I was talking with one of our account executives about a site we recently launched.  We were reviewing the analytics and noticed there was a significant jump between now and the last time I pulled the numbers.  I had not noticed the jump initially, but when it was pointed out to me I did a little digging and was able to pin point the cause.  

I am a planner.  I make lists. I think about what can go wrong, what will go wrong, and how I am going to deal with it.  In just about all aspects of my life, this is how I approach things.  It is probably the personality trait that Zac loves and simultaneously hates about me, but it's how I can make sure I am doing what is needed to get the job done.  

Two seemingly random paragraphs that I hope to tie together before finishing this up.  That’s the point of this whole thing, I have a plan to make this all make sense AND that’s what you have to do. You have to have a plan on how to take the next step, regardless of what that step may be.  

Regardless of what you are working on, you need a plan.  Here is why… 

When it comes to an interactive project, we start early.  We take the time to get to know you as a client.  What are your goals in general? What is your goal for the website? How will you measure that goal?  We need to know what is on your list of to-do’s or what's important to you, because we want to help you manage that list of to-do’s.  The questions I mention above are the first steps. Outlining what needs to get done and what has to be done allows us to focus our efforts on that area.  

However, knowing goals is just the start.  We are partners with you and that means we will take over now that we know your goals.  The next step is to sit down and figure out what is important to the people who will visit the site.  What are the key things that will cause them to make a decision in your favor and how can we tailor the site to match those?  Where are the areas of the site that the analytics (and YOUR FANS) say are important?  Can they be improved, cleaned up, or even combined?  As we go through our discovery we analyze your current site and make sure the recommendations we make about that site, tie into the goals we already discussed.  We make sure the look of the site is one that fans will find appealing and we make sure that they will be able to find the information that we KNOW is important to them.  It is all part of the plan…

The programming side of any website involves a lot of planning, but once we get to this point in our process, we know the plan and are simply executing the things we know we need to do.  This is typically where I end up losing people because I will go on about coding and how that is done, but for this blog I am saving the nitty gritty for another day.  

Having studied your analytics, worked with you to learn about your fans, analyzed your content; the plan for launching the site usually comes a bit easier.  By this point, we know you, we know your fans, and we know how we're going to reach them.  Whether through emails, ads, press conferences, or even marketing automation, we will have a plan.  

With marketing automation, we will create a detailed plan that takes care of itself and that's what happened in the instance from my first paragraph.  We built out a detailed automation plan that was executing emails at key points in the client’s month.  The spike in traffic happened because of two emails we had set the system to send months ago, went out at a point when fans would be most engaged with the brand and IT WORKED!

I am a planner.  It's just the way I am.  It can get annoying but it helps.  What do you have on your plate?  Need a plan?  Need some help with that plan?  Let me know, I can help. 

Back in the day, there was one group you could count on to be at the game and stick with you ‘til the end: students. The good news is that yesterday’s students are today’s involved alumni. The bad news is that when you look at the student section today, it’s looking a little thin…and sometimes practically empty by the time the final score is up. 

You’re not alone. A Wall Street Journal study of stadium turnstile records showed that student football game attendance decreased by about 7% between 2009 and 2013. In contrast, total average attendance decreased less than 1% during that same time period.

So what gives? Why is student attendance down?

There are a lot of other options.
Game day isn’t the only game in town. You’re competing with a variety of other entertainment choices. And remember, you’re asking students to pay for tickets out of their limited beer and pizza money and sit in uncomfortable seats in a venue where most of them can’t drink. If you want them to be there and stay there, you better make it good.

There’s not enough connectivity.
And that’s a problem. 53% of Millennials would rather lose their sense of smell than their technology. No joke. So being able to connect during the game and feeling connected to the team are both really important. If you don’t offer stadium wi-fi and opportunities for students to feel connected both digitally and in-person, don’t be surprised at lower attendance numbers.

