Collegiate marketing programs extend beyond the campus and widen your prospects for clients

With more than 20 million students roaming U.S. college campuses this fall, building brand loyalty among them seems as easy as a course in underwater basketweaving. But the tastes and opinions of these savvy young consumers are as diverse as their backgrounds, so campaigns need to be thoughtful, targeted and on trend. This doesn’t mean the classics are being set aside, though. Nancy Larick, MAS, president of distributor Larick Associates, Inc. (UPIC: LARICK) in Port Washington, New York, says her collegiate clients reach first for t-shirts. “T-shirts are used for orientation, reunions, alumni events, club identification and any time someone wants to show pride in their affiliation,” says Larick. Another great classic that takes the No. 2 spot on her list: bags. Tote bags and backpacks, including inexpensive drawstring bags, are popular as well, she says. “Totes are used to carry stuff at events; backpacks are given out at orientation to carry books and laptops; drawstring bags are used to advertise events.” Rounding out the top three for Larick’s clients are portable drinkware options. “Disposable water bottles are being banned on many campuses we work with,” she says. “Students often carry water bottles and thermal coffee mugs around campus.” School spirit continues to live on for many alumni, particularly those who participated in campus organizations such as sports teams, fraternities and sororities. Members of these groups are often active in their local communities as well as the national chapters, adding to the potential for building your collegiate client base.

Check out these case studies to see how promotional products have been used by university and alumni group clients.

1. An alumni association sent a composition notebook to all alumni along with a request for annual donations to be used for ongoing campus improvements. The cover of the notebook was watermarked with a link to a YouTube video featuring previous projects the alumni association had undertaken. Instructions for downloading the free Digimarc Discover app and scanning were added inside the front cover. Source: Drum-Line 2. Guests at Jacksonville University’s inaugural Legacy Luncheon were presented with a custom-minted coin that marked the occasion. The custom coins were a unique alternative to engraved plaques and upscale pen sets that might typically have been handed out at such an event. “The recipients really appreciated the commemorative coins” says Natalie Berman, advancement communications coordinator for the university. “They were a unique memento, which was our goal.”

Osborne coin web

Source: Osborne Coinage

3. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh wants to help incoming students keep track of their mobile devices, so it has begun offering for sale a Keyfetch kit to help expedite the return of lost items. Considered by school officials to be an enhanced addition to standard lost-and-found policies, the Keyfetch kits consist of a bag tag, a keytag and two decals—all decorated with the school’s logo and an anonymous individual ID number. People are essentially good,” says Mike Schenker, MAS, Keyfetch vice president of promotional products “They want to do the right thing and return something that they find. But time is tight, and if the lost-and-found [office] is across the campus, they might be less inclined to make the effort. The Keyfetch system is simple, and it’s immediate.” Adobe Photoshop PDF

Source: Keyfetch

4. A nationally recognized university wanted to generate new applications from prospective students, so it chose an embroidered luggage tag that displayed the university’s name and logo, and distributed it during campus tours. Suntex tag web

Source: Suntex Industries

5. A college admissions recruiter wanted to encourage prospective students to explore all the college’s facilities and what they have to offer. So he challenged them to a campus scavenger hunt that required selfies. The recruiter provided selfie sticks to 25 students as a thank-you for participating in the hunt, and those who completed the scavenger hunt with their selfie stick received a discount coupon to use at the college bookstore. As a result of the challenge, the college saw an increase in enrollment. Beacon selfie stick web

Source: Beacon Promotions

5. The University of Nebraska was looking for a way to increase buzz about its new intramural sports programs on campus. To capture attention, the campus recreation department gave music download cards to every student on campus. On the back of each card, instructions directed students to a customized website for the university. When the students entered the site they were asked their level of interest in intramural sports. Once the questions were answered, each recipient was able to redeem the free music download. The information received online enabled the recreation department to gauge the future success of the intramural program.

Source: Media Tree

Quick Tips For Collegiate Promotions

Embrace Mobile Marketing

Students and faculty are making the most of their mobile devices. Reach out to the college set with mobile campaigns that can be paired with physical products and incentives.

Keep Messaging Short And Sweet

Between disc golf and geology finals, students are busy. Keep promotional messages concise and to the point. A little wit goes a long way, too.

Be Authentic With Your Pitch

Everyone’s trying to sell something to the fresh-faced college co-ed with a brand new credit card. But even the newest of newbies can spot a fake, so be real in your pitch and acknowledge your place among the generations.

Perfect The Product

Many young people might be early adopters of new technology, but they don’t have time to fiddle with halfway-decent products. Give them something that works right the first time, and you’ll gain a loyal consumer and a lifetime of referrals from the get-go.

Appeal To Parents

Parents of many college students still hold the purse-strings, and they aren’t about to let their offspring get taken for a ride. Sell the benefits to mom and dad first, because they are more cost-conscious and more likely to be the ones handing over the cash.

Good To Know

Nancy Larick shares her insights on working with collegiate clients

PPB What unique marketing needs do colleges have?

Larick “Raising money from alumni; recruiting the most desired students; offering speaker gifts so that speakers are encouraged to come back and inspire others to do the same; bringing alumni back to the schools for different events to strengthen that relationship.”

PPB What types of questions do you ask your clients?

Larick “What are they looking to achieve? What would they like to spend? How many people are they considering? What have they used in the past? What have they considered now? How do they plan on distributing these gifts? Who is in the audience (if it isn’t apparent)?

PPB What should promotional consultants keep in mind when approaching colleges and universities for new or repeat business?

Larick “Many are licensed, and there are royalty fees to be collected and paid, and all sales must be reported. That logo reproduction has to be vetted by those that protect those logos. Universities sometimes get funding that requires multiple bids for any order over a certain threshold. (We find that amount to often be $2,500). Sometimes there is cross-referencing between schools; often, very little. The larger the school, the more decentralized they are.”

The College Count Increases in the traditional college-age population and rising enrollment rates have contributed to the increase in college enrollment, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Between 2000 and 2013, the 18- to 24-year-old population rose from approximately 27.3 million to approximately 31.5 million. More African American and Hispanic students are attending college, as well. In the same three-year period, the percentage of African American college students rose from 11.7 to 14.7 percent, and the percentage of Hispanic students rose from 9.9 to 15.8 percent.

Fall 2015 Enrollment By The Numbers 11.5 million women enrolled/ 8.7 million men enrolled 12.6 million full-time students/7.6 million part-time students 7 million enrolled at two-year institutions/13.2 million attend four-year schools 17.3 million enrolled in undergraduate programs/3 million enrolled in pre-graduate study/pre-professional programs The Price Tag $15,640 The average annual price for undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board at public colleges and universities last year $23,135 private, for-profit institutions $40,614 private, nonprofit institutions

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