A few years ago I took a vacation to Cabo. It was beautiful and relaxing…except that every time I tried to relax on the beach and enjoy my surroundings, somebody wanted to interrupt the experience and sell me something. Sombreros. Ice cream. Water sport activities. Colorful souvenirs. Beach blankets. And you know what? It was frustrating. It wasn’t the experience I had hoped for, and it’s one I’d prefer not to repeat.
Do you realize that same type of thing is happening to consumers every day when it comes to online advertising?
There are certain types of digital ads that are like those beach vendors. Instead of displaying their wares in an enticing way and allowing consumers to come to them (like the nice locals I actually did buy something from in Cabo), these ads get right in the consumer’s face and make it difficult for them to do whatever they were trying to do online.
Since advertising money supports more than just businesses (think social connections, valuable free content and journalism), there’s a group called the Coalition for Better Ads that has developed a set of Better Ad Standards to try to improve consumers’ experience of online advertising.
Here are the types of digital ads the Coalition’s research revealed as the most intrusive and disruptive to consumers:
This month, Google Chrome is rolling out an initiative to improve their user experience based on the initial Better Ad Standards. That means they’ll warn sites that display these types of ads and block ads on those sites if their concerns aren’t addressed. And Google isn’t the only one taking action – you can expect to see others following suit.
So what does this mean for you? Basically, treat consumers the way you would want to be treated. Be considerate of the experience they’re trying to have. Ensure that your digital advertising strategy is focused on adding value for consumers and becoming part of their experience rather than interrupting it. Think about what’s useful and relevant to them, then offer it in a way that’s respectful.
Just when you thought you knew what content performed well on Facebook, the social media giant is shaking things up. In early January, Facebook announced a reform to their algorithm that will make organic reach more difficult for businesses while improving the Facebook experience for consumers.
The adjusted algorithm prioritizes “high-quality posts” or posts that they believe people want to see. That means content from friends, family, and groups that encourages interaction between people will perform better, and posts from businesses, brands and media will be held to the same standard. Just getting likes on a post will no longer be enough to grow its reach; now brands have to get followers commenting and re-posting in order to build a greater brand awareness.
Now that they’ve changed the rules, marketers have to change how we play the game. But, you may be wondering, how exactly do you do that?
The “quick fix” answer: pay to play. Now that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for marketing content to be seen, we will likely see a rise in the use of promoted posts. The problem here, however, is that you have to convince your higher-ups that social media is essential for brand awareness and, even more so, that these posts will give you a return on your investment. It also means rethinking what little budget you do have for social media marketing and getting even more strategic with your targeting and placement. Continuously evaluating and adjusting your campaign performance and spend will help you respond to this algorithm, but it’s something you should be doing anyway, and it’s not going to be enough on its own.
The more strategic answer: get better at posting content that inspires people to interact with you, and don’t be shy about asking fans to follow you on Facebook. That means consistent creative engagement with the small audiences you can reach. To Facebook, “meaningful interaction” means having a conversation; the more comments you can get, the better off you’ll be.
So what can you do to start conversations? Sports teams have some of the most loyal fan bases around, so there is hardly a limit to the conversation. Create a poll on Twitter so your followers can vote on their favorite player moment from last week’s game. You can also encourage them to post gameday photos or videos of their own using your team or university hashtags. Think about what you, as a fan, would want to talk about on social media and create content that facilitates that discussion.
Do you have new players or coaches? Introduce them to your followers. Use Facebook and Instagram to host live events when key individuals can sit down and answer questions from fans. Make sure that you’re creating a situation where your fans feel welcomed to talk to you as well each other.
Another smart approach is to make sure you’re aware of what’s going on locally and piggyback on current events, activities, and topics. As a sports team, this is one of your easiest methods for drawing engagement. You can use your social media platforms to host contests and giveaways for team merchandise and tickets to upcoming games. Even if there’s an event coming up that has nothing to do with your team, you can put a unique spin on it to make it relevant to your followers. Something as simple as asking your fans to come out and participate with the team in a charity event at the university is a great way to gain some good publicity.
