What can we say about the newest addition to the Old Hat design squad? Caitlin Murphy has made QUITE the impression whether it's stories about her giant dog, her office microwaving misadventures or her attempts at playing Spikeball. This former collegiate libero turned stud designer has some serious skills that we think you'll DIG.
Here are 20 Questions with Caitlin!
1. NAME: Caitlin Murphy
2. OCCUPATION/TITLE: Art Director
3. HOMETOWN: Amarillo, TX
4. YOUR GO-TO WORK MUSIC: Whatever Spotify recommends to me for that day. Today is Throw-Back-Thursday
5. HOW DID YOU END UP AT OLD HAT: One of my references knows the company so he reached out to me and asked if I would be interested.
6. FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Getting to play and design on the computer all day.
7. WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT YOUR JOB: Sitting down all day.
8. HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR FREE TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT WORK: Anything that involves with being outside.
9. ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: LISTEN TO MY PARENTS. They’re actually right about everything.
10. EXPLAIN YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY OR HOW YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK/OUTSIDE PROJECTS: Most of my designs happen by accident, I’ll be working and accidentally hit a button and sometimes it looks great so I go with it.
11. IF YOU COULD ONLY WATCH ONE MOVIE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE WHAT WOULD IT BE: Pretty Woman. Hands down. No question.
12. FAVORITE TV SHOW: Drunk History
13. WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT AT OLD HAT: Getting hired was a great moment.
14. IF YOU COULD TRADE LIVES WITH ONE OF YOUR COWORKERS WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY: James, so I could play instruments without hurting peoples ears.
15. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO WORK DISTRACTION: Coloring, I have a box of sharpies and colored pencils at my desk that I doodle when I need to.
16. FAVORITE SUPERHERO: Iron Man, only because I’d like to marry him.
17. IF YOU WERE AN SNL CHARACTER WHO WOULD YOU BE: the Kristen Wiig character where she gets so excited about literally everything.
18. WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: Superglued my shoe to the floor.. horrible idea.
19. WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: The Crown
20. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: trying to figure out how I can be a history storyteller on Drunk History.
Collegiate athletics marketing is all about activating fan affinity. We pour painstaking effort into producing visually dynamic schedule posters with die-cuts, custom photography, stellar taglines and whatever the latest printing technique is so we can slap our fans in the face and get them excited about the upcoming season. We post social media graphics to let all of our followers know there's a game coming up or tell them about the game we just won. I could sit here and list out the hundreds of things we do, as an industry, that are aimed at activating the affinity that exists within our fans so they'll want to attend our events.
But that's where the problem lies. Read that statement again: ...activating the affinity that exists within our fans... If you think about it, most of what we do is focused on existing affinity. And we're just trying to activate it.
But what happens when there is no affinity to activate? What happens when you've run out of fans to activate affinity within?
During the course of a recent research engagement, we discovered something very important about a particular university's market: the alumni base in that area is extremely small. Additionally, the alumni from this school are quite wealthy and their attention isn't just being pulled by other local entertainment options, it's being pulled by far-off, exotic weekend getaways. Even if we overcame the things that were pulling fans away and activated fan affinity in every member of the university's core local audience, we still wouldn't be able to fill the football stadium because the pool of people with an existing affinity is so small.
The other mistake many programs make is assuming that alumni and/or fans that used to have affinity for their athletic programs still have affinity to be activated. We all like to think that because someone went to our university or used to come to our games, all we have to do is figure out how to activate that thing inside of them that will make them want to come back. But for a multitude of reasons, sometimes that's just not the case. Sometimes alumni don't care. Sometimes with former fans, it's too late.
Whether you're reaching out to people who have no ties to your athletic programs, alumni with little existing affinity for your programs or former fans that have grown apathetic, we must change the conversation from one of trying to activate fan affinity to one of creating fan affinity. It can be done, trust me. You see brands all over the world that go from non-existent to having extremely loyal "fans." They do this by creating affinity for their brands.
Okay, great. Stop activating. Start creating. Where do we start?
A coach wouldn't develop a strategy to win a game without first scouting the opponent. In the same way, you must scout your opponent. Your opponent is apathy toward your program.
1. Who are THEY?
First things first: figure out who is in your market and speak their language. Time and time again, I've seen athletic organizations invest in a marketing plan targeted at individuals that may not even exist. The prospect group you envision is probably out there, but you have to make sure there are enough of those people in your market to move the revenue needle if you reach them and convert them. For instance, if you think the people most likely to attend your events are single men and you target your message to them, you're going to have a problem if your market is actually full of 35-year-old mothers of two. If you know your market is full of PhDs, your message will be different than if you think it's full of factory workers.
