One of my favorite video editing inspirations on the web is Burger Fiction (also here). Burger Fiction was started by two dudes "as a one year project, to make a video once a week. We wanted to challenge ourselves to make something creative (outside of our full-time jobs) every week and put it out there for people to watch." I LOVE these videos. They're highly entertaining and incredibly creative editing. One particular video I recently came across was the 40 Greatest Jump Scares. I started watching it full screen, ear buds in, your normal office setting (lights on, people around). I only made it 1:39 of the nearly 9-minute video. I paused the video, violently threw my ear buds on my desk, and had Kevin wondering what my problem was.

I don't particularily enjoy scary movies. I blame the movie Paranormal Activity. We saw it in the theater and it still freaked the crap out of me days later. It is the reason I prefer to not have surveillance cameras inside my house to see the cute things my bulldogs do during the day. I don't want to see my dogs staring at nothing or watch my dining room chairs move around. So that probably explains my unimpressive time score. 

This video gave me the idea to record my co-workers watching it and see how long they could last before completely losing it.

Here are the results:

I was talking with a close friend the other day that was telling me about the woman he's dating. She just received her Ph.D. and is moving to Washington, D.C. to work for an organization whose mission is to get clean drinking water to the 800 million people on the planet that don't have access to it. As he told me that, all I could think about was how worthless I feel when I hear about people like that. I know people that run into burning buildings to save people. I know people that went to school for twice as long as I did so they can work toward eradicating diseases.

What do I do? I try to get people to spend their money on going to sporting events.

An over-simplification, maybe. Old Hat partners with athletic organizations to create marketing initiatives aimed at increasing attendance and improving the gameday experience (so fans will continue to attend) with the ultimate goal of increasing revenue for that organization. So in essence, I try to get people to spend their money on going to sporting events. 

So when I hear about people that risk their lives to save others' or spend their careers trying to help people stay alive, it's easy to feel a little insecure about my contributions to humanity. But then, I spend a little bit of time at a place like Cameron Indoor Stadium, and I'm reminded that what I do matters too.

The Greatest Moment in Sports History

When I was little and we'd make the drive from Guthrie, Oklahoma, to Norman for a football game, I'd sit next to my dad and watch the Sooners hang half-a-hundred on whoever they were playing that day. One-on-one time with my father was a hot commodity, so getting to spend that time with him as he explained the finer points of college football to me was the absolute best thing in the world. Each Saturday afternoon at Owen Field was the greatest moment in sports history for me. Only to be outdone by the next Saturday. Or the weeknight trip to Stillwater to watch OU take on Oklahoma State as we sat wearing crimson in a sea of orange. Win or lose, that moment was the greatest moment in sports history for me.

See, that's what we do. We, as collegiate athletics marketers, give those moments to thousands of people every day.

I had the opportunity to check off a bucket list item this past November. I was lucky enough to be in Durham, NC, when Duke was playing a home game. It wasn't Duke vs. UNC or anything like that, but simply getting to witness a basketball game in one of the top 2-3 arenas in the country is something I've always dreamed of doing. My wife and I took our seats (thanks, Nicole and Kelly) and settled in, and as I looked around, I was reminded of why I do what I do for a living.

To our left, a man who appeared to be in his thirties, sat next to his elderly father and cheered on their beloved Blue Devils. I didn't speak to them much, but it appeared as if they were sitting in the seats they always sit in, game after game, and these two men were connecting over college basketball. In front of us, a woman and her two daughters watched together. The girls were wearing their Duke basketball jerseys and seemed to be having the time of their lives. To our right, a 4-year-old asked question after question to his young father about what was happening on the court.

All of these people were enjoying their greatest moment in sports history that day. Only to be outdone by the next time they came to Cameron Indoor and connected with the people they loved over a sporting event.

