame on campus, or an actual picture of the student for a more personalized touch.

Direct students to check out pictures of all admitted students on a URL that includes links to your admissions site. Bold, call to actions can promote campus overnight events, invite students to join an incoming class group on social media sites, or instructions on how to secure their place on campus.

For UW-Madison, we created smaller magnetic frames and had them inserted them into envelopes that were imprinted to help streamline mailing of their admitted student packets.

Other Marketing Ideas

“Picture your Future here” themes can easily be integrated into existing marketing. Whether printed or electronic, all communications to students can include custom frame imagery. Emails, posters, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat could feature similar imagery.

Admissions counselors could travel with custom frames to bring to high school visits or events and share pictures via social media.

The custom frame is an ideal product for engaging prospective students, tying in social media, and taking advantage of the #selfie photo sharing trend. To view additional information on the custom frame, visit our admitted student showroom or read our case study.

Products Featured

  • Large Custom Frame – 31″ x 42″
  • Medium Custom Frame – 23.5″ x 35.25″
  • Magnetic Frame for direct mail – 5″ x 7.375

How would you use this campaign on your campus?

Show-Stopping Promotional Marketing Ideas

A trade show is an opportunity to connect with an audience in a fun and exciting way. Handing out a promotional item is a way to make your company memorable both during AND after the show.

A show-stopping promotional item can:

  • Create enticing pre-show promotion by advertising your booth activities and swag
  • Help drive traffic to your booth at the show
  • Serve as a reminder of the experience with your company after the show ends
  • Promote word of mouth marketing, whenever anyone sees your swag
  • Increase brand recall and recognition to support your business

For these reasons and many more, a trade show is one of the top uses for promotional products. You’ll find some swag at EVERY booth.

This certainly was the case when Michael attended the Milwaukee BizTimes Expo last week.  In walking the show floor, Michael spotted our clients using the promotional items that we helped create.  Here are a few highlights in what he saw:

Promotional Marketing for UWM at BizTimes Expo

The Airplane Stress Toy promotes the UWM Masters in Management program through the School of Business. The literature includes the tagline, “Your future is about to take off.” This has been a very successful campaign!

Promotional Products at work at BizTimes Expo 2014

There were a wide range of products at every table, though pens remained a staple item throughout the show. MSOE also used tire pressure gauges; Innovative Signs used bottle openers and combination pen/highlighters. Mount Mary had a lot of interest in their branded coffee packets as something that is both unique and appreciated. We also love how striking their pennants turned out.

Cultivate Communications Brain Stress Toy

Here is a close-up of the bright orange brain stress toy that our client Cultivate Communications used. Since they are a creative marketing agency, the brain is a fun and engaging way to help tell their story.

Miss Southern Wisconsin and Michael

Miss Southern Wisconsin, Tyra McFarland, spotted Michael’s logo’ed polo shirt, and said, “Hey I work with you.” She was right (and another great reason to have company apparel)! Account Manager Paige Wagner worked with Tyra on creating frisbees to promote the UW-Milwaukee Student Startup Challenge.

UWM Student Startup Challenge Frisbee

Artwork for the UWM Student Startup Challenge Frisbee for our client, Tyra McFarland, also Miss Southern Wisconsin.

What are your favorite show-stopping promotional items? We’ve also heard about sending teasers pre-show to drive booth traffic, such as sending ½ of a pen and then handing out the other ½ at the booth. In addition, we like the idea of holding a drawing for a higher value promotional item, and having higher-value items for VIP’s (or hot prospects) who stop by your booth. There are so many ways to effectively integrate promotional items into your events!

For more event ideas, see our blog posts:

How to Guide: Integrating Promotional Products into College Events

Much More than Tchotchkes

For help discovering the right promotional idea for your events, please contact us.


Best of 2013: Admissions Promotional Marketing (FREE Webinar on January 9, 2014)

On Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. CST, Michael Wolaver will present a thirty minute webcast on 2013 Best Practices – Admissions Promotional Marketing.

Best Practices Admissions Promotional Marketing

Preview of Prezi for January 9, 2014 Webinar

This is a free webinar.  Click HERE to register. 