2. Who are YOU?
Now that you know who you're trying to reach, you have to figure out a way to position yourselves in a way that is appealing to those most likely to come to your events. What makes what you have to offer better than what is competing for your potential fans' time? Remember, we're creating affinity here. We're trying to appeal to potential fans that have no feelings one way or another toward our programs. Is your gameday experience family-friendly? Are you priced well? Are you a Power 5 school with big name opponents coming in? There's no right or wrong answer. You just have to figure out why what you're offering is better than whatever you're competing with.
3. Find Compatibility
Now that you know who your potential fans are and you've done a deep dive into figuring out who you are, you have to find common ground. If 35-year-old mothers are making decisions about what to do with their young children on Saturday afternoons, the hard-hitting action of top name opponents probably isn't what is going to appeal to them the most. At the same time, if big hairy men are your target, talking up the hard-hitting action may be the way to go. We may be perpetuating stereotypes here, but marketing is based largely on understanding the typical characteristics and preferences of big groups of people and tapping into those likes and needs in order to make a connection and influence a decision. It works for every other industry in the world. It will work for you. Think of it like having a conversation with your father-in-law... if he's a mechanic and you're in marketing, you're not going to insist on talking about marketing or he'll check out. You do some research and figure out that he's really into competitive duck-herding. OMG, you're into competitive duck-herding! Now you have something to talk about at Thanksgiving. Find out what you and your fan base have in common. Then connect over it.
The reality is this: die-hard fans are coming to your games no matter how amazing your poster and social media graphics are. So marketing to them is like paying for the free mints at the end of a meal. And that's exactly who you're marketing to with the die-cut, 3D, pop-up, scratch-n-sniff schedule posters and animated gifs of Jimmy hitting that three-pointer. Don't get us wrong: there's a place for that when it comes to maintaining your fan base. But if you want to actually grow your fan base, you need to create affinity for your athletic programs. Do some research or engage someone to help you do some research. If you figure out who your potential fans are and then figure out who you are, you have what you need to drive attendance.
If you have worked in any industry that has physical locations, you have probably at least heard of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance.When most people think of ADA compliance, they think of things like wheelchair accessibility and other facilities requirements. It’s natural to include ADA considerations in your $100 million stadium project, but have you ever thought about ADA compliance when it comes to your website?
ADA compliance for websites is a convoluted and sometimes difficult thing to understand, but let's take a look at what you need to know.
There a few groups of businesses that must adhere to ADA compliance law:
Businesses with 15 or more employees
State and local agencies
Businesses with public accommodations and commercial facilities
The last one is where most organizations are covered, which is Title III of ADA law.
“...the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of "public accommodation" by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation. Public accommodations include most places of lodging (such as inns and hotels), recreation, transportation, education, and dining, along with stores, care providers, and places of public displays.”
Although ADA law was written for physical facilities, recent court cases show that it is now being applied to the digital world. For example, supermarket chain Winn-Dixie was recently ruled to have violated a blind man's rights because the coupons presented on their site were only images and could not be read by a screen reader. As a result of this case, Winn-Dixie was required to update their site to make all of their content screen reader friendly.
The ADA standards for websites are still in development (with a tentative release date in 2018), so the judge in this case made his ruling based on WCAG 2.0 (WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). These guidelines were created by the World Wide Web Consortium and updated in 2008. They’re currently the standard by which sites are measured for accessibility.
The WCAG 2.0 guidelines have four basic principles:
Principle 1 – Perceivable. Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
Principle 2 – Operable. User interface components and navigation must be operable.
Principle 3 – Understandable. Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
Principle 4 – Robust. Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
The bottom line is that people need to be able to consume your content and take advantage of what you offer online, regardless of their disability.
WCAG 2.0 is also broken down to different levels of conformance.
A.This is the lowest level of conformity. The goal here is to make the site accessible (readable) to most browser and screen readers. While this is an improvement to a lot of websites, it is not at a level that would that provide a lot of benefit for impaired users and is not at a level that the court cases have mandated sites (in those cases) achieve.
AA.This makes a site considerably more accessible. It will not change the look of a site completely, but will put it in a much safer place in terms of compliance. It includes guidance on errors and even some on color contrast. Most businesses will be fine achieving this level of compliance and it seems this is the level the courts are pushing on the sites. AA is also recommended by the WCAG themselves.
