One of the cheapest, and most effective, give-aways are branded plastic bags. We learned that typically every table gives out flyers, business cards, pencils, etc. and then students and parents have their hands full as they travel from table to table. Plastic bags are cheap, and parents and students flocked to our table to get their hands on one to make it easier to gather the info from all the tables. Again, once they were at our table - we charmed them with our friendly staff, and wowed them with our access to resources, 24/7 chat service, and digital media equipment rental program. We used the same plastic bags we keep on hand at the library for patrons checking out a large amount of books.
We also like to have something a little more fun, rather than just practical, to give away to students. Last year we opted for trendy plastic framed sunglasses. These were a huge hit - we ordered from Quality Logo Products which had been a reliable vendor in the past - and they definitely delivered this time! The cost of the sunglasses came out to be around 74 cents a piece. Our PR committee debated for a long time about the slogan to include on the glasses. Should we use our library slogan, Knowledge in Your Grasp? That's not really trendy. Should we use one of the Loyola advertising slogans, It's Cooler By the Lake? Well - that's a great slogan, especially since our Information Commons is the building geographically closer to the waters of Lake Michigan than ANY other building - but we wanted to be differentiated from other Loyola advertisements. We wanted these to be a Library product, not necessarily a "Loyola" product. We finally settled on "these are my reading glasses" with a link to the library website.
- Number of sunglasses to order: we have a good estimate because we always know how many students will be attending orientation. Consider the size of your audience and if you want a reserve stash to give away during the year.
- Logos/slogan - we're lucky that university marketing does not mandate what we can give away internally. Because these students were admitted and enrolled at Loyola, we could choose the slogan. If these were to be given to prospective students, UMC would have had a stronger opinion on their content. If you have a library slogan or logo that must be included, consider that when choosing a product. This product almost demanded a clever or witty (dare I say, hipster?) slogan to make them funny. These sunglasses simply wouldn't have worked with Knowledge in Your Grasp.
- Colors - much like slogan and logos, colors must be considered. Once again, we deviated from the standard Loyola practices because these were used for internal purposes. The blue stands out, is gender neutral, and a fun summery color.
These sunglasses were a big hit at orientation, and we had a few spare pairs to give away at other events throughout the year. We still see people wearing them around campus. It's great advertising for our website, fun for the students, and attracted them to our table at orientation so they could hear more about what we have to offer.