How to convert more Applicants into enrolled Students

    Swag 101: the five best items to give to prospects at events

    Branded freebies can be practical and effective gifts to give away at all sorts of higher ed recruitment events. Here are five fine examples
    Last updated:
    December 3, 2021

    Standing out in the over-saturated higher ed market is tough. The competition is heavy and marketing and recruitment budgets are being cut annually. How do you cut through the noise and make prospective applicants remember you in the vast sea of other institutions?

    Giving out freebies branded with your university’s logo is a great approach at all sorts of events (open days, conferences, student and alumni events, graduation etc.). These items are not only practical but will be used by your prospective applicants and brand ambassadors, maximising your ROI and increasing brand recognition.

    Grip cable organiser

    If there's one thing that hinders a student during the semester, it's a messy desk. Give students the opportunity to organise with a grip cable organiser. This accessory keeps charging cables, headphones and other cords neat and tidy. Imprint your full-colour logo on the front of the organiser so it's ever-present in the mind of your recipients.

    Smart wallet for mobile devices

    The vast majority of your prospects will have a smart device. A smart wallet attaches to the outside of any mobile device and is perfect for storing cards such debit cards, transport cards, a driver’s license and cash. They’re incredibly flat and lightweight, making them easy to transport back and forth from event to event.

    Photo courtesy of the University of Cincinnati.

    External battery

    Everyone and their mother is on their phone at any given point during the day – or all the time. Whether they're tweeting, checking their email, or looking for a programme to attend in the autumn, their phone will most likely be at 50% battery life by lunchtime.

    Give out external batteries at your events, and every attendee will not only love you for it, but they will remember your name and logo. Recipients will likely use that mobile charger beyond one use, meaning your logo will is exposed to them – and others around them – long after the event is over.

    Quality versus quantity

    We know what you’re thinking – how old school! Pens run out of ink and everyone has a mobile device. Tote bags break easily and are often lost. These things are true, but if your institution pays extra for high-quality pens and bags, prospects will always find a need for these items at an event. Well made pens and bags also have a long shelf life.

    Unique food items

    Prospects will always stop to chat if you're giving away food – after all, people tend to go long periods of time without food at events or throughout the day since they're usually scurrying around from place to place. But you're doing it right if the food you're giving away is unique and could be a conversation-starter. Some fun examples could be cookies shaped in your institution’s mascot or logo, a slice of pizza, or depending on the age of your audience, a crisp glass of champagne.

    While these won't last as long as other great swag items, they can serve as an interesting way to get people talking about your brand at the event itself.

    Whatever trinkets you are giving out at your events, do not be afraid to be creative and stand out. Your participants will thank you for it!


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    Justin Pace

    I work for ISM and contribute to FULL FABRIC as a guest blogger. I am a digital marketing and communications professional focusing on higher education. My passion is for data and entrepreneurship. I am originally from the United States and have recently relocated to London after living in France for six years. I enjoy travelling, baseball, social enterprises, and cold weather.

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