AAA.This level is considerably more robust and typically requires significant changes on most sites. It does make the site accessible to the widest range of disabilities. Site design would be heavily impacted by this level.
Each of these guidelines is broken down in more detail on the WCAG website, but for most people the AA guidelines should be the aim.
So how does this affect you? It depends on your website. There are a lot of tools out there that can check your site for compliance. There are also several firms that will offer you services to do the same.
Here are a fewkey things to keep in mind. First, ADA compliance starts with programming. Make sure the people who are building your site know what they are doing and are following WCAG protocols. They should be educated about ADA compliance and be able to answer your questions.Second, think about the purpose of your site. Is it an extension of a physical location? If so, what services are offered at the physical location and can those be offered on the website? ADA compliance is all about accessibility and equal access.Having a phone number or a live chat option on your site can go a long way toward enhancing accessibility, especially if those resources are available 24/7.
While a lack of web-specific ADA law makes compliance a little challenging, following the WCAG guidelines and keeping accessibility in mind will help you offer people an online experience that is as accessible to them as an in-person experience at your physical location.
Cody Moore is a very welcome addition to Old Hat HQ. You might say Cody is the Oklahoma State version of Zac. They have similar er, features and they both wear very fashionable pants. Zac wears patchwork and argyle. Cody wears orange. Here's hoping he gets brave enough to wear orange shorts around the office someday (Q14). Help us welcome Cody Moore with 20 Questions!
1. NAME: Cody Moore
2. OCCUPATION/TITLE: Accounting Manager
3. HOMETOWN: McLoud, OK
4. YOUR GO-TO WORK MUSIC: Post Malone, Kenny Chesney, Turnpike Troubadours
5. HOW DID YOU END UP AT OLD HAT: Magic, we were both looking a long time for each other
6. FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: The atmosphere of the office
7. WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART ABOUT YOUR JOB: Learning the accounting for a new industry and the different aspects
8. HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR FREE TIME WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT WORK: Spending time with my wife and 2 kids, traveling
9. ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: My wife and I had a chance to move to Cozumel Mexico at one point and never did….. I think about it often…. DO IT
10. IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WHAT'S THE ONE ITEM YOU WOULD BRING: A Boat of course, always been the easiest question to answer
11. IF YOU COULD ONLY WATCH ONE MOVIE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE WHAT WOULD IT BE: Fools Gold with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson…. It has an 11% on rotten tomatoes
12. FAVORITE TV SHOW: Friends
13. WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT AT OLD HAT: My first few weeks were pretty epic, there were birthdays, anniversary’s etc.. We had lunch or a happy hour 5 times in like 12 days
14. IF YOU COULD TRADE LIVES WITH ONE OF YOUR COWORKERS WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY: Dustin, he seems to travel a lot and gets to see some cool things, plus he is brave enough to wear shorts and I'm not there yet
15. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO WORK DISTRACTION: Running listening to Loud Music
16. FAVORITE SUPER HERO: Daredevil hands down
17. IF YOU WERE AN SNL CHARACTER WHO WOULD YOU BE: Jimmy Fallon or JT as one of the Gibb Brothers
18. WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: Jumped on a moving train in flip flops with an ice cold “Cola” in one hand
19. WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: True Blood
20. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: Anything in the tourism industry, tour guide, cabana boy, the sky’s the limit
For as long as I've been working in athletics, this industry has always focused heavily on project work. Meaning, it is rare that you find an athletic department that engages a firm or a designer to be a strategic partner. Most of the time, it's more about finding a designer or firm that can quickly churn out random projects. While that type of partner may meet your short-term needs from an efficiency (time-to-market) standpoint when you need last minute help, it’s not a partnership that’s going to help you move the needle in a meaningful way.
Here’s why treating the external designer or creative agency you work with as a strategic partner helps you get the most bang out of your marketing buck.
1. They’re able to think strategically on your behalf. When your partner understands your strategic plan, they’re going to be a lot more successful in designing projects that help you achieve your goals. That’s because they’ll be more likely to ask critical questions (like why you’re doing the project, why a certain message is your priority, and why certain media channels have been selected) or already know the answers to those types of questions. This knowledge translates into work that delivers meaningful impact.
2. They’re more likely to get it right the first time. When you hand a designer or creative agency a random project, they often won’t be aware of what has worked for you in the past or the nuances of your brand. That makes it a lot harder for them to come back to you with something that really resonates with you and your fans or donors. When a designer or firm is familiar with your brand and your strategy, they’re better able to deliver something that meets or exceeds your expectations without needing a lot of edits.
