As a sports marketer, what do you sell? The simple and obvious answer is, of course, tickets. Those game ticket sales in turn fuel other revenue streams: concessions, merchandise, and indirectly other types of program support.
But in reality, you’re selling much more than tickets. You’re selling an experience of your school’s brand and what it means to be a fan of your particular sports program. That experience means different things to different people.
Your entire target audience has one important thing in common: they’re all fans of your program to some degree or another. That means all of them are likely to respond to certain visual cues like your logo, colors, and images of your team, campus, or game venue. However, if you really want to market yourself strategically and effectively, you need to segment your audience further and get to know what drives them.
There are several ways to segment your fans: alumni, donor level, development group member, fan club member, season ticket holder, single game ticket purchaser, whether they’re die-hards or jump-on-a-winning-bandwagon fans, and of course the usual demographic indicators such as age, gender, and geographic location. One of the best ways to segment your current target audience is through market research surveys that enable you to understand their motivations for being a fan and what the game experience means to them.
Here are a few simple examples of what this might look like and how you could use it to drive tailored communication strategies:
·Students might value the fan experience because it reinforces their connection with the school and contributes to their sense of personal identity at this stage of their lives. What makes the student experience unique at your school? Think about how you can tap into traditions like these.
Alumni might be motivated by the opportunity to relive the fun and excitement of their college days, reconnecting with the brand through a combination of sense of tradition, nostalgia, and present day pride. Why not take advantage of opportunities like social media’s #TBT (Throwback Thursday) to help you reinforce that connection and encourage greater engagement?
Parents of students might see the experience as a way to strengthen their connection with their child and may feel a sense of ownership and pride based on their financial contributions to the school. Consider how you can encourage mom or dad’s commitment to the team.
Parents of younger children (whether they’re alumni or not) may value the fan experience as a means of creating memories, passing down a love the game, or teaching kids about teamwork. How is the game experience different for them, and what can you do to showcase the family-friendly side of your brand?
Locals who aren’t alumni and don’t have children attending your school may relate more to a sense of local pride or deep-rooted geographic rivalries. Think about what you can do or say that will recognize and encourage their continued support as honorary members of your organization.
When you understand what motivates your different fan groups to be part of the game experience, it’s easier to identify the right marketing themes. Some motivations or feelings will span segmented groups and resonate with the majority of your fans. Those are the themes you should consider for your overall marketing message. Other motivations will be specific to certain segments, and you should use those to tailor your engagement with each group.
Every ticket or season tickets package you sell represents a wide range of emotions and motivations that are felt by your fans as part of the game experience. So don’t just sell tickets: sell can’t-hold-us-down commitment. Sell remember-when-we nostalgia. Sell ours-is-better-than-yours rivalry. Sell this-is-our-house pride. Your fans will love you for it.
You should probably check it out. It was one of the more fun projects to work on and we were able to do some really cool things with the client.
Remember this guy?
Have you ever seen him do stuff like this before
and enjoyed it?
Well, if you answered yes to the first part of that last question, but then no to the second, then you are probably a reasonable person with well rounded hobbies for entertainment. If you answered yes to ANY part of that question or just think that site I mentioned above is really cool, then you are in luck because on February 11th, Old Hat will combine those two amazing categories into a rock block of fun. And by “rock block of fun”, I mean a webinar that goes through the process of helping you sell tickets with an amazing Old Hat website.
Stay tuned for more info as we get closer to the date, but as with all things Old Hat does, it will involve a little bit of random, a little bit of awesome, and a lotta bit expertise.
Football season is winding to a close and basketball season is heating up. No matter which sport you work with, these four tips will help you take your marketing efforts from having an average season to dominating your goals.
1. Talk smack.
As a sports marketer, you basically get paid to talk smack. How glorious is that? It’s a beautiful thing – as long as you get it right. Good smack-talk galvanizes your fans and increases ticket sales. Just remember that when you talk smack for your program, there are two groups who have to deliver on it: the team (of course) and the operations guys whose efforts ensure a good game-day experience for fans. Make sure you’re working closely with both. The other thing about talking smack is that in order for it to resonate, you have to talk the right smack to the right group. That can be tough if you’re new to a particular program, because every school and every sport is unique. When your messages are on point, you’re near the eye of the hurricane helping chart its path. If your messages aren’t on point, you’re going to be the guy getting crushed by the hurricane. To make sure you’re not that guy, follow the lead of your coaches and players: watch some tape.