Just be careful to keep your content and comments natural. Sharing something and inviting others to share back is appropriate social behavior; including things like “COMMENT on this post!!” makes you seem insincere and reeks of self-interest. Nobody likes making forced conversation in real life, so don’t expect them to enjoy it on social media either.
One thing that’s constant in the realm of social media is change, so don’t let things like Facebook’s latest algorithm adjustment stress you out. Look at it as an opportunity to become a smarter, more strategic marketer. Then look at the other social media channels you’re using and think about how you can improve your approach on those channels before another algorithm change comes along. By acting now, you can build a better knowledge base of what it takes to succeed on all of the social platforms you’re using and come up with your own creative ways to engage your fans.
#ExOps18 is in the books and by all indications, it was a rousing success. Huge thanks goes out to Brad Wurthman, Ryan Peck, Chris Ferris and Daniel Veale for traveling to Norman, spending a couple days with us and contributing great information to the discussion. Thanks also goes out to everyone who joined remotely. We were excited to see that people from the industry were tuning in, asking questions and participating in the discussion. We had a great time, learned a lot and have a lot of notes on ways to make #ExOps19 even more engaging and valuable for everyone.
We covered a number of topics during our day-and-a-half of discussions. You can watch it all for yourself on the Old Hat Facebook page or you can simply read my recap below.
An Unconventional Look at How to Drive Attendance We kicked things off on Thursday morning with a private presentation I've developed that addresses what I see as a new way looking at collegiate athletics marketing. The group in the room served as my test audience. I do a number of speaking engagements in the spring, and this will be a topic I cover when visiting with athletics marketing groups. In my opinion, we should take a much different approach if we want to fill our stadiums and arenas. In this presentation, I outline what I believe is that approach. Be on the lookout for a webinar of this presentation coming soon.
Major in the Majors Next up, we had Brad Wurthman of Virginia Tech walk us through a presentation called "Major in the Majors" where he outlined steps he feels we should be taking to focus on the things that truly matter. Brad pointed out that it's difficult to not get bogged down in the minutia and lose sight of the majors, or the big things we actually should be paying attention to. Brad asked questions like, "What's your why?" and "What are we chasing?" and also laid down some golden wisdom with comments like, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," and my personal favorite, "We don't want our staff to do more, we want them to do different." Check out his presentation slides here, but I also highly recommend you follow along by listening to the Facebook video feed for a more valuable experience hearing it directly from Brad.
Roundtable Discussion After Brad's presentation, Chris Ferris of Colorado State led a discussion on various external operations topics. One strong area of focus was that of student attendance. Everyone felt strongly that despite student attendance being a non-factor in direct revenue generation, there are ancillary benefits that cause indirect increases in revenue. The most obvious of those is the effect students have on the overall gameday experience. Games are more exciting and more fun if the students are there. That, paired with the idea that students are your future season ticket holders and donors, brought us to the conclusion that when the old fans are complaining about the loud music and song selection, but your students love it, you err on the side of pleasing the students. Those die-hard older fans aren't going to stop coming because of the music, but your students won't turn into die-hard fans if you don't give them a great experience.
Effects of the New Tax Code on Fundraising After a lunch break, we came back to another roundtable discussion led by Ryan Peck of North Texas. We went through what the old code states about tax-deductible gifts and what the new code says. We also talked through a number of things different athletic departments have done to try to prepare for the unknown, but "the unknown" was really where we landed on this topic. The fact is, no one really knows how, or if, the new tax code is going to affect the industry. After some initial panic toward the end of 2017, most of the people at the table agreed that it might not be a major issue. Toward the end of this discussion, we also touched on the topic of data analytics, predictive analysis, look-alike modeling and marketing automation.
