is wedding season! For the past five days I have been in Louisville, Kentucky visiting family and friends while preparing for my sister's wedding this fall. The trip included finding the bridesmaids shoes, altering dresses, going over rehersal dinner and wedding day logistics and convincing my sister and her fiance that they need to play the Wobble to get everyone on the dance floor! 

Over the weekend a few friends of mine were at a wedding in Columbia, South Carolina. I received this text below, moments before this article was written. 

My sister isn't a sports fan, so sports won't play a role in her wedding. But as someone who has sports consume their personal and professional life, seeing this is pretty cool!

What do you think? Will/did sports play a role in your wedding? Share your story below!

Busy season has officially started here at Old Hat, but the past month and a half, I've been in my own busy season.  I've been traveling around the past couple of months to weddings, funerals, and visiting friends. 

I spent June in Norman painting and moving into my new house, and winning the kickball leauge championships. 

Then, I got to go to the zoo, play golf and climb trees in Portland, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and watch two cousins get married.  I also made a trip to St. Louis and Kansas City in one weekend for different events. I think I have FINALLY caught up on sleep and am feeling like my life is becoming normal again. 

June was so busy, I'm taking a break from traveling the rest of July, then I'm headed to Denver in August, and then it's football season! Already planning on going to a couple different games! 

What about you? Where have you been this summer? 

Do you ever get bored of your day to day workout?

 

 

Last week Hannah and I started talking about different types of workouts other than running. Both of us had thought about joining a gym or a dance studio to mix things up. That is when I came across a free CrossFit class on Saturday mornings to try out the program. Hannah and I signed up right away to try it out thinking that other people in the office would join but to our surprise it was just Hannah and I....

Both of us were nervous on Saturday morning because we heard how intense CrossFit can be. We pulled up to the parking lot and sat in the car for five minutes rethinking our decision. There was no turning back now!

The warm up was so nice and easy that both of us thought this will be a piece of cake...we were wrong! The next 12 minutes consisted of running, over-head squats and toes to bar. The one thing that we both saw very quickly was CrossFit works for people of all different age groups and athletic ability. 

Hannah excelled at toes to bar which made me hate her.....since no one else in the group could get their legs past his or her chest. Being a former gymnast she made things that a professional athlete would struggle with easy. So long story short everyone in the group hated her.

Well we survived our first Crossfit session and now the question was do we sign up again? Not so fast....I found another gym in town and decided we needed to try both before making a decision. So after our first ever CrossFit experience on Saturday we were back at it last night. BAD DECISION!!!

The gym we went to last night was more intense than the previous gym. As we entered everyone told us we picked a horrible day to start...great! The warm up was hard, the workout was extreme and the cool down....well we just sat there. Hannah and I made it through last night and decided to join the gym that was more intense!

Look for us at CrossFit games next year! Also pray we survive....

 

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July weekend. The past 4 days have been great here in Norman. Not only was the weather PERFECT (a cool 70 at night), but I spent a lot of time with friends from Murray State (Go Racers!), watched America's favorite pastime at the OKC Redhawks game and enjoyed some delicious food at Zac's 4th of July party!

Saturday night was the big finale of my 4th of July weekend as I had the opportunity to work the Toby Keith Twister Relief Concert at OU's Memorial Stadium. The 65,000+ tickets sold went to help those affected by the May 20th tornado in Moore Oklahoma. Last football season, I worked with the Sooner Club in the suites. My contact reached out to see if I'd like to volunteer for the concert and I jumped on the opportunity because I love country music and in a small way, it was a chance for me to give back. My responsibilities for the concert were to check tickets and answer questions on the club level (where there was air conditioning :)), but for the most part, I was able to sit out on the deck and enjoy the concert. 

While watching the concert, I captured the experience on the new Instragram video. Below you can watch 15 second clips of the cheering crowd and segments of songs from a few artists (my phone died before Toby Keith's preformance). 

Video of Garth Brooks leaving the stage and the crowd of 65,000 fans!

 

I finally saw Willie Nelson!

 

Ronnie Dunn singing Red Dirt Road! 

 

In case you haven't heard (like the weather here in Oklahoma), it's July already. WOAH! Where did the time go? Seems like just a few weeks ago it was the New Year and all of a sudden, last week I'm celebrating my 1 year anniversary at Old Hat. IT'S CRAZY STUFF. But, with the start of July comes two things: our busy season and Independence Day (the actual day AND the movie, so I guess that's actually 3 things? whatever.)

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays - there's no stress about getting everyone the perfect gift, no excessive holiday traveling, no worrying about if all the food will get done at the same time, etc. It's all about pyrotechnics and stuffing your face with unhealthy things like beer and hamburgers and my absolute favorite - hotdogs. WHAT CAN BE MORE AMERICAN THAN THAT?! In case you couldn't think of anything, I've already got something for you - one of the lesser-known and under-appreciated sports out there: Competitive Eating. More specifically, Nathan's Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island.