2. Watch tape (a.k.a. do your research).
Do you know any college or professional football team that doesn’t watch tape? Yeah, us neither. There’s a reason for that. Watching game film gives players and teams insight into what went well (or didn’t go well) and what to expect from their next opponent. That type of research and analysis provides an important edge. Why not do the same thing with your marketing? Just like reviewing game film, there are two key areas you need to analyze: your brand and your target audience. When was the last time you thoroughly reviewed what your brand stands for, where it can improve on delivering the customer experience, and how strong your marketing strategy is? You also periodically analyze your customers: who they are, what they value most about the game day experience, how well their needs are being met, and what their satisfaction level is. The good news is that you can get away with investing in this type of in-depth analysis periodically (once per season) instead of having to do it for every game.
3. Develop your plays.
On the field or off, analysis is useless if it doesn’t translate into strategy. Use your brand and market research to develop your overall marketing strategy for the year, select the themes and media that are most likely to help you achieve your goals, prioritize your budget, and develop campaigns. Your marketing year can probably be divided pretty easily into its own set of seasons, and you need to have a solid campaign plan for each. Once you find something that works, there’s no shame in recycling it for the next year as long as you don’t get complacent. Complacency kills. You don’t want fans to be able to predict your next poster, email, etc. any more than your team wants the opposing players to predict their next move. So figure out what worked last season, make some adjustments to keep it interesting, and take the next year on like you own it.
4. Monitor the stats.
Ticket sales, game attendance, season ticket renewals, alumni contributions – these are all statistics you should be benchmarking and comparing to prior data. But don’t stop there: there’s more to measure if you really want to know how effective your marketing efforts are. While it can be difficult to measure the success rate of traditional marketing tactics (posters, print ads, billboards, radio, etc.), digital marketing offers a goldmine of statistics. Go beyond looking at basics like number of new and returning website visitors, and start measuring responses to calls to action and actual conversion. Incorporate a marketing automation tool so you can target your messages to different groups, move them along the conversion path, and measure the response you get to each email you send. Make your emails more personal and more interactive with videos that are customizable to each recipient – it’s more affordable than you think, and it helps seriously drive engagement and ultimately ticket sales.
There is a chance we will have our first frost this weekend. It is actually a little late in the season for this to be happening, but I am still bothered because my garden is still growing and producing. Once the frost starts to become more and more frequent, that is done and I will have to rip my plants out of the ground. It is kind of sad considering how much work and effort I have put into keeping those plants alive. It was worth it, I have loved to be able to harvest vegetables every day after work or be cooking, run out of something, and only have to walk outside to get what I need. The harvesting is the easy part.
I do not mind putting in the work at the beginning of the season. The stress of spring rains and tornados ends up being worth it, but I am still going to be annoyed at the present time. That is kind of what our busy season at Old Hat is like. It is stressful, it is annoying, and it can be a pain, but in the end it is worth it. We create some amazing pieces for our clients and we do things that should make all of our staff proud. We are not completely through the busy season, but check out some of the cool things we have done below.
The other day I was listening to some commentary of one of my favorite shows. In the past the extras like commentary that come on DVDs has never been something that interests me. Recently I have started listening to these more and have really started to enjoy hearing what people were thinking when they created something. The process they use will never be the same as mine, but getting a peak into their mind as they created something consumed by millions is interesting to me. A couple months ago we launched http://timetoshinememphis.com/ . It was a fun project to work on and one that fits in with a lot of the other stadium/facility project sites we have been doing recently. Their football team is currently shining quite brightly! Below is some commentary from the team that worked on the site.
Memphis was a great client to work with on this project. They were very enthusiastic about the process and gave us great feedback during the design and concepting phase. We were very happy with how the creative turned out and we love how the site looks.
Dustin Schmidt, Creative Director
Tanner Naeher, Senior Web Developer
What stood out to me on this project is the decisiveness of the team at Memphis. In major renovations like this there are usually a lot of people involved and a lot of people who want their say to affect the decisions. Memphis came to us with a plan and stuck to it. It allowed our team to work with consistent content and create a beautiful website.
I really can't think of a lot to say right now, so I thought I would share some pics from my family vacation. I think I am more exhausted from the vacation than work, but it was good to spend time with my family.
