Our 2016 New Year’s resolution: share more of what we know.
In the past 12 years, we’ve learned a lot about sports marketing and fundraising. In fact, we’re not going to be shy about saying this: we’re experts. And we’ve realized that our clients, friends, and fans would benefit from our expertise – so we’re going to start sharing more of it.
Over the upcoming year, you can expect to see more articles on our blog about sports marketing best practices, achieving fundraising goals, advice for common sports marketing challenges, marketing trends, and more. If you’ve got a sports marketing question or challenge that’s keeping you up at night, send it to us! We’d be happy to tackle it in our blog and give you some free advice. After all, our staff has a combined 482 years of experience in sports marketing and development. I know what you're thinking. 482 years? Seriously? No, not seriously. But it's a lot.
But don’t worry, if you like hearing about our antics and personal escapades you’ll still be able to read about them on all our various social media outlets. Robert will still run shirtless through the snow. Zac will still do uncomfortable interviews with the OH staff. And Geoff might write a haiku again sometime.
So buckle in. Twenty-sixteen is poised to be the greatest year in the history of years. And your best resource for making it the best for you is right here at the Old Hat blog.
As a sports marketer, what do you sell? The simple and obvious answer is, of course, tickets. Those game ticket sales in turn fuel other revenue streams: concessions, merchandise, and indirectly other types of program support.
But in reality, you’re selling much more than tickets. You’re selling an experience of your school’s brand and what it means to be a fan of your particular sports program. That experience means different things to different people.
Your entire target audience has one important thing in common: they’re all fans of your program to some degree or another. That means all of them are likely to respond to certain visual cues like your logo, colors, and images of your team, campus, or game venue. However, if you really want to market yourself strategically and effectively, you need to segment your audience further and get to know what drives them.
There are several ways to segment your fans: alumni, donor level, development group member, fan club member, season ticket holder, single game ticket purchaser, whether they’re die-hards or jump-on-a-winning-bandwagon fans, and of course the usual demographic indicators such as age, gender, and geographic location. One of the best ways to segment your current target audience is through market research surveys that enable you to understand their motivations for being a fan and what the game experience means to them.
Here are a few simple examples of what this might look like and how you could use it to drive tailored communication strategies:
·Students might value the fan experience because it reinforces their connection with the school and contributes to their sense of personal identity at this stage of their lives. What makes the student experience unique at your school? Think about how you can tap into traditions like these.
Alumni might be motivated by the opportunity to relive the fun and excitement of their college days, reconnecting with the brand through a combination of sense of tradition, nostalgia, and present day pride. Why not take advantage of opportunities like social media’s #TBT (Throwback Thursday) to help you reinforce that connection and encourage greater engagement?
Parents of students might see the experience as a way to strengthen their connection with their child and may feel a sense of ownership and pride based on their financial contributions to the school. Consider how you can encourage mom or dad’s commitment to the team.
Parents of younger children (whether they’re alumni or not) may value the fan experience as a means of creating memories, passing down a love the game, or teaching kids about teamwork. How is the game experience different for them, and what can you do to showcase the family-friendly side of your brand?
Locals who aren’t alumni and don’t have children attending your school may relate more to a sense of local pride or deep-rooted geographic rivalries. Think about what you can do or say that will recognize and encourage their continued support as honorary members of your organization.
When you understand what motivates your different fan groups to be part of the game experience, it’s easier to identify the right marketing themes. Some motivations or feelings will span segmented groups and resonate with the majority of your fans. Those are the themes you should consider for your overall marketing message. Other motivations will be specific to certain segments, and you should use those to tailor your engagement with each group.
Every ticket or season tickets package you sell represents a wide range of emotions and motivations that are felt by your fans as part of the game experience. So don’t just sell tickets: sell can’t-hold-us-down commitment. Sell remember-when-we nostalgia. Sell ours-is-better-than-yours rivalry. Sell this-is-our-house pride. Your fans will love you for it.