Virginia Tech Ticket Sales Strategic Planning Session Having spent the past few hours in discussion, we turned the live-stream off to get our hands dirty with a little strategic planning for Hokies football and men's basketball. Due to the proprietary nature of both the client information being shared, along with wanting to keep our process for making strategic marketing recommendations under wraps, we didn't broadcast this part to the masses. However, I can tell you that ahead of time, Brad Wurthman gave us a goal he's hoping to achieve: increase non-season ticket sales for football and men's basketball. We dug through the data gathered from surveys we'd conducted, talked through some of the issues Va Tech is facing, and looked at census data and historical sales information before calling it a day. This part of the process was all about information gathering. We haven't completed our strategic plan yet, but we will be doing so in the coming weeks and delivering that to Va Tech with a full list of recommendations to help them achieve that goal in a targeted and strategic manner.
2018 Digital Marketing Trends We kicked things off on Day 2 with a live-streamed presentation from Old Hat's Director of Web/Digital, Kevin Kelly, on the topic of web and digital trends for 2018. Kevin shared some great statistics on the impact of video engagement vs. the traditional means of communicating on social media. Some of those stats:
- 4 times as many consumers would rather watch a video vs reading - 1 in 4 consumers lose interest in product if there's no video about that product - 4 in 5 consumers say video of how a product works is important in decision to buy - 95% of a message is retained when watched in video vs. 10% when reading
One idea that was thrown out as a result of this is that maybe instead of having our internal video production crews focus so heavily on high-impact, emotionally driven videos, we should ask them to produce more informational videos that actually communicate a message about our product.
Other topics that were covered are too many to name, but I'll be asking Kevin to develop this into a webinar in the spring - so stay tuned for that. There's some great information that can help us better engage with our fans.
Responding to a Changing Industry For the final segment of #ExOps18, we turned off the live stream and talked through ways Old Hat can better serve the industry. When I started Old Hat 14 years ago, we were a traditional creative production shop, and we were selling a service the industry was already buying and knew it needed. Old Hat just offered a better version of it at a competitive price. However, as I've seen the industry shift, I've realized the need for our marketing to be much more strategic. Therefore, we developed a wide range of strategic marketing services that include data collection, analysis and strategic recommendations that can help an athletics organization identify who specifically to target, where to find them, how to message to them and how to measure the results. Unlike posters, videos and schedule cards, this list of services is not one the industry already knows it needs. During this discussion, we talked through ways of shifting the industry's perception on what marketing should look like and how to convince athletic departments to look at the product they're selling the same way other industries view their own products and services. That is through doing research, developing insight into who to reach and how to reach them and then rolling out a strategic marketing message in the right ways to the right people.
Overall, it was one of the most fun and most valuable day-and-a-halves in my entire career. Outside the walls of that conference room, we ate a lot of great food, learned a lot about each other and enjoyed the company of some very progressive and forward-thinking minds in collegiate athletics. There were so many people that came together behind-the-scenes to make this a reality, and my sincere gratitude goes out to all of them. We can't wait to do it again next year.
After months of planning, we are excited to announce the first ever Collegiate Athletics External Operations Symposium, or as we like to call it, #ExOps18. What is #ExOps18, you ask? Great question!
#ExOps18 is an opportunity for anyone working in collegiate athletics to learn about and discuss the topics at the forefront of the minds of those charged with ticket sales, increasing attendance, game experience and fundraising - the "external operations" of collegiate athletics. We're starting small and because of the luxuries the web provides us, year one will primarily be an event you can attend remotely. No need to worry about getting approved to spend money to attend. That's assuming, of course, that your university isn't on AOL's pay-per-minute internet service. If so, maybe you can collect some "free trial" disks in the mail and attend next year.
