Last Monday I posted an article about the death of the schedule poster as we know it and talked about the need to breathe life back into it through treating it more like an advertisement than an informational tool. Simply informing people of when the games will be played and scattering athlete photos around an 18 x 24" space doesn't do much to actually drive attendance anymore. It needs to be a part of a grander marketing campaign.
So that begs the question: How do we do that?
Answer: Through a research & discovery, internal & external surveys, target audience indentification, strategic messaging, media audits and brilliant creative.
Sounds difficult and daunting, doesn't it? Well, it's not. It's time-consuming and requires expertise in all of these fields. It involves large groups of people working together to provide feedback and input. It requires everyone in an organization buying in to a common goal. But fortunately, Old Hat has the tools and processes in place to facilitate all of it. It's called the Sports180° Process and is our proven, research-based process that gets to the heart of your unique position. Through this approach, we help you clarify objectives, analyze your playing field, and develop a winning strategy.
We just completed the initial phases of the Sports180° with SMU and are entering implementation phase where we will launch an internal and external marketing campaign, a ticket sales website and multiple gameday experience pieces that are united under a common message and goal.
Phase 1: Scouting
The first step in the process is research and discovery. Understanding your internal culture and inspiring your staff can prevent disconnects between your brand promise and what your fans experience. Their weigh-in will produce buy-in.We talk to Senior Athletic Department Staff,Individual Department Team Members, Development, Marketing, Ticket Sales, Sponsorship andSupport Staff as Directed (Team Operations, Coaches, Game Operations, Designers, Interns, Game Day Contractors, Facility Staff, Merchandise, etc.)
There are other key groups that play a role in the success of your brand, so we meet with a few representatives or request their participation in your survey. This may include groups like Fundraising Club Members, Alumni, Students,Community Influencers,Individual Game Buyers,Premium Customers, etc.
By the end of this phase we’ll understand both your market and your uniquely compelling story, as told straight from the horse’s mouth.
Discovery process on campus at SMU
Phase 2: Playbook
In phase two we analyze the research and develop a playbook to achieve your objectives. This phase involves refining your leadership vision, identifying sales and marketing opportunities, aligning your target audiences with your brand differentiators, and assessing how you can win against your competitors.
Leadership Vision: Review and discussion of the vision shared by your organization’s key leaders.
Research Findings: Presentation of comprehensive research findings and analysis, including key takeaways and opportunities.
Audience Alignment: Development and presentation of profile personas for key current and desired target audiences.
Marketing Opportunities: Identification of opportunities that support your vision, engage your key audiences, and position you for greater success.
Examples of Findings:
Phase 3: Game Day
Incorporating your feedback and our research findings, this is where we execute our recommendations and begin to engage with your fans, alumni and donors. We will present a set of campaign platforms that demonstrate how you will connect with your key stakeholders. You’ll also receive comprehensive reports with our research findings and strategic recommendations plus a detailed brand launch marketing plan.
Strategic Recommendations: Summary of insights and recommended actions.
Brand Platform: Presentation of final creative look, feel, and messaging as a springboard for future tactical elements.
Marketing Communications Plan: Marketing campaign launch plan, including recommended tactics, message channels, delivery, and timing.
Brand Style Guide: Written brand style guide detailing fonts, colors, photo types, brand language and more for internal use in execution. Provided following final approval of brand platform.
The SMU Sports180° is complete and the creative elements will begin to see the light of day in the coming weeks. Through our research, we were able to identify what their most important needs were and how to properly address those needs. Portions of the Sports180° process were also used in the Raise Up Carolina project where we conducted research to identify what was unique about football game days in Chapel Hill and built a site around that position that was targeted at the proper audience.
A brilliant marketing campaign targeted at the wrong audience will produce no better results than a terrible campaign targeted at the right audience. Old Hat has the proper experience, tools and processes that allow us to both identify and target the proper audience and build the creative that will reach them.
