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...

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.

Yesterday I was talking about one of our websites with Kelby and discussing propagation.  When you look up propagation in the dictionary (ok, ok, I mean Google and then Webster) you get a couple different options for the definition.  For the purposes of this discussion we are going with option B:

the spreading of something (as a belief) abroad or into new regions

When talking about propagation in websites, we are typically talking about the propagation of a site to the servers throughout the world.  This process can take up to 72 hours and is typically the explanation to why one person in Texas can see your site while a person in California, at the same URL, can not see the site.  It can be a pain, but since I started working in web, the process has improved and does not seem to take as a long.  

As Kelby mentioned the other day, she is working on more projects now and quite a few of those projects are websites.  I am not sure she wanted the impromptu lesson on server propagation, but I would rather someone understand than just regurgitate the words.  This conversation got me thinking about the sports industry and how ideas tend to propagate through (around?) the industry. 

Good ideas are usually copied in our industry.  It is as much a part of life as football in the fall.  I try to see it as a compliment when someone copies what you do.  It is interesting to me to watch the ideas propagate through the industry.  College sports is where most of the websites we build are targeted and a quick look through college athletics websites, it is quite easy to see some of the more “popular” ideas, templates, or layouts that are being used.  All it takes is for one high profile school to do something cool and then you can watch it propagate throughout the industry.  This is not always a good thing and it is not always a bad thing, that all depends on the idea and the execution.  

At Old Hat Creative, we do not use templates for our websites, but we do take good ideas and execute them in a way that we think will be most successful for our clients.  Our motto is “We Amplify the Sports Experience” and we like to do that with good ideas as well.  Do you have a website and always wanted to see something like it done for your school?  Lets talk about it.   You bring the idea and we will execute it in a way that makes you unique and successful in your goals.  

The process does not stop with the idea or even the site launch.  You have to execute the site well.  You have to make sure your visitors on the site are finding the content you want them to find and are truly motivated by your call to action.  

Want to know if your idea is causing fans to look at your ticket options more?  We can provide analytics on your site that will tell you exactly who is clicking and where they are clicking.  

Want to make sure your visitors are reminded about the season ticket benefits they were browsing through last week?  We can set your site up to reach out to them later in the week and send them information specific to what they were browsing through on your site.  

Want to know how long people are spending on the site and why they leave?  We can tell you where their last clicks were and work with you to tailor the content to get them to want to stay on your site. 

There is always going to be propagation of ideas in our industry and probably every industry, but at Old Hat, we can help you take that idea to the next level.  

 

In July, I transitioned from a marketing position to a client rep position with Old Hat. I absolutely love it! I love talking with clients on a daily basis and getting things organized for our production staff to begin creating. It's a fun process that has taken a lot of learning over the past two months. I greatly appreciate all the help and guidance from Kevin, Deb, Tricia, Hannah and Robert. 

On August 19th, my first project launched for Memphis, it was the Time to Shine website. Our web team created a really awesome site to help Memphis raise money for their capital campaign to enhance practice and training facilities for football and men's basketball. 

Visit the site, timetoshinememphis.com

I have never tried to blog from my phone before, but figured it was worth a try. Today, Zac and I travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to talk about a website. I do not normally travel, but this year I am covering quite a bit of distance. 

This trip is shorter than my last, I will only be spending about 20 hours in the state of North Carolina. Lucky for me, this is not my first trip out to Chapel Hill so I do not have to worry about site seeing, but I am still excited to make the trip. 
 
I enjoy getting on campus to meet with clients. It helps us understand the client's needs and message. It allows us to get a feel for what is important and helps us make sure we build a custom website that solves a problem. 
 
Stay tuned to see what our trips this summer will produce!! And check out our latest website, timetoshinememphis.com.
 

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

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

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

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

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

Last week, Kevin and I got to take a trip out to Los Angeles to visit some folks at USC to talk over a big project in the works. If you've ever read any of my blogs or know anything about me, you might've guessed that I'm not much of a city guy. I'd prefer fishing or enjoying nature over bustling crowds and a lungful of exhaust. But we had a little of both on this trip, and you know what... it wasn't a vacation, it was a work trip, so I can adapt. The first day we managed to get out to Santa Monica, take in some of the salty air on a jog along the beach, and made it to the "End of the Trail"- the western limit of Route 66 (which coincidentally runs through Oklahoma). We even had some ice cream. I know that sounds more like vacation than work, but I'm getting to that part.

After making it through the ridiculous traffic back to our hotel on campus, we met up with one of Kevin's buddies from his Ohio days downtown at LA Live. Cool place, and there weren't many people out so even cooler. Still a lot like vacation, I'll give you that.

Day two was all work, but fun work. We met up with multiple groups from USC and talked over the big project (shhh, it's a secret). We visited the historic Memorial Coliseum as they were preparing for the Special Olympics. That place is old, and it looks old, but in a good way... kinda like Meryl Streep.