Making Lives

As collegiate athletics marketers, what we do is important. And we're lucky. We have the opportunity every day to silently be a part of thousands of people's greatest moments in their lives. When those little girls from the Duke game are old and gray, they will still remember all those times spent with their mom at Cameron Indoor. They'll remember the sights, the smells, and how it felt to enjoy that time with their mother. And you'll know that you were a part of it. You helped make that moment special because you sold them the tickets, you produced the videoboard graphics, you did the game script or you simply turned on the lights and swept up after. No matter what your role, you were a part of The Greatest Moment in Sports History.

We don't save lives, but we sure help make them.

Stop the Clock

I'm writing a book, and I'm calling it Stop the Clock. The book is about those moments in sports history when all you wanted to do was stop time so you could either live in that moment forever or have another chance to do it over again. I am collecting stories from athletics administrators; those behind-the-scenes people who help make those moments possible for millions of people every year. Everyone knows what the coaches and athletes do to make those moments happen for sports fans. What I want to do is highlight the unsung heroes of collegiate athletics. I am collecting stories from as many Directors of Athletics and Senior Staff members as possible about times in their lives when they witnessed the power and impact of sports. Few are willing to label it as their "Greatest Moment in Sports History," but they all have many examples of times when they were in awe of what they'd just experienced.

After I collect these stories, I will look for themes to emerge and then write about what we can learn from these experiences so that we can do our jobs better and help provide those great moments for future fans. If nothing else, it will serve as an inspirational reminder of what we do and why we do it. And hopefully, it is a motivational tool to do more to drive attendance and improve the game experience for fans because no child will ever remember the day they spent in their rooms playing minecraft while their dad watched the game downstairs. The greatest moments in sports history can only happen if you're at the event, so we have to do everything we can to get people there.

So far, this experience has been the most fun thing I've ever done in my career. I've interviewed about 20 ADs and senior staff. I've heard stories of overcoming adversity, building character and embracing superstition. I just got off the phone with the legendary Tom Osborne and heard a story that almost had me in tears. 

I've always thought that what we do is important. I've always known that giving the greatest moment in sports history to fans is what I was meant to do with my career. If I ever had any doubts, writing this book has laid those to rest. Sure, I don't run into burning buildings or help eradicate disease. I'm not saying that what we do as an industry is on that level. What we do has a positive impact though. We must continue to strive to do it better.


Note: I hope to have the book out in the middle of 2017. But in the meantime, we'll be taking some of the interviews and turning them into podcasts. The podcast will be called Stop the Clock as well and will be available on iTunes starting in early 2017.

When you’re trying to market your program and sell tickets, some audiences are easier to reach than others. Alumni? You know who they are and how to reach them. The same goes for students and people who have purchased season tickets or other ticket packages from you before. But things get a little trickier when you’re trying to market yourself more broadly to your community.

With a large area to cover, a crowded media environment, and a myriad of competing entertainment options, how can you maximize the impact of your limited marketing budget? You don’t have the big bucks that professional sports teams have, nor do you have the funding to be able to afford a lot of mass media placement. The good news is that there are digital tools and tactics that can help you get your message to the people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer.

One of the digital tactics you should consider for your program is location-based mobile advertising, more commonly known as geofencing. Geofencing allows you to define a small geographic area (like a mall or the county fair), serve your ads up to smartphone users in that area during a designated period of time, and retarget those same individuals by showing them your ads across different mobile platforms during the following weeks. This means you can get your message in front of people who are likely to have an interest in your sport right when they’re most likely to be thinking about your sport, based on their behavior and location. Retargeting them in the following weeks helps you stay top of mind and potentially reach them at a time when they’re ready to take action.

So what would that look like for your program? Maybe it means geofencing alumni events and reunions to help you get your message in front of alumni when they’re feeling a particularly strong sense of connection to the school. Or it could mean geofencing high school games or tournaments in your area, which would allow you to advertise your games to people who already have an affinity for the sport. Perhaps there are a few local watering holes or barhopping areas where you know a lot of people go to watch games. You could set up geofencing to reach them when they’re already thinking about your sport (and maybe even cheering for your team) to nudge them toward experiencing live game action. The name of the game is to identify what types of people are most likely to be interested in purchasing tickets, figure out where large numbers of those people are likely to be, and get the right message to them at a time when they’re likely to be interested in what you’re offering.

