In the summer of 2004, I took my first trip to Chapel Hill, NC. I had just started Old Hat and Rick Hart, then on staff at Oklahoma Athletics but now the AD at SMU did me the favor of calling UNC on my behalf to see if they might have some work for me. Fortunately, they did and we’ve been working with UNC ever since. I made my way out there to discuss the details of what we’d be doing for the Tar Heels and afterward, I went over to the nearest apparel shop to grab a souvenir or two. I picked up a navy blue Nike hoodie that had the word “CAROLINA” embroidered across the front of it and more than a dozen years later I’m still wearing that thing as often as I get the chance.
On a recent trip to Charleston, SC, I happened to be wearing that very sweatshirt as I made my way to get my wife some yogurt from the market down the street from our hotel room. A fella was walking my direction and as we got closer he pointed at me and said in a louder-than-expected voice, “Go Heels!” I’ll be honest. I was a bit startled and it took me a minute to figure out what he said and why he said it to me. I had to remind myself that I was wearing an UNC sweatshirt. Fortunately, I was able to gather my thoughts quickly enough to offer a stuttered, “Yeah! Go Heels!” back at him before my confusion became too obvious. This exchange served as a good precursor to the one I had no more than 2 minutes later when I was actually at the market and another man gave me a hearty, “Go Heels!” when he saw me. I was more prepared this time and was quicker with my response. I walked out of the market fired up ready to shout my support for UNC at the next passer-by but unfortunately, I didn’t pass any more Heels fans between there and the hotel room.
Working in collegiate athletics for as long as I have and with as many different universities as I have, my wardrobe is full of team apparel that has been given to me over the years. It is not unusual for me to be wearing an SMU sweatshirt and Kennesaw State hat one day only to be followed up by a Texas A&M t-shirt and Michigan basketball shorts the next. There have been more than a few times that someone has approached me in a public place and commented about how great “that game” was last night, referencing some sporting event featuring the team I am representing with my wardrobe. Problem is, I rarely recall what I happen to be wearing that day so I have to look down at my shirt or take my hat off to remind myself who they think I’m a fan of. Then, I either express my agreement with their statement or have to admit that I missed that particular event.
Believe it or not, though, the point of this is not to talk about my wardrobe or my interactions at the local grocery store. It’s to talk about the bonds we form as fans. Hunter S. Thompson’s quote references football fans specifically but the idea applies to any fan of sport. We share a universal language that cuts across many cultures and many personality types. We are never alone. We are a legion and sports is often the only thing we have in common.
When was the last time you were wearing your favorite Aerosmith t-shirt and some stranger yelled, “Sweet Emotion!” at you? Or the last time you were wearing that old Incredible Hulk t-shirt and passed a guy that gave you a hearty, “RAAARRRRRRR!!!!!” No, sports fans are in a justice league of their own. And for some reason, though startling, we don’t question it when a random person yells, “Go X!” at us in the restroom at the bar just across from Xavier University’s campus.
Sports creates a bond between people who would otherwise be complete strangers and gives them something to share in common. I recently met a fella on an airplane and we spent the entire flight talking about sports. We didn’t even share the same team in common though. Our bond was formed over the fact that I’m a Sooner fan, Barry Switzer used to coach at OU, Barry Switzer played at Arkansas and that guy on the plane is an Arkansas fan. We connected over a former coach of my team that is a former player from his team. Sports fans are just searching for something to connect over!
The camaraderie that is felt between sports fans is obvious. I’m not uncovering any brilliant revelation here. But I did want to see how many sports fans recognize it themselves. In our fan survey, we asked how many of the participants felt a sense of camaraderie with people at sporting events. We further clarified the question by adding that they should not include people they were attending with. In other words, to what extent do you feel connected with all of the people at those events that you don’t even know. 75% of them said that they feel “a lot” and/or “a great deal” of connection with all those strangers with whom, beyond wearing the same color and cheering for the same team, they have no known commonalities.
Isn’t that kinda nuts? 75% of sports fans feel a connection with people they don’t even know, if for no other reason than that those people are cheering for the same group of people on the field wearing red to score more points than the other group of people on the field wearing blue!