Later on we went exploring with a jog around USC campus. I even bought a USC shirt. If you had told me 6 months ago I'd be at the USC campus buying a USC shirt, first I would've said "that seems like a random comment" and "how could you even know that?", but after that I probably would've asked how much money I'd need to purchase such a cool shirt. And I might've just packed another jogging shirt instead of buying one. I wish you would've told me 6 months ago...

Okay, so most of this trip just sounded like a vacation, but I promise you it was very valuable from a work perspective. I had to leave out the really important work stuff to protect the anonymity of the project. Trust me, lots of work going on.

And now it's time for my ever-insightful photo commentary...

  Clearly working, you can see the sweat.

  Santa Monica Pier, if you didn't gather that from the sign.

  That's me, in the front there.

   Kevin eating ice cream in front of a carousel. What a special moment I've captured. We'll throw that in his baby book.

   The hotel we didn't stay at.

Downtown LA. Not much happening during the daylight hours... but just wait.

Yeah, check it out now. The place is hoppin'.

Day 2 at the Coliseum. That's Kevin in the front. I didn't get the names of the other guys in the background.

  "Are you not ENTERTAINED?!" That one guy up top there clearly was.

Overheard at this statue... "oh man, wonder what happened to her shoes?"

After a jog in my new USC shirt. A minute later a girl would drop and break a glass vase that looked kind of important, but I didn't know that at the time, so it's okay that I'm laughing.

 

 

 

There seems to be two types of people. Ones who want the best and the ones who want the cheapest.  Sometimes both those things are the same thing, but the majority of the time they are not.  In order for you to get cheap, certain sacrifices have to be made.  It could mean that you get some pre-manufactured product, not all the bells and whistles are present, (sometimes even key features may be missing), or it may take a really long time to build/make.

I tend to be of the mindset, to spend a little more to get a better product.  In the case of my laptop, I went with the best I could afford.  I have been using my Late 2008 13" Macbook almost everyday for about 7 years now.  It still runs great.  I recently spent money on some new upgrades for it.  The first part came as a new hard drive.  I know have 1TB of space on it, compared to the 160GB I had before, that was mostly filled up with software. And then yesterday, the second part of the upgrade came in the mail.  It was a very much needed, new battery.  My old one only lasted about 5 minutes without being plugged in, but that's what happens after 7 years of daily use.  I have made upgrades to the RAM twice.  Once to 4 gigs and then once more up to 8 gigs.

I know all the tech specs are probably boring you, but the point is, because I put the extra money into my laptop to begin with and then made modest updates, I have been able to get a very long life out of a type of product that typically doesn't make it 4 years.  

The same can be said for websites.  Sometimes it's worth spending the money up front to get a product that can with stand the test of time.  

I am quite a fan of watching thunderstorms, most of the time.  Something about watching a thunderhead build slowly in the afternoon heat and merge into something so powerful has always been an event that draws my attention.  

When I lived in College Station during school, I was very fortunate to live on a 90-acre piece of property, on top of a hill, and about 8 miles from Texas A&M campus.  I could walk out my front door and see Kyle Field on the horizon. I enjoyed being able to see the lights kick on and then off for Midnight Yell Practice, but what I really enjoyed was watching a storm build up.  They would start south of town about mid afternoon and eventually build up to a light show.  I could sit in the sun and beautiful weather watching a storm pour down on College Station.  The storms would eventually move my direction, but the whole process was incredibly interesting to me.  Some of my best writing came when I was on that porch watching a storm.

Now I live in Oklahoma and I do not enjoy all storms.  They still interest me and I will still sit outside for as long as possible to watch a storm build and lightening light of the sky.   Some storms are too strong or destructive to watch for long, but even for those, I am sitting on the front porch of the Railhouse, trying to get a picture while I can.  

In College Station, I could watch the storm develop and see it moving my way.  This was always the calm before the storm and I enjoyed it.  Some of the best fishing can be done at this time and it is an interesting transition from relative calm to a major event.  Nature is just interesting.

I feel like that right now.  

We are on the cusp of our busy season at Old Hat.  Projects are starting to line up in the queue, photo shoots have been booked, and the plans are starting to be laid for another round of amazing Old Hat work.  To me, this calm before the storm is different.  There is still that nervous anticipation of what will come out of all this.  Where will we be on the other side of this storm?  Storms like this always change things in some way.  Often times for the better, but change will happen regardless.  

I am excited for this busy season. I am excited to look up at my board and see that our projects have multiplied by five in the last week.  I am excited to see the amazing work that we create AND I am excited to see what changes may come.  

It may be the calm before the storm this time of year, but this is the storm that Old Hat Creative gets excited about.  

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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