Fortunately for you though, not everyone is attending remotely. Old Hat has invited four of the top minds from collegiate athletics marketing and fundraising to be on-site to present, discuss and field questions. Those minds belong to:
Chris Ferris Senior Associate AD for Sales, Marketing and Communications Colorado State University
Ryan Peck Executive Senior Associate AD for External Affairs University of North Texas
Daniel Veale Director of Marketing SMU
Brad Wurthman Senior Associate AD for External Affairs Virginia Tech
On January 25 and 26, these four people will gather at Old Hat world headquarters for a day-and-a-half to discuss the topics that are weighing most heavily on their minds. Portions of those discussions will be live streamed via Facebook Live (link: ExOps.live), and we're inviting you to listen in and be a part of the conversation. You will be able to send in questions ahead of time, ask questions live via Twitter using the #ExOps18 hashtag or submit questions in the comments on the Facebook Live video stream. Below is an agenda for the event and a list of topics we will be discussing, so mark your calendars and get ready to plop down in front of your computer next Thursday and Friday for some great conversation.
Please note: Portions of the days' events will not be live streamed due to proprietary and confidential information being shared. The segments that will be live streamed are indicated below.
Thursday, January 25 - All times Central
9:00 a.m. (LIVE) - Welcome, Introductions and Icebreaker
9:30 a.m. (PRIVATE)- An Unconventional Look at How to Drive Attendance: An internal discussion on fan behavior - Zac Logsdon, CEO, Old Hat
10:15 a.m. (LIVE) - Major in the Majors: Filtering out the unimportant and concentrating on valuable metrics - Brad Wurthman, Virginia Tech
10:45 a.m. (LIVE) - Q&A session Brad Wurthman
11:15 a.m. (LIVE) - Marketing/Ticket Sales Roundtable discussion, led by Chris Ferris, Colorado State - Topics to include: Increasing Student Attendance, Growth Metrics that Matter, Data Analytics and How do you measure engagement?
Noon - Break for Lunch
1:30 p.m. (LIVE) - Fundraising/Development Roundtable discussion, led by Ryan Peck, North Texas - Impact of the new tax code on fundraising
2:30 p.m. (PRIVATE) - Strategic Planning Session for Virginia Tech Ticket Sales
5:00 p.m. - Break for the day
Friday, January 26 - All times Central
9:00 a.m. (LIVE) - Digital Marketing Marketing Trends for 2018 Presentation/Discussion - Kevin Kelly, Director of Digital/Web, Old Hat
9:45 a.m. (LIVE) - Q&A - Last opportunity to ask our guests questions
10:15 a.m. (PRIVATE) - Internal Discussion on new products/services, positioning and adapting to the changing market
Growing up in Texas, snow days were rare. Even just a little ice or a little snow typically resulted in everything shutting down. My friends and I would spend the day running, sliding, and eventually falling on the ice. It may have only happened once or twice in my entire childhood, which made it all the more memorable.
This last week it snowed in South Central Texas. Since I was in Oklahoma (where it did not snow), I received many photos, calls, and texts about the “crazy snow” that was happening in and around Austin: my nephews playing in it and building a snowman; my mom having to get a kitchen spatula to clean off her car windows to go to work; my friends telling me how hard it was to drive through all that snow.
From what I can tell, there wasn’t more than an inch. Making a snowman was way more work than it should be since snow had to be gathered from four different yards.Windshield wipers probably would have cleaned off the windows just fine, but that doesn’t matter to any of the people who experienced this event. The “blizzard of 2017” will be marked forever in their memories. I know my brother will be telling stories to his son about how much he hated snow the first time he was in it, that time it snowed in south Texas. Even a quick look at my “trends for you” section on Twitter shows what a big deal that little bit of snow was to the people watching it happen.
Why is this relevant to us as marketers? Events like these are rare, and while they may seem minuscule to some, the people who experience them will keep those memories for the rest of their lives. There’s a natural opportunity for you to connect with people in these moments and to become part of an indelible memory.