Like I said, the connection between sports fans isn’t breaking news. Every sports fan has experienced it. What you may not have realized, however, is the positive effect sports fans can have on an athletics program. The ever-important home field advantage is because of fans. The scholarships student-athletes receive through the athletic scholarship funds wouldn’t exist without the fans. A department's primary source of revenue (ticket sales) would obviously disappear without fans. Apparel sales, sponsorship dollars, local economy boosts, etc... All because of fans. 80% of those polled think that fans can either “probably” or “definitely” affect the outcome of the game. There’s no doubt in my mind that fans affect outcomes and could do so even more if we focused more on developing relationships with fans.
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: Sports does not happen without every member of the team working toward achieving success. It does not happen without the athletes. It does not happen without the coaches. And it sure as hell doesn’t happen without the fans. If you are a sports fan, take pride in what you give to the game. If you are an athlete, thank the fans for wanting to watch you play. If you are a coach, try to tune out the criticism of those people that think you should have gone for it on 4th-and-27 from your own 12-yard-line instead of punting and relish the opportunity you have to affect the lives of young people through your job. All thanks to these crazy fans.
Think about the question above for a minute or two. When a fan arrives on campus or enters your arena, what is the first thing they hear? Is there a specific script or instructions for your staff? Do you rely only on the friendliness of the staff to welcome fans or have you also set up your facilities in a manner that is inviting?
The venues we visit always seem to be friendly, welcoming, and buzzing with excitement. Usually you feel the power and sense of community within a few minutes of being there. These elements help paint the picture of how truly unique your school is when compared to others.
Now, let’s think about the first thing fans hear or see on your website. Did you put as much thought into that greeting? Did you even think about that as a way to greet and excite your fans? The contrast between a website’s greeting and a greeting at a venue can be startling. And yet, the website for your venue or team is most likely the number one way fans interact with your brand.
You can no longer think of your website as just another billboard, brochure, or piece of marketing collateral. Your website is your biggest venue. It has the most information and will see the most interaction of any touch point. With that in mind, what is the greeting fans are receiving on the website? Are you yelling at them about all of your ticket offerings? Has the development team forced you to put five donate buttons on the home page?
When deciding what will be the focus of your home page, think back to the greeting your staff gives people at your venue or even on the phone. Most likely they do not open the conversation by running through every ticket option you have to offer.
Traffic on a website is diverse. Not everyone is coming to the website because they are ready to buy season tickets or put their name on a building. Some are coming just to figure out what options are available or to see what the school is doing. Your website has to be a resource for all different types of visitors. When a fan comes into your venue or calls about tickets, most likely your staff takes the time to figure out what they are looking for and tries to educate them on what is available that could suit their needs. A website is no different, you have to position yourself as that reliable resource. Once a fan views you as a resource, it is much easier for them to decide to buy season tickets or make that financial commitment to your program.
Look at your site. How are you greeting the visitors who show up at your virtual venue? If it doesn’t match how you greet visitors in person or on the phone, it is time to rethink your approach.
I made up that name (The Finn) because I figure at some point, Villanova's Finneran Pavilion will get shortened to something else by the fans. I want to make sure I get credit for it, though.
Villanova recently announced a $60 million renovation to the Pavilion, which is the arena that hosts the men's and women's basketball programs. The name Finneran comes from William Finneran, who was kind enough to donate a chunk of the renovation costs ($22.6 million). That seems deserving of getting to put your name on the building.
But the best part of this story (for me, anyway) is that Old Hat got to work with Villanova on the new finneranpavilion.com website, which shows fans what they can expect from the renovations. There were a couple of phases to the site that our web team was able to turn around very quickly. I'm thankful for our design and development guys we have because they're able to do great work, and do it fast.
By the Numbers
Our first phase of the site was a clean, simple, one-page announcement of the site along with a Villanova Insider form to fill out. This allowed fans to get more info as it became available, and allowed Villanova to expand their database so they can further engage with their fans. Within the first 24 hours of the site announcement, finneranpavilion.com had nearly 20,000 unique users. And they weren't just users coming to the site to see a pretty picture and move on. For the first phase of the site, there were about 2,700 users that filled out the "Become an Insider" form. Even better than that, of those 2,700, nearly 1,100 responded that they would be interested in donating to the renovation project. These are the types of numbers that can result in a great ROI for the website.
Our second phase of the site was a more in-depth look at the renovation, showcasing renderings, answering FAQs, and recapping the storied programs that have played at the Pavilion. The site is easy to navigate whether you're on your desktop computer or checking it out from a mobile device. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), responsive design has become a crucial part of our web design because the data for website use on mobile devices has skyrocketed over the last few years.