There’s no reason to stay.
According to a recent study commissioned by NACMA and the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, almost a quarter of students say they’ve left a game before it’s 75% complete. You’re not keeping their interest long enough for them to stick around.

Here’s the real question: what can you do about it?

The best defense against declining student attendance is a good offense. You’re competing with countless other ways students could be spending their time, and going to a game is a pretty big time commitment. Especially when you consider this fun fact: a goldfish has a longer attention span than the average student. To capture and keep students’ interest, you need to get aggressive with your marketing efforts.

Get social.
Driving engagement through social media before, during, and after the game can help you boost your numbers.  The NACMA study showed that students who follow a team on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram are more likely to attend three or more home games than those who aren’t engaged on social media. Think about how you can use social media to hype the game experience ahead of time and make being there live more exciting than watching the game from their home or dorm room.

Go deeper.
Being a fan isn’t just about attending the game or talking about it on social media, it’s about feeling a real sense of connection to the team. To forge a deeper bond, you have to offer content that goes deeper: showcase fan culture, give a behind-the-scenes peek at practice or other team events, share candid player or coach interviews, recognize new recruits, or even make student fans the star of the show sometimes. Comedy and movie-style content resonates particularly well with Millennial fans – who also happen to watch a lot of YouTube.

Make it worth staying for.
Seeing the last few minutes of the game isn’t incentive enough for a lot of students. While giving away freebies like t-shirts is a good start, you need to look for other ways you can make the end of the game exciting and rewarding for students. Consider options like a post-game party or concession discounts. The NACMA study found that loyalty programs and player meet and greets were big draws for students. When the final minutes count down, the game might be over for the players but it’s not over for you as a marketer. If you walk away after halftime, your student section will too. Make every engagement opportunity count.

Well, it's official. Today marks the date that the merger we've been talking about for the past few months finally takes effect. Truth be told, Old Hat Creative and Third Degree Advertising have been working together for many months now in preparation for combining into a single company. But today is the day that we no longer exist as separate entities. Old Hat and Third Degree are one.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, on one hand, not much. And on the other hand, it means a lot.

What is NOT changing?

Primarily, Old Hat will continue to be the company you know and love...

1. You'll still get birthday cards every year with a coupon for free Fightin' Gnomes gear from the Old Hat University Team Shop.

 

2. You'll continue to be the life of the party by being able to quote random facts that you found by viewing our email signatures. 

• When hippos are upset, their sweat turns red.

• Banging your head against the wall burns 150 calories per hour.

• Billy goats urinate on their own heads to smell more attractive to females (female goats, I assume).

 

3. You'll continue getting the most amazing creative to help you engage your fans, improve the gameday experience, sell tickets and increase fundraising.

 

4. Our dedication to ridiculously good customer service will never fade. We'll continue to always be available, always be responsive and never miss deadlines.

 

What IS changing?

Well, we're getting bigger...

1. Old Hat is currently headquartered in Norman, Oklahoma with remote employees in North Carolina and Utah. Starting today, we will have talented employees working from offices in Oklahoma City; Durham, NC; Greensboro, NC; Salt Lake City, UT; Charlottesville, VA and Frederick, MD.

This is me outside the OKC office with the downtown skyline in the background:

 

And, we're getting better...

2. Old Hat has a long history of producing amazingly awesome creative. This merger puts us in the position to make that creative even more awesome by adding research, media planning/buying, digital strategy and implementation, content creation, repositioning, media audits, copywriting, marketing automation and much more. We're taking our creative and making it smarter.

The UNC Ticket Sales site is a perfect example of taking our current offerings (web design and development, video production, on-site video shoots) and combining that with the expertise of our new partners (research, strategy and marketing automation).

 

So to summarize, nothing that you like is going away. We're just going from ridiculously-awesome to far-more-ridiculously-awesome. And just for fun, here's a photo tour of our OKC office.

 

This is a map with doorknobs showing all of the locations of Third Degree's clients from all over the United States. It's rad.

 

This is a cool yellow couch. The wall behind me says, "Elevate." 

