Ever seen this website http://bemoredog.o2.co.uk/?

It was pointed out to me a couple months back as a funny site with some interesting technology.  After wasting an hour or so trying to be more dog, the question became, what can I do with this?  

This website allows you to sync a mobile device with a computer.  Once the devices are synced, your interactions on the mobile device controls how the cat on the computer behaves.  There are so many possibilities for this technology.  Yes, it requires two devices to interact with the site, but most people have multiple devices available that they could use.  This is something I want Old Hat Creative to use for one of our clients.  It is a fun site and something our Interactive team would enjoy programming.

This is a lot of what I do.  In essence, I surf the web.  There are so many websites out there doing unique work that I have not found.  If I find something that works, looks cool, or behaves in a way I have never seen before, I want to find a way to use that technique.  Whether it be on the Old Hat Creative website or on a clients website, I want my team doing work that challenges them and helps our department get better.  

I was looking through a lot of my old blogs this week and realized how often I repeat certain themes.  Today, I am doing it again. I want my department to always be challenged and pushing themselves to be better.  Not everything we do will be cutting edge, but as long as we are improving and constantly getting better at what we do, we will prosper.    As much as certain professors annoyed me at times, the good ones always did or said something that sticks with me and is on my mind frequently.  I want Old Hat Creative to always be sharpening its axe.  There is so much talent in this office it can be intimidating, but everyone can still be better.  Whether taking the small steps to use a new programming language or designing a poster using a method that has not been used frequently, we can do the things that make us better and make us the company that everyone wants to use.  All we have to do is keep sharpening our axes and we will be fine.

We've been preparing for this football season with some schools for the last nine months.  While the 2012 season was still going on, we were doing research, gathering footage, creating ticket plans, etc. so we could put together the best marketing plans and materials for 2013.  Instead of guessing what your fans want, you can ask them via online surveys, social media or mobile websites that solicit feedback from fans at the game, as well as at home.  Make it easy for the fans to provide helpful tips on what's going to keep people coming back to your games.

Once you have that info, don't forget to use it.  Look back at it every few weeks or so to make sure you adjust your marketing plan in real time.  If you're wondering what giveaway item might get fans to arrive early to the game, post a quick poll.  If you're not sure if having your game on Thursday night instead of Saturday afternoon will affect your attendance, do a little research.  And as much as I know it's not fun to read the message boards, they can be a great source of information if you can weed through the other crap that's on there.  You can't take the comments personally, but jumping on there to share information can help you spread the message you want out there.  

If you know your fans well enough, you can create contests and challenges with prizes that will incentivize them.  Over the weekend, I saw Arkansas posted its Summer Social Media Challenge, which had smart intervals and rewards to match each level.  It will be fun to watch the fans respond!

Oh have times have changed.  On Friday, I ran into one of my counterparts, Betsi Sherman, who worked at Minnesota when I was at Northwestern and we talked about how things have changed so quickly through the years.  I remember starting Coach Fitz's Facebook page, helping the Athletics page hit 5,000 Likes in three weeks and assisting with writing the Twitter policies for the department.  With new platforms popping up all the time, we just need to keep finding the best ways to use each one to help make our plans.  And it doesn't hurt to have awesome people around you while you do it!

 

 

 

I'm bad at directions.  This past week, I've been vacationing at a condo in Siesta Keys where the friends I'm with became familiar with the area after the first day.  They jump in the car and easily find the grocery store, restaurants and the airport when I would have to get out my phone to figure it out.  I know the reason I'm not good at this is because I don't always pay attention to the details.  When they drive they make note of things they passed, remember the street names, etc. while I just enjoy all of the fun things that are happening around me.

There are always fun things going on in our daily lives, so imagine trying to sell someone like me a ticket to a sporting event.  How do you get my attention long enough to give me the details I need to make a purchase?  Giving me a long, detailed brochure is great, but then I need you to break it down for me too.  I want to be able to reference that brochure when I have questions, but if you want to actually sell me something, I need it presented in small, digestible chunks.  

