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.

Two days. 

A certain movie comes out in two days. Well, two days for the majority of the U.S. Some lucky souls have already seen it. Your social media timelines are stacked with stuff about it. Maybe you’ve heard of it, or one of its predecessors? I’ve had my IMAX 3D tickets for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens for nearly two months, so you could say I’m a fan. From all appearances, the movie looks to reference the original trilogy more than the prequels, with real actors and sets and less CGI. That return to basics approach should satisfy the majority of fans, after the bad taste left from some of the prequels. 

You might think that Star Wars is the most profitable movie franchise ever, but as of now, it stands fourth or fifth depending on calculations in worldwide box office, behind the likes of the Marvel Universe, Harry Potter, and James Bond movies. Those numbers will likely change over the next 4-5 years as spinoffs and additional sequels are set to be released - Rogue One in 2016, Episode VIII in 2017, a Han Solo spinoff in 2018 and Episode IX in 2019.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories and links created ahead of The Force Awakens. Here’s a few of the ones I’ve come across. The branding is strong with these.

 

Poster Spy had a contest for fans to create alternative versions of the The Force Awakens poster, and even had Anthony Daniels (the actor who plays C-3PO) to help judge the winners.

Poster Posse has their round of Star Wars art galleries.  And part two.

 

ESPN is all in for Star Wars, which is expected considering the Disney connection. Here's a few of their links.

Picking the best Star Wars lineups

The Sport That Sparked Lightsaber Lore

Star Wars: The Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel on ESPN

 

Entertainment Weekly has an entire section of their site devoted to Star Wars.

 

Type in the famous opening words of Star Wars (A long time ago in a galaxy far far away) into Google and see what happens.

 

Chrome created a Force Block plugin so that fans wouldn’t see spoilers. And they turned your phone into a lightsaber with this one.

 

Facebook adds lightsabers to your profile pic with this.

 

One of many complete guides to Star Wars, this one by The Verge.

 

The best Star Wars rap lyrics by Wired

 

Harrison Ford surprises fan for a charity campaign.

 

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.

 

 

When I was in 7th grade, my art teacher pulled me out of class. I had no idea why and I started thinking, "what did I do wrong?" It turned out that another teacher in the school saw a piece of artwork of mine hanging in the hallway and wanted to buy it. 

My mom never let me sell it, but somehow the topic came up again when I was home a few weeks ago. My mom asked me, "If I buy the materials for you, can you do that again?" 

That piece of art was scratch art. I started looking on Pinterest at some pieces to remind myself how to do it, because I plan on creating another piece. Not the bunny I created in 7th grade though, but possibly my dog, Happy. 

If you caught last week's newsletter, we showed you one of our most recent derby's created for Northwestern Football, the Coca-Cola Zero Race to Refreshment. Northwestern brought Coca-Cola on as a sponsor for this project and they wanted their derby to focus on their product, Coca-Cola.This project was unique since most of our derby's feature coaches and mascots.

For this derby, we created custom helmets that completely covered the drivers face. Each car represented a Coca-Cola product (Coca-Cola, Coke Zero and Diet Coke) by using the brands colors and logos on the uniform and license plate. 

 As the cars race around the track to "Black Betty", the song chosen by Northwestern, you'll find several sponsored items where the Coca-Cola brand and Northwestern brand have been incorporated. 

Each derby comes with three outcomes so that each car wins once and you can create a promotion based on the result. For this particular derby...

To see the full version of Northwestern's Coca-Cola Zero Race to Refreshment, click here. To see how Northwestern used this derby to create a sponsored promotion, click here.

If you're interested in creating a custom derby for your upcoming men's or women's basketball season, give us a call at 405-310-2133 or email us at info@oldhatcreative.com. 

I wrote a blog once about how art was hard and more specifically how design was hard. It’s hard because not everyone has the same taste. What might look good to one person may not look good to another

The job of any designer is to figure out a way to please as many people as possible. Achieving this can be very difficult; achieving this while not letting your ego get in the way is even more difficult. 

When I first started designing I would often take a client’s criticism of my work personally. I would often get frustrated with client revisions. Things got to a point where I considered maybe doing something else for a living. 

But then one day a few years ago a thought occurred to me. I realized that everything I could ever possibly design would one day be gone. After the season was over, the poster I designed would be taken down. After you entered the game, the tickets I stressed out about would be thrown in the trash. And the logo I worked so hard on would be replaced with another one someday. Sure, these things might be saved for a while as souvenirs, kept in a box in someone’s garage as a reminder of that one awesome season when their team went 12 and 0. But in the end, just like everything else, they will cease to exist. That’s their nature. That’s the nature of everything really. Everything is impermanent.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re thinking this all sounds so negative, depressing and nihilistic. You may even be thinking that this somehow means that I no longer take my job seriously because “everything is meaningless”. However, nothing could be further from the truth. To me, the idea that everything is transient, is just a simple yet powerful reminder that no matter how personal I take the criticism, no matter how irritated I get by it, it’s all just an illusion. It allows me to do my work from a different perspective, one that allows for more give and take, which in the end makes me a better designer. 

 

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.

It's time for football! As the start of a new season and school year approaches quickly, Old Hat Print is already deep into our busy season. Make sure to follow Old Hat Creative (@OldHatCreative) on Twitter as we tweet an Old Hat-designed football poster each day leading up to the start of college football season. Prior to that, here's a sneak peek of a few of our favorites from the home base in Norman.

Florida International 

Presbyterian

Yale


Football posters are just a portion of the work we do. There are many other sports to highlight. Some schools prefer a uniform look, with the same design for several sports. Other schools choose different looks for each sport. Some also opt to put several sports together on the same poster. It doesn't matter which option to us, as you can you see below - we can make any option work well. This is just a small sampling of work. There are tons more projects in the queue or that haven't been released yet to the public. And not just posters, but tickets, logos, game programs, media guides, ticket brochures, annual reports, development brochures, stadium displays, signage - the list goes on and on. Be sure to check here or any of our other social media, as we will have an abundance of work to showcase in the weeks ahead.

 

Abilene Christian


Charlotte


Duke


North Texas


South Carolina


Syracuse


UNC-Greensboro


Utah


Western Michigan

Really all of the work Old Hat does is eye candy. Our goal with every single project is to help make our clients look good, real good. Our stellar video team has been doing a great job helping our clients enhance their own broadcast and video projects by incorporating our graphics package work into their projects. Here's some examples of what we've been able to create for Duke, Marist and UMASS.

 

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