So what about those numbers for the rollout of the second phase? They were impressive as well, as you can see below. Another component to this site that I thought was really cool is the new Google data studio (currently in beta). We were able to provide real-time analytics to Villanova so all they had to do was simply refresh the info and watch those numbers grow. This is something we'll customize and definitely use on future website projects.
The next time you decide to build or enhance a facility, or maybe you just want to show folks your newly renovated home (we won't judge), we'd certainly be excited to create a website that helps propel that message and engage your current and future fans.
Michael Beale, Assistant Athletic Director/Marketing, University of North Carolina, like Michael Jordan, is simply a Carolina Legend. We're currently developing a Beale crying meme generator so in the meantime, this Jordan one will have to do. We assume these are tears of joy for the Tar Heels march to the Sweet 16.
Old Hat has been working with Beale (that's the creative name we call Michael around the office) for nearly 13 years. Which, if you're familiar with Old Hat history, means that he's been a client for pretty much the entire time we've been in business. A former college baseball player at Elon University, Michael claims to have carried the team on his back during his entire time there. Actually, that's not true at all. In Michael's words, "I think a more fair statement would be that I was on the baseball team at Elon. But I didn't do a lot of playing." Despite being the tenth man on the baseball team, he's first in our hearts. So without further ado, we give you everything you'd ever want to know about Mr. Michael Octavius Beale.
No. That's not really his middle name.
NAME: Michael Beale
OCCUPATION/TITLE: Assistant Athletic Director/Marketing, University of North Carolina
HOMETOWN: Richmond, VA
PREGAME RITUAL: Visit with fans and get their thoughts on the game.
FAVORITE THING TO SNACK: Almonds
FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: The people I get to work for/with on a daily basis
LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Emotional highs and lows of winning and losing
HIDDEN TALENTS/HOBBIES: Love to play golf (just wish I could learn to play good golf)
ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: Stay true to your beliefs. Have a career plan you are comfortable with and stick to it.
YOUR GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: Bon Jovi - Living on a Prayer or Curtis Blow - Basketball
FAVORITE MOVIE: Escape from Alcatraz
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Deadliest Catch
IF YOU WERE IN A BOY BAND WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED: Lefthand Slow
FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT: Alfredo's Pizza Villa
WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE: Pepperoni pizza
FAVORITE DISNEY PRINCESS: Snow White
WHAT’S YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: Great White Shark
WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: Got lost driving from Lexington, KY to a wedding in Northern Virgina and followed a local through the back woods/roads of West Virginia to get back to the highway. Thank goodness I had a couple of bottles of Maker's Mark bourbon to say "Thank You".
WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: Fixer Upper (with my daughters)
IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: Working for the USGA or PGA
It is always interesting to learn how other brands are delivering content. At Old Hat, we get to work with many brands and each one is unique. Each organization knows their fanbase and has ideas on how to get that emotional reaction from them.
I was also able to attend a few different sessions at the conference. One I found particularly interesting was about personalizing the web experience. NBA teams are doing some innovative things with geographically based content. The speaker was from the Trailblazers and he went through their process of serving different ads and content based on the zip code where the user is located. This allows them to not waste fans’ time. If a user on the site is from North Carolina, the chances they will be able to purchase season tickets is very slim. With the website, the Trailblazers are able to serve up content that might be more relevant to a fan in North Carolina while simultaneously serving up different content to fans who live closer to the team. Each fan is seeing the content they prefer, which makes it considerably more likely that the website will become a part of their regular habits. This is a great example of efficient use of a website and how to effectively develop a digital community.
Another session I attended was about Atlanta United, a new team in Major League Soccer. They are in a unique position since they are a completely new team in a city that did not previously have a soccer club. They have been able to create unique content as they have started the team, created their kits, and added players to the roster.
With the conference being located in downtown Atlanta, we were also able to tour the College Football Hall of Fame. It was a cool venue and had some interesting technology. Upon entering, you are given a badge with a RFID chip inside. This identifies your name and favorite team at all of the exhibits. Digital exhibits change to display your favorite team’s content. It creates a unique experience for each visitor and allows all schools to be represented in some way.
The wait is finally over! For a few weeks now, we've been teasing about the release of a new podcast. Yesterday, we published Episode 1 of Stop the Clock, featuring an interview with Matt Roberts, Director of Athletics at the College of Charleston.