I'm sure most of you have seen or at the very least heard about this crazy awesome spectator event. I first became interested in the sport when I saw one of those MTV True Life documentaries about competitive eating. They even followed around Takeru Kobayashi, who is one of the greatest to ever eat a bunch of food really, really fast. At the time, I thought this guy looked unbeatable. Before him, the record was 25 hot dogs, and in his first year, he DOUBLED that number and took home first place in the Hot Dog Eating Contest 6 years in a row. That was UNTIL American great Joey Chestnut came along and has won every contest since 2007. This year, he's going for 70 hot dogs in 10 minutes. He's finished 68 in two previous years, so I definitely think he can do it.

This morning, I was thinking of what an intro video for Joey Chestnut would look like... Do we focus on his EIGHT World Records? Maybe the fact that he's going for his 7th Nathan's title this year, to surpass Kobayashi? Or even throw in a VO from a previous interview, "I will not stop until I reach 70. This sport isn't about eating. It's about drive and dedication, and at the end of the day, hot dog eating challenges both my body and my mind."? This guy is hard core, but ultimately, I came to the conclusion that making a minute-long intro video for a 10 minute eating contest may be a little excessive. What do you think? Are you going to join me on the Fourth in cheering for our hometown (err, country) hero? Either way, I hope you have a fun (AND SAFE) holiday!

Social Rewards or game day rewards seem to be the buzzwords around college athletics at the moment.  In fact, they have probably been the buzzwords for the last year.   Fans are social, they want rewards, and it all seems simple enough.  

When I was in grad school at Ohio University, I was forced to talk about my undergrad alma mater often.  Forced, is probably not the correct word.  Turns out I do not mind talking about Texas A&M.  Specifically, I was always asked to talk about was 12th Man Rewards.  I was a season ticket holder at TAMU for one season.  Before that, I had relatives who had tickets and went to a lot of games.  12th Man Rewards was not the reason they went to games, but they participated anyway.  When my aunt would give me tickets to a soccer or baseball game on campus, they would also come with her 12th Man Rewards card so it could be swiped when I walked into the game.  She always tallied a lot of points and got quite a few prizes. 

This is the model that college athletics is attempting to copy.  Incentivize people to come to the game through arbitrary points for different swag.  It works for some but is not always as successful for others.  What often gets missed in these discussions is the uniqueness of TAMU.  The fans at that school are going to games regardless of the rewards.   As a student, you went to sporting events or you sat in your dorm by yourself, but rewards do help.  Being one more game away from a cool jacket will get the fan out to softball game on a rainy spring day. 

Not all rewards programs are created equal.  Every fan base is similar, but there are always characteristics that differentiate them a little bit.  Which is why, even though there is a lot of copying in athletics it never works the same as it did for the other guys.  You have to understand your fans.  Figure out what their habits are and how they enjoy a game.  Do they have their phone in their hand the entire time?  Do they use apps to follow the game?  Are they on twitter throughout the process?  What is the age demographic? Does your infrastructure have what it takes to handle 30,000 people on the phone at once?  Will they download apps or would they rather visit a website through the browser?

Understanding your fans behavior will help you pick the right way to reward them.  Fans in there fifties may be on Twitter, but they don’t want to have to deal with their phone throughout the game.  If they use the phone, it will be once or twice but probably not to tweet out their experience.  Younger fans are more likely to be on their phone throughout the game.  

The end goal, regardless of your fan base, is most likely to get people into the stadium and enjoying the game.   Requiring a check-in at the game is a quick process and can be done many ways.   A small booth outside the stadium can get fans into the habit of doing it every game.  Texas A&M was great about this.  The same people worked the rewards booth at most games and the fans got to know a familiar face.  It was more like they were greeting a friend at the game, not someone from the marketing staff.  With the advent of smart phones, that process became even easier.  Native apps on a phone have a major advantage in this arena.  The phone can tell the app where the user is and if it is close enough to the stadium, they only have to click a button to check in.  It can be done at any point and from anywhere in the stadium.  It is minimally invasive and is simple enough it can become a part of their game day habits. This is something that is more difficult to do on a website.  Even if fans have a smart phone or mobile device that could visit the site during the game it becomes much harder to know their location.  HTML5 can be used to get a general location, but if your campus is close enough together, you will not be able to tell if they are in the stadium or driving by.  It all comes down to knowing your fans and their habits.  How can you become a part of that habit?