Are you looking for new and exciting promotional marketing ideas to “wow” prospective students? Do you want to learn what other colleges are doing with this marketing medium? Are you interested in market research to show what works?

Webinar Overview: Admissions Focus

This webinar will focus on admissions departments’ use of promotional marketing, though similar product ideas and marketing tactics can also be applied across campus.

Promotional marketing industry research will be shared to illustrate the effectiveness of this advertising medium – part of a growing, $18 billion industry. This webinar addresses the main benefits of promotional items and provides a comparison to other media types. 

Using Promotional Products Along the Funnel. We’ll share how promotional products are incorporated into each stage of the enrollment funnel based on the three categories below:




  1. Raise Awareness – starting relationships, event awareness, driving web traffic, staying in front of high school counselors (and other referral sources)
  2. Increase Engagement – enhancing the campus tour experience, integrating with social media campaigns, and more promotional ideas and tactics
  3. Build Excitement – help “seal the deal” through admitted student direct mail, events, targeting specific students with personalized promo items, and tying into social media efforts to build community.

Click HERE to register. 

About our Presenter

Michael Wolaver, owner and founder of Magellan Promotions, has over nine years marketing and branding experience in the promotional products industry.  Magellan Collegiate Promotions, a division he created in 2011, has worked with over 60 schools and colleges located across the country. Prior to founding Magellan Promotions in 2005, Michael has worked in purchasing for Fortune 500 companies in the Greater Milwaukee and Chicago area.  Michael earned his undergraduate degree from Marquette University and Masters of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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.

Campus Visit Essential: Mini Map

Having good directions and a reliable map are important for any road trip! When you arrive at your destination, you often rely on local city maps. This also holds true for successfully navigating a college campus. A campus map is essential to help guide visitors around your school and local area.

One of the best map options we’ve found is the Mini Map. Credit card-sized when closed, the TripBuilder MiniMaps open to reveal a fold-out map and your promotional message – both sides are fully customizable and full color, leaving a large space for your own unique design and messaging.

Some design options include:

  1. Side one: campus map, event listing, key information / websites,Side two: city map with places to eat (see UNLV sample below)
  2. Side one: campus map, Side two: credit union / ATM locator (see University of Texas sample below), include advertisements from area businesses
  3. Side one: campus map, Side two: points of interest, including directions and parking options

These design options are just the beginning.  You have complete control over the design and layout of both sides of the Minimap.

MiniMap Samples

In the UNLV sample below, it features one side that lists great places to eat. Space on either side could also feature local business advertisements, as a way to recover some – if not all – of the production cost. These maps are a wonderful way to highlight points of interest, important events, key websites, and information for your college and city.

MiniMaps by TripBuilder


Here’s one example from UNLV:

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 1837,1833,1832″ width=”180″ height=”180″ title=”never”]

Another example from University Federal Credit Union located at the University of Texas – Austin.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 1834,1836,1835″ width=”180″ height=”180″ title=”never”]

Let us know what you think of the MiniMap product. Did you know? Maps can also be imprinted on tote bags! Stay tuned for more map options in future blogs posts.

Do you need help navigating map options or brainstorming promotional marketing ideas? Contact us today! We’re here to help!

Latest Trends in Marketing to Gen Y: Prezi Download

Creating engagement with students is harder than ever.

Increased competition in higher education and the lightning speed at which technology changes has made finding the right messages and portals to reach students extremely important.  With the incredible amount of advertising that we are all exposed to on a daily basis, many people are self-trained to stay away from most marketing messages.

The challenge: Find out what marketing IS working in order to best to reach your prospective AND current students.

With Generation Y (and upcoming Gen Z) being the most tech savvy generation(s) ever, it is essential to understand the latest trends and technology tools for effective marketing plans.

In this presentation (given at the IACAC conference in Sioux City, Iowa), we focus on:

  1. Latest market research on Generation Y and Gen Z  
  2. Gen Y Marketing
  3. Social media trends and tools: Facebook, Twitter, Image Powered Platforms

View Prezi

How do you effectively market to Generation Y and Z?  What do you think of the latest features in social media platforms?