And sadly, I'm not the only person like this.  Give me a visual or tell me a story and I can spit back that information perfectly, so that's why I love infographics.  If you're trying to tell a story that people will remember, they are amazing.  Even if the story isn't flashy, you can make it look fun.  For example, last year when I was working from the Miami campus, I found out that one of the most confusing processes for the fans was printing their tickets at home, so together we made this infographic:

When you're running a new contest with the goal of collecting fan data to make a sale, an infographic can show people why it's worth giving their contact info and they can easily share this contest with friends and family across the social media platforms.  The reach is much bigger when you create something your fans want to tell their circles about.

We saw the power of the people in Pulaski, Tennessee in 2011 when we created a social media campaign for James Justice to win the fan vote into the NCAA Slam Dunk Contest.  He's 5'9 attending a school of less than 800 students in a town of less than 8,000 people and yet, his story spread across the state to beat out guys at schools ten times the size of his. 

When he won the fan vote, Athletic Director, Jeff Bain, then came to us and said, "well, now we need to raise the money to actually send him to New Orleans!"  Using the t-shirt we designed, we continued the campaign to turn these voters into donors, which we did.  The best part of the story is that with this opportunity he went there and won the dunk contest!  It still gives me chills to think about it.  I've never met James Justice, but getting to know him through this campaign is by far one of the best experiences I've had working in college athletics.  How can you not love this guy?

 

So if you're wondering if infographics can help tell your story to generate national brand recognition, as well as generate revenue for your programs, the answer is yes.

Without them, I have to rely on other people to get me where I'm going.

 

I don't have a ton of memories from spending time with my father growing up.  He was in a car accident when I was 6 that nearly killed him and for a couple of years, he was incapable of doing much in the way of the typical father-son things.  And even after he had fully recovered, he was never the type of father to sit down on the floor with me and play a game.  He worked hard all week and then on the weekends he worked harder (I grew up on a farm).  This is not to say that my father failed in any way.  I think he still spent more time with me and my siblings than a lot of fathers do.  And he was a great dad.  I'm just saying that due there wasn't just a ton of one-on-one time.  Therefore, the memories I do have of time with my father are held very precious to me.  Three to four times per year, he would drive me the hour-long trek from Guthrie, OK to Norman to see the Sooners play football.  It was the Switzer era and there was no bigger fan of Brian Bosworth than I was.  I was equally as excited to go to the 2-3 OU men's hoops games each season.  Wayman Tisdale, Mookie Blaylock, Tim McAlester...  All my heroes.  But I don't think anything was better than when he'd take me to Stillwater to see OU play Oklahoma State in basketball.  Gallagher-Iba Arena held all of about 37 people back then and there were typically 4 OU fans in the entire crowd.  I was one of them for about 8 years in a row.  I'll never forget those times and because of those moments, I have passed that along to my own sons.  I want them to have those same memories I have.  

Years after I started Old Hat, I finally decided to sit down and figure out our mission.  What is our purpose?  Why do we do what we do?  I had pondered that many, many times and for some reason it was never obvious to me.  But all at once it became very clear why we are here and why I started Old Hat to begin with.  Almost every person I speak to, whether they are sports fans or not, have some memory of a sporting event that they will never forget.  Whether it's just driving to track meets with their dad, attending the World Series or simply playing little league, I've never met a person that didn't have a great sports memory that nearly brings tears to their eyes thinking about.  And those people ALWAYS remember exactly who they were with.  

Sports brings people together.  It provides opportunities for fathers to create lifelong memories with their sons.  It allows people to share great moments with their brothers, sisters, mothers, friends, etc.  And we get so wrapped up in it that the emotion often turns into embraces and tears of joy.  And all of the stresses of life are temporarily invisible.  

THAT is why we do what we do.  At Old Hat we have the opportunity to be a part of that.  We can amplify that experience for people.  Whether it's helping get people in the seats to begin with or making they experience better once they arrive, we are a part of creating memories for literally millions of people every year.  I take great satisfaction in that.

One of the things that the amazing Tracie Hitz taught me early on working at Northwestern was the importance in creating a good bond with EVERYONE who works at Northwestern. Having a positive, beneficial relationship with your facilities crew can provide a helping hand when you need to drag all those t-shirt boxes from one side of the stadium to the other. Making sure you keep your athletic communications buddies in the loop on your marketing promotions might get you more shout-outs in press releases. Bringing some doughnuts in to your football contact can help get his support with player appearances. 


Working effectively with the ticket office is one of the best ways to help you reach your goals. At Northwestern, our ticket office was a small crew who had a number of years of experience with the Wildcats. One of the key things I discovered is that supporting their efforts will help them support your efforts. When season ticket mailings went out, our marketing team was down helping stuff envelopes for two days straight. When we had promotional giveaways, the ticketing team would help pass out t-shirts if they could spare the time. As an athletic department, you have the same common goal and helping one another reach those goals together is much easier than struggling apart.

Whenever we decided to offer special discounts on tickets (like group ticket pricing for people wearing one of our promotional t-shirts), the ticketing department had to do extra work to make that happen. Communication between departments was a must. If they can understand why you are doing these marketing initiatives, it helps them embrace the extra work. Weekly meetings and a good amount of emails made sure we were on the same page.

Utilizing ticketing crews for feedback following games is often overlooked. Ticketing personnel are often the first or one of the first contacts your fans make at an event. Ensuring your ticketing crew greets fans with a smile, knows about your promotions for the game and can relay customer feedback to you are all important things to consider. Our ticketing team passed along valuable feedback, like how much fans loved that light up mug or if they were annoyed with the long line entering the parking lot.

One thing Tracie and I always wish we could capitalized on was collecting the contact information of our walk-up traffic. Going back, I am sure we could have worked with our ticketing team to try and collect this information add to our customer database. Thinking of new and different ways to use this important resource is something Tracie and I are always thinking about for our clients.

If there is an opportunity you are hoping to take advantage of, reach out and see if we can help! If you think this information was a game-changer, and I mean, how could you not, just wait for an exciting new feature from our ticket-meister, Andy.  Andy is quite a ticketing dandy and will be bringing you the 411 on the selling tickets. Stay-tuned for more!

Like a lot of people in this country, I have spent the last couple nights watching the Spurs vs. Heat in the NBA finals.  I am not a huge basketball fan but I grew up near San Antonio and watch the Spurs as much as I can.   

About midway through the first half, there seemed to be a rather random offensive foul call on Tim Duncan.  Before you jump ship and assume this is going to be a blog complaining about the officials from a Spurs fan who had to watch his team get smashed last night, stay with me.  What grabbed my attention about this is the way the ABC/ESPN handled the situation.  The announcer immediately made a comment about Bosh needing to write a check for flopping to the NBA and they went to commercial.  After the commercial they come back and are interviewing a former official about the play.   He quickly declared it was a great call and there was no need to question it.  Not surprisingly, the announcer made a quick comment about wanting to rebuttal and then they went too commercial.  The announcer was never allowed a rebuttal.  

Throughout the rest of the night they went back to the retired official to justify calls made by the other officials against both teams. A soft foul on Wade had to be replayed and discussed by the retired official so the fans believed in the call.  It became quite comical and it is something they have continued to do throughout the playoffs.  

Why am I rambling on about this?  Questioning the officiating of the NBA is nothing new but this attempt to involve the sideline crew and announcers came off as insincere.  How does this relate to Old Hat?  It made me think of all of the marketing plans that come through our office every year.  They come in all shapes and sizes, with teams trying figure out what they can do to get the attention of their fans.  More often than not it is the marketing plans that are laid out with the fans in mind.  The plans that genuinely take the interest of their fans to heart are the ones that are the most successful.  
Marketing is not about trying to convince your fans that you are thinking correctly or that you care about the fans experience.  Marketing is about actually caring about your fans experience.  Wanting to make sure they have the best time and want to come back because they enjoyed their day with your organization.  

 

Almost a year ago, I started at Old Hat Creative. My second week on the job I attended NACMA in Dallas and at about that same time, the University of Utah came on as a retainer client. This meant great things for Old Hat Creative! We would be their marketing agency, designing anything and everything one can think of in the sports marketing world. Intro videos, posters, banners, calendars, logos, commercials, web and newspaper ads, social media graphics, brochures, postcards, etc. The list goes on and on. 

It's been one year now and Old Hat Creative and the University of Utah Athletics are happy to announce a new opportunity! Starting this July, our graphic designer, Luke Atkinson, is moving to Salt Lake City, Utah to work side-by-side with the Utah Marketing department as a member of Old Hat Creative. You can read Luke's story by reading his latest blog entry

Check out some of the different types of projects we've done for Utah below. You can also visit the Utah section of our website to see much more!

Utah Football Poster (2012)

Gymnastics Intro Video (2013)

General Branding Video (2012-2013)

Campus Light Post Banners for Men's Basketball 

All Sports Crimson Club Calendar 

Women's Soccer Camp Logo 

Men's Basketball Postcard 

Women's Basketball Postcard 

Utah Cross Country Poster

 

Utah Swimming & Diving Poster 

Baseball Chrony Ad

Ski Web Banner

Football Camp Brochure

Spring Football Poster 

Volleyball Preview Poster 

 

About six months ago Old Hat Creative was approached by the team at Operation Hat Trick for a little help with their website.  I had heard of the organization before but did not really have any idea of what they did.  It is a great organization and you can find out more about it here.  

In the past, Old Hat has done Mayham, Humayliation, and this year our Super Fan 5k to help raise money for good causes.  Since I have been here we have not had an opportunity like this and it was something I was excited to play my part.  The request was simple enough, help us redesign our website and make it look professional.  

When we started, the site looked like this….

There are a couple of issues with the look, but all in all, it really just needed a face-lift.  Our interactive team jumped on a conference call with everyone involved.  When we first look at a site, it is easy to tell what can be changed and what should be fixed.  However, it is not until you talk to the people involved that you really get an idea of what needs to be done.  Amber Lilyestrom was great to work with on this project.  She has a passion for her work and this organization that you feel when talking to her.  Once we heard what she had to say, it was a lot easier to come up with the changes.  Here are a couple of looks at the changes.

 

It is always a process doing a project like this because we were not going to develop the site.  Normally, our designers work hand in hand with our programmers to make sure the site design will function properly, and more importantly can actually be coded.  The programmer for this site is someone I have only met through email and that leads to even more emails.  

Relaying the functionality of the design, as well as the specific items that the client needs, requires a lot of emails and discussion but in the end, it came out right.  The site looks great, the programmer did a great job of making our design come alive, and the client is happy with the work.  

Operation Hat Trick is a great organization and one I would encourage you to support. 

http://operationhattrick.com/landing/index 

Know what's difficult?  Running a business.  Raising children is tough, sure.  But the results of your failures aren't quite as immediate.  If you screw up in raising your kids, you probably won't realize it until they're meth addicts or shooting at people from a clock tower.  Running a marathon is difficult.  But it's difficult for 18 weeks leading up to it and then for 4 hours during (or if you're a complete stud like me, 3 hours and 35 minutes).  Running a business is always difficult.  It never gets easy.  No matter how well things are going, there are always new challenges.  Back me up here, Trip Durham!  And if you screw up, people lose their jobs.  If you screw up BIG, you lose everything.

Off-Season Preparation

One of those difficulties we face every year is how to be properly prepared for the onslaught of "busy season" for the upcoming year.  Right now we're in our "dead season" which doesn't mean that we don't have lots to do.  It just means that compared to August, September and October, the spring months are a breeze.  But Old Hat has been around for 9 years and each year we have seen exponential growth in the amount of work that we have coming in.  And it seems like each year we are understaffed through those busy months.  What I am faced with each spring is making sure that we are properly staffed for that time period but not OVERstaffed.  We don't want to be put in a position where we have to lay-off someone after the busy season ends because we don't have enough work. We also have to decide when to bring in new people in order to train them and have them ready for busy season.  If we hire too soon, we're putting money toward an unnecessary payroll expense for someone that doesn't have anything to do.  If we hire them too late, busy season comes and they aren't properly prepared.  So every May/June, we have to decide who we're hiring, how many people we're hiring and when to bring them on.  Hire too many and we spend too much on payroll and profits suffer.  Hire too few and everyone is miserable all fall because they're working too much.

Painful Growth

Growing is painful at times.  And even though you can analyze past successes and failures, study your numbers, etc... it's all just a big guessing game.  Sometimes I guess right and sometimes I guess wrong.  I've gotten better at it over the years but last year we had the biggest jump in growth we'd ever had and there was no way to know it was coming.  It seems to have just happened.  Do I prepare this year for that level of growth?  Or do I prepare for what we had typically done in prior years?  Or is this the year where it all levels out and we hardly grow any?

Your guess is as good as mine.

If you’ve read any of my blogs over the years, you’re very familiar with the fact that we started in 2004 as a print design company only.  One employee, one client.  Over the years, of course, we have grown to provide everything a sports organization could need to market their athletic programs.  We have produced literally hundreds of videos, animations and commercials.  We have launched websites and mobile applications for some of the top programs and events in the history of sports.  We have shot video and photography of Olympians and National Champions.  And we now consult on national marketing campaigns for teams all over the country.  Yet to some, Old Hat Creative is still just a print design company.

Obviously, many of our clients are familiar with the fact that Old Hat Creative is six divisions under one umbrella.  Some, like Michigan, Utah and Texas A&M use every division.  And some, like Colorado and South Florida have primarily utilized Old Hat’s Interactive and Production divisions.  Over the years, we have done a lot to promote the fact that Old Hat Creative is a full-service agency built for the sports industry. And with our strong focus on providing customer service that is second to none, we have enjoyed significant growth in all areas. Yet some still see us as simply a print design company.

Our approach to addressing this issue was to do a slight re-brand, both to restructure ourselves internally and also to re-present ourselves to our clientele.  Old Hat has been six divisions under one umbrella for quite some time. But we decided that it's now time to tell the whole story of Old Hat Creative all at once.  

The first step of the process was to actually brand each division separately… Give each division its own name and secondary logo.  

Old Hat Productions – Handles the production of all video and animation

Old Hat Interactive – Designs and develops all web-related projects and mobile applications

Old Hat Print Design – The old stand-by, this division produces all print collateral and environmental graphics

Old Hat Branding – Handles full athletic rebrands, event logos, facility marks, etc.

Old Hat Capture – These guys go on-site to capture photography and video for the production of your other marketing pieces

Old Hat Consulting – This division does everything from writing marketing campaigns to new idea generation to running your social media

It’s not enough, of course, to just give our divisions a name and a logo and start telling people about it, we must carry it through to how we market ourselves.  

Old Hat is visible to our current and potential clientele through two primary sources, the NACMA convention and our website.  It is imperative that we make sure that we focus strongly on presenting our “six-division” concept to the public via both of these.  At NACMA, you will see a booth that is twice as big as what we had last year and when you approach us, we will find out what it is you are looking for information on and be able to direct you toward information that pertains to that exact type of project.  Rather than promoting Old Hat Creative, we’ll be promoting the division that pertains to you.  So if all you need is a logo or a website, that’s the information you’ll receive.  

Additionally, when you visit our website, we have made it easier to find projects that pertain to exactly what you’re looking for.  You might not want to see all our schedule posters or logos.  You might just want to see the commercials we have produced.  Click on the Old Hat Productions logo and that’s what you’ll get.

We want to tell the story of what all we can do for a sports organization.  We want our existing clients to know that we can do things for them that we might never have done for them in the past.  We want our potential clients to know that whatever they need, we have a division of the company full of experts that are dedicated to making sure that we deliver exactly what they need.  

Above all else, the establishment of our defined six divisions makes the point that there is no firm in the country that can deliver every aspect of a sports organization’s marketing needs with the expertise with which we deliver it.  Old Hat Branding has competitors.  Old Hat Interactive has competitors.  But no firm in the country combines to be able to do it all under one roof, with one point of contact, with the level of expertise in sports marketing that we have.  

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