Geofencing isn’t the only digital tool out there, but it’s definitely one your program should consider. To use it effectively, you should develop profiles of the groups you are trying to reach and develop a placement strategy that’s designed with the activities and interests of your target audiences in mind.

I've never been to London on the underground transit system, commonly referred to as the Tube, but I've heard the phrase mind the gap. And apparently so has every Londoner, as that phrase repeats at every underground stop. The purpose of the recording (and signs plastered along the platform and train) is to remind commuters as they're getting on and off the Tube to be aware of the gap that exists between the platform and the train, so they can safely enter/exit.

That would be a great sign to have in my own home and office, and maybe even have my own recording wake me up each day telling me to mind the gap. Why? Because a gap exists.

In every aspect of your life and my life, a gap exists. It's an abyss that separates perception from reality, intentions from actions, what is said from what is heard, and so on. It exists in both our personal lives and our professional lives. Personally, it might be the difference in where you are and where you want to be. In the workplace, it can be the reason strategies don't get executed or plans don't get implemented. It's likely the cause for senior level expectations not being met by frontline employees.

If it didn't come across already, let me be clear: the gap is bad. And the bigger the gap, the worse off people/plans on both sides of the gap will be. 

Unlike London commuters, no one can avoid this gap to some degree (not even when you're aware of it), but there are certainly steps that can be taken to bridge or even shrink the gap, preferably the latter. Bridging the gap is a quick fix for problems that have slowly eroded both sides, increasing the expanse of the gap. Shrinking the gap is the long-term solution, but requires effort with every decision and every action.

After all that, you might still be asking, "What is this gap you're talking about?" The gap I'm referring to is that theoretical area that contains all information in its purest form. That information might be in the form of communication, intentions, actions, commands, data or even emotions.

Read here if you want it explained with mathematical logic: If you think about it in a geometrical sense, it's the difference between Point A and Point B. A straight line exists between the two, but even the shortest line contains some information, otherwise it would be one point. Think of that line as the loss of information from Point A to Point B. The longer the line (the bigger the gap), the more information lost.

Read here if you want it explained in a cute story, based on actual events: Two guys were hiking through the Andes Mountains and happened to get separated. We'll call them Zac and Robert to keep it simple. After days of wandering and searching, they finally found each other, but were on opposite sides of a deep, wide canyon. Fortunately, Zac had a very long rope in his backpack, whereas Robert chose to find his resources in nature. In this case, it made sense for Robert to yell out to Zac "Throw me a rope!" across the great divide. However, Zac misunderstood what Robert had said (it was also very windy that day) and thought Robert had said "Throw me a bone!", which didn't seem to make a lot of sense considering the circumstances, but Zac complied and threw the jawbone of a nearby dead mountain goat to Robert, then went on his way. Not being as resourceful as he had earlier thought, Robert later died of starvation in the Andes Mountains, just a few hundred yards from a Burger King. The gap in this story is the literal gap that existed between Zac and Robert, which caused the miscommunication, and the eventual death of Robert.

Discover the Gaps

As I mentioned, there are many different kinds of gaps. The first step is uncovering where those gaps exist. That's something that we've been working on with our own clients, as part of our Sports180 process. It's hard to tailor a campaign, strategy or even a message if it's unclear what is expected by those receiving your message. Do they feel the same way about your brand, athletics programs, or mission as you do? And they does not necessarily mean fans. It starts internally. How does your own athletics organization see itself? Is everyone on the same page from the top down, and across all departments? With the revolving door of employees that often make up an athletics department, it's important to be clear about long-term goals and how that relates to everyday activity by all employees. Is everyone pulling the rope the same direction?