Stop the Clock is a podcast about the most amazing moments in sports history when you just wanted to stop time and live in that moment forever, or, those not-so-amazing moments when you would have done anything to have another shot at it. The idea for the podcast was actually born out of the book I'm writing, also called Stop the Clock. I've been conducting a lot of interviews with the nation's top collegiate athletics administrators and I'm recording those interviews to then turn into content for the book. What I'm discovering though, is that many of the people I'm speaking with are great storytellers. Some of these stories are too amazing not to let the world hear. So, I decided to turn the best stories with the best audio quality into a killer new podcast.
Some people call it "Advertising Prom." Others call it the "Academy Awards for local advertising." Here at Old Hat, we call it "The night we hang out together in our fancy clothes." OH recently attended the Oklahoma City ADDY Awards- the advertising industry's largest competition which recognizes the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising. It was a lot of fun to get dressed up and see some of the fantastic work being created in the OKC area.
We submitted a large variety of projects that were completed in 2016 and were fortunate to get awards for 10 of our submissions!
1. Bronze - Collateral Material - Special Event - Card, Invitation, Announcement Campaign - Texas AM Football Tickets/Box
2. Bronze - Non-broadcast video - Wisconsin Men's Basketball
3. Bronze - Still Photography - Black & White, Single - Illinois Football Photos
4. Bronze - Cinematography - Illinois Football lntro
5. Bronze - Video Editing - Wisconsin Football
6. Silver - Social Media Campaign - Duke Social Media
7. Silver - Out of Home/Ambient Media - Large Venue - Single - Army Helicopter
8. Silver - Website - SMU Get Here For Gameday
9. Silver - Still Photography - Campaign - Utah Football Campaign
10. Gold - Effects or Motion Graphics - Duke Men's Basketball Projection
It was exciting to see that our awards were not limited to one area, but were representative of each of Old Hat's various divisions. Since the Duke Men's Basketball Projection project won gold, that project will now go on to compete at the Regional Level and then hopefully make it all the way to the National ADDY Awards.
We've already completed some fantastic projects in 2017, so I have no doubt that Old Hat will have another successful time at next year's ADDYs!
Mark "Hot Rod" Riordan: He has a few nicknames, "Godfather," "White Rhino," and a horribly-awesome rugby nickname that we cannot remember, nor should we probably write for people to read. Mark is an OH OG. Full disclosure, we heart this guy. If we were a celebrity couple we'd be OldMark or MarkHat.
So OldMark goes back all the way to 2005 when he was with the University of Michigan. It would be an understatement to say this relationship helped put Old Hat on the map. Mark is probably 100% the reason why Zac needed to create the position of video project manager and why I'm living in Norman, Oklahoma. Mark is the man. Which makes perfect sense since he's working for the 12th Man Foundation at Texas A&M. Partnering with Mark and his crew on KyleField.com is arguably one of OH Interactive's proudest moments. The site broke the mold for most stadium development sites you see today.
Ladies and gentlemen, buckle up. It's time for 20 Questions with Mark Riordan.
1. NAME: Mark Riordan
2. OCCUPATION/TITLE: Vice President – Marketing & Communications
3. HOMETOWN: Olean, NY
4. PREGAME RITUAL: I used to like to get to the office before everyone else and crank the music up to 11 while I put the finishing touches on the script. Now that I’m in the development world things are a little different. I’m not in the office 6 hours before kick…more like two before kick and visit a few tailgates before starting my responsibilities.
5. FAVORITE THING TO SNACK: Bison French Onion Dip with potato chips. Anyone from Western New York will know what I’m talking about.
6. FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: I like connecting with the donors. Also, I like being part of the process that gives student-athletes a world-class education.
7. LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Fan message boards. TexAgs, I’m looking at you!
8. HIDDEN TALENTS/HOBBIES: I have a Harley. I like riding but don’t seem to have the time to ride as much as I would like.
9. ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: Appreciate your education and think more critically.
10. YOUR GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: Not much of a karaoke kind of guy. The last time I did it, I went with Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise at Old Hat’s 10-year Anniversary party. Actually, I think I have ever “karaoke’d” in public like three times in my life and two of those were at Old Hat parties. What’s with you guys and karaoke?!?!
11. FAVORITE MOVIE: Dumb & Dumber / Caddyshack
12. FAVORITE TV SHOW: All-time: Seinfeld Current: The Walking Dead
13. IF YOU WERE IN A BOY BAND WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED: White Rhino (nickname from my lunch league basketball days at Michigan).
14. FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT: Wings ‘n More here in College Station.
15. WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE: They have the best wings that I’ve found outside of Western New York…and that’s saying a lot. Notice I didn’t call them “Buffalo Wings”? If you are from WNY, they are wings. Also, it’s pop, not soda.
16. FAVORITE DISNEY PRINCESS: First off, I didn’t know there were only eleven princesses. I thought there were many more than that. Gun to my head, Belle.
17. WHAT’S YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: I like wolves…let’s go with that.
18. WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: So many things to choose from! I guess one of the big ones is when I worked at a full-service gas station and thought it would be a good idea to start dipping to pass the time. I quit over 16 years ago but I spent almost 9 years rotting my mouth. All out of boredom.
19. WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: I have three kids from 10-15 years old. Each one is in multiple sports (school, club, travel and rec leagues). Who has time to binge-watch anything?!?!?
20. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: Teaching high school and coaching football.
Yes, today’s the day. You know, the day you were supposed to do that special thing for that special someone, but it’s very likely you forgot. So instead you’ll go buy a card, a gift or a flower (or maybe lots of flowers) after work and pretend that was the plan all along. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. I’m not here to shame you.
For me, Valentine’s Day has never been a very big deal. Maybe it should be, maybe I’m just not a romantic, or maybe I like to use the excuse that I love my wife as much every day, so Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be any different (that's a copout, I know). And as much as I'd like to express my undying love in the form of a dying bouquet of flowers, my wife agrees that buying her roses is a waste of money.
Being that I work in the sports industry, and because of my cynical attitude toward Valentine's Day, I thought it would behoove me to find some positive collaborations between sports and love. And what better example is there than sports marriage proposals!? There's not one, I looked. After a comprehensive scouring of the internet, I was able to narrow down the top sports marriage proposals, either at a sporting event or by athletes themselves. I've picked the top five, although they're all winners in my book (it's a short book with lots of pictures).
But other than the clearly significant act of celebrating one's love by asking for a significant-other's hand in marriage while being surrounded by fanatic fans, bratwursts and beers, there's also a marketing element that comes into play with each of these marriage proposals. It's an opportunity that every sports team should be taking advantage of because every team has at least a few fans each year that would probably be willing to use a gameday experience to help pressure their significant-other into saying "Yes, I do". And that's the entire point of this blog.
I'll run down the short list of my top favorite marriage proposals, but I also want to point out why they're significant from a sports marketing point of view. Sure, people are making life-altering decisions, but what can you do as a sports marketer to capitalize on it? I mean, isn't that the very essence of Valentine's Day? Yes. Yes it is.
The first proposal comes from the San Francisco 49ers Levi's Stadium, which was the very first proposal at the new stadium- before the stadium was even completed. As far as stadium proposals go, this one was unique in that sense.
Marketing takeaway: Events like this are great PR, especially for something as impactful as a new stadium. It's not only showcasing more behind-the-scenes construction updates with photos, but the chances are your story will reach demographics beyond your typical fanbase. People everywhere are seeing how the 49ers created a special occasion for two of their biggest fans, and that connection leaves a strawberry-goodness taste in everyone's mouth.
Here's another proposal that likely ended with a "yes", but it's a good example of making your sponsors part of the event.
Marketing takeaway: Sponsors love to see their names associated with positive events. Find ways to make their sponsorship meaningful. In this example, you not only have everyone at the Heat game seeing the logo, but also everyone following on social media. It's a great promotion that couldn't be more fitting with this particular sponsor.
Similar to the proposal above, except this one involved one of the Bulls dancers. It was a nice, positive half-time event that gave fans a glimpse into the personal lives of the Bulls organization.
Marketing takeaway: Let your fans experience moments with people from your organization. Fans love their teams, but they really like to feel they're a part of the team. No better way to do that than to get them involved in something like a marriage proposal for one of your own.
A little back story on this one, the guy is (or was in 2013) an assistant soccer coach at Fresno Pacific University. He set up the proposal plan with the women's soccer coach, as his then girlfriend was a senior on the women's soccer team. The acting wasn't great and the guy seemed to drag this one out a little too long, but kuddos for pulling this stunt off.
