We’ve seen them time & time again: free pens, mints with logos, and frisbees that pile up in the closet (seriously though, who came up with that one?).
Are they worth it, or should we try to come up with some new ideas? In a time where brand awareness can come through a variety of avenues, consumers are 2.5x more likely to have a positive impression of promotional products instead of internet advertising*. (Let that help justify lugging in those promotional bags to every career fair you attend.) Personalized giveaway items at career fairs aren’t ‘new news’ anymore, but they’re still around for a reason. While you get free marketing at a career fair, promotional items allow you to continuously increase your ROI long after the event ends.
To capitalize on this opportunity, we’ve delved into the most important factors to consider when choosing these products.
Stick to your brand. Decide on your company’s vibe, and choose products that align directly. Attention-grabbing, fun stickers that students will put on their laptops or water bottles are great ideas for companies with outgoing, edgy messaging; But, if your company has a professional, formal culture, a generic company logo on a sticker is going in the garbage. For the latter company, there needs to be a focus placed on classic products that work well with simple logos such as water bottles, t-shirts, etc.
Cheaper isn’t better. Not only will cheap items not appeal to students, but they won’t last long enough to make a substantial impact. It’s extremely tempting to save money and get the $0.20 pens, but when 80% of them run out of ink within two minutes, it won’t be worth it. Plus, millennials are increasingly aware of one-use products, and there’s a drive for more sustainable, long-term products for use. Quality journals, water bottles, and umbrellas are all examples of investment pieces to utilize. Make a strong first impression with promotional products that will last long past the career fair visit.
Day-to-day items are best. Being “unique” may be the move in other marketing situations, but out-of-the-ordinary items aren’t going to be regularly used. Because of this, your company’s information won’t be on the forefront of anyone’s brain. Those stress balls seem fun and squishable while walking around a fair, but it’s going to be thrown into the junk drawer the second a student gets home. On average, pens generate 3,000 impressions and T-shirts create 3,400 impressions when used in public spaces*. These items are in the line of sight for more than just the student using them, so you get free branding as much as the student uses that item.
MODERNIZE. It’s tempting to order those flash drives and calculators with logos because they’re nicer products than a cheap plastic company cup. While quality is an important focus, relevancy is just as crucial. Make sure to analyze if the items are both used and in frequent demand, because a student receiving their 10th laser pointer isn’t going to quite do the trick. New ideas like popsockets and fidget spinners are updated models of promotional products, but be wary that they will become dated just as fast, as the next season of recruiting rolls around.
At the end of the day, students appreciate free products, and having them available at your booth help draw in students. However, being strategic with your ordering and delivery is the key trick. This will help set you apart from the very start and keeps your company at the forefront of students’ minds as they look for internships and full-time job opportunities.
*Advertising Specialty Institute 2019 Ad Impressions Study