Get to the Root

If you've determined what those gaps are internally or externally, it's not enough just to acknowledge it, build a quick-fix bridge, and move on. Get to the heart of the matter. You've probably heard it said that if you ask "Why?" five times, you're likely to get to the real problem. Don't stop short, you've got to keep digging to figure out why the gaps exist in all areas before you can address them.

It Starts with Communication

D1.Ticker/Athletic Director U. had a great article that discussed the gap between leadership and employees, and why strategies often start off strong but fail to get executed properly, or not at all. In most cases, it starts with communication. In the world of athletics, communication silos are often a problem, as departments don't have daily interaction with each other to make sure all parties are heading toward the same goal.

It's Every Day

It's not enough to sit down with your entire staff once or twice a year and talk about your annual goals. Sure, it's important to do this, but if you're not making it a point to reach those goals each and every day with every employee, you'll never have success in hitting them. It's a challenge to keep everyone heading the same direction every day, but by doing a few things you can make the long-term goals more manageable.

• Give everyone a voice and hold them accountable: There are times when a top-down approach will be needed in communicating overall department goals. But there should be more instances where middle management and frontline employees are involved in formulating those goals. Employees want to be a part of the process, especially if their daily activities are centered around these long-term goals. It's also much easier to hold employees accountable when their voices have helped to shape goals, strategies and objectives.

• Form teams and assign tasks: Too many cooks spoil the broth. Limit the amount of big meetings you have, they're generally a waste of your resources. Once you have your long-term goals and assignments for which departments will handle certain aspects of those goals, break it down into smaller objectives, smaller groups, and shorter meetings. Make sure everyone in a meeting is involved in some way, and has a task assigned. Otherwise, you're just wasting their time.

• Hold team members accountable: Or even better, make the smaller teams hold each other accountable. Short check-up meetings are helpful, but don't overdo it. Employees don't need a babysitter watching over them, and they'll feel more responsible for the results if they've done it on their own.

Find the gap, mind the gap.


Does Major League Soccer have the secret recipe for driving attendance?  For the third consecutive season fans have attended matches in record numbers. When a league is young, this type of headline is an every season occurrence, however MLS has been around since 1996 (1993 if you want to get really technical). They are still growing their supporter base after 20 years. MLS has added quite a few teams since its inception, and even a few more in the last five years, but teams that have been around since the early years are still growing those attendance numbers. 

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for increasing attendance. Yes, all fans share some similarities, but when trying to increase the number of people attending a sport that usually does not rank in the top three (and sometimes four) of favorite sports in the United States, you are going to have to work for it. 

Let’s take a look at some of the things MLS has done to help increase those numbers.

Investment -This is an obvious requirement for sports organizations. MLS had to invest in a few different areas. Most importantly, they are starting to build more and more soccer-specific stadiums. Personally, this is one of the reasons I was not attracted to MLS when it first started getting games on TV. Trying to watch a soccer game with the yard lines from football in the background made for a terrible experience.

Farm System - MLS has worked with United Soccer League (USL) to setup lower leagues and build their support as well. This may not seem like it has a direct correlation with the increase in attendance in the MLS, but it helps. There are USL teams in places like Austin and Laredo, Texas where it is unlikely an MLS team will actually set up, but having these teams in the area helps the sport grow and helping the sport grow helps increase attendance.

Designated Players - Another aspect that should be mentioned and is often discussed when considering the growth in the fan base of the MLS is the designated players. The league has a salary cap, but teams are allowed to have “designated players” where only a portion of their salary goes against the cap. Probably the most famous example of this policy is David Beckham. He definitely brought attention to the league as he played out the twilight years of his career in Los Angeles. Now, most teams have at least one designated player. More often than not, they are similar to Beckham in the fact that they had a successful career at the top of the game in European leagues and then moved to the MLS once they were past their prime. Hard core soccer fans bemoan the fact that the league only gets the old guys who can not play at the top levels any more, but to the everyday fan getting to see players like Beckham, Frank Lampard, David Villa or Didier Drogba is a huge draw and gets people to buy tickets. In a perfect world, you would want those players when they are in their prime, but at this point in the league, butts in seats trumps just about everything.