Another option for social rewards is to reward for social media activity.  It can give you hundreds more for your marketing staff and helps spread the word.  This can be a great way to incentivize fans into pushing your message for your team.  Websites and apps can be built to track fans social activities and reward them points.  If your fans prove time and again that they are Twitter 24/7 then this could be the best way to go.  However, it does little to get people to the game.  Fans don’t need to be there to win; they can win every prize you offer from the comfort of their living room with the HD TV showing every angle of the game.  One of the biggest issues I see with this type of rewards system is that three or four people can easily dominate.  Some people are just more active on Twitter than others.  Those that are active can quickly rack up enough points to discourage others from playing.  If you are late to the game (rewards program) and you see that first place already has 1,000,000 points, it is very easy to get discouraged.  Why participate in something they will have no chance of winning?  Yes, there are other prizes you can still win, but when you come to the site everyday you are reminded you can not ever be in first, it is discouraging.  

My rambling has a point, I promise….

It comes down to understanding your fans and keeping YOUR goals in mind.  Understanding what they want and need out of a rewards program will help you achieve your goals.  Are you trying to increase your attendance or just the amount of people tweeting about you?  How will you measure your success in the end?  It starts with researching and understanding your fans.  You have to know what makes them tick and what really gets them excited.  

At Old Hat Creative we are always talking about how many people in our office used to work in an office like you.  We were apart of those marketing meetings trying to figure out what makes fans go.  We have had experienced the ups and downs of failed rewards programs.  Now, we are here to help you.  We want to get to know your fans as well as you do.  We want to figure out what will get them to the game and then offer a solution that will help you achieve that goal. We have done rewards websites and we have done rewards apps, each to varying degrees of success.  One way or another, we want to help you figure it out, help you become the school that the next buzzword is written about. 

Two weeks ago you met our new Director of Sales, Andy Simon, but this week we want to introduce you to our NEWEST Old Hatter, Justin Wollard.

Justin was born and raised in Missouri, but he packed his U-Haul with his 2,000+ movies and all that other stuff you need to make a successful transition from one state to another, and made the move to Norman, Oklahoma to join our talented team of graphic designers! Watch this video to find out more interesting facts about Justin. 

 

One of the things that the amazing Tracie Hitz taught me early on working at Northwestern was the importance in creating a good bond with EVERYONE who works at Northwestern. Having a positive, beneficial relationship with your facilities crew can provide a helping hand when you need to drag all those t-shirt boxes from one side of the stadium to the other. Making sure you keep your athletic communications buddies in the loop on your marketing promotions might get you more shout-outs in press releases. Bringing some doughnuts in to your football contact can help get his support with player appearances. 


Working effectively with the ticket office is one of the best ways to help you reach your goals. At Northwestern, our ticket office was a small crew who had a number of years of experience with the Wildcats. One of the key things I discovered is that supporting their efforts will help them support your efforts. When season ticket mailings went out, our marketing team was down helping stuff envelopes for two days straight. When we had promotional giveaways, the ticketing team would help pass out t-shirts if they could spare the time. As an athletic department, you have the same common goal and helping one another reach those goals together is much easier than struggling apart.

Whenever we decided to offer special discounts on tickets (like group ticket pricing for people wearing one of our promotional t-shirts), the ticketing department had to do extra work to make that happen. Communication between departments was a must. If they can understand why you are doing these marketing initiatives, it helps them embrace the extra work. Weekly meetings and a good amount of emails made sure we were on the same page.

Utilizing ticketing crews for feedback following games is often overlooked. Ticketing personnel are often the first or one of the first contacts your fans make at an event. Ensuring your ticketing crew greets fans with a smile, knows about your promotions for the game and can relay customer feedback to you are all important things to consider. Our ticketing team passed along valuable feedback, like how much fans loved that light up mug or if they were annoyed with the long line entering the parking lot.

One thing Tracie and I always wish we could capitalized on was collecting the contact information of our walk-up traffic. Going back, I am sure we could have worked with our ticketing team to try and collect this information add to our customer database. Thinking of new and different ways to use this important resource is something Tracie and I are always thinking about for our clients.

If there is an opportunity you are hoping to take advantage of, reach out and see if we can help! If you think this information was a game-changer, and I mean, how could you not, just wait for an exciting new feature from our ticket-meister, Andy.  Andy is quite a ticketing dandy and will be bringing you the 411 on the selling tickets. Stay-tuned for more!

...so here's a few.

I understand that other Old Hatters have already written about NACMA, but as a first time attendee, you KNOW I’m going to write about it.  What some of the other Old Hatters cannot write about however, is their NACMA #OHRoadtrip!!!!!

Aaron, Bethany, Kelby, and I were hand-picked by Zac and Robert to take a cross-country road trip while everyone else got stuck flying.  Our journey began from OHC Headquarters Monday night at midnight. 

Even though it was the middle of the night, we were all full of energy and excited for our trip. 

A few hours in however, we started to lose a few passengers to sleep.  By the time the sun was rising somewhere in Arkansas, we switched drivers.  

We even ran a lap around the car to wake up!

Bethany took over for Aaron, and this is where it was my time to shine.  You might be asking yourself, “Why is it YOUR time, Hannah, if you aren’t even driving?”  

Well, it was my turn to be the “keepthedriverawake-er” which Bethany soon coined the term #RoadDog.  I may have not driven the most hours (by far), but I believe this job to be just as important, if not more.  This was a perfect opportunity for my fellow client relater and me to bond over client relations things.  We talked about our boyfriends (hers), our time as student-athletes, celebrity gossip, and whatever else came to our minds.  

Before we knew it, we had passed through Arkansas, Memphis, TN, and Mississippi to arrive in Auburn, Alabama.  Bethany was super excited to meet her brand new nephew, and Aaron, Kelby, and I toured Auburn’s beautiful campus.  Thank you to Eli Wilkerson for taking us around everywhere.  We enjoyed a nice dinner and went to bed early.  We were on the road again by 4 AM.

Our next day of driving took us through Georgia and on to Florida; obviously, we sang along to Cruise by Florida Georgia Line.  This day was also filled with singing some of the all time greatest songs of the 90’s.  

We arrived at the hotel and immediately started setting up our epic booth for the exhibition hall.  I don’t think I mentioned earlier, our booth also made the road trip with us, in the attached trailer behind us.

From that point on, for the next two days, it was non-stop.  I don’t think I sat down for more than 3 minutes at a time.  

Thanks to Tracie’s magic, I was signed up last minute for Basic Training.  I heard from NACMA presidents, absorbed their career and life advice, and even did some speed networking.  It was humorous handing out my legendary basketball trading card in the mix of everyone else’s cards with school logos on them.  

I spent two days at the Old Hat booth meeting clients for the first time in person.  After emailing and calling for a few months, it was nice to put faces to the email addresses.  In the midst of meeting clients and prospective clients, I somehow found time for a handstand contest!  #HandstandsWithHannah is going to catch on one way or another.  To my surprise, another former collegiate gymnast challenged me, and boy did we have a contest on our hands. <- see what I did there?  We were both upside down for about a minute, but in the end, Katie Caliendo from Duquesne, prevailed and took home the championship.

After two days of meeting new people, seeing some former and current fellow ISU Redbirds, it was time to start our journey home. 

We packed everything in the trailer and got on the road.  We left Saturday around noon, and we returned to Auburn.  We spent the night there and left early the next morning to complete the drive.  Our trip home was slightly less entertaining than the way there; we were all worn out. However, we did experience some interesting things along the way.  We:

- Survived breakfast at a McDonald’s that has been in business since the dinosaurs ate there

- Lived through someone smoking while pumping gas AT THE GAS STATION

- Saw a dump truck full of green beans



- Cleaned the largest bird dropping ever off the car window…3 times

 

Sang along to Slow Jams Sunday and listened to the Apology Hotline

- Drove successfully through rain and crazy lightning

Finally, we arrived in Norman around 1 AM safe and sound.  

Even though it was a really smooth road trip and I had a wonderful time, I think I’ll stay home for a while.   My first NACMA experience was awesome, and I am excited to trek back to Orlando next year.   

I am so happy to have been able to meet my current clients in person, and I look forward to seeing y’all again sometime!    

Thank you to everyone who followed along #OHRoadTrip on Twitter and kept us entertained during the drive.  We are forever grateful.

Until next time…

Our comfort zone. It's a great place.

It's warm. It' smells nice and most importantly, it's familiar. 

But when was the last time you heard about someone accomplishing something dynamic from within the confines of said space?

Don't get me wrong. Throngs of people get through their existence, and in some cases achieve moderate success, by not leaving their zone. Many people are fine with that. But as professionals, teams and organizations driven by success and the desire to achieve, we have to asks ourselves if we want to be remembered for what we set out to accomplish or forgotten for what we never did.

From a business and marketing standpoint: What is your relevant differentiation--the thing that sets you apart from your competitors? What is it about you or your organization that compels people to invest in you or your cause?

Case in point: Chicago-based, Grammy award-winning alternative rock group Wilco.

The acoustic driven folk/rock ensemble recently decided to change things up at their concerts by including an 'all request' set in their shows. 

Through their online submission forms, they have amassed hundreds of requests from fans, many outside their comfort zone, but you don't get folks in Oklahoma writing blogs about you (or go viral for that matter) by doing the same thing every day.

Pretty fun if you ask me:

So think about it--take a break from the norm and try different and dynamic out. Who know, you just might stumble across amazing.

 

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