 

This is a really big pencil we use write all of our really big ideas down with. It's bolted to the wall so no one will steal it.

 

This is the room where we keep a guy named Richard.

 

Just kidding. The men's room says, "Dick" and the ladies' room says, "Jane." How clever is that?

 

This is a cool red refrigerator where I get to keep my Diet Dr Pepper.

 

 

Can you think of a time when you asked:

- "What do you think?"

- "Should I do it?"

- "Do you think it's a good idea?"

- "What would you do?"

Can you also think of a time when you received the response:

- "Go with your gut"

- "What does your intuition say?"

We've all heard the words "gut" and "intuition". In Brene Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection she states, "psychologist believe that intuition is a rapid-fire, unconscious associating process- like a mental puzzle. The brain makes an observation, scans its files, and matches the observation with existing memories, knowledge, and experiences. Once it puts together a series of existing matches, we get a "gut instinct" on what we've observed. 

Sometimes our gut instincts are great, they guide us in a good direction, but when we don't have enough information, out gut instincts steer us towards fact finding and reasoning. It's at this point where one becomes uncomfortable with the not knowing, the uncertainty. We start asking the questions listed above OR we start to say:

- "I'm just going to do it. I don't care anymore"

- "I'm tired of thinking about it. It's too stressful."

- "I'd rather just do it than wait another second."

- "I can't stand not knowing."

At this point, we want to get the decision over with because we can't stand being in a space of not knowing, but it's at this point where we need to slow down, be still, and gather more information.

The next time you are basing a decision off your gut instincts or doing it a certain way because that's how you've always done it, take some extra time to work through the decision, don't be in a hurry to get through it. With our upcoming merger, this is something Old Hat can help you with! We're adding research to our process so that we can help you find the facts and build a strategy that works best for you, your fans, and your teams. 

There’s a whole spectrum of fandom out there, ranging from the passively positive to raving loyalists with a lifelong commitment to the team. Your goal is to move as many fans as possible forward along this spectrum, deepening their relationship with and commitment to your program. 

But how do you turn a lukewarm supporter into a fired-up fan? And once that fire is burning, how do you continue to fuel the flames?

The answer is engagement. If you want your fans to be invested in your team, they need to feel like they’re involved. The worst thing your program can do isn’t losing games – it’s losing touch with your fans.

Here are 3 ways you can increase fan engagement and loyalty.

1. Be a good social host. Think of yourself as the one throwing the party, not the guest of honor. In other words, your social media engagement should focus on providing an experience rather than simply providing updates. There are a myriad of ways you can do this. Invite fans into the conversation before, during and after games through channels like Twitter. Profile star players on Facebook. Share clever visuals (think infographics of key statistics or animated gifs) through Instagram. Look for ways you can support and encourage your community of fans as they interact both with your program and with each other.

2. Make it personal. The more personal a connection somebody feels with your brand, the more likely they're to stay engaged. Fans want to feel like part of the team, and they also appreciate recognition of their commitment to the team. It’s within your power to do this, so why wouldn’t you? Segment your fan base, understand their motivations, and personalize communications such as emails. Make a point of recognizing individual fans during games. Hold fan appreciation events during the season. Give fans the opportunity to feel like they know players personally through player interview videos and updates.

3. Keep it exciting. The game experience isn’t just about the game itself, it’s about how you make the in-person event irresistibly better than watching the game at home, at a bar, or anywhere else. Part of what makes live sporting events so compelling is the drama and excitement of each game’s unpredictability. Infuse more of that excitement into the overall experience with unexpected surprises like 3-D court projection videos, fan trivia contests or unusual giveaways. In the off-season, build anticipation with tactics like behind-the-scenes videos, sneak peeks at new recruits, or insider reports on venue improvements.

Remember, your program’s relationship with its fans is a two-way street. They’re willing to give you their loyalty, but you have to give them something too. And like any other relationship, it needs to blend the comforting and familiar with the exciting and unexpected in order to stay fresh and grow over time.