Embrace Your Fanbase - Fans of this league are different from most and the MLS has learned to capitalize on that uniqueness. They do not try to fit their fans into the model that works for the NFL. They have embraced the differences. Most stadiums have sections for the hard core fans that are going to chant, scream, and yell during the matches. Teams have also realized that a lot of their following will come from the younger generation that is playing soccer on Saturday mornings. Most teams have youth areas before games and involve their players in local leagues or more grassroots marketing efforts to reach those kids. Some teams have gone even further to work with their city to make sure transportation in and out of the stadium is a pleasant experience for fans.

Major League Soccer provides an interesting case study due to its relative youth. They worked hard early to utilize what was available to maximize their impact. As they have grown, they made the improvements necessary to keep their fans engaged. Now the league is entering its third decade and experiencing quite the renaissance. I think the founders of the league would be quite happy to see what the league has become and where it is headed.

At the 2016 NACMA Conference, Old Hat lead a presentation on marketing automation. We highlighted the success of, a ticket sales website built for UNC that has helped increase ticket sales revenue by more than $500,000 and aided in selling out their premium seating areas for the first time ever. Marketing automation is one of the tools we used as a part of that project. We took a uniquely positioned website with a great user experience that built excitement for a specific program and turned it into a ridiculously effective sales tool.

A lot of people think of marketing automation as a ticket sales tool, in and of itself. I disagree. I don't think of marketing automation as a tool any more than I think of the handle of a hammer as a tool. The handle of a hammer is only effective if it has the head and/or claw of the hammer. Without one or both of those, it's completely ineffective in achieving its goal. Marketing automation is no different. Without combining marketing automation with other elements to drive results, you're stuck with something as ineffective as the handle of a hammer would be in driving nails.

Some ticketing companies are starting to offer marketing automation as a part of their platform. First, fans visit a school's primary athletic website, navigate to the ticket portal and then their activity is logged and put into the automation system. That information is segmented into audiences and communicated based on their interest on the site. However, there's one major problem with this approach: It's predicated on the idea that people are already interested in coming to those events. If they already want to come, attendance wouldn't be an issue in the first place. 

Think about it this way: using marketing automation on a ticket portal through a primary athletic website (, for instance) is like putting a ticket sales phone number on a blank, white piece of paper and posting it on a telephone pole on a street corner. It's boring, uninviting, really hard to find and once you do find it, it does nothing to actually make you want to attend the event.

Marketing automation is an amazing way to help increase ticket sales and attendance, but tracking fans' activity on a ticket portal that no one is coming to doesn't take advantage of the power of marketing automation. If no one is coming to your ticket purchasing pages, you're not going to have anyone to track. 

Marketing automation is simply a piece of a ticket sales tool. And here are the three things that render it completely ineffective.

1. Dedicated Ticket Sales Site

Again, the problem isn't that people don't know when/where the games are. The problem is that they don't want to come. Simply providing information is not enough. You have to create an interface that builds excitement. Look at your primary website real quick, select any sport, click to purchase tickets and determine if there's anything about that page that actually makes you excited about that sport. If the answer is yes, you're a step ahead, but you're still faced with the issue of forcing people to have to navigate through information about 25 other sports before they find the one they want to buy tickets for. There's a reason the producers of The Avengers built a website just to build excitement about that movie rather than just making it one of many options to look at on the production company's website. And there's a reason that every other major movie does the same thing. Using your primary athletic site to drive ticket sales is a mistake.

2. Off-Season Marketing Campaign

Most of the time, the marketing that takes place for a specific sport happens in the weeks leading up to the start of the season. It will typically continue through the season, but once the season ends, the marketing ends. Sure we send out ticket renewal letters and other information, but most of the time we cease to continue to make them excited about that sport. What we should be doing is actually ramping up our marketing efforts as the season comes to a close and keeping those marketing efforts going the entire off-season. One of the reasons was so successful is because it launched right at the end of the football season. Then, throughout the winter and spring, we were consistently pushing people to that site through a comprehensive marketing campaign. Because we were continually driving traffic to the site, marketing automation was able to do what marketing automation does. If you're not continually driving traffic to your site, you're not getting the most bang for your buck in what you're spending on marketing automation.