Marketing takeaway: In 2013 when this happened, the marketing buzz word was "viral". And this one had "viral" written all over it. With over 3 million views, I'd say it was a success. It shows how the power of the unexpected can spread like wildfire, and this video leaves a positive impression for most of the world that's never heard of FPU.
I'm not gonna lie, this one stings a little. But only because seconds before this proposal (which seemed to be on the top of everyone's sports proposals list), the Broncos had just beat my Sooners. It was an incredible game for anyone but a Sooners fan, and Ian Johnson ended it the right way. If he was uncertain that his cheerleader girlfriend might say yes to his proposal, there was no better time to ask her than right after he scored the game-winning 2-pt conversion. I just have to think for them as a couple, that was the highlight of their relationship together. Gonna be hard to top that during their lifetime together.
Marketing takeaway: This is what you call a freebee. You're riding the gravy train with buttered biscuit wheels. You did absolutely nothing to deserve such a fortuitous situation, but you will surely benefit from it as an organization. Live it up while you can.
So after digging into all this and providing some takeaways, I might not be quite as cynical as I had thought. Or maybe I'm slightly more convinced now that love and sports can work together in a meaningful way! I feel like the Grinch whose heart grew three sizes today!! Thank you, Valentine's Day!
When somebody visits your website, you have to grab their attention right away if you want them to stick around and consume the content you are offering.
In the past, we have always told our clients they have between 30 and 60 seconds to get a site visitor’s attention. If you don’t give somebody a reason to stay before that first minute is up, they’re gone (and they probably aren’t coming back).
That’s a short period of time in which to win somebody over. But guess what? It’s about to get even shorter.
Recent reports indicate that Millennials only have an eight-second attention span. Eight seconds? Really? How does one go through life with only an eight-second attention span?
I am usually classified as a Millennial. I may be at the very top of the age range, but I am a Millennial by most accounts. It has taken me more than eight seconds to write this much, so I am confident in saying my attention span is at least double that of the average Millennial! YES!!!
Jokes and time keeping aside, how do you capture somebody’s attention in such a brief amount of time? For that matter, how do you keep their attention through an entire game?
The NBA is thinking about cutting back the number of timeouts to shorten game length and keep the attention of those eight-second Millennials. If even the NBA struggles keep somebody’s attention, how can you possibly succeed? It is a challenge, but one that can be accomplished.
First, you have to know your audience. The NBA meticulously studies their fans and their games. That helped them identify the issue of attention-loss and provided insights on how to make adjustments that will keep people more engaged.
Data is key, and when it comes to your website, analytics are a great place to start. What content is garnering the most attention on your website? What pages do visitors tend spend the most time on? Studying this information will help you make strategic decisions.
The same goes for game day. You may have won the fight against the couch and the HD TV to get people to the game, but once they’re there you have to make sure you engage them enough that they want to come back. Each fan base is unique, so it’s important to study your fans and understand their habits and preferences. Research will help you take the guesswork out of your decisions.
Second, you have to be open to change. After looking at what’s working for them and what’s not, the NBA might change their rules to shorten games. I am sure basketball purists will cringe at the thought of changing the game, but like other businesses, the NBA has a brand to protect and a bottom line that they want in the black. There are plenty of examples of leagues or businesses that alienate people by trying to change things, and that’s why doing your homework is so important. When you have data to analyze, your decisions will be more informed and the change you make will be more likely to be successful.
Think about your website. Is there a different type of article you have been considering, but never published? Is there more information you can provide so you are positioned as a trusted resource for your visitors? What content do you have access to that no one else does? Those are the items that get people to come back. Your goal should be to be a part of your fans’ daily habit. What content will do that for you?
Making large-scale changes to game day comes with greater risk than making changes to your website, so it’s even more crucial to have a solid understanding of what’s going to resonate best with your fans.
Finally, you have to plan. The NBA isn’t just changing things on the fly. They have collected data, they’ve explored possible changes, and they have a long-term plan that will help them reach their goals. You should, too.
If attention spans are down to eight seconds now, where will they be in five or ten years? The data you gather today not only allows you to make informed decisions for the near-term, it should also help you recognize trends that you can incorporate into your long-term plans. If you spend a month working to engage visitors and become a part of their habit, but run out of content, you will drop out of their daily habits in less than eight seconds. Think about your goals for the year. Think about what has been successful in the past. Analyze your data and come up with a plan for how you can deliver engaging content throughout the season, the year, and the life of your website. Then continue to gather data so you can refine and improve your plan over time.