3. Your brand will be more consistent. Even if you’ve used a particular individual or firm before, there will be a gap in their brand familiarity if you only rely on them in a pinch. That increases the risk that they’ll design something that isn’t entirely on brand. Inconsistent messaging disrupts brand momentum and degrades the trust of both your staff and your fans. When your firm or designer is regularly part of conversations about your brand and its evolution, they’re able to help you deliver the right message to the right people through the right channels.
Treating your external designer or creative agency as a strategic partner enables us to do what we do best: discover how to connect the department’s objectives to fans’ needs. It means marketing decisions are made based on the strategic plan and with attention to brand values and positioning, not just on a “how quickly can we get this out there” basis. These practices help to create a stable, trusted brand in the minds of staff, fans and the community.
It's safe to say that fans attend the same sporting event for many different reasons. Some go strictly for the game itself. They grab a program upon entry to the stadium and intensely keep stats throughout. Some go for a more social experience. They may have no idea who's even playing that day, but it's a great environment to hang out with some buddies. If you're like me, you may go for a mix of reasons. I love the overall experience, while still paying attention to the game itself, but my absolute favorite part is everything in between.
While growing up, my dad would take us to games, but he would make us get there TWO hours early. I don't know if he was worried about Dallas traffic or what, but sometimes we were there before the gates opened. As a young child, it seemed like we would have to wait FOR-EV-ER for anything to start happening...you know...players warming up, people filling the stands, seeing anything at all on the jumbotron. But, because of his compulsion to be early to absolutely everything, I learned to love what we call the "fan experience" parts of the game.
Nowadays, I find myself wanting to arrive to a game early enough to be sure I don't miss the pre-game activities. I love when it's lights out and the intro video plays. #goosebumps everytime. I love timeouts/in between plays to see what fun things will happen. Who will they show on the video board? What race can I "bet" against my friends and possibly win something (even if just pride)? Whose life will instantly change when they make that million dollar half court shot?
My absolute favorite part of Texas Rangers games growing up was watching The Dot Race. What's so special about a red, green, and blue dot running in circles around a pixely baseball diamond on screen? No idea, but I loved it. The race takes place in the 6th inning or so, and around the 4th, they would hand out the coupons. Sitting through those two innings seemed to go in slow motion for me...gosh, I couldn't wait. And what was the winning prize? A bottle of OZARKA WATER! You'd think I could win a new car with how excited I was.
So, why did I bring up the Dots? Because, while some sponsor elements or "fan experience" things may seem silly, people love them! And they want to interact. They want to dance crazy on the dance cam and become an internet sensation. They want to flex their muscles and lift their kid up like Simba in the Lion King. They want to brag to their friends that they picked the right hotdog or president to win the race. It's all part of the game. Live sports and fan entertainment have become so much more intertwined that it is more expected than an "extra" benefit to attending the game. Remember when the New York Knicks went silent? No one knew how to handle that.
We want to help you first and foremost drive attendance to your events, but also give your fans the best experience possible. Sponsors are looking for more than a PA announcement and static logo these days. They want people to be talking about them long after they leave the game. Luckily, we have some ideas.
People love bobbleheads. Or, at least my mom does. She times her Rangers game attendance for the bobblehead giveaways. So, why not give away a bobblehead and also feature that on the video board for a shuffle game? Have you seen this?
We can shuffle other things as well. Recently, for the New Orleans Babycakes, we shuffled King Cakes behind their logo.
Speaking of races, we have something for that too. Design a Derby with your most beloved players/coaches, or even fans to get the crowd going wild. One of our all time favorites is this one we did for North Texas a few years ago. It featured the football coach at the time, and he even provided audio clips for us to use. We also had the play-by-play announcer, who just so happens to be a prominent sports radio guy in Dallas, provide some voice overs as well.
Okay, so what if you want to get people up and dancing? Who wouldn't want to dance after seeing something like this?
There's plenty more where that came from. Give us a shout if you have the next crazy "cam" idea or obscure object you want to see racing on your screen. Let's make it happen.
Everyone seems to be talking about Snapchat as the hot new social media platform. Actually, it really isn’t that new. Snapchat first made an appearance in 2011. Let’s put some perspective around that. Remember the hit song “Friday” by Rebecca Black? What about the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton? The final installment of Harry Potter was released. Yeah, Snapchat has been out that long!
