Ensure Your Promo Doesn’t Get Trashed

At this year’s SXSW music/film/interactive festival here in Austin, a company set up shop to collect unwanted promo items and then donate the items to area homeless shelters. Read the story here. While great for the shelters and a clever recycling campaign, probably not where these brands intended their promo items to end up.

With the leasing season at its peak, you’re probably in the middle of re-stocking your promo inventory. How do you ensure your promo doesn’t get trashed and your marketing dollars are well spent?

As with many student housing marketing strategies, it’s market dependent. Make sure you’re tapped into the local scene and trends. Is neon still popular on campus? Are students passionate about environmental products? Trucker hats used to be in, then were out, and now I think they’re back in.  And get your student staff feedback before you order items. Encourage them to come up with new ideas every year.

Remember that promo items are extensions of your brand. What does hand sanitizer or air freshener say about your brand? That you’re dirty and smell bad? Also make sure your items are high quality and actually work. You don’t want to be known as that-apartment-community-that-gives-out-broken-pens.

Go with items that are extension of your marketing message and lifestyle brand. Think beach towels (resort lifestyle), water bottles (fitness center) and sunglasses (style). To connect your brand to university athletics, consider rally towels, foam hands or boom sticks.

There is also a fine line between stingy (“Only take one pen!!”) and excessive (“Hey little sister and little brother, take these bags filled with $15 worth of promo”). Find the right balance that fits your budget and leasing velocity. Make sure your entire staff understands the policy.  Also know which events (housing fairs, orientations) are worth the expensive items (t-shirts, tote bags, mugs). Save the less expensive items (pens, cups) for your daily marketing efforts.

Also consider limited edition items that are only given to future residents or renewals. Actually print  “limited edition” on the item to create buzz. And because these students have already chosen your community, chances are better they will actually use the items.

Finally, make sure to re-examine your promotional product strategy every leasing season. Just because something was popular last season doesn’t mean it will be popular next. It also doesn’t hurt to check Goodwill or the campus dumpster for your items.



10 Great Student Housing Marketing Ideas

With Jay Leno’s last night hosting the Tonight Show having come and gone, I flipped over to CBS to watch David Letterman the other night. I used to watch Letterman religiously, but with the addition of our now 4-year sold my bedtime has become much earlier (Ok, I usually fall asleep on the couch before the 10pm news).  This night, though, I triumphed.  One of Dave’s signature bits is The Late Show’s Top 10. And as they say, copying is the best form of flattery. So, without further adieu here are Threshold’s Top 10 Great Student Housing Marketing Ideas:


Does Guerilla Marketing Still Matter?

The term “guerilla marketing” has taken on a life of it’s own since it was first coined in the early ‘80s.  As a student housing marketing practitioner, I describe guerilla marketing as any creative, out-of-the box tactics that go beyond passive, traditional marketing. It’s a way for your brand to make real-life connections with students, provide them a memorable experience and let them know that your brand gets them.


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