The mission of most collegiate athletic departments surround the idea of developing the student-athlete. And we know that's impossible without the financial support that comes from having fans in the stands. Old Hat's mission is to increase attendance at sporting events. Plain and simple. Together, and using this process, Old Hat can achieve our mission while helping you achieve yours.
No, this isn't my home. And there's a pretty good chance this isn't your home either. But for about 80,000 proud USC fans, the LA Coliseum is home on Saturdays in the fall. The Coliseum has been home to so many during its storied history, dating all the way back to 1923. That's why the newly announced Coliseum Renovation is a renovation of such magnitude- not only because of the funding involved ($270 million)- but because of the impact it will have on those that have called it, or will someday call it home.
USC has recently taken over ownership of the Coliseum, and with that came the necessity to bring the Coliseum back to its original glory, but they're doing more than just knocking off the cobwebs and doing some touch-up painting. Better seating for all fans plus the addition of high-end loge, club, suite and lounge areas will ensure that the Coliseum remains the premier game day destination for USC fans and football enthusiasts. The newly renovated Coliseum (scheduled to debut in time for the 2019 home opener) will transform the watching of a great team and a great game into a memory-making experience. And that's at the core of every sport at every level.
Through great collaboration and input from USC, Old Hat designed and developed the Coliseum Renovation website, and I'm proud to have played some part in the eventual renaissance of such an iconic landmark. And that's exactly what the Coliseum is: not only a football stadium but a historic, iconic landmark. If you just browse through the history of the Coliseum you can see how much impact it has had not only for college and professional football, but Olympic sports, politics, entertainment, and most importantly its original purpose as a dedication to veterans of WWI.
I had the chance to visit the Coliseum during our discovery trip to USC, which was set up to talk through all aspects of the website. I admit I didn't have quite the appreciation for the Coliseum that I have now. Being involved with this project has really given me an understanding as to why USC is so intent on bringing back the original grandeur of the Coliseum. Fans should be proud to call this place home.
A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine decided he was going to start a sports apparel company. Like most new businesses, he was starting with nothing. He had no facility, he had no customers, he had no product. He just had an idea.
Oh, and he had one more thing. He applied to a program through the SBA that provided him with a steady stream of potential customers with built in brand loyalty to his new company. He didn't have to do a single thing to create that brand loyalty. This program was revolutionary. The government would take large groups of young people and spend four years slowly building an affinity within them for this guy's brand. They'd give these kids free product, they'd surround them with this company's logo and they'd teach these impressionable young minds songs that furthered a love for this guy's company. And every year, after spending four years instilling passion within these potential customers, the program would release thousands of them into the world where they would make more money than nearly half of the population.
Needless to say, my friend's company was set up to be a smashing success. Every year from the start of his company until the end of time, he had 5,000+ people who automatically loved his brand. All he had to do was supply them with a good product. Some of these people were more passionate than others, of course. And he couldn't retain them all. But what he found was that for the rest of these people's lives, they had at least some affinity for his product. On top of that, their ability to afford his product was better than average. So of course he was incredibly successful…how could he not be?
What was the name of this company? It doesn't matter because I made it all up. That is, I made up the idea that this was someone's company that couldn’t help but succeed. The rest of it happens every year at hundreds of organizations.
On average, about 1.8 million people receive bachelor's degrees from colleges and universities in the United States. The vast majority spent about four years being surrounded by that university's brand every single day. They walked past hundreds of signs, pole banners and trash cans all bearing that institution's logo. They sat next to thousands of other students wearing t-shirts with that university's brand across the front. They were taught the history of their school, songs they will never forget, and traditions that reinforced their love for their school. And then, after four years of this indoctrination, they are released into the world with the ability to earn an average of $18,000 more per year than those who did not attend college.
Can you imagine what Nike would do for that kind of exposure? What do you think Nike would pay to have their logo on every banner, trash can, building and sign on a college campus? The value of that level of exposure to a brand is incalculable. As a business owner I can tell you that I would have killed to have been able to start my business with a group of customers that already loved my company.