The platform has made some major strides the past year that have contributed to its growth. Here’s what you need to know about how Snapchat is growing up.
1. Millennials and Gen Z have gotten on board.
If you want to connect with younger generations, Snapchat is where it’s at. The platform is basically a glorified emoji creator, so it really resonates with consumers who have embraced the emoji trend.
Millennials and Gen Z use the platform to communicate with their friends in fun creative photos. If your brand wants to reach users via Snapchat, keep that in mind. Snapchatters want to be entertained, not sold to. If you decide to add Snapchat to your marketing mix, do it with content that leans into the fun, quirky aspect of the platform.
2. It’s not permanent.
Snapchat deletes all content after a 24 hour period. With social media being so prominent, a lot of users try to keep their channels clean and concise. The fact that Snapchat does the work for them has contributed to the platform’s popularity.
As a marketer this can be confusing. How do you maintain a channel that doesn’t have content on it? They key with Snapchat is maintaining a consistent presence and voice. NASCAR is a brand that currently does this well. They have a staff member who controls their Snapchat and is constantly adding new content.
Snapchat users love a fun, interactive geofilter because it’s a way of being in the moment in a particular location.
As a marketer you can log into the backend of Snapchat and draw a geofence around the area you want the geofilter to be placed. This gives marketers full control of the area in which the filter will be seen. You have to pay for geofilters, but they’re relatively inexpensive. Snapchat has adjusted its pricing to offer an annual plan that allows you to maintain a geofenced area and swap out your creative filter as often as you like.
If you have been hiding under a rock the past couple of weeks you might have missed Snapchats biggest update, the Snap Map. This new feature allows users to share their location on an interactive map.
Think of it as a way for users to find their friends and join in on their activities. Well, that is how Snapchat is selling it. With the initial launch there has been a lot of fear in “strangers” finding users. This is is not 100% verified because the map will only show your friends. So a random user will not be able to find you.
As a marketer this new feature doesn’t lend itself to you. There is no advertising you can do in this and we don’t see that happening anytime soon. What you as a marketer can do with this feature is see what hot events are happening around you. If you want to do some event marketing and be where a lot of users are, check the map and see the live hot spots. If a sporting event is happening you will see a red spot on the map, and if you click on that red spot you will start seeing snapstories. Don’t worry it doesn’t share Snapchat usernames, just the content you are sharing. This is your time to send staff to these locations to do some guerilla marketing.
Overall the platform is still focusing on the user and not marketers. That could change in the near future because Snapchat is now open to investors and with dropping numbers the platform will need to start pulling in more dollars. For now, enjoy the platform and don’t stress about being perfect with it.
The need for creative content has never been greater in the world of athletics than it is right now. From traditional media that have been around for years like posters, ads, ticket stock and billboards, to the newer forms of creative output like social media graphics, recruiting graphics and the beloved animated gifs, the new truth is this: you need designers. The problem is, many athletic organizations don't have experience hiring for that position. And they don't have creative directors that leading a team of designers that they can lean on to head that up. No, many times it falls to sports information directors, sport operations managers or marketing directors to hire for a skill set they do not possess. They know what to look for when hiring a coach. They know what to look for when hiring marketing assistants or sports info assistants. But hiring designers is tough. Hiring designers with an eye for sports is nearly impossible.
I've spent nearly two decades in athletics creative and for the past 14 years, I've hired or been a part of the hiring of a lot of designers, editors, animators and other creatives to help Old Hat develop top notch creative for the more than 150 sports organizations we've worked with. We have a process and we know what to look for (and not look for) when identifying talented individuals that know how to produce for sports. So here are some tips and tricks that can help you in your search for someone that can churn out all those social media graphics on signing day.
1. There's no "Eye" in Team - I've seen hundreds of portfolios and interviewed countless designers. Some of them are extremely talented. But an eye for design doesn't always equate to an eye for sports design. Sports design is a different animal and to succeed in this industry, you have to look at design a little bit differently. Most of the design world operates on a "less is more" philosophy. But I've always said that sports subscribes to the "more is more" design philosophy. So one thing to make sure you look for is someone that knows sports and has an eye for sports design. Some will have examples of that in their portfolio but for those that do not...
2. This is a test - No matter how talented they appear to be or how many examples of amazing sports projects they have in their portfolio, always send them a test project. Primarily, this shows me what they can do with a project from scratch. For all I know, their portfolio is full of ads they resized from another designer's template. So send them your logo, a few photos of your athletes, tell them what to create and see what they send back. You'd be surprised by how many designers that have amazing portfolios send back test projects that fall completely flat. If you get something amazing back from them, you're on the right track. But there are other things to keep in mind, like...