Obviously, I don't have favorite clients...I would never...I love you all the same!  However, when it comes to projects, even though I love everything that comes from our designers, I have a few that I could call favorites from this season.

So, without further ado...away we go!

In no particular order:

Illinois Football Intro Video:

  • This was our first trip out to Champaign for the season to see our Illini friends.  Deb and Dustin worked with Brad Wurthman to create a visually appealing concept, and we used orange and blue gels to cover the lights we set up to give the video an intense orange and blue look.
  • I love how we incorporated their Victory Badge logo into our transition effects.
  • My favorite part of this video is the music...its so dramatic.  Gets me everytime...
  • And that stare at the end...my goodness. 

Mizzou Women's Basketball Intro:

  • I love this whole concept.  The song is "I put on for my City" and we used campus and city b-roll, and even incorporated those into the silhouettes of the girls.
  • While this silhouette concept was trendy this year, I like this one because we used city footage instead of highlights.

Colorado State Basketball Commercial:

  • Deb had an idea, and Nick at CSU let her run with it.  Inspired by American Horror Story, this commercial scares me a bit.  It definitely makes me want to come experience the Moby Madness.  If not for basketball, at least for this guy:

Presbyterian Men's Basketball Poster:

  • Simon at PC wanted to highlight the one senior on the team this year. 
  • In years past, the designs we did had a darker look to them.  This one is lighter and just stood out to me among our posters this season.

Syracuse Template Posters:

  • This design started as a unique poster for women's ice hockey last year.  
  • They liked it so much, they decided to use it as the starting point for the template for most of the Orange sports this season.
  • I love it!
 
 
 



Old Hat Creative recently launched the website RaiseUpCarolina.com.  It was and is a unique project that had some interesting results. 

First, while this is not always an option for websites, we were able to meet with the clients face to face and discussed the website.  UNC has long been a friend of Old Hat’s, but this was the first website we would be doing with them.  Zac and I went to Chapel Hill once together and then Zac returned with Dustin to shoot some of the footage used on the site.  We were able to go through what they wanted out of the site and get a feel for what they envisioned for their athletic department over the next year.  We do not always get to do this with clients, but when we do, it helps the process go considerably smoother.  Plus, I always enjoy a trip to see our clients.   

Once we have met with the client and received the content we start building out the site.  Dustin is great at what he does and his ability to lay out content in an efficient manner is one of the things that take our sites to another level.  Our process is another one of the reasons we are able to create amazing websites and working closely with a client on a website allows us to refine this process to match the goals of their website.  UNC wanted to push season tickets for football and that is the main goal of the website.  To accommodate this push, Dustin worked hand in hand with the marketing and ticket staff at UNC to make sure the content was laid out in an effective and aesthetically pleasing manner.  

Combining marketing automation with a well laid out website can bring a whole new level of efficiency to your staff and this was one of the primary goals of the Raise Up Carolina website.  We were able to target specific demographics of the fan base with newsletters and content, see how they reacted, and then adjust our focus to fit that specific demographic.  This is something we work closely with UNC on and that is still going on at this time.  When we know and understand the goals of our clients, we will adjust what we do to make sure we help them accomplish those goals.  Ashley and Joel (from our OKC office) have studied the goals of UNC so much that they are starting to see things in shades of Tar Heel Blue, but this is what we mean we say we are here to help.  

Deadlines and seasons change easily in our industry.  Teams that we might think will be sitting at 2-8 end up sitting at 8-2 and looking to get into the playoffs.  Our experience working on campus and in this industry has prepared us for that.  We have our processes in place to handle these changes and are able to deliver for our clients when few other firms could.  Every project will have these challenges, but that’s part of the process and another reason why we make sure we know everything we need to about your goals.  

In the end, major projects like this are about the relationship.  We got in on the ground floor with UNC for this site and it helped throughout the process.  We are still working with them to target their marketing efforts, using analytics to study their fan base, and using marketing automation to make them as efficient as possible.   