Those of us who work in collegiate athletics are spoiled. We’re playing with a stacked deck and we’re still losing. We have something Nike would pay millions of dollars for and that businesses everywhere dream about. I've used the number 5,000 in talking about the number of graduates that come out of a university each year. Some are less, obviously. But some have double or triple that number. The point is that collegiate athletics departments have four years of free marketing opportunities handed to them on a silver platter, and there are thousands of people graduating from universities every year who have will have some level of affinity for their alma mater for the rest of their lives.
No other industry in the world has this advantage. No one ever says, "Well, I wear Adidas because my grandpa wore Adidas and my dad wore Adidas." Even professional sports teams have less of an automatic fan base and less built-in loyalty than collegiate athletics.
If you have empty seats at your stadium or arena, you have no excuse. Or at least you don't have nearly the excuse that organizations in every other industry has if they're failing to bring in customers. If alumni aren’t coming back to support your athletic program, it’s because the product you’re asking them to support isn't good enough.
Winning Isn't Everything
The argument can be made that fans would come if the team would win and that as marketers, we can't control the product on the field. But the decrease in attendance among collegiate athletics isn't isolated to losing programs. Winning teams are losing fans too. The product on the field is great but fans are still choosing to stay home.
At home, the beer is cheaper, the couch is more comfy and the temperature is always a nice 72 degrees. That’s hard to compete with, but not impossible. Because we do have an advantage: they already love us. They spent four years seeing our logo, wearing our clothes and singing our songs.
We might not be able to control the product on the field, but there’s a lot more to the home-or-stadium decision than that. We can control ticket prices. We can control advertising. We can control strategically targeting the fans most likely to attend and understanding what makes them tick. And we can control the gameday experience.
So what about my theoretical friend and his theoretical business? Was success really that easy for him? Of course not. He had to work at it. He had to realize that he couldn’t rely on the same old tricks to get fans to the stadium. He had to stop taking his steady stream of brand loyalists and their disposable income for granted, and start doing more to give them a product that is better than staying home. That was when he started succeeding. And if he didn’t do those things and ended up failing even when the deck was stacked in his favor, then he had nobody to blame but himself.
Whether it’s your sport or not, whether your team made it to the top this year or not, you have to admit that you got at least a little into it. Because come on, it’s MARCH MADNESS.
We all know that even people who have never touched a basketball in their life (except for maybe that awkward middle school gym moment they’d rather forget about) were filling out brackets and talking smack about "their" team.
You know what else people were doing? Looking stuff up on their phones or tablets related to March Madness. How do we know? Besides the fact that we were doing it ourselves, we saw some interesting data from Google about 2016 March Madness mobile usage.
Google’s data shows that mobile searches for predictions and upsets increased more than 45% and 40% respectively over last year. People also searched heavily for scores (79% of all March Madness mobile searches) and standings (70%). No surprise there.
But get this: searches for sneakers ranked second highest at 78% and searches for uniforms (67%) actually edged out the number of mobile searches for upsets.
Besides searching, people did a lot of game-watching on their mobile devices. In the U.S., more than 3 million hours of March Madness videos were watched on YouTube during the first four rounds of the tournament.
Three. Million. Hours. There are 8,760 hours in a year. So cumulatively, the U.S. watched over 342 years worth of basketball in about two weeks. Don’t all you people have jobs?!?
And they (uh…we) didn’t stop there. Basketball fans also watched thousands of hours of related videos throughout the tournament. Google reports that compared to the average YouTube viewer, March Madness fans were 16 times more likely to watch videos related to sports news and 13 times more likely to watch videos related to sports coaching and training.
You can look at this two ways:
1. “Yeah, great. Thanks. I already know convenience is eroding game attendance and now you’re making me feel even worse about how mobile is taking over the world.” Ok, Sad Chad, feel sorry for yourself. It’s not going to help anything.
2. “Wow. There’s an opportunity here, I just need to figure out how to make it payoff for my program.” That’s right, Joe McSmartybrains. There is an opportunity here. Your program has the type of stuff people are searching for on mobile.
