Close this search box.

Rethinking College Fair Engagement and Display Strategies

For years, branded merch has been sidelined at NACAC sponsored college fairs as it was not allowed. One of the reasons I heard was that the organizers did not want attendees to be there to collect merch and not have as much interest in learning about colleges. So it was easier to just remove merch from the shows. 

However, this year NACAC updated their exhibitor guidelines and now certain types of merch are approved. These items include pens, lanyards, keychains, small magnets, pennants and buttons. We are pleased that NACAC now recognizes the clear benefits of branded merch for collegiate recruitment. 

With the freedom to include branded merch at college fairs, this provides the opportunity to re-explore strategies for these types of events. Since there is a wide range of attendees at college fairs, the overall goal of these events is to create conversation opportunities, pass on information, build brand affinity and create long term exposure. Branded merch can help in these areas. 

NACAC College Fair Branded MerchWhen picking out products, be thoughtful as to how these products fit into your story, create excitement and are used long term. When possible, consider options that can be physically attached to a marketing piece. This way the marketing information will have further engagement. For example, buttons can come on a full color backing card. 

Even within these guidelines, there is a wide range of options to integrate effective branded merch into college fairs.  

Displays and Signage Trends

Beyond branded merch, colleges are always looking for unique tabling strategies to stand out and be informational, while also being light and easy to transport. Our most popular college fair display options typically break down into two categories, table top displays and table covers.  

Table Top Displays – A few newer examples include:

NACAC College Fair Branded Merch

  • Tri-Fold Table Display – This popular product is lightweight, packs up nicely and has a sharp presentation.
  • 6 Panel Puzzle Piece Display – This unique slotted puzzle display stands out with its creative design. Each piece has its own messaging and can be easily swapped out and built differently, allowing for limitless flexibility.  
  • Table Stands – Displays that feature a fabric sleeve that slips over a metal frame have grown in popularity. Not only is the stand lightweight, easy to set up and has a sharp look, it has great flexibility with the graphics. If new artwork is needed, just the fabric needs to be replaced. Also, the fabric can have different messages on either side at no additional cost, thus allowing it greater flexibility. There are a number of sizes available, the popular options for tabling events are the 2’x4 option, and the 13” x 19” version.  


NACAC College Fair Branded MerchTable Covers: What has trended the most in table covers has been to find ways to not show wrinkles and allow full color artwork. The two options that are consistent winners are these two linked options:

  • Fitted 6’ full color table cover: This product is popular because the fitted style takes out the wrinkles, giving it a clean and professional look. Second, the entire product, including the sides and the top, can be imprinted, allowing for incredible flexibility, creativity and being fully on brand. 
  • Table Runners – When colleges go to a number of events, the table sizes can vary. That is why table runners continue to be popular as they work no matter what size table is provided. The most popular options come in full color for the entire cloth for full branding opportunities. The two popular sizes are 57” wide and 28” wide.  


The goal at these events is to stand out, share information and create engagement opportunities. We will continue to watch for trends in this space to ensure we keep our clients well equipped to achieve these goals.  

Stay Connected

Subscribe to monthly e-news for the latest on promo merch, trends and more!

Postage Permits

We are happy to mail using a client’s USPS non-profit number. Here are a few best practices for this to go smoothly. Let our team know up front on the project so we can make sure to get the information we need right away. 

While our mail house does prefer to use their permit number for the mailing, we can use the client’s permit, If using their permit number, ensure there is enough postage to cover the mailing.

The information we need to in order to use a client’s nonprofit number includes the following:

Formatting the Mailing List

Our account team will advise on specific requirements for your project’s mailing list.  We generally recommend these best practices to format the mailing list: