Campus Giveaways: Trash or Treasure?

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Talent Formula’s July blog theme is Campus Planning.
Expect to see topics on campus giveaways (below), choosing the right events, presentation tips and how to use social media as part of your campus attack. Don’t get behind the 8 ball. If your campus strategy isn’t yet planned, use our tried & tested tips to get ahead fast!

Be More than Just Another Campus Giveaway

trash or treasure

First come, first serve – here’s a career + A (insert logoed campus giveaway here)

We’ve all been there. Going to booth after booth at a career fair and collecting pens, lip balms, stress balls, stress balls that are shaped like cars or a cow (seriously?), notebooks, mugs, another pen, sticky notes, mints (whoa thanks!), golf tees, reusable grocery bags.

You name it; someone has plastered their logo on it and it’s now a campus giveaway.

What Does Your Campus Giveaway Say About Your Company?

So you’ve ordered 5,000 pieces and you’re ready to lug it to campuses across the country. Did you order the right giveaway? How do you measure its’ value? Each year in planning campus recruitment, the choice to have or to not have a campus giveaway always comes up.

Here’s my advice to consider when determining whether or not to have campus giveaways:

To Have or Not to Have SWAG:

Campus Giveaway Pros:

Lasting Impression – Your logo has a presence after you’ve left. Keeping your brand top of mind even if you’re no longer present on campus is important.

Call to Action – It can drive a candidate to apply with a call to action.

Increased Applications – by using a unique URL for an event on your SWAG, you have the potential to drive increased applications & can measure your application rate specific to that event (now that is source tracking!)

Share Factor – A quirky giveaway can be passed on to others or create buzz on social media such as being posted on Instagram, Twitter, etc.

Icebreaker – It creates a good conversation starter/ice breaker at the booth or can be used as a powerful close (more on this later, keep reading!)

Campus Giveaway Cons:

Your logo is everywhere – and it’s without your control. Ask yourself how you would feel if the water bottle you gave out on campus inadvertently turns up in a picture of a rioter during the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver and is now all over the news?

Toss Risk – If the giveaway is not cutting edge enough will it be just tossed away? Is it just a waste of your important recruiting $$$? Or is this a pro as students always need an extra pen or two? There are too many unknowns on ROI with this type of investment.

Measuring Reach & ROI – How can you measure reach after you have given a pen or a magnet? How do you know if it is being utilized after? Did the potential candidate visit your career site after receiving a giveaway (especially difficult if you didn’t use a unique URL)?

Higher Bar & Bigger Costs – Each year the bar gets raised higher. You wouldn’t want to be expected to give away a MacBook Pro after giving away an iPad the previous year.

So Are You Buying or Reallocating Those SWAG $$$?

Even after outlining the cons, I believe campus giveaways CAN help your employment brand.

However, (and this is a BIG however), it is important to think outside the box.

Your goal with giveaways: leave a lasting impression of your brand. Think about what makes you stand out from others? What unique attributes of your brand are you portraying to your potential candidates?

You won’t want to miss the continuation of this post later on this week! I will demonstrate the power of an innovative out of the box giveaway showing two innovative companies and the path’s they took in their campus giveaway journey.

Meanwhile, comment below and share…. what was the most memorable campus giveaway you have ever seen?

Grace Lanuza
Grace’s 10+ years in the ever-changing world of experiential marketing taught her the importance of having the right team in the right roles. Expanding her passion for people, Grace recently grew her career in the talent acquisition and employment branding space managing campus recruiting across North America for Mosaic, a top marketing agency. You can expect Grace’s unique voice to be found blogging about Gen Y hiring, motivating your team, interviewing tips and tricks, and best practices to keep remote employees engaged.

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  • Kate Hutchinson

    USBs have always been a favored premium swag item on campus. They don’t need to be flashy, or shaped as a cow either. A simple company logo is quite effective and can leave lasting impressions as students utilize them to share files, content and will sometimes refer to them as “my [company logo] usb” As campuses continue to trend away from paper and towards online submission, tech storage will be a continued requirement of students.

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