You should probably check it out. It was one of the more fun projects to work on and we were able to do some really cool things with the client.
Remember this guy?
Have you ever seen him do stuff like this before
and enjoyed it?
Well, if you answered yes to the first part of that last question, but then no to the second, then you are probably a reasonable person with well rounded hobbies for entertainment. If you answered yes to ANY part of that question or just think that site I mentioned above is really cool, then you are in luck because on February 11th, Old Hat will combine those two amazing categories into a rock block of fun. And by “rock block of fun”, I mean a webinar that goes through the process of helping you sell tickets with an amazing Old Hat website.
Stay tuned for more info as we get closer to the date, but as with all things Old Hat does, it will involve a little bit of random, a little bit of awesome, and a lotta bit expertise.
Football season is winding to a close and basketball season is heating up. No matter which sport you work with, these four tips will help you take your marketing efforts from having an average season to dominating your goals.
1. Talk smack.
As a sports marketer, you basically get paid to talk smack. How glorious is that? It’s a beautiful thing – as long as you get it right. Good smack-talk galvanizes your fans and increases ticket sales. Just remember that when you talk smack for your program, there are two groups who have to deliver on it: the team (of course) and the operations guys whose efforts ensure a good game-day experience for fans. Make sure you’re working closely with both. The other thing about talking smack is that in order for it to resonate, you have to talk the right smack to the right group. That can be tough if you’re new to a particular program, because every school and every sport is unique. When your messages are on point, you’re near the eye of the hurricane helping chart its path. If your messages aren’t on point, you’re going to be the guy getting crushed by the hurricane. To make sure you’re not that guy, follow the lead of your coaches and players: watch some tape.
2. Watch tape (a.k.a. do your research).
Do you know any college or professional football team that doesn’t watch tape? Yeah, us neither. There’s a reason for that. Watching game film gives players and teams insight into what went well (or didn’t go well) and what to expect from their next opponent. That type of research and analysis provides an important edge. Why not do the same thing with your marketing? Just like reviewing game film, there are two key areas you need to analyze: your brand and your target audience. When was the last time you thoroughly reviewed what your brand stands for, where it can improve on delivering the customer experience, and how strong your marketing strategy is? You also periodically analyze your customers: who they are, what they value most about the game day experience, how well their needs are being met, and what their satisfaction level is. The good news is that you can get away with investing in this type of in-depth analysis periodically (once per season) instead of having to do it for every game.
3. Develop your plays.
On the field or off, analysis is useless if it doesn’t translate into strategy. Use your brand and market research to develop your overall marketing strategy for the year, select the themes and media that are most likely to help you achieve your goals, prioritize your budget, and develop campaigns. Your marketing year can probably be divided pretty easily into its own set of seasons, and you need to have a solid campaign plan for each. Once you find something that works, there’s no shame in recycling it for the next year as long as you don’t get complacent. Complacency kills. You don’t want fans to be able to predict your next poster, email, etc. any more than your team wants the opposing players to predict their next move. So figure out what worked last season, make some adjustments to keep it interesting, and take the next year on like you own it.
4. Monitor the stats.
Ticket sales, game attendance, season ticket renewals, alumni contributions – these are all statistics you should be benchmarking and comparing to prior data. But don’t stop there: there’s more to measure if you really want to know how effective your marketing efforts are. While it can be difficult to measure the success rate of traditional marketing tactics (posters, print ads, billboards, radio, etc.), digital marketing offers a goldmine of statistics. Go beyond looking at basics like number of new and returning website visitors, and start measuring responses to calls to action and actual conversion. Incorporate a marketing automation tool so you can target your messages to different groups, move them along the conversion path, and measure the response you get to each email you send. Make your emails more personal and more interactive with videos that are customizable to each recipient – it’s more affordable than you think, and it helps seriously drive engagement and ultimately ticket sales.