You’ve got uniforms and shoes – and odds are, you’re going to have new ones in the future. You’ve got sports news. You’ve got coaches and trainers and a whole bunch of athletes. You’ve got inside scoops, moments of glory, memorable personalities, and more. You’ve got reasons to make people wish they were there at the game. Plus you’ve got fans, and everybody knows fans like watching other fans do crazy things on YouTube.
You don’t have to make it all the way to March Madness to capitalize on fan interest in your team. Tools like online video give you an opportunity to be where your fans are and engage with them, no matter what your record looks like or where you are in the season.
You can’t stop people from watching games on their mobile devices, so don’t even try. Instead, understand the types of content your fans are into and give it to them. Keep it exciting. Give people reasons to talk about your program and buy tickets to your games next season. Then build on the momentum and give them reasons to come back again and again.
My father cried on November 16, 1957. He was 12 years old and he wept on my grandfather’s lap as he had just experienced something he had no recollection of ever experiencing before. His beloved Oklahoma Sooners lost a football game for the first time in more than 4 years. When OU began their 47-game winning streak, he was only 8 years old. So there he sat, tears flowing down his cheeks, while his father held him and assured him that everything would be okay.
On Saturday afternoons in the early 1980s, my father and I would get in the car and leave our farmhouse in Guthrie, Oklahoma for the hour drive to Norman. Going to OU football games was not guaranteed but often I would have begged enough that my dad would give in and take me. Sometimes the whole family. Sometimes just me. We’d stop by the tailgate of James and Maryanna Martin for fried chicken. We’d go watch The Pride of Oklahoma (OU’s marching band) warm up. We’d throw a football around on the South Oval. And I would bring every dollar I had saved so I could buy a new OU jersey at the stadium. But the best part was sitting next to my dad while he explained the finer points of the game of football to me.
I remember where I was when the Denver Broncos won their first Super Bowl. I know who I was with, what I was wearing and most importantly, I remember the emotions I felt. I remember driving to Kansas City to see the Broncos play the Chiefs. I remember night after night at the Lloyd Noble Center with my brother and dad watching Wayman, Mookie, Tim and Stacey play basketball. I remember the flyover at the old Mile High Stadium before the game started and how loud and overwhelming it was. I remember meeting Ozzie Smith in the parking garage outside Busch Stadium and getting him to sign a ball for me before we took in an afternoon Cardinals game. I remember standing next to my best friend in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium as the clock wound down after OU beat #1 Nebraska 31-14 after spending years in that same stadium watching OU lose game after game after game with him.
I remember, because those moments are important. I remember, because now that I am older and my brother has moved a thousand miles away, my best friend and I rarely make time for each other and I don’t see my father nearly as much as I should, those moments are what I hold as my most prized possessions. No one can take them from me and I’ll take those memories to my grave.
These are the moments that sports create. Sports brings people together and creates moments shared by fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, and friends. I’ve never met anyone, regardless of how much of a sports fan they are, who doesn’t have at least one great memory surrounding a sporting event. They remember where they were, who they were with and what happened at that event that made it so special. Chances are, they get emotional when they think about these experiences. I get emotional just talking about it. Some people have one. Some people have many. I’m lucky… I have hundreds.
Sports are important, plain and simple. Sporting events provide an avenue for people to have experiences that shape their lives. Sports gives people memories that stay with them til the day they die. More often than not, even when their team lost, the memory is held as a fond one.
Sporting events are in a battle with convenience. And the statistics show that we are losing. Kids are upstairs in their rooms playing Minecraft or texting their friends while dad is downstairs in his man cave binge-watching Netflix. When that child is 80 years old, they aren’t going to be telling their grandchildren about the Saturday afternoon they spent playing video games. But being outside on a Saturday afternoon with thousands of other people screaming for the same cause, a ballpark hot dog in their hands and their hero… their father… sitting next to them? That creates a moment that will live on forever.
Old Hat exists for the sole purpose of helping create those moments for people. Whether through driving attendance to sporting events, improving the gameday experience once inside the stadium or arena, aiding in fundraising efforts for athletic departments and their capital campaigns, or any one of the many other things that a sports organization must do to put teams on the field, Old Hat is here to help.
