January 20, 2018

Marketing your campus club, event or cause by walking around

Tom Baker - Get Involed - Community Service - Civic Leadership 003

The phrase “managing by walking around” has tended to be trendy at times within business over the last few decades. The concept suggests that you can influence others and lead more effectively by simply seeing how others are doing and through interacting with them. It actually makes some sense to me and I agree that it is important to be visible and let others know that you care about their work and the issues that they are experiencing. A concept that I want you to consider is the idea of marketing by walking around on your campus. I would like for you to think of yourself as a potential moving billboard for what you care and feel strongly about.

Your willingness to promote causes, organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and people can give them a tremendous amount of positive exposure. We can help recruit members, students, customers, and clients for what we believe in by simply wearing shirts, hats, and other items that include the logos or symbolize the message behind subjects that they we have passion for.

Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t pay you to sport their gear around your campus and American Eagle doesn’t send you a thank you not for promoting their product at the dining hall. So why not utilize the opportunity to do good and help promote subjects that make our world a better place and improve the lives of others.

I have always been a big believer in the concept of marketing what you care about by walking around. I learned this as the recruitment chairman of my fraternity in college and have never lost faith in this concept. We spend so much time and effort coming up with catchy posters, websites, and other promotional pieces. Having a good marketing plan is important for any group, campaign, or company and I don’t want to take away from that. However, simply having people walking around with a t-shirt or hat can make such an impression on others and spark interest in dozens if not hundreds of people in any given day.

As a society we are definitely curious and generally find some interest in what others are wearing. Instead of promoting clothing companies by sporting their items that showcase their brand, why not help create some grassroots buzz for a non-profit group, business, political candidate, or school that you feel passionately about?

I would encourage you to think about the types of things that you could promote. As Vice President of Programs of a non-profit I definitely try to help promote Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh. I regularly wear BBBS gear and almost always wear a BBBS lapel pin. My wife, Erin, and I also wear an arsenal of attire from Millersville University, where we did our undergraduate work. It is my hope that middle school or high school students might see us and get curious about our college. BBBS and Millersville are not the only two ways that I promote by walking around and I try and get some exposure for other non-profits, candidates, and organizations.

What are three groups that you could help by spreading their message in this fashion? If you do not have a piece of clothing that has their logo or message, either buy one or ask for an extra item from them soon.

Please make sure to take a look around and see what other people are promoting. If we expect others to support us we have to play a reciprocal role. I often times will notice someone wearing something new or different when I am out and will do an internet search about their cause or group later that day.

Also, if you are in a social situation it can be useful to ask questions to someone about what their clothing item is all about. You never know what positive movement or group you might learn about or even become part of. Marketing by walking around is definitely what you make out of it. While you might never know the big impact it makes in the lives of others or the groups that you are promoting, it will make a difference.

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“Marketing your campus club, event or cause by walking around”

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Since the release of Get Involved! Making the Most of Your 20s and 30s in February 2008 Tom Baker has spoken with over 17,500 students and civic leaders at over 100 colleges, companies, and community organizations and inspired thousands to give back and make a difference. As a college speaker and former student body and fraternity president during his college days, Tom shares a terrific set of stories and proven strategies with students and inspires them to GET INVOLVED! WebsiteFacebookTwitterEmailAmazon


  1. A great example of this is the Red Hat Society. You can certainly tell who they are with their red hats and purple outfits. Campus organizations need to think of ways they can brand themselves with attire or “flair” that everyone recognizes.

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