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.
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.
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?
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.