The other day I was listening to some commentary of one of my favorite shows. In the past the extras like commentary that come on DVDs has never been something that interests me. Recently I have started listening to these more and have really started to enjoy hearing what people were thinking when they created something. The process they use will never be the same as mine, but getting a peak into their mind as they created something consumed by millions is interesting to me. A couple months ago we launched http://timetoshinememphis.com/ . It was a fun project to work on and one that fits in with a lot of the other stadium/facility project sites we have been doing recently. Their football team is currently shining quite brightly! Below is some commentary from the team that worked on the site.
Memphis was a great client to work with on this project. They were very enthusiastic about the process and gave us great feedback during the design and concepting phase. We were very happy with how the creative turned out and we love how the site looks.
Dustin Schmidt, Creative Director
Tanner Naeher, Senior Web Developer
What stood out to me on this project is the decisiveness of the team at Memphis. In major renovations like this there are usually a lot of people involved and a lot of people who want their say to affect the decisions. Memphis came to us with a plan and stuck to it. It allowed our team to work with consistent content and create a beautiful website.
I have spent a lot of time in my garden for the last six months. It has been a lot of work, but at this point in the year, it is pretty enjoyable work. Why? Because all I really have to do is walk out and pick things to eat.
That has definitely not been the case throughout the last six months. With twenty-seven inches of rain in twenty-nine days, it has been a struggle. Plants have gotten sick and/or needed constant attention. I have faced more bugs or diseases this year alone than all of my previous years combined. I have spent more time on garden forums than I want to admit and have read through a 300 page garden reference book. It has not been overly enjoyable, and it is a hobby that has it ups and downs. Through it all, being able to harvest has driven me. This Saturday I made gumbo. About half way through, I ran out of peppers and okra. It took all of two minutes to walk out and pick what I needed from my garden. It was rewarding.
I find that busy season for Old Hat is a bit like harvesting my garden. The stress level is definitely different, but the steps we take to get here are very similar. We spend more than six months reviewing our processes, creating new products, and telling the sports world about them. This year we have added an extra source of information in Marketing Automation that is producing more data than we have ever had. We are able to see what people are doing, clicking on, reading, and looking through on our site. It allows us to target our products to those that we know are interested. It is a great service and another product we spent the off-season preparing for our clients and ourselves. Zac blogged in detail about it here
You should check it out and then we can all be harvesting at this point in the year!
Yesterday, Ashley and I traveled to Stillwater to meet with the OSU Sports Management Club. I enjoyed getting to meet the students involved in the group and share a few of the things I have learned from working in the industry. The excitement they have about going into the sports industry is refreshing. We spent about an hour talking with them about our careers and answering any questions they had about the industry. I am truly grateful to work where I work. I consider myself lucky to work on sports projects everyday.
I enjoy seeing that excitement in young people. Excited about what is to come and excited to learn. I help coach a flag football team for similar reasons. I enjoy working with kids and seeing that spark in their eye when they start to understand the game. Watching a young person go from confusion to pure joy in their understanding or the lesson they just learned. Then watching them apply it during a game is something that always brings a smile to my face.
Sports bring that out in people. At Old Hat we “Amplify the Sports Experience” and in that motto is the reason I enjoy coming to work everyday. We want to make every experience a fan has with your team an exciting one. We want fans to get the tickets they bought in the mail, see the design, and start counting down the days until they are in the stadium. We want fans to get chills when they watch a team run out of the tunnel to an intro video. That enjoyment, that passion for the game is what we want to amplify, and all it takes is a young person being excited about sports to remind me of why we do it.
I get the question all the time: "What should we be doing that we aren't doing?" or "What's the newest thing that we should be doing?" The are always new answers because there are always new things being developed. But right now and for the forseeable future, the answer is: Marketing Automation
What is marketing automation, you ask? Well, there's a graphic below that does a good job of explaining it but honestly, this is one of those things you have to explain through a demo. The basics are this... Marketing automation takes your sales initiatives and makes them about 100% more effective. It's about tracking, data mining and giving you analytics that allow you to make your ticket sales and fundraising campaigns more targeted and more effective. It's audience segmentation, directed email campaigns, automated follow-ups, customer relations management, pixel tracking, re-targeting and much more. And it's something Old Hat is now offering as a service add-on to our web projects.
