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Reading Roundup: Through the Merch Monocle

custom promotional products

To make sure we’re always giving our clients the most relevant and forward-thinking solutions, we like to stay up to date on news, trends, and ideas that can empower our clients. There’s tons of great content to consume, but not enough of it talks about the value of integrating branded merch, especially since promo can help in so many ways.  

Fortunately, the question “How would merch help?” is always in mind at Magellan when we read, share, watch, listen and scroll basically any professional content. So, even though most of the articles linked below aren’t exactly about integrating promo, there’s a lot to learn by asking and answering that question–how would merch help–to uncover innovative solutions that add new dimensions to outreach.

Promo Creates Connections

Branded merch has been a pretty powerful engagement and marketing vehicle for a long time, and for good reason – it makes things better. Data from a recent PPAI Research study that looked at “how consumers receive, keep, engage with and value promotional products,” demonstrates once again just how impactful promo can be. A few survey results that jumped out, especially for higher education and admissions. 

  • 83% agree that promotional products received at events made their experience more memorable.
  • 95% would rather get a promotional product than an email
  • 79% posted about a promotional product on social media


Use Merch to Influence Social Media Engagement

It wouldn’t be the turnover of a calendar year without a deluge of reflections, predictions, and things to look for in the coming year. Unibuddy’s “5 Higher Education Marketing Trends for 2022” looks mostly at the intrinsic challenges and realities of marketing to Gen Z. The article points to the critical role of peers and influencers in decision making for Gen Z, along with growing expectations for customer service and personalization options. And it’s not all happening online. The article points out that,  “Despite being digital natives, it seems like young people still seek out more real connections.”

Promo can help make and facilitate lasting connections. Branded merch is recognizable, persistent, highly visible, and easy to take a pic or short video and share on social media. Branded sticker sheets, yard signs, garden flags, rollbanas, and other empower prospective students show their excitement, connect with others considering applying or committing, and, just by using branded merch, influence their peers on your behalf. 

Promote Mental Health and Student Success Before Enrollment

Two distinct-but-related topics that continue to drive a significant portion of the current higher education conversation: mental health and student success. Deloitte’s “Five strategies for student success” identifies improving mental health as a primary strategy for student success. While the article is mostly about current student strategies, engaging with mental health and student success can (and should) start before enrollment. Make information about campus resources, events and activities that support mental health more memorable through branded merch. Simple sticker postcards, tactile fidget toys and self care items all show a commitment to supporting students well before they enroll.

Reach Parents Early and Engage Often

branded merchParents can be tricky targets to reach for colleges and universities. After all, they aren’t the ones who enroll, but they are certainly influential in their children’s college decision. The Niche 2021 Survey of Parents Searching for Colleges shares some great info on the college search experience for parents, pointing to some distinct differences in what data points resonate more with parents. Among the key takeaways for institutions is to engage parents early, and to find ways to excite parents so they stay enthusiastic and informed. That sounds like a great place for branded merch to help parents beam with pride and decorate everything they can with your brand. Rest assured, parents will embrace mailed stickers, boxed kits, apparel, pennants, and other branded merch. To quote the article, “Personalized and relevant mail will also help you stand out, as opposed to the all too common form letters and general postcards and mail.”

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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: