Here at Old Hat, there are times when our designers, developers, etc. don't have a lot on their plates.  Rather than spending that time posting photos of their lunch on facebook or tweeting about what they're thankful for, we ask that they spend that time working on Toy Cannon projects.  I could bore you with the story behind why it's called a Toy Cannon project but that would require that I remember why it's called that.  Something about how there was an old baseball player the called the Toy Cannon because he was small but hit a lot of homeruns.  

I feel like it's important to encourage our staff to challenge themselves with projects outside their daily routine.  We want them to learn new techniques, new skills and have as much professional development as possible.  It makes them better at their jobs and hopefully more fulfilled as well.  For the past year, our development team has been working on a side project to develop their skills in iPhone app development.  Set to launch this week, the Due You Know Sports app (which Kevin will talk about more tomorrow) not only offers Old Hat exposure as an application development firm and provides an additional revenue stream, should people decide to download this app, it ALSO has given our development team that ability to grow in their skill set.  Tanner led the programming charge and spent hours and hours and hours on this app.  Richard helped with programming at times, Dustin offered design assistance and Kevin oversaw the project and tested it.  Four members of our team now have valuable experience they would not otherwise have gotten.  And it was all done in between other projects so it didn't cost Old Hat anything.

Many companies do similar things to the Toy Cannon, challenging their teams to come up with new products while at the same time giving those employees the ability to learn new skills.  It's been something I've really enjoyed seeing our staff participate in as it gives us the chance to see what they can do if they have no limitations.  

Nellie Logsdon was my grandmother.  She passed away when I was 18.  But one of her many philosophies was this one.  Now, by no means did she intend to say that you shouldn't apologize when you screw up.  What she was really saying was, "Don't screw up."  She knew how badly it sucks to have to admit when you've failed someone.  Looking them in the eye and admitting that you made a mistake and then apologizing for it is really hard sometimes.  And she knew that the only way to avoid it was to not make mistakes.

Well, we all make mistakes.  And she knew that too.  I think that a subliminal part of her message was to say that when you screw up, you MUST apologize.  Some people say, "Failure is not an option."  But I think she'd say, "Not admitting failure is not an option."  And that's the philosophy we have at Old Hat.  I cannot tell you how many times we have dealt with vendors that simply will not admit with they've screwed up.  And further, they won't try to fix the mistake.  Nothing could be more counterproductive to building a loyal client base in my opinion.  

Old Hat turns out an absurd amount of projects in a given month.  Hundreds of videos/animations, numerous websites and thousands (yes, thousands) of print projects every year.  And the amount of times we just completely screw up is nearly 0%.  We have many systems in place to prevent such failure.  The problem is, we're human and we mess up.  Not often, but we mess up.  Sometimes we make the most boneheaded, inexcusable mistakes.  So what do we do when that happens?

I'm sure all of you have watched a basketball game at some point and seen a player commit a foul.  Most of the time, the player (like most vendors) acts like he did nothing wrong.  He/she look at the ref as if to say, "Are you crazy?!  That was NOT my fault."  But sometimes, you'll see the player just nod his head in agreement, point at himself and take responsibility for the mistake.  That's Old Hat.  

When you fail, you have two choices.  You can either embrace it or act innocent.  Either way though, the person looking at you knows you failed.  Embracing that mistake shows that you are taking responsibility for it and while you may end up looking like you failed, you certainly don't look like a failure.

How to Apologize

We screwed up recently.  A couple of times, actually.  First step to take when you realize you've screwed up is to do anything and everything you can do to fix it.  If we make a typo on a print piece, WE call the printer to see if it's too late to send a new file.  We volunteer to go back to the office at 9p on a Friday to revise the file.  And if it can't be fixed, just apologize.  If you can't fix the problem, at least take responsibility for it.  It won't change anything but it'll sure as heck make your client feel better to know you accept responsibility.  And don't be afraid to accept responsibility even when it's NOT your fault.  "Yes, we just copied and pasted the information you sent us but we should have caught that."  Chances are at this point that tempers are high and you should just be seeking to calm things down.  The client will remember that rather than being a tool about it, you admitted fault.  And it's likely that 24 hours later they'll realize that it really wasn't your fault and they'll respect you even more.

Finally, and most importantly, after a few days have passed, the person responsible for the mistake (designer, client rep, etc.) will send a handwritten note to the client further apologizing for the mistake.  By this time, the client is probably totally over it.  Which is the perfect time for you to apologize again.  Don't just tell them you're sorry.  It's imperative that you also outline the steps you will take to make sure that same mistake never happens again.  They care that you're sorry... but they care even more that you're not going to let it happen again.  They need to be reassured that this isn't going to be a reoccurring thing.  

Nellie was right

Your best bet is to follow Nellie's advice and just never screw up.  But when you do, nod your head and point at yourself.  

This past weekend, I was talking with my mom about my fantasy football team. It is funny how everyone loves to talk to others about their team, but no one gives a toot about anyone’s team but their own. It is like talking to people about your dreams- the only person who is the tiny bit interested is you.

Anyway, I was telling my mom about how horrible my team was (Arian Foster, ugh) and she said my aunt was upset about her team. My aunt? The one who has never watched a football game in her life? Is playing fantasy football? My mom proceeded to tell me that a group of moms asked her to play and she has been actually watching football this season. It is a holiday miracle.

Fantasy football has changed the way fans and non-fans interact with the sport of football. It isn’t just about watching, but it is about cheering and investing in players. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association says that Fantasy Sports now has a $5 billion total market impact, which includes products, services and subscriptions.

What is interesting about fantasy sports is the passion it brings out from the players involved. It gets non-fans interested in watching the games. It is way for friends and family to compete with one another. Every team has a chance to win each week, keeping people invested even when their team has a bad day. Fantasy football is easy to use and allows people to customize their team.

There is an opportunity in the market to capitalize on the success of fantasy football. While how to do this exactly hasn’t been figured out, using the basic principles that made fantasy football a success could be a good start.

The competition between friends and family is what drives fans week-to-week and year-to-year. Marketers could create a game or interaction in the stands that allows fans to compete with one another. Developing a game or interaction that makes every play count could also be an avenue. Marketers could set up a competition outside the stadium or field that has fans compete against one another. The competition could be a game involving social media as well.

Fantasy football and the logistics that have made it a success is another avenue that marketers can use to make a deeper connection to fans. Marketers have the opportunity to create that connection and find develop a more devoted fan base.

Yesterday I read an article about how the NBA is going to be tracking a lot more data on its players.  Completely random and seemingly irrelevant stats that only the most obsessed sports nerds would even care about.  However, a quick look at what the NBA is investing in this technology tells you they see value in the information.

I think stats have become increasingly important to the public since fantasy sports have become main stream.  The NBA is investing in this because they see a market in this data and want to allow their fans access to the information. 

Do I care that Tony Parker scores every .24 times he touches the ball?  Not in the slightest. 

Do I care that a person who clicks a link in Old Hat Creative’s newsletter is 50% more likely to spend over five minutes on oldhatcreative.com? Absolutely

Do you care that I completely made that stat up?  I am not sure

Data is important no matter what sport you work in or what level.  The stats for our website are something I look at daily.  It helps me to get an idea of what content we should push or what our newsletter should be about.  All of the sites we build have analytics built in from the start.  It is not always about making sure people know about Old Hat but figuring out what will make our clients more successful.  We routinely compile analytic reports for our clients websites so we can understand their fan base.  Content is king, but how your fans consume that content is where you need the data. 

I started this blog talking about NBA stats, filled the middle up with some analytics, and now am going to end it with a simple yet valuable pointer. 

If you are not collecting data on your website, you are wasting money. Want to know why?  Just ask me  kevin@oldhatcreative.com Twitter: @kk13cball

 

 

Interested in seeing what we've done for clients throughout our six divisions? Click the links below to read our new consulting blogs from the Old Hat homepage! 

Productions - Michigan Football Animations

Interactive - Texas A&M's Kyle Field Website

Print - Charlotte's Inaugural Football Season Print Collateral 

Consulting - SMU Football Campaign 

Branding - Culver Stockton Rebrand

Capture - Cincinnati Football Intro Video Shoot

Content is King!  I say that on a regular basis.  When it comes to garnering attention on the web CONTENT IS KING!  However, in todays social world it gets harder and harder to control the content or keep your exclusive content.  To counteract that a lot of sports organizations are creating websites to release their exclusive content.  Lets be honest, ESPN needs stories 24/7. Whether they have to create them from nothing or not, they are going to find something to run. 

As a marketer you need to make sure that you are doing your best to control the content but sometimes you just want to make sure you are the one who is putting it out there.

 http://aggiefblife.com/ Is a great example.   The site serves as a content aggregator not just with social media feeds but with everything the Texas A&M football team produces.  With a site like this they are able to release the content they want the public to see.  The site has great behind the scenes content that you can not get anywhere else, and that is the point.  With so many Fan sites out there added to the mix of espn.com, si.com, cbssports.com, and others it is becoming ever harder to be the first to break the news of anything.  With the amount of attention garnered by Texas A&M football in the offseason, this site was seen as outlet for the team and staff to tell their story. 

The site is worth a look.  The content may not be what you are looking for(unless you are smart and an Aggie fan) but it shows what you can do with just a little exclusive content and website. 

Have some exclusive content?  Not sure exactly what to do with it?  Give us a call…

 

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Hey folks, good to have you here on the blog today. If you’ve ever come across one or two of my past blogs, you probably realize by now I like to blog using photos. Or perhaps ramble on about things that you couldn’t care less about. Or maybe even combine the two for the double whammy… a useless blog centered around meaningless photos. Well that’s all about to change, at least today. I think.

So Old Hat is about to start working on an athletics slogan for an unnamed client (they have a name, I’m just not going to tell you what it is). And it got me to thinking about what makes a slogan work. I mean, they work… right? I’m not talking about the yearly campaigns that an athletic department tries to tie in across every sport, I’m talking about the overarching university athletics slogan, like “Go Blue” for Michigan.

What is it that makes the slogan work? Why do some slogans catch on and others don’t? What’s the value in creating a slogan for an athletics program? Those are all good questions, and by good I mean that I probably can’t answer them. But I wanna give it a shot anyhow.

First off, what makes a slogan work? I’m going to narrow that down to my top three-  repetition, clarity and conciseness. Each of these plays a big part in helping fans (and even non-fans) retain these messages. Here’s what I mean by those:

  1. Repetition- saying something over and over and over and over and over and over and over so much that seeing or hearing your slogan one more time could cause a seizure, or at least mild convulsions.
  2. Clarity- can I understand your message plastered on a billboard as I drive by it at 85 mph, while my kids yell at me from the back seat because I’m texting my boss about this cool billboard I just saw? If so, that’s clarity. Be careful though, don’t feel like you have to create it for the masses. And don’t allow the masses (internally) to create it for you.
  3. Conciseness- Keep it simple, stupid.

 

So what if you don’t have the budget to get the message out to the masses? You may have realized by now that we’re in the digital age, and impressions can be cheap, even free. You’ve got a website, right? If not, go back 20 years, create a website, then proceed with the next sentence. How about using your slogan as your URL? A successful URL has a lot of the same qualities as a slogan, so why not kill two birds with one URL?

Unfortunately I didn’t make it to all those questions I mentioned earlier, and I’m too lazy to delete them. But maybe I provided a little sliver of insight about what makes a successful athletics slogan. There’s so much to it, and yet it’s also so simple. Don’t overthink it.

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.

 

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