We'll be launching a website for a client in November that's directed at ticket sales. Through marketing automation, we'll be able to tell them who is spending time on what portions of the website and for how much time they're in each section. We'll know if they converted on the sale or not. If they spend 5 minutes on the mini-pack page, they'll get a follow-up email automatically a few days later telling them more about it. If they spend time looking at renting the terrace suite for their corporate event, we'll be able to give the client a list of those people so they can give them a call. If a family-pack is purchased, that person will get an automated email a few days later telling them about the family entertainment opportunities on gameday. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I've been working in collegiate athletics for nearly 15 years and I'm not sure I've ever seen a more powerful tool in increasing ticket sales and donor relations. Give me a call at (405) 310-2133 and I'll tell you more about it. And see below... This stuff is amazing.
Yesterday I was talking about one of our websites with Kelby and discussing propagation.When you look up propagation in the dictionary (ok, ok, I mean Google and then Webster) you get a couple different options for the definition.For the purposes of this discussion we are going with option B:
the spreading of something (as a belief) abroad or into new regions
When talking about propagation in websites, we are typically talking about the propagation of a site to the servers throughout the world. This process can take up to 72 hours and is typically the explanation to why one person in Texas can see your site while a person in California, at the same URL, can not see the site. It can be a pain, but since I started working in web, the process has improved and does not seem to take as a long.
As Kelby mentioned the other day, she is working on more projects now and quite a few of those projects are websites. I am not sure she wanted the impromptu lesson on server propagation, but I would rather someone understand than just regurgitate the words. This conversation got me thinking about the sports industry and how ideas tend to propagate through (around?) the industry.
Good ideas are usually copied in our industry. It is as much a part of life as football in the fall. I try to see it as a compliment when someone copies what you do. It is interesting to me to watch the ideas propagate through the industry. College sports is where most of the websites we build are targeted and a quick look through college athletics websites, it is quite easy to see some of the more “popular” ideas, templates, or layouts that are being used. All it takes is for one high profile school to do something cool and then you can watch it propagate throughout the industry. This is not always a good thing and it is not always a bad thing, that all depends on the idea and the execution.
At Old Hat Creative, we do not use templates for our websites, but we do take good ideas and execute them in a way that we think will be most successful for our clients. Our motto is “We Amplify the Sports Experience” and we like to do that with good ideas as well. Do you have a website and always wanted to see something like it done for your school? Lets talk about it. You bring the idea and we will execute it in a way that makes you unique and successful in your goals.
The process does not stop with the idea or even the site launch. You have to execute the site well. You have to make sure your visitors on the site are finding the content you want them to find and are truly motivated by your call to action.
Want to know if your idea is causing fans to look at your ticket options more? We can provide analytics on your site that will tell you exactly who is clicking and where they are clicking.
Want to make sure your visitors are reminded about the season ticket benefits they were browsing through last week? We can set your site up to reach out to them later in the week and send them information specific to what they were browsing through on your site.
Want to know how long people are spending on the site and why they leave? We can tell you where their last clicks were and work with you to tailor the content to get them to want to stay on your site.
There is always going to be propagation of ideas in our industry and probably every industry, but at Old Hat, we can help you take that idea to the next level.
I have never tried to blog from my phone before, but figured it was worth a try. Today, Zac and I travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to talk about a website. I do not normally travel, but this year I am covering quite a bit of distance.
This trip is shorter than my last, I will only be spending about 20 hours in the state of North Carolina. Lucky for me, this is not my first trip out to Chapel Hill so I do not have to worry about site seeing, but I am still excited to make the trip.
I enjoy getting on campus to meet with clients. It helps us understand the client's needs and message. It allows us to get a feel for what is important and helps us make sure we build a custom website that solves a problem.
Stay tuned to see what our trips this summer will produce!! And check out our latest website, timetoshinememphis.com.