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.
 

It recently was brought to my attention that I am the commissioner of two fantasy leagues.  It is not that I did not know I was commissioner; it was that I had not made time to handle my duties.  The real issue is that one of those leagues starts this Saturday and I have done little to no planning for the season.  It is fantasy football, but not the kind you are thinking.  

Saturday kicks off the English soccer season.  There are several fantasy games to go along with the leagues and one I have been playing for a few years now.  It is completely different from fantasy football and lasts twice as long.  I actually watch the games throughout the year (compared to fantasy football where I hardly watch any NFL games) and enjoy the drawn out season.  

However, because the season is longer, there are a lot more games, and it requires more strategy.  Player and team values can change throughout the year. There are add on features that can only be used once or at certain times of the year.  It is a different game.  

Old Hat recently started offering the Sports Marketing 180.  We are adding a service to the same games we have always worked on, but approaching it in a different manner from what we have done in the past.  It takes our clients and us to another level because of the strategy involved.  This process is a full-scale brand assessment that is especially ideal for any organization that is in transition. We come on campus and survey key members of your staff, donors and fans. Then we attend events (we will wear your colors and cheer loudly, we promise) and research all of the ways you are currently communicating with your fans and donors whether it be through fundraising solicitations, marketing collateral, television commercials, coaches shows, etc. And at the end of all of that, we provide a report to you that shows what we have uncovered, along with a list of recommendations for how to increase fundraising levels, raise fan affinity and improve ticket sales.

We are going more in depth than ever before in an effort to serve our clients completely.  How does all of this tie in to fantasy soccer or fantasy sports in general?  Well, I need some strategy.  Does anyone out there offer a Fantasy Soccer 180 or maybe 360?  Seriously, I need some help…

We are fortunate at Old Hat Creative.  We get to work on a lot of really interesting projects and sometimes we get to find out about things before anyone else, which is always interesting.  A lot of the work we do revolves around campaigns that different organizations are in the process of executing and we help with that execution.  

Sometimes it is a campaign to raise money for student-athletes.  Other times, it is a campaign to raise awareness about one of their student-athletes.  However, in the current landscape of college athletics, a lot of the campaigns are about new facilities.  Stadiums, locker rooms, administration buildings, food centers, student athlete lounges, indoor facilities, and any other thing that a college campus or athletic department might need.  This type of project is a lot of fun.  Few things get fans as excited as a fly through video of a new stadium. 

ESPN has a set of commercials that have the tag line, “Never graduate.”  The essence of the commercial is that you never leave behind those old rivalries you had from college and that comes into play when doing a campaign for any university.  The fans want to know that their stadium is going to be the best.  The fans want to know their facilities are the best, so new recruits will want to attend their school.  The fans even want to know the website promoting this new project, is the best of its kind.  In their eyes, it should not even be a question, they are better, IN EVERY WAY!  Being a fan is when you get to ignore logic (for the most part) and that is a large part of the fun.  

At Old Hat, we pay attention to both sides, logic and fan logic, because we want you to have the best of both worlds.  We want all of your fans to be amazed at the plans for the new stadium.  We want all of your fans to go into work the next week bragging about the video promoting the new stadium.  We want all of your fans to bookmark the website promoting that stadium and go to it EVERY DAY!  And most of all, we want to make your job easier by walking through the process with you and making sure every aspect of the campaign gives your fans braggin rights.  

The title of my blog today is “Campaigns and Classmates”.  If you made it this far, you can understand the “Campaigns” aspect of the blog, but may be wondering what this has to do with classmates?  Old Hat is about to start on another campaign project with a new client and we are excited!  On top of that, we will be traveling to campus to work with the staff on this campaign and I will get the chance to catch up with some classmates from grad school.  New client, check.  New campaign, check. New stadium, check.   Old friends, even better!

 

 

Another year and another successful NACMA in the books for us. We had a great time catching up with current clients and connecting with potential new clients. Overall, the trip was a blast and here are the top nine things we learned:

 

1. Stuckey's is an American Tradition - Anyone ever heard of Stuckey's? It's a chain of gas stations that I thought had gone the way of the dodo bird. There used to be multiple Stuckey's locations dotting I-35 in Oklahoma but I haven't seen one in years. As luck would have it, there's one right outside Pensacola, FL and we stopped there TWICE on this trip. Stuckey's is a great place to stop if you want really cheaply made chachkis, ugly t-shirts, alligator claw back-scratchers, etc. We decided to pick up surprises for all the staff that couldn't make the trip with us. See below.

 

2. The back seat of a Suburban is not meant for adults - Six adults in one suburban in a 45 hour (total) road trip is tough. Josie and Hannah are the smallest so we forced them into the third seat for a good portion of the trip. I gave them a hard time for complaining about it but the fact of the matter is, that seat wasn't meant for adults. Holli and I rode back there for a while on the way down there and then started the trip back with a solid 6 hours back there. It was not enjoyable. Here's a photo of me and Holli asleep in the back while everyone else is enjoying their spacious seating.