We are on the same team on projects like this.  We will help you accomplish your goals. 

Our 2016 New Year’s resolution: share more of what we know.

In the past 12 years, we’ve learned a lot about sports marketing and fundraising. In fact, we’re not going to be shy about saying this: we’re experts. And we’ve realized that our clients, friends, and fans would benefit from our expertise – so we’re going to start sharing more of it.

Over the upcoming year, you can expect to see more articles on our blog about sports marketing best practices, achieving fundraising goals, advice for common sports marketing challenges, marketing trends, and more. If you’ve got a sports marketing question or challenge that’s keeping you up at night, send it to us! We’d be happy to tackle it in our blog and give you some free advice. After all, our staff has a combined 482 years of experience in sports marketing and development. I know what you're thinking. 482 years? Seriously? No, not seriously. But it's a lot. 

But don’t worry, if you like hearing about our antics and personal escapades you’ll still be able to read about them on all our various social media outlets. Robert will still run shirtless through the snow. Zac will still do uncomfortable interviews with the OH staff. And Geoff might write a haiku again sometime. 

So buckle in. Twenty-sixteen is poised to be the greatest year in the history of years. And your best resource for making it the best for you is right here at the Old Hat blog.

 

If you have read this blog, this blog, or even this blog, you'll know that I love to read. I received four books this Christmas, and once I finish The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (she's my favorite!), I'll be diving into these. For 2016, my work New Years resolution is to share what I am learning from each book listed below with you on our blog. If you've read any of these books, let me know in our comment section or on Twitter. I'd love to discuss with you! 

1. I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown 

Brene is my favorite author. She studies negative emotions and discusses how we protect ourselves from shame, judgement, vulnerability, critisim, blame and so on. She's great because she tells the truth on a tough subject. She shines the light on how we are subconsciously acting out when we experience these negative emotions so that we can become aware of our actions and change our reactions to these negative emotions. 

2. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is best known as the creator, head writer, executive producer and showrunner of the medical drama TV series, Grey's Anatomy, along with Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. With iconic characters in her TV shows who openly speak their minds, you wouldn't know Shonda is an extreme introvert. When her sister said, "you never say 'yes' to anything", Shonda decided to dedicate a year saying 'yes' to anything that scared her. 

3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth inspires her readers to tap into their creativity by embracing curiousity.  

4. Living With Intent by Mallika Chopra 

Have you ever felt guilty? In Living with Intent, Mallika shares her journey to find more meaning, joy and balance in life. In her book, she shares wisdom from experts such as her dad, Deepak Chorpa, and Eckart Tolle, two of my favorite thought leaders. 

Here's a few things on my mind on this cold, snowy, Monday morning of December 28, 2015.

- It's cold outside.

- I went from 75 degree weather to sub freezing in a day.

- Last weekend, we celebrated my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary! 

- It was nice to have my whole family together again for the holidays...cousins/siblings came home from California, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

- I decided Eggnog is not my favorite drink

- I saw the movie The Big Short - while I didn't quite understand every banking/money term, it was a very good movie and they explained it as much as they could.

- The Dallas Cowboys lost...again...and I'm not even mad.

- The $10 I spent for 3 months of Spotify Premium (normally $10/1 month) was totally worth it for how often I've been driving back and forth to Texas.

- I planned ahead a little too early and am going home for the weekend because I thought Illinois State football would be making another trip to Frisco, Texas, for the FCS Championship game on January 9, but they lost...oops. NDSU will be there for the 5th year (I think) in a row, and the town will be overrun with green and gold.

- I think for the first time since I can remember, I did NOT go to a mall Thanksgiving or Christmas weekend.

- Best gift I received this year - a food scale.

- Best gift I gave this year - Maui LavaBats t-shirt

- There is so much chocolate in our office right now and I am trying very hard NOT to eat it.

 

That's all I got!

I hope you enjoyed your holidays and got to spend time with family.  Here's to a wonderful 2016!

 

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