Here we are leaving the city (our neighbors took this pic):
This is where we broke down on our way there:
This was dad getting mad when we got there and the park was closed:
lol Ok so that was not really from our vacation, but it sure felt like it at times... So here is my actual vacation.
We went to several parks down in Florida. My family got there a few days before I did, so my first day was a day at Coco Beach. It was fun.
View from pier:
Some random guy catching a fish while we were there:
Curious George greets us.
Hogwarts & Butterbeer
Visited the Homer's favorite spot:
Met Barney there:
Had my first Krusty Burger & yes I would like fries with that:
Caught Chief Wiggum hard at work:
And then the haunted houses and creepy guys came out! It was a lot of fun:
I don't think she liked me trying to take a pic with her:
And we called it a night at 1:05am!
Me acting like a big kid again
And the end to another long day... didn't take as many pictures... you lucked out! ;)
Much more relaxing! Other than the 3am wake up after going to bed at 12:30am.
Magic Kingdom (2 Days)
Belle was gorgious! Sadly didn't get a picture with her.
But I'll be your beast, Belle! lol
The aquarium was amazing!!!
My little sister and Mulan! I got my picture with her too... and Belle this time... and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)... but haven't order the pics yet!
The end!!! Time to get back to buiding awesome websites. Hope you enjoyed it!
I have spent a lot of time in my garden for the last six months. It has been a lot of work, but at this point in the year, it is pretty enjoyable work. Why? Because all I really have to do is walk out and pick things to eat.
That has definitely not been the case throughout the last six months. With twenty-seven inches of rain in twenty-nine days, it has been a struggle. Plants have gotten sick and/or needed constant attention. I have faced more bugs or diseases this year alone than all of my previous years combined. I have spent more time on garden forums than I want to admit and have read through a 300 page garden reference book. It has not been overly enjoyable, and it is a hobby that has it ups and downs. Through it all, being able to harvest has driven me. This Saturday I made gumbo. About half way through, I ran out of peppers and okra. It took all of two minutes to walk out and pick what I needed from my garden. It was rewarding.
I find that busy season for Old Hat is a bit like harvesting my garden. The stress level is definitely different, but the steps we take to get here are very similar. We spend more than six months reviewing our processes, creating new products, and telling the sports world about them. This year we have added an extra source of information in Marketing Automation that is producing more data than we have ever had. We are able to see what people are doing, clicking on, reading, and looking through on our site. It allows us to target our products to those that we know are interested. It is a great service and another product we spent the off-season preparing for our clients and ourselves. Zac blogged in detail about it here
You should check it out and then we can all be harvesting at this point in the year!
Ever want to be the best around?! Of course you do! Well I'm here to tell you, you're on the right path. So get ready to get your "Wax On! Wax Off!" going! Okay enough with the corny infomercial talk.
Earlier this month, Yahoo! posted an article about 11 Websites That'll Teach You Awesome Skills For Free. I found it to be one of the most useful articles I have read on their site. I already had heard of Instructables.com and CodeAcedemy.com being the nerd that I am, but found some of the others pretty neat too. Currently I am brushing up and improving on my high school Spanish using Duolingo.com's app. I still sound like a redneck speaking it, but my vocabulary is building every day I use the app, which makes me happy. So here is their list so you don't have to leave our awesome website to see it:
Instructables.com: Learn how to DIY just about anything (seriously!) with instructions from hundreds of contributors offered up free of charge. DIY solar food dehydrator, anyone?
Lifehacker.com/Night School: Hidden among the hacks on this uber-useful site are posted tagged “night school” where you’ll find freebie lessons on everything from how to build a computer to photography basics.
Skillshare.com: Find out how to brew a perfect cup of coffee, pickle like a pro, knit, sew, and 100s of more skills. Cram your head full with the site’s complimentary 14-day trial, stat!
JustinGuitar.com: Always dreamed of becoming a rock star? You won’t even have to busk to take advantage of this site’s 850+ gratis guitar lessons.
Drawspace.com: Sharpen your drawing skills with lessons from pros. About 15% of Drawspace’s content is on the house.
Chesscademy.com: Become a chess master by watching videos, solving puzzles, and playing games, all free of cost.
GoHighBrow.com: Sign up for unpaid bite-size courses delivered to your inbox daily, aimed at expanding your knowledge on topics ranging from philosophy to Greek mythology.
Spreeder.com: Quick: How fast can you read these words? Use this Spreeder’s completely free reading program to double, triple, even quadruple your reading speed.
