The recent Collegiate Information and Visitor Services Association (CIVSA) conference was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about enhancing college tours with unique branded merch, thereby making these tours even more engaging and effective. Several standout themes and promotional items caught our attention – let’s dive right into the takeaways!
Shoe-In Success: Footwear Steps Up in Outfitting
Who said tour guides’ attire has to be ‘pedestrian’? While outfitting tour guides with apparel has been a long-standing practice, colleges can now add a novel twist. Beyond the regular sublimated apparel, one innovation making strides is custom shoes. These aren’t just about style – they’re about showing school spirit in a fun and functional way. Providing comfort for the guides who spend hours walking campus grounds, custom shoes bring uniqueness to the tour guide ensemble and make every step of the tour a branded interaction.
Promo Merch Strategy: Unique Items for Specific Audiences
The importance of strategic promo merchandise selection was also a topic of conversation at CIVSA. As campus tours evolve, so too should the merchandise. For example, a common practice is to hand out a t-shirt to daily campus tour visitors. While t-shirts are popular to receive (as our research showed), they are challenging. Not only is there the demand of providing a full range of sizes and gender options for t-shirts, there is also a recipient preference and expectation of higher quality t-shirt materials, which drives up the cost.
To address this, consider differentiating the promo merch for standard daily visitors to ones who are already admitted. For example, reserve daily tour t-shirts for only students who have applied and/or are already accepted.
Then, for your non-accepted student visitors, use an inexpensive option that is still appreciated, used and will be a long term reminder of the campus visit. Two examples include keychains and a pennant magnet on a backer card. The backer card can include important information and key messaging about the college. The pennant can then be put on a fridge, locker and other surfaces.
To further elevate the experience, institutions could consider providing a choice of items, integrating unique items into the mix like scrunchies, belt bags, or croc charms. While a first instinct may be to opt for something generally appealing to a broad audience, shifting the approach to provide options that are tailored to a niche audience can create even more excitement. For example, while croc charms may not be universal for everyone, for avid croc wearers, the croc charms are a memorable, highly appreciated item. By letting students choose their merch, colleges increase the likelihood of the items being used and valued. Most notably, differentiating the merchandise for prospective students creates a more impactful promo merch experience for this crucial group, ensuring a lasting, positive impression.
Sticking Around: Connecting Post-Campus Tour
Stickers and sticker postcards are a game-changer for post-tour engagement. These catchy, fun keepsakes are not just a replacement for time-consuming handwritten postcards, but also a strategic tool for maintaining prospective students’ interest long after their campus visit. They offer an efficient and memorable way to follow up, easily customized and distributed, and they carry your brand beyond the campus visit, ensuring your institution remains front-of-mind for prospective students. Enhancing college tours with this kind of unique merch will definitely keep their interest engaged.
Beyond the Tour: Memorable Pop-Up Mascots Pounce into Deeper Engagements
Another promotional item that sparked excitement at the CIVSA conference was the Pop-Up Mascot. This engaging memento provides an unforgettable first impression. As the recipient opens the envelope, they’re greeted by a fun, three-dimensional rendition of your university’s mascot. While it’s an intriguing piece of promotional merchandise, its highest value extends beyond the scope of a single campus tour. It’s not only a conversation piece that stays top-of-mind as a desktop or shelf display but also an effective medium for conveying essential information about your institution. The Pop-Up Mascot can be used for several applications in later stages of the enrollment journey, and encapsulates the institution’s spirit in a novel and captivating way.. It’s this wide-reaching appeal that makes it a standout tool for fostering enduring connections with prospective students, as well as other influencers such as high school counselors and parents.
Evolving the Tour Guide Role: From Volunteer to Paid
Another theme we observed centered on the transition from volunteer to paid tour guides on campuses. This shift not only recognizes the crucial role of tour guides in shaping visitor experiences but also raises important questions on how to incentivize their efforts. For example, campuses are now considering rewards systems—conduct 20 tours and receive a perk; reach 50 tours, and the rewards increase. This incentivized approach promises to motivate tour guides while improving the overall quality of campus tours. To support these efforts, Magellan Promotions can offer tailored, promotional items that serve as effective incentives for your tour guides.
These insights from the CIVSA conference underscore the evolving nature of campus tours. There’s an ongoing focus on creating more engaging, memorable experiences, appreciating the invaluable role that tour guides play, and maintaining a connection with visitors well beyond the duration of the tour. Our takeaway from the CIVSA conference is clear: enhancing college tours with a thoughtful selection of unique promotional merch and forward-thinking strategies can leave a lasting impact on prospective students.
Excited to implement these approaches on your own campus? Your Magellan Promotions Account Manager is ready to help. Let’s team up to transform your campus tours and create memorable experiences that drive engagement.