Whether the event that happens is a game, a freak weather event, or even just a spur of the moment gathering of people, there will be opportunities that you and your team can capitalize on. Here are a few things to think about if you ever find yourself experiencing a “snow in south Texas” type event.
1. Capture the moment. It seems obvious, but make sure you record it. Document the event as much as you can. Whether it’s snapping a few photos of the snow to use for holiday materials next year or making sure you capture the stories of people who experienced it, capture the moment and look for opportunities to share it again later on down the road.
2. Be timely. Timing can be everything. Just look at the impact Oreo made during the Super Bowl Blackout a few years ago. When unique moments happen, your ability to respond quickly can make or break your ability to connect with people. If you aren’t ready as the event is happening, don’t try to force it. Jumping on the bandwagon too late makes you seem less relevant .
3. Be genuine. This is a phrase that gets repeated in marketing conversations quite often, but with something like this you have to be genuine. A large part of that comes with being true to your brand. If the event does not fit or fall in line with who you are as a brand, let it pass. It is better to sit on the sidelines and watch things unfold than to put something out there simply because you felt it was required.
4. Tie your brand to the event. During the recent snow, a lot of the Twitter activity I saw related to snow at Kyle Field. Opportunities for photos of an Aggie helmet covered in snow on the 50 yard line are few and far between, but by capturing the moment in that manner, fans will forever remember the time it snowed during Aggie football season.
5. Embrace the moment. Often this type of event is unexpected and brings out a little bit of craziness. Embrace it. This is not something that is going to happen often and it might not ever happen again. As long as you’re reacting in a way that’s consistent with your brand, don’t be afraid to do something different to take advantage of a unique opportunity.
Duke Men's Basketball fans are used to seeing great basketball, and thanks to our partnership with Duke Athletics over the past 4 years on Countdown to Craziness, their fans are also used to seeing an epic floor projection show to kick off the basketball season.
Every year we work with Duke Athletics to come up with something that's bigger and better than what was done the year before. This year was no exception. Months of planning and discussions happen before we even begin the video production process. This is necessary so that we can determine a theme and concept that the show centers around.
The concept behind this year's Countdown to Craziness Court Projection was bringing Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium back to life. The basketball court had been dormant since its last game in March and it just needed the electrical switch flipped to charge it back up to full craziness. Deep in the inner-depths of Cameron is the storied program's history. The heart of Cameron. This is where you'll find all of the buzzer-beaters, dunks, blocks, hustle plays, and hugs. This is where you'll find the banners and trophies. As each highlight continues to build the electricity goes into a complete frenzy. Once you step on Coach K Court you BECOME a part of it all. See for yourself!
It’s a great conversation starter. Since we know a lot of credit union marketers want to start more conversations with Millennials and Gen Z – and that sometimes looking at research is exhausting when your day is already full of tasks and reports – we’ve put together a game of marketing “would you rather” for you. It’s the easiest game you’ll ever play, because we’ve provided answers based on statistics from 9GAG and GFK on consumers aged 18-34.
1. Would you rather have an easy job working for someone else OR work for yourself but work incredibly hard?
53% of those polled said they rather work for themselves but work incredibly hard. Millennials have taken some flak for being lazy, but they’re actually pretty entrepreneurial. Twenty years ago it was much harder to launch a business because you needed a brick-and-mortar location or at least a distribution channel, plus marketing yourself often meant pounding the pavement. Today, e-commerce gives Millennials greater opportunity to test the waters of self-employment and many of them are jumping in.
2. Would you rather be a smart person who’s never appreciated OR be an average person who gets all the praise in the world?
63% said they would rather be a smart person who’s never appreciated. These generations have grown up with unprecedented access to information at their fingertips. They’re used to finding answers quickly and learning on the fly. While they’d willingly give up recognition in favor of actual smarts, you can’t afford not to recognize them for who they are. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating them or talking down to them.
