Promotional Purchasing Tips for Universities and Colleges


Only the educated are free - EpictetusGildan Hoodie


Think about the powerful role promotional products play in the western College and University culture.  Starting with recruitment and extending through college years into each student lifetime as alumni, identification with personal excellence is intrinsically tied to school loyalty by small branded gift items, drink ware and apparel.  From the classic sports pennant to journals and notebooks, pens, coffee mugs, hooded sweat shirts and hats, formational memories of independence, intellectual development and life aspirations make even the simplest item a treasure.  With this influential hook to every market place in mind, a strategically coordinated promotional products program can become a well-spring of income generating potential. Coordinating on the grand scale may seem overwhelming, but some basic concepts will help start the process.


Promotional Arenas

There are three primary promotional arenas within the school community where product considerations should be highlighted:  Recruitment, School-wide Events (including sports, arts and theater, and club activities), Academic Life and Alumni (including Graduation as the starting place). Focus coordination of your strategy through the bookstore. Promo sticks given away for ticket sales for a hockey game, a free key ring won during a class for the highest test score or free mug for the winner of an impromptu “history of the University” quiz game hosted in the dining hall by a student club could entitle the holder to a discount off a promotional package at the bookstore.   The website should also be “contact central” for spirit-related promotions, providing alumni the opportunity to join in the fun post-graduation.


Marketing Groups

The key to developing and successfully implementing a successful internal promotional product strategy is coordination.  Create a list of academic department leaders, student groups and even outside community organizations linked to the institution and pick up to five key influencers of school spirit. Work with this small group to evaluate how promotional product use is currently being utilized.  Use this information to design a plan for more targeted use of budgets in this area so that soon the whole school will be operating as a unit on cultivating quality participation in school life through use of their promotional funds.


Free or For Sale - The Promotional Products Master Plan

A solid strategy for a promotional products master plan will include a blend of giveaways, purchased necessities such as notebooks, pens and desk supplies, and items purchased solely for spirit value. Each department should ultimately be provided with guidelines for developing their own use of funds according to the larger agenda of coordinated promotional products use.  Help your department heads and club leaders plan ahead by asking them to consider these ideas at the start of the year and purchase promotional items in advance.  The ultimate goal would be to have a plan set in the Spring for how funds will be spent the following year; generating more excitement and interest and avoiding the end of the year random budget spend frenzy.