DuoLingo.com: Learn a new language from this site’s extensive costless online courses. Bonus: The ‘lessons’ are set up like games!
Codecademy.com: Get yourself up to speed on the in-demand skill of coding—all without spending a dime.
That's a pretty awesome list, and am looking forward to checking some of the other ones out. I'd like to end my blog here, but am not really a fan of just copying someone else's blog without adding a little something something to it. So here are some other sites worth noting, though not all of them are free:
Lynda.com: Though this site is not free, it is one of the best places to learn some great skills in the digital digital age. From Photoshop to Web and Mobile apps to 3D Animation, they are a great place to start. They do offer a free trial.
Pinterest.com: A go to site for Do-It-Yourself'ers this social media site has it all. Just find a category and start searching. Though some of the instructions may be vague, it can give you some great inspiration for your next project.
Youtube.com: This is probably the number one go to place for finding out how to do stuff. Want to know how to do something, there is probably a Youtube video for that.
OldHatCreative.com: LOL! Okay! Okay! We may not really be a self-improvement site, but we sure would make you look smarter by choosing us to do your graphics and website. ;)
Yesterday, Ashley and I traveled to Stillwater to meet with the OSU Sports Management Club. I enjoyed getting to meet the students involved in the group and share a few of the things I have learned from working in the industry. The excitement they have about going into the sports industry is refreshing. We spent about an hour talking with them about our careers and answering any questions they had about the industry. I am truly grateful to work where I work. I consider myself lucky to work on sports projects everyday.
I enjoy seeing that excitement in young people. Excited about what is to come and excited to learn. I help coach a flag football team for similar reasons. I enjoy working with kids and seeing that spark in their eye when they start to understand the game. Watching a young person go from confusion to pure joy in their understanding or the lesson they just learned. Then watching them apply it during a game is something that always brings a smile to my face.
Sports bring that out in people. At Old Hat we “Amplify the Sports Experience” and in that motto is the reason I enjoy coming to work everyday. We want to make every experience a fan has with your team an exciting one. We want fans to get the tickets they bought in the mail, see the design, and start counting down the days until they are in the stadium. We want fans to get chills when they watch a team run out of the tunnel to an intro video. That enjoyment, that passion for the game is what we want to amplify, and all it takes is a young person being excited about sports to remind me of why we do it.
I was thrilled to head back to my home state, Nebraska, this past weekend for a quick visit and to attend the Nebraska/BYU Football game.
While there, I got to see a few old friends from my old stomping ground, HuskerVision. And by OLD stomping ground, I really mean it. It's been 11 years since I last worked at Nebraska. The changes are ridiculous. The athletic department looks nothing like it used to. The only constant was the people I was able to catch up with while there.
One thing that Nebraska is in my opinion, really leading the country in, is technology related fan experience improvements. Last year, the Huskers announced multi-million dollar additions, including completely new in-stadium sound systems and improving their in-stadium wifi. As most people are probably aware, most stadiums have very limited connectivity in venue. Nebraska's is really great and I imagine it's leading the way for a lot of departments. I visited the department on Friday, and could connect outside the stadium, so I think the footprint must be pretty big.
When I was there, I visited my old friend Kelly, who is the Assistant AD for Digital Communications, and he showed me around Nebraska's digital headquarters (his office). He has a staff of people - three full time as well as interns, completely dedicated to digital strategy and production. This is their setup for monitoring all things Nebraska on social media.
Outside and Inside of their offices (I didn't get good pictures, so the two above are borrowed from Nebraska Media Relations).
These two are taken by me. The screen on the bottom right shows seven different Twitter feeds at once, including the official Huskers account, head coach Mike Riley and more. Here it is a little closer up.
Nebraska is hugely committed to staying at the forefront of social media and I've been really entertained by the content they release: great videos, behind-the scenes kind of stuff. Only speculating here, but I'd guess some of the staff (administrative and coaches), don't necessarily understand a lot about social media, but it seems like they do understand it's importance, especially for fans and for recruiting.
He also showed me what I think is one of the coolest enhancements Nebraska has undertaken, their official app. The app contains most of the information you can view on their regular website (schedules, rosters, news, ticket purchasing, etc), but also has really awesome in-game features. My favorite was the ability to see any replay, from several different angles, right on my phone during the game. I could also press a 10 second replay button so I could view anything I missed.
All-in-all, it was a great (but exhausting) weekend! The only downer was the final play of the game...