3. Would you rather gain 10 friends in real life OR gain 10,000 friends on Instagram/Twitter?
With 95% of those polled preferring to gain 10 friends in real life, we are seeing a shift in how the younger generations are interacting. Despite what older generations may think, Millennials and Gen Z see real value in face to face communication.
4. Would you rather lose the right to say anything on social media OR lose your right to vote in an election?
Younger generations want their voices to be heard, but you might be surprised to know that 67% felt the right to vote in an election was more important than being able to say whatever they want on social media. With all the recent attention on fake news in social media, there’s a growing recognition among Millennials that the real way to get their voices heard is by participating in politics and putting action behind their opinions.
5. Would you rather lose all your money and valuables OR lose all the selfies you have ever taken?
There’s no doubt that the 34-and-under crowd loves their selfies, but they’re also smart enough to realize that selfies don’t pay the bills for most people. A whopping 98% said they’d rather sacrifice their selfies than lose all of their money and valuables. So, you know money is valuable to them. How can you help them make more of what they have?
To build a stronger marketing strategy sometimes you need to have a little fun and get into the minds of those you are targeting. While some of these statistics might not be crucial to your marketing efforts, hopefully they’ve helped you get a better sense of what’s important to Millennials and the leading edge of Gen Z.
When you’re selling tickets, one of the main groups you need to appeal to is the millennial generation: the 18-34(ish) year old group of current students, recent grads, and local sports fanatics.
And guess what?
Not just college-student-eating-ramen broke or first-job-small-salary broke, but seriously broke.
In 2016, there were more households in poverty headed by a Millennial than by a member of an older generation. Massive student loan is partially to blame: borrowers under the age of 39 are on the hook for 2/3 of the nation’s $1 trillion in student loan debt. Older generations often talk smack about lack of millennial responsibility and how they’re waiting longer to get married, buy a home, etc. but part of the reason this generation is lagging behind is because they simply can’t afford those “grown up” expenses.
Even though this group doesn’t have much money today and probably only makes up 25%-30% of your current revenue base, you shouldn’t write them off. Millennials are the biggest generation this country has ever spawned and they aren’t going to be broke forever. Just about the time Baby Boomers are dying off, Millennials will be hitting more solid financial ground and will represent the majority of your target audience.
So how do you get this strapped-for-cash group to spend money on tickets today?
Focus on the experience.
According to an Eventbrite report, Millennials are more likely to spend money on attending events than on material goods. They’re all about having experiences and creating memories. More than ¾ of Millennials credit an event or live experience with creating their best memories, and they’re eager to make more. When they come to a game, they’re there for more than just the game itself – they view it as an opportunity to hang out with friends or family and feel like they’re part of the action. They’re also driven by FOMO, so if you make your game the place to be they’ll want to be the one showing up and sharing it on social media.
Make it affordable.
Millennials love discounts and getting a good deal. What are you doing to put tickets within reach for this group? Think beyond simply offering discounted tickets for students and get creative. Have you tried a buy-one-get-one promotion to encourage greater attendance? Extended payment options for ticket packages? Geo-targeted digital ads that include a special offer in the days leading up to the game? According to a NACDA report, just over half of Millennials say they’d share their location in return for a relevant coupon or promotional deal, especially if it means better access at events. What about special discounts on game day? TodayTix (think Uber for ticket sales) did some research, and they found that men are 30% more likely than women to take advantage of last-minute sales. That’s an another insight worth keeping in mind as you design day-of-game discount promotions targeted at this group.
Even though the bad news is that Millennials don’t have much money to spend on tickets, the good news is that they’re more likely to spend their limited dough on experiences and events. Your challenge is to make your games both affordable and engaging. While this might not be your core fan base today, the more of a relationship you can form with Millennials, the more likely they’ll be to continue to support your program in the future when they’ve got some money to burn.
