While common perception holds that colleges just sort of are, existing from hundreds of years in the past into perpetuity without any effort on their part, that’s not the case at all.
In fact, colleges are in a constant battle to drive students through their figurative front doors – and they don’t always succeed. Some colleges experience a lack of tuition, and therefore a lack of funding, that keeps them mired in mediocrity. Others straight up fail, sending a stark message to institutions of higher learning that they better work hard not to suffer the same fate.
And of course, you do. If you’re in charge of recruitment or working in the admissions department, you already know how important it is to appeal to prospective students. The question becomes, how can you do so? More importantly, how can you do so without breaking the bank?
These are the questions over which admissions and recruitment staff across the country are scratching their heads. Add to that list the staff and students in charge of departmental fundraisers, Greek events, job fairs and fetes of all sort, and you have a large body of people wondering just how to rock events on campus.
Good news: We’re here with those answers today.
What Students Are Looking For
First and foremost, it’s critical to understand what students are looking for. When they come to an event, they immediately start looking for the details, even if they themselves aren’t aware of it. Because a sense of belonging is so important to prospective (and current) students, they want to feel immersed in the college experience. That means:
- Team colors everywhere, from streamers and bunting to tablecloths and napkins to apparel and gear for sale – or giveaway
- Music that sets the tone of the event
- The right mix of food and beverages to complement the event, from light snacks for purchase at a college fair to a nice dinner at a fundraiser dinner
- Ways to remember the event, from photobooths to swag
Millennials have made it clear that they love to be a part of a cause, even more than they want to earn money or buy nice things. If you can give your event a pro-cause feel, that will help to make it that much more successful.
“Millennials love expressing their values online, but 80% of them feel it’s essential for people to come together in person to promote positive change. Invite them to be that change,” Eventbrite suggests. You can do this by creating a donation station at your event, holding buy-one-donate-one sales (in which you will gift an item to charity for every item they purchase) or eschewing a landslide of paper swag in favor of reusable and more environmentally friendly items.
What Investors Are Looking For
The other audience member you’re looking to attract through campus functions is the investor. This person wants to support the college or university in its efforts to education the young, research the most important topics of the day, and provide a beacon of progress to all who look for it.
Investors are less interested in campus fairs and lighthearted socializing. When you really need to attract them is at the more serious events: fundraisers, auctions, large dinners, awards ceremonies, ribbon-cuttings. They want to see big stuff happening, to know that their moving and shaking is getting the world somewhere. And while they don’t like to witness wasted funds, they do want to attend events with a certain amount of classy swag. That might mean:
- Nice glasses and goblets for libations of all kinds
- Beautiful awards and plaques for the deserving
- Thank you baskets worthy of kings (or local businesspeople, anyway)
- Writing utensils to take back to the office
- Nice auction items and prizes, from camping gear to messenger bags to candy (because let’s be honest, we all love some candy)
Be careful to make sure, however, that each item is well-branded. If you want to attract and keep an investor’s attention, give them something they can use again and again. Each time they do, they’ll see the name of your college and university, and it will jog their memory. That way, when it’s time to pull out the checkbook and write out a tidy sum, you’re at the top of their list.
How to Brand Items for Campus Events
One of the biggest elements for which both students and investors (and parents and staff) are searching at any given event is consistency. Consistent messaging about the point of the event, consistent color schemes, consistent logos and lettering, and more.
That means any promotional item at your event has to match every other, which in turn means you have to think carefully before you make any purchases. No one wants clashing colors or swag that doesn’t match the tablecloths, so sit down with stakeholders before you make a single purchase and hash it all out. Questions to ask include:
- Which team spirit colors should we prioritize at this event, if any?
- If we’re not going to use the school’s preexisting color scheme, what colors should we use instead?
- Will our logo appear anywhere?
- If so, which logo? The university name, the seal, the sports team logo?
- What kinds of products best complement the point of this event? (For instance, towels for an athletic gathering or wine glasses for the teaching hospital fundraiser.)
- Will we need prizes or giveaways?
- How many people do we need to give prizes or swag to?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll be much closer to the kind of well-branded event that catches students’ interest and makes investors want to contribute to your institution.
Which Items to Choose for Your Event
Naturally, the type of event you’re holding will factor heavily into your decisions about what items to get. While a thorough overview of every possible item is beyond the scope of this post, you can break your choices down into a few basic categories by event:
- Sporting events: Celebrations or competitions that take place outside call for similarly outdoorsy promo items. Think camping gear, chairs, blankets and picnic baskets. Larger items work well for raffles and game prizes, while smaller ones – lanterns, keychains, golf gear – are ideal for party favors.
- Fundraisers: When you’re trying to raise funds for groups or organizations, you want small items that won’t cut into your profits, but will make people feel appreciated. Pens, buttons and lanyards always work well for this.
- Award dinners: Awards should be about the person getting recognized, rather than the people attending the event. Still, small gifts make the whole evening more fun, so consider a small box of candy with the name of the university on it. That will recall the event and your organization once people leave, keeping you on their minds.
If you have more specific needs, feel free to get in touch with the experts today. In fact, it’s time to do that now.
How to Get Started Today
As soon as you’re ready to plan your event, it’s time to order your promotional items. While some items come quickly, others may take weeks to fabricate. Awards or wooden items, for instance, which need engraving need plenty of cushion to make sure they’re done right and show your institution in the best light. So make a list of what you’re going to need and, before you even start planning that guest list or menu, get in touch with us.
When you call Reusable Promos, a member of our friendly team will pick up the phone right away. We’ll walk you through the ordering process, help you determine numbers and types of promo items, and find you the best deal for your event. Don’t wait any longer to get in touch with us and start marketing smart today.