 

3. There's Only One Place Left in the World That Still Allows Smoking Indoors... And We Had Our Party There - For all of our clients that are chain-smokers, I'm sure you were delighted to see that the bar we chose for our party allowed smoking. For all of you that DON'T want lung cancer, I'm sure the cloud of smoke was a bit of a shock when you arrive. On the upside, the bar's vending machine DID offer condoms. So we had that going for us... which was nice.

 

4. Make Sure to Bring $1.25 to Pensacola Beach - Pensacola Beach is a pretty nice beach. Crowded... but the sand is white and the water is clear. But if you have any desire to walk out on the pier, you better have some cash with you. Pensacola must be very proud of their pier as they charge $1.25 to walk on it. It's like a toll road for your feet. We walked over to it but hadn't brought any methods of payment with us so we opted out of the walk on the pier. Oh well.

 

5. The Lighting is Better in the Suburban than in My Shower - So apparently sunlight through the back windows of a Suburband does a better job of showing missed spots on shaven legs than the lighting in my shower at home. Holli noticed a few spots on the drive out there that she had missed so she hollered at whoever was in the front seat to fetch her the razor she keeps in the glove compartment for this very reason. I'm thinking about installing a shower in the Suburban so she can kill two birds with one stone from here on out.

 

6. 500 Square Feet is a LOT of Awesomeness - The past few years, we've had a 20 x 20 foot booth space in the tradeshow. This year, we decided to go with a 10 x 40 foot space to mix it up a little. It was a little experiment. Well, due to a longer story than you care to hear, we expanded that to 10 x 50 feet. It was nice to have all that space but I think we'll go back down to 10 x 40 next year. 

 

7. Robert and I have Similar Tastes in Swimwear - I've known Robert a long time... since we were juniors in college, to be exact. And we've worked together for many years. So I know him pretty well. But I have to admit that I was surprised when we got ready to leave for the beach and discovered that our swimsuits were nearly identical. 

 

8. Just Like the Seminoles, My Diet Dr Pepper Record will Forever be Unconquered - FSU was the latest in my trek to have the record for the most Division 1 college campuses upon which a person has been photographed drinking a Diet Dr Pepper. This was number 26 for me.

 

9. People Would Rather See My Wife Hula Hoop than See Me Do ANYTHING - It all started as a joke. Last year we had a hula hoop at the booth because we wrapped a sign around it. Holli hula hooped with it, I video'd it, uploaded it to facebook and she became a hula hooping sensation. So I decided it would be funny to make this year's t-shirt giveaway an Old Hat University Hula Hooping Team t-shirt and to promote it, I'd have her hula hoop at landmarks all the way to Orlando AND at the booth. Well what I discovered is that videos of her hula hooping are far more popular than anything I've ever done on camera. So far, her videos have been viewed 3,201 times. The most popular was the one of her hula hooping with Nicole Imbrogno. You can view that on the Old Hat facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/oldhat

 

That's all! See you next year!

 

Analytics are a big part of my job.  To be more specific, Google Analytics are a big part of my job.  We install this tool on almost all of our sites.  We do analytic reports for our clients and I am constantly monitoring the analytics for our sites.  

Users web habits interest me.  Through analytics, you can trace a users path as they navigate your site and find out what pieces of content are the most valuable to the user.  If they are a frequent visitor of your site, they typically have an exact path of getting to your site and then to the content they want to see.  Studying these habits or trends is the best way to understand who your users are and what they want.  

Google has an add on for Chrome that allows you to see the stats while still surfing the web.  Any time I go to OldHatCreative.com, I can see what people are doing on the site right then and there.   

If you are going to NACMA next week and end up on our website, I will probably be studying you.  Seeing what content you like and what content you ignore.  It will help when we redesign the site and it will help make navigating our site, easier for you. 

I realized this morning that NACMA is less than three weeks away...and started to get a tiny bit stressed.

We still have lots to do! NACMA is a team effort around here, and nearly everyone in the office is contributing in some way. There's been hotel reservations, party invitations...trailer rentals and graphics environmental. A photo shoot and ordering loot. Booth construction and office obstruction. And I don't have enough brain power to think of more rhyming phrases. Instead, I'll turn my attention to checking more off our list. 

Old Hat Clients - make sure to watch your mail and email for more information soon!

 

Every failure is a lesson.  Honestly, the blog could stop here.  I know better than to start a blog or a presentation with the final point, but it is how I am going to roll today.  If you want to stop reading, just click here. 

Thanks for staying with me to this point, I will do my best to make it worth your time.  Failure.  It sucks, but we all go through it.  I am a firm believer that you should constantly be learning and I have said as much in quite a few blogs.  Every interaction and every experience is an opportunity to learn.  I wish I could say that I always keep that in my mind, but I am human and prone to forget.  However, when it comes to failure, I make a point to think back of the situation to see what lessons could be learned.  

Recently, we failed on a bid for a project.  It happens.  We get to do a lot of amazing work, but we also do not always have the winning bid.  It is a part of the business and always will be, but what we learn from those failures goes a long way toward us not failing the next time we place a bid. Based on what you have read so far, it is fair to be wondering what the lesson from this failure was and that is the reason I asked you to keep reading.  Unfortunately, there has not been a clear lesson from this failure.  We obviously failed because we are not doing the project, but the reasoning behind that is something that was entirely out of our control and I HATE IT.  I want to learn and improve so I can blog about the amazing project we are working on, not my failure.  I want to be better the next time we put out a bid. 