3. It's about more than talent - Talent can get you far but the sports industry is a lot more fast-paced than most. Sometimes we have to produce things with quick turnaround. Actually, that happens more often than not. And great designers have a reputation for wanting to take their time to get it just right. You also want to know how well they follow instructions, how well the can stay on brand and what their attitude is like when you give them feedback. So as a part of your test project, make sure to give them basic instruction on the design, but specific instructions on content. You want to see how the operate with creative freedom but you also want to make sure they can follow instructions. Give them a specific deadline and if they don't meet it, mark them off the list (bonus points for sending it early). Then, if you really want to get a feel for 1) how they are to work with and 2) how much they want the job, send revisions. At this point, you'll know if they have an eye for sports design, you'll know how good they are and you'll know how fast they are. What else do you need to know about them?
4. For love of the game - They might be good, they might be fast and they might have great attention to detail. But do they love sports? You're going to get a lot more out of them if they do. You want someone that gets excited by what they're doing for you. I always ask, "If you could get a job designing for any industry, what would it be?" or "What's the most fun design project you've ever worked on?" If their answer is that they want to work in the fashion industry or that their favorite design project was their cousin's wedding invitation, they're not for you. That's not to say that you can't get good work out of someone that doesn't love sports but if they're not passionate about what they do, the long hours, tight deadlines and coaches that change their minds 12 times are going to wear on them and their time with your organization will be short-lived. If you can find someone that has an eye for sports design, nails the test project, follows instructions, meets deadlines and absolutely loves sports... HIRE THEM. However, if you want to take it one step further, there's one more thing you can look for that will get you the holy grail of sports designers...
5. What color do they bleed? - This one is easy because you don't have to even ask them the question to find out the answer. Look at their resumé and see where they went to school. If they attended the some other institution, that's fine. They're probably worth hiring anyway. But if they list your school as their alma mater, that's one more mark in the W column for them because I can assure you that they'll pour themselves into their jobs even more if they have a pride in the organization they're working for. This doesn't work, of course, if you're hiring for a professional organization. But you can solve this simply by asking who their favorite teams are. Or simply look at where they're from. If you're hiring for the Pittsburgh Steelers and your candidate grew up in Dallas, they might not have the passion for the Steelers you want them to have. But if you find someone that meets all the criteria for a great sports designer and they went to your school or grew up in your town, you have a winner.
We Hire, Train and Consult
One thing to keep in mind is that if you still don't feel comfortable facilitating the hiring process, or if you'd like to have someone to train that individual prior to them taking their seat within your organization, is that Old Hat offers creative staffing services as a part of our mission to help sports organizations drive attendance to their events. We believe strongly that great creative can help fill the stands and we want to help organizations achieve that goal in every way possible. Therefore, we developed a program where we serve as your proxy to hire your creative staff. Here's how it works:
1. We Identify Candidates - We tap our network of sports designers we know from coast-to-coast to see who may be interested in a job in your organization. We also post the job on multiple creative job boards to get as large a pool as possible that are interested in working for you.
2. We Test Them - Over many years we have developed a number of test projects depending upon the job description and we put the candidates through the rigors to figure out who best meets the requirements.
3. We Interview - We narrow the pool based on talent and we interview them to see who would be the best fit.
4. We Recommend - Based on our tests and interviews, we submit a list of qualified candidates to you. You are the final decision maker on who gets the job.
5. We Train - As a part of our program, we bring your new staff member to Old Hat HQ to spend 2-4 weeks training under our design staff. We put them through a crash course in file management, project management, how to field requests, design tips and tricks, photography, motion graphics and more to make sure they are ready to roll when they begin working for you.
6. We Consult - The hardest part about being a designer in a sports organization is that often times, you're on an island. You're not surrounded by other creatives that you can learn from, bounce ideas off of, etc. It's a lonely gig. Old Hat solves this by being on retainer to answer questions, provide input and allow your designer to submit their ideas for feedback.
If you're interested in finding out more about our creative hiring services, download this PDF, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (405) 310-2133 x118.
Have you ever heard of New Braunfels, Texas? Have you heard of Schlitterbahn? Since more people answer yes to the second question than the first, I sometimes find it easier to just tell people I am from Schlitterbahn. Seems foolish, but it’s the truth: people know the town because of the water and fun-in-the-sun options the town can provide.
Growing up, every summer job I had involved the water. I realize that you probably didn’t come here to read about my childhood or be tempted by a relaxing vacation on the water (but if you did, I can make some recommendations). But bear with me. The reason I brought it up is that living and working where I did taught me several lessons I still use today.
Lesson 1: You need a process.
Just about everything you do in life requires some sort of process. Whether you’re juggling a busy workload or just deciding where to meet a friend for dinner, having a process helps you stay organized and get things done.
This is something I learned in my first job as a “tube boy.” Yep, that was the actual title. My role was to give tubes out to people who had rented them for the river. We only had a certain number of tubes available, and unfortunately it was quite a challenge to keep drunk people from losing or destroying an inflatable tube. There were only two of us managing thousands of tube rentals per day. Without a process, we wouldn’t have survived. The first summer was a lesson in what could go wrong, but it allowed us to break down the issues and figure out ways to handle them. Tubes not surviving more than two trips? We changed our inflation technique to give new tubes several days to cure in the sun, which allowed many of our tubes to last a whole summer. Tubers losing the tubes before return? We came up with a unique brand for our tubes that we showed renters and that our drivers could identify from across the river. Everyone in town knew which tubes were ours. The job was not the most exciting or educational, but I learned how to come up processes to solve problems, increase efficiencies, and do my job better.
Lesson 2: You have to be able to deal with drama.
Alcohol? Drama. A day in the sun physically exerting yourself? Drama. Water activities? Drama. People? Drama.
The experience of floating on the rivers in New Braunfels or going to Schlitterbahn can be incredibly fun, whether you’re there for a family vacation or an afternoon out with your friends. It can be the most fun you have all summer, but it can also lead to drama. Working in sports is similar. Everyone comes to a game with hopes that it will be one of their greatest experiences, but that doesn’t always happen. You learn to keep an eye out for people who might cause trouble or situations that could lead to frustration for the fans. You learn to spot the idiots and predict the issues before they arise. Knowing how to anticipate drama and defuse it was part of working on the river, and it’s also part of working in the sports industry.
Lesson 3: Knowledge is power.
Working at the river, we would always tell people “Only bring things with you that you are willing to lose.” Did they listen? Not really. Keys, wedding rings, prescription glasses, pocket knives, driver’s licenses, and even “my grandmother’s favorite necklace” were lost on those rivers.
We tried to educate people about the risk of losing things on the river, but not everyone listened to what we had to say. For those who listened, knowledge was power – they left their valuables somewhere safe and had a great experience. Those who ignored our advice and lost something that mattered to them often got frustrated, even though we had tried to tell them not to take whatever it was they’d lost. However, in that situation our knowledge became power. We knew the river well enough that we could often recover the items our customers had lost. Finding those lost car keys or that missing engagement ring made us heroes and it gave us the power to turn one-time customers into families that returned every year.
Working in sports is similar. You have to know where, how, and why people will get frustrated. You have to understand where their mind is and what resolution will help them walk away with good memories. Having this knowledge gives you the power to make someone’s day.
Lesson 4: You need a good team.
This is something that should be apparent in any industry, but starting out working on those rivers really set this in my mind. We would have to load 1000 tubes, 150 rafts, and 300 ice chests into a truck for transport. They then had to be unloaded and inventoried for the next day. To get through something like this efficiently, you have to work as a team. It only takes being slapped in the face once by a rope that was tied to a tube to understand how much you rely on your teammates. If everybody isn’t working together every step of the way, it’s a lot harder to get things done and sometimes the experience can be painful.
Lesson 5: You have to analyze results.
The importance of analyzing results is apparent to me every day in my current role, but it’s something I originally learned working on those rivers. From determining how many tubes to buy for a season or how long to stay open in the fall once school started, analysis was an important part of running the tubing business successfully. We even spent time trying to figure out how much trash was brought in and how many times per week our team needed to do a river clean-up to counteract the tubers.
A lot of the blogs I write end up focusing on the importance of analyzing results. That’s because analyzing results can help you reach any type of goal, whether that goal is personal or professional. In order to improve your future, you have to know how things have gone in the past and take the time to analyze what happened, why it happened, and how it could happen differently. Data gives you that ability. Data helps you grow.