Old Hat believes that there’s nothing greater than sharing a sports experience with someone you care about. We also believe that the purity of these moments is being lost to technology and convenience. Too often families opt to stay at home, everyone in separate rooms of the house staring at their own devices and not connecting with one another. My son will have no memory of the Saturday afternoon he spent playing Minecraft while I watched Breaking Bad on Netflix. However, he still remembers going to the OU vs. Texas football game when he was only 8 years old. He doesn’t remember it because OU won or lost. He remembers it because he was with his brother and his dad. He will always remember it. Because of the experience.
In exciting news out of Norman, the creative agency formerly known as Old Hat Creative, announces the beginning of a new era with a name and logo change. "Ideas Designed to Inspire Through Strategy," abbreviated, "ID.ITS", is the new moniker. "This new name really encapsulates who we are," says CEO and now lead of the ID.ITS, Zac Logsdon. "We feel like this change has been long in the making." says Logsdon. "We've always felt like we were ID.ITS. Now, it's as if for the first time we're actually being our true selves...and if it wasn't known before, it's now evident for everyone else to see with our new company name and logo!"
Robert Smith, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Client Relations, took a leadership role in both the name change and the logo development. Smith says, "I don't mind saying I really inserted myself into the logo project from day one. It was kind of my baby, and something I wanted to be as much a reflection of myself as it was a reflection of our new company and direction. I feel like Zac has been leading us towards this direction for 12 long years and now we're so excited to finally be ID.ITS!"
Much thought went into the actual logo design. Smith explains, "Some of the more obvious choices were using the color red, which as any marketer knows, represents love and profitability. Both of which are needed in any company." Logsdon continues, "Because Old Hat has made a clear shift to the digital age, we included the large dot in our logo to indicate we know the World Wide Web, often referred to as the Net." Particular aspects of the former logo were also tied in. Rather than having the word "Creative" in the new logo, the group opted to use a small "c" placed strategically above the "I", as a nod to their past designation.
Smith says that an important lesson was learned during this process. "We originally chose the tag line 'Ideas Designed to Inspire By Strategy', but because of the problem it would present with our logo acronym, we changed 'by' to 'through'. Paying attention to these types of details can prevent you from looking like a real idiot with your peers and others in your industry. Nobody wants their acronym to include 'IBS'. That's just dumb."
When seeing Logsdon and Smith explain the reasons for the changes together, it's evident that this change is truly the correct decision. It's like they share one mind. The mind of "ID.ITS".
It always surprises me to see a development office pigeonholed to the back pages of an athletics website. It happens all the time. Development is an after thought on the website. It sends such a confusing message. Our development raises money for facilities and to serve our student athletes. It is incredibly important to what we do as an athletic department, yet we do not care enough to make them a focal point on our largest touch point with our fan base.
I work in web and have for most of my career. It will not come as a surprise for anyone to hear me talk about how important a good website is or your website will be the most frequent interaction you have with your fan base or donor group. More people interested in your group, that are looking for information, and would be willing to donate, will interact with your brand online than anywhere else. You may have 100,000 people at your football game, but they are not looking to learn about your brand or see what they can do to help on Saturdays, they are looking for a good time and a win. When they are online, they are evaluating what you do, learning about what they can do, and are inching their way to helping your brand. This is where you need to be interacting with them, or at a minimum, have a presence.
There is an argument to be made that separate development websites will not get the traffic of the main athletic site and that is true. The games and athletes are still the most important things to fans, this is not going to change. BUT, having worked on campus and handled websites for many major athletic brands, I know the developer or webmaster or intern (or whatever you want to call the person who holds the keys to the site) feels the same way and will focus on making sure those areas of the site rise to the top. This is what I mean about being pigeonholed. Development offices are shunted to two or three sub nav pages that are never updated and have little interaction with the visitors on the site. More importantly, there is no engagement of those evaluators surfing the web. You need a website you can update, edit, and change to keep your office in the forefront of their minds.
We recently launched ACU Wildcat Club’s new website. It is a site dedicated to helping the development team push their message. They control the content through an easy to use content management system. They make the decisions on what the website will focus on and what promotions they want to push. The development office is in control. On top of all of that, they are still part of the main athletics site. They are in the navigation; it links off to their standalone site. They are a part of the promotions; several ads on the home page link to specific sections of the development website. They can control their presence online while still being able to piggyback on the traffic the main athletics site gets.
Development offices are integral to the modern colliegiate athletics department. They raise funds for scholarships, student athletes, and new facilities. With a stand alone website and a good CMS your development office can control the message it is sending and engage your fanbase, without being at the whims of a website responsible for promoting 17 sports, teams, and coaches.
For the first time in our 12 years of existence, Old Hat entered a few things in the 2016 Oklahoma Addy Awards. I was under a tight deadline to get things entered and ended up failing our print division by not entering anything that required a hard copy (i.e. anything print related). I only entered 5 videos and our SMU environmental graphics project and they all won awards.
So on Saturday night, we got all dolled up and went downtown to the awards banquet. Here's a pic of me and my wife looking all perty before the show:
And now, without further ado... The projects for which we won Addy Awards:
Old Hat Creative recently hosted a webinar, where we presented information about our recent "Raise Up Carolina" website launch. Read Kevin's blog for more detailed background on the project.
One of the best features of this site is the inclusion of marketing automation. This is something we are now offering on new website projects.
Don't know about marketing automation? I'll explain it to you, the way it was explained to me, like I was five. Please note: don't get me wrong, I asked it to be explained to me this way… probably because I hadn't had my coffee yet. And sometimes technology is hard, yo.
Marketing automation refers to software that executes your digital marketing communication for you. It helps you by performing tasks for you in an efficient way. It makes you more effective in your job. It's all about nurturing leads, not hard selling. It's figuring out who is interested in you (your teams, your games), why they are interested and what specifically they are interested in, and directs your communication specifically about those interests to the people who are interested. Marketing automation keeps the conversation with your fans going by getting more and more content to them at appropriate intervals, nudging them forward as they continue to show interest (open an email, click, etc.). It also stops sending emails to people that indicate they aren't intersested (without them even needing to opt out), so you don't have to worry about sending so many emails that people get pissed off. It's anything but a generic death-by-email approach.
Still with me?
Let's talk about how marketing automation can help you in your job. Here are just a few ways:
1) It's going to simplify your life because you put the plan in place but it's doing the execution for you automatically.
2) It's like you just added an extra staff member to your marketing team. And who doesn't need that?
3) You won't waste as much of your time sending communication to people who probably aren't interested in what you are saying.
4) You can engage your fans, keep them happy, and coming back for more!
You can utilize marketing automation to improve your ticket sales and assist with season ticket renewals, to promote specific sports, get donor leads, and much, much more. And what's best about it is that you have hard facts (data, y'all) that direct you in which messaging to execute and when. And you are directing this messages to people who actually care about what you're saying.
Some of the awesome features of marketing automation include:
Website Visitor Tracking (by reverse IP address, but once you have an email address, you'll be able to track every interaction someone has with your website, forever).
Lead Scoring (a really cool way to put an actual "score" on someone's engagement with your site. You can assign "points" based on a number of factors).
Behavior Driven List Segmentation. Basically, you have the ability to "whittle down" a larger database so you don't waste your time sending messages to people that aren't interested.
Automated email campaigns.
If you want Marketing Automation included as a feature on an existing or a new website project, talk to us! We can not only get you started in this process, we can manage all of it for you!
We had a full house for our Raise Up Carolina/Marketing Automation Webinar yesterday afternoon. If you were unable to attend due to a conflict, or if you were not able to log in because it was full, you're in luck! We recorded the complete presentation, including the question and answer session.
If you have any questions about our presentation, further details about the Raise Up Carolina project in general or about marketing automation, please contact us! We'd love to speak with you individually OR we can schedule a time to present the project and benefits of marketing automation to your team.