Collegiate athletics marketing is all about activating fan affinity. We pour painstaking effort into producing visually dynamic schedule posters with die-cuts, custom photography, stellar taglines and whatever the latest printing technique is so we can slap our fans in the face and get them excited about the upcoming season. We post social media graphics to let all of our followers know there's a game coming up or tell them about the game we just won. I could sit here and list out the hundreds of things we do, as an industry, that are aimed at activating the affinity that exists within our fans so they'll want to attend our events.
But that's where the problem lies. Read that statement again: ...activating the affinity that exists within our fans... If you think about it, most of what we do is focused on existing affinity. And we're just trying to activate it.
But what happens when there is no affinity to activate? What happens when you've run out of fans to activate affinity within?
During the course of a recent research engagement, we discovered something very important about a particular university's market: the alumni base in that area is extremely small. Additionally, the alumni from this school are quite wealthy and their attention isn't just being pulled by other local entertainment options, it's being pulled by far-off, exotic weekend getaways. Even if we overcame the things that were pulling fans away and activated fan affinity in every member of the university's core local audience, we still wouldn't be able to fill the football stadium because the pool of people with an existing affinity is so small.
The other mistake many programs make is assuming that alumni and/or fans that used to have affinity for their athletic programs still have affinity to be activated. We all like to think that because someone went to our university or used to come to our games, all we have to do is figure out how to activate that thing inside of them that will make them want to come back. But for a multitude of reasons, sometimes that's just not the case. Sometimes alumni don't care. Sometimes with former fans, it's too late.
Whether you're reaching out to people who have no ties to your athletic programs, alumni with little existing affinity for your programs or former fans that have grown apathetic, we must change the conversation from one of trying to activate fan affinity to one of creating fan affinity. It can be done, trust me. You see brands all over the world that go from non-existent to having extremely loyal "fans." They do this by creating affinity for their brands.
Okay, great. Stop activating. Start creating. Where do we start?
A coach wouldn't develop a strategy to win a game without first scouting the opponent. In the same way, you must scout your opponent. Your opponent is apathy toward your program.
1. Who are THEY?
First things first: figure out who is in your market and speak their language. Time and time again, I've seen athletic organizations invest in a marketing plan targeted at individuals that may not even exist. The prospect group you envision is probably out there, but you have to make sure there are enough of those people in your market to move the revenue needle if you reach them and convert them. For instance, if you think the people most likely to attend your events are single men and you target your message to them, you're going to have a problem if your market is actually full of 35-year-old mothers of two. If you know your market is full of PhDs, your message will be different than if you think it's full of factory workers.
2. Who are YOU?
Now that you know who you're trying to reach, you have to figure out a way to position yourselves in a way that is appealing to those most likely to come to your events. What makes what you have to offer better than what is competing for your potential fans' time? Remember, we're creating affinity here. We're trying to appeal to potential fans that have no feelings one way or another toward our programs. Is your gameday experience family-friendly? Are you priced well? Are you a Power 5 school with big name opponents coming in? There's no right or wrong answer. You just have to figure out why what you're offering is better than whatever you're competing with.
3. Find Compatibility
Now that you know who your potential fans are and you've done a deep dive into figuring out who you are, you have to find common ground. If 35-year-old mothers are making decisions about what to do with their young children on Saturday afternoons, the hard-hitting action of top name opponents probably isn't what is going to appeal to them the most. At the same time, if big hairy men are your target, talking up the hard-hitting action may be the way to go. We may be perpetuating stereotypes here, but marketing is based largely on understanding the typical characteristics and preferences of big groups of people and tapping into those likes and needs in order to make a connection and influence a decision. It works for every other industry in the world. It will work for you. Think of it like having a conversation with your father-in-law... if he's a mechanic and you're in marketing, you're not going to insist on talking about marketing or he'll check out. You do some research and figure out that he's really into competitive duck-herding. OMG, you're into competitive duck-herding! Now you have something to talk about at Thanksgiving. Find out what you and your fan base have in common. Then connect over it.