As an important person in my life told me, maybe that is the lesson.  You cannot control every aspect and you cannot always fix what went wrong.  This is not a new lesson, but it is a lesson nonetheless.  

Meow, if we wanted to talk about lessons I have learned recently from failures, we could discuss my garden or in all honesty, my pile of dirt, but that is a blog for another day. 

When I was in school we had classes that “taught” us how to brainstorm and come up with ideas. For some reason that firmly placed in my mind the idea that good ideas came to you like a bolt of lightning.  All of sudden you had this amazing idea, like a lightning bolt in the night.   

Turns out, my young mind could not be more inaccurate to what I experience now. 

Most of the time a good idea takes time.  It involves back and forth between people and getting through a lot of bad ideas.  It is definitely a process and it is a process that is almost always going on at Old Hat in one way or another.  

It is interesting to me that my mood can dictate the best way for me to come up with ideas at the time.  There are three ways I typically brainstorm.  Each produces results, but which prefer varies. 

  1. The normal method of getting a group together and discussing it.  This is probably my favorite and one that I think produces some of the best results.  I am very fortunate to be surrounded by so many creative and talented people.  Surrounding myself with those same people while brainstorming can be incredibly beneficial.  It allows me to borrow some of their genius and feed off of the creativity they bring to the table.  It produces results and can be fun. 
  2. Another method I use a lot is more isolated.  I will meet with the involved parties and get an idea for what they are looking to accomplish.  If there is copy that needs to be written or a template, I make sure to get that information.  Then I typically lock myself to my desk, put the head phones in, and start typing.  I type a lot of crap, but eventually I find my way to something that is worth sharing with others.  This method works great if you work alone and then take your findings to a group like above. 
  3. This is probably the most natural brainstorming for me and it is pretty much in complete isolation.  It is not something that I view as direct brainstorming, but it works.  In fact, this is probably more inspiration than it is brainstorming.  Sometimes ideas come that can be built upon and this results in brainstorming.  For me, I need to be completely relaxed and not thinking about a problem.  That is when good ideas tend to come.  Interestingly enough this never happens for me at a convenient time.  In the shower. Fishing. Hiking. Working in the garden.  On vacation.  It seems that I have better (or more useful) ideas the more relaxed I am.   

    All of these instances are places when good ideas come, but not a place where it is easy to record the notes.  My girlfriend hates when she sees me walk off talking to my phone when we are on vacation, but I have to record my thoughts.  Siri is a great help for this and while I may seem like a crazy person, I usually have her take my notes.  I have also been given some waterproof writing pads.  I can take these in the shower or out in the rain and write anything without worry about the water.  

Brainstorming can be hard.  Coming up with new ideas is hard.  However, I have found that the more I learn about myself the easier it becomes.  Finding that right balance of focus and relaxation is key for me.  

 

How do you brainstorm?

A few weeks ago, we held our semi-annual Staff Infection which is our version of a staff retreat. This year's was all about Corporate Multiple Personality Disorder and I think the session went really well. I blogged about the process we used to determine our company's personality HERE

Then I was asked to speak at the Big Ten Marketing Meetings in March and I needed a topic to speak on. I had just finished the presentation to my staff and I got to thinking about how valuable this might be to an athletic department. So I tweaked the presentation a big and went up to Chicago to talk to the universities in the Big Ten about making sure their departments weren't suffering from multiple personality disorder.

I've been presenting to the Big Ten marketing folks for 9 years... and I've never had the response to a presentation like I did to this one. I had multiple people come up to me afterward asking for me to email the presentation to them so they could do the exercise with their department. Many others told me that it was the best presentation they'd had at the marketing meetings. So I began to think that maybe I was on to something.

I believe that many companies, organizations and athletic departments suffer from this condition... the condition of sending mixed messages because their staffs don't know what voice they should be speaking in. They don't know their organization's personality. And since there's no great tool for a company personality test, I developed one myself. I've been asked to present this at a local Rotary Club in April and I'm hoping that I have the opportunity to present on this topic more in the future. It's something I'm passionate about and something that I think could be very beneficial to many organizations.

So, if you're in need of a speaker or presenter at your company meetings or gatherings, and think this could be of value to you, shoot me an email at zac@oldhatcreative.com

 

Great staff photo, huh? Only, that's not us. And that will never be us. We don't wear power suits or ties. We wear jeans, t-shirts, ballcaps, athletic shorts... pretty much whatever we want. 

I was looking at our "About Us" page the other day and I couldn't believe how corporate looking I had allowed it to become. All our staff photos looked like we belonged in a photo like the one above. But that's not us. So I decided to spend my morning getting US back into our about us page. There are no major changes here but it's a much better representation of who we are than it was before. This page doesn't include our entire staff, by the way. Just the people you're likely to come into contact with when you deal with us. Though after spending some time working on this page, I think we probably need to get our entire staff on here.

Anyway, take a look at the revised About Us page.

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