New Braunfels was a great place to grow up. I learned many lessons; some good, some bad. While I never would have thought this at the time, the first few jobs I had working on those rivers are still helping me in my job today. What lessons did you learn in your first job that you still rely on?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’re probably familiar LaVar Ball, his newly-drafted-by-the-Lakers eldest son Lonzo, and the family’s Big Baller Brand. From Mr. Ball’s loudmouthed media presence to the family’s recent random appearance on WWE, the Balls have been hard to ignore. Whether you find them entertaining or repugnant, they’re an interesting case study from a marketing perspective.
$495 shoes? Really?
The price tag certainly seems exorbitant for a newly established brand entering the shoe market, especially since the shoe is associated with a player who hasn’t even made his NBA debut. But before you write the pricing decision off as a bad one, let’s talk about it for a minute. It’s a known marketing principle that if you want to be seen as a prestige brand, you price high. Tesla didn’t come into the market with cars priced to sell to the masses, and Rolex wouldn’t be as coveted if they charged half as much for their watches.
The whole point of premium pricing is to communicate that a brand isn’t for everyone and that it’s a status symbol. As LaVar Ball said on Twitter, “"If you can't afford the ZO2'S, you're NOT a BIG BALLER." Premium pricing creates a sense of scarcity and conveys that the product is exclusive and high-end, giving consumers a reason to covet and desire it. In addition, start-ups and niche brands often need to price high in order to try to cover their cost of production. As a market entry strategy, it’s a risky move because you limit your potential purchasers and you’re asking people to shell out a lot of money to try an unproven product. However, it’s easier to start priced high and then either lower your prices or introduce a lower-priced alternative later than it is to introduce yourself as a mass-market brand and try to move upward. Only time will tell whether premium pricing is the right move for the Big Baller Brand.
Is any publicity good publicity?
Phineas T. Barnum (as in Barnum & Bailey Circus) is often credited with saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. LaVar Ball has certainly created his own media circus with outrageous comments, like saying you can’t win a championship with three white guys because their foot speed is too slow or claiming that Lonzo is better than Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. He made headlines for his heated comments to Kristine Leahy of Fox Sports 1 when she asked how many pairs of shoes Big Baller Brand had sold. And on Twitter, #LaVarBallSays enjoyed a Chuck Norris-esque moment this spring as Twitter users shared their own outrageous statements.
For a start-up brand with little or no media budget, earned media is a smart way to market yourself. Big Baller Brand is trying to independently break into a saturated and competitive market space, and you can’t do that without building brand recognition. It would have taken a massive marketing budget to gain as much awareness for the Big Baller Brand in such a short period of time as LaVar Ball has been able to gain for free with his antics. However, the controversial nature of his comments and the brand’s current lack of depth make this a dangerous game. LaVar Ball has already turned many people off. He might say they’re the people he doesn’t want associated with his brand anyway, but he may find out the hard way that there really is such a thing as bad publicity.
Although the U.S. media delights in drama, this type of approach has a limited shelf life. If Lonzo’s NBA career takes off as the Balls hope, and if the two younger Ball sons deliver media-worthy sports performances of their own in the next year, that will bring greater recognition to the Big Baller Brand and give it something sustainable (and positive) to talk about. If that happens, using periodic obnoxious commentary to keep the brand in the news and interesting to consumers could be a viable strategy as long as LaVar Ball doesn’t overdo it. But if insults and inflated claims are the only thing LaVar Ball and his brand have to offer in the long run, he’ll likely end up losing the spotlight - and business - as consumers tire of his hot air. After all, willingness to pay high prices for a brand is rooted in wanting to be associated with what that brand stands for.
Even though Lonzo Ball was one of the stars of this year’s college basketball season and the number two pick in the NBA draft, his voice isn’t usually the one you hear thanks to his outspoken father. A lot of people have wondered whether LaVar’s cocky, overbearing approach benefits his son or will end up costing Lonzo millions of dollars. One of the best things Lonzo could have done for himself and the Big Baller Brand is exactly what he did: publicly make fun of his situation. The fact that he roasted his father on national TV in an ad for Foot Locker instantly made Lonzo a more sympathetic and likable figure. And after being subjected to so much of Ball Senior’s bluster, who among us wasn’t talking about this ad when it came out? It’s the perfect first step for Lonzo as he begins growing into his own public persona outside of his father’s shadow. Does the ad mean a possible future partnership between Foot Locker and the Big Baller Brand? Hard to say, and speculation on that point may be exactly what the Balls hoped to drive. Regardless, the spot is a win-win for Lonzo Ball and Foot Locker…and indirectly for the Big Baller Brand. I don’t know if LaVar Ball was behind it or had a hand in it, but whoever came up with the idea was pretty darn smart.