The reality is this: die-hard fans are coming to your games no matter how amazing your poster and social media graphics are. So marketing to them is like paying for the free mints at the end of a meal. And that's exactly who you're marketing to with the die-cut, 3D, pop-up, scratch-n-sniff schedule posters and animated gifs of Jimmy hitting that three-pointer. Don't get us wrong: there's a place for that when it comes to maintaining your fan base. But if you want to actually grow your fan base, you need to create affinity for your athletic programs. Do some research or engage someone to help you do some research. If you figure out who your potential fans are and then figure out who you are, you have what you need to drive attendance.
If you have worked in any industry that has physical locations, you have probably at least heard of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance.When most people think of ADA compliance, they think of things like wheelchair accessibility and other facilities requirements. It’s natural to include ADA considerations in your $100 million stadium project, but have you ever thought about ADA compliance when it comes to your website?
ADA compliance for websites is a convoluted and sometimes difficult thing to understand, but let's take a look at what you need to know.
There a few groups of businesses that must adhere to ADA compliance law:
Businesses with 15 or more employees
State and local agencies
Businesses with public accommodations and commercial facilities
The last one is where most organizations are covered, which is Title III of ADA law.
“...the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of "public accommodation" by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation. Public accommodations include most places of lodging (such as inns and hotels), recreation, transportation, education, and dining, along with stores, care providers, and places of public displays.”
Although ADA law was written for physical facilities, recent court cases show that it is now being applied to the digital world. For example, supermarket chain Winn-Dixie was recently ruled to have violated a blind man's rights because the coupons presented on their site were only images and could not be read by a screen reader. As a result of this case, Winn-Dixie was required to update their site to make all of their content screen reader friendly.
The ADA standards for websites are still in development (with a tentative release date in 2018), so the judge in this case made his ruling based on WCAG 2.0 (WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). These guidelines were created by the World Wide Web Consortium and updated in 2008. They’re currently the standard by which sites are measured for accessibility.
The WCAG 2.0 guidelines have four basic principles:
Principle 1 – Perceivable. Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
Principle 2 – Operable. User interface components and navigation must be operable.
Principle 3 – Understandable. Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
Principle 4 – Robust. Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
The bottom line is that people need to be able to consume your content and take advantage of what you offer online, regardless of their disability.
WCAG 2.0 is also broken down to different levels of conformance.
A.This is the lowest level of conformity. The goal here is to make the site accessible (readable) to most browser and screen readers. While this is an improvement to a lot of websites, it is not at a level that would that provide a lot of benefit for impaired users and is not at a level that the court cases have mandated sites (in those cases) achieve.
AA.This makes a site considerably more accessible. It will not change the look of a site completely, but will put it in a much safer place in terms of compliance. It includes guidance on errors and even some on color contrast. Most businesses will be fine achieving this level of compliance and it seems this is the level the courts are pushing on the sites. AA is also recommended by the WCAG themselves.
AAA.This level is considerably more robust and typically requires significant changes on most sites. It does make the site accessible to the widest range of disabilities. Site design would be heavily impacted by this level.
Each of these guidelines is broken down in more detail on the WCAG website, but for most people the AA guidelines should be the aim.
So how does this affect you? It depends on your website. There are a lot of tools out there that can check your site for compliance. There are also several firms that will offer you services to do the same.
Here are a fewkey things to keep in mind. First, ADA compliance starts with programming. Make sure the people who are building your site know what they are doing and are following WCAG protocols. They should be educated about ADA compliance and be able to answer your questions.Second, think about the purpose of your site. Is it an extension of a physical location? If so, what services are offered at the physical location and can those be offered on the website? ADA compliance is all about accessibility and equal access.Having a phone number or a live chat option on your site can go a long way toward enhancing accessibility, especially if those resources are available 24/7.
While a lack of web-specific ADA law makes compliance a little challenging, following the WCAG guidelines and keeping accessibility in mind will help you offer people an online experience that is as accessible to them as an in-person experience at your physical location.