3. Digital Marketing Strategy

As discussed, marketing automation is only one part of a much larger puzzle. It is a force multiplier, much like the handle of a hammer. A hammer's head will drive a nail if you hit it hard enough. Add a handle to that head and it amplifies the force exponentially and makes driving that nail a lot easier. Marketing automation is the piece of the tool that makes your efforts exponentially more effective in driving ticket sales. What can make marketing automation even more effective? Other digital strategies that augment marketing automation. One example is geofencing. We can identify an area where you have a potential base of ticket purchasers and target them by geofencing that area and serving them digital advertising through whatever site or app they spend most of their time on. For instance, let's say you have a loyal and passionate fanbase at your basketball games, but those fans aren't coming to your football games. We geofence your basketball arena and all your fans have to do is use their phone to access the web in any way during that event. Once they do, we can then serve them ads on Facebook, Google, etc. to drive them to purchase. These ads will push them to your website where they then enter your marketing automation platform and now you're hitting them from all angles.


There's no question that marketing automation is powerful. A $500,000 increase in ticket sales at UNC is enough to prove that point, but it took a lot more than marketing automation to make that happen: A good program, a great marketing staff, a ticket sales team, a dedicated ticket sales website, an off-season marketing campaign and marketing automation. This season we'll be implementing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy including geofencing and hope to add yet another force multiplier to the ticket sales effort.

Back in the days when I worked on campus, I dreaded the month of November. It's the month when fall and winter sports collide in a cluster of head spinning craziness. I might as well have wedged an air mattress into the office, I spent so much time there. So, if you're feeling this way currently, I sympathize. February was always tough too for similar reasons. 

So, during this trying month, remember to take a breath and do your best to stay positive. Keep in the right frame of mind and remember why you're doing what you're doing. When I'm feeling bogged down, I like to look at stories that inspire me. And luckily, the world of sports has no lack of them.

I love sports and got into working in this business for a variety of reasons, including the excitement and what you learn from being a part of it. Sports teach life lessons...learning to be part of a team and treating others with respect. Learning persistence and the value of hard work. Being a gracious winner and maintaining your dignity through a loss. Feeling like you're part of something bigger than yourself. Maybe you got into this business for similar reasons. 

So today and every day, if you're having troubles, I encourage you to embrace the positive, look towards the bigger picture and spread goodness all around.

And if you need it, here are a few of my favorite inspirational moments in sports. Let's be positive today!





Want to know what (and how) your peers at other schools are doing when it comes to attendance, game experience, ticket sales, and marketing? Here’s your chance to find out!

You’re invited to participate in our State of Sports Marketing survey. It only takes a few minutes to complete, and individual responses will be kept confidential.

What’s in it for you?

  • The inside scoop. Participants will have the option to receive a special insiders’ report with full survey results that won’t be shared with the general public.
  • Gift cards! We’ll be giving away Amazon gift cards with values up to $100 to 15 lucky survey participants. All you have to do is opt in for a chance to win at the end of the survey.

So share your thoughts, score some free stuff, and find out what’s really going on in the industry. And share it with your friends who also work in college athletics.

Why share the survey? The more people who take it, the better you'll be able to see what's going on in the industry in terms of attendance, marketing techniques, game day experience, and more! Anyone who takes the survey is eligible to win one of the gift cards we're giving away (get up to $100 on Amazon!) and receive a copy of the exclusive Insiders' Report.

Take and share the survey now! It’s only open through Oct 21st.

Click here.


If there was only one thing I could tell a new college graduate looking to get into the sports industry it's that the turnover is constant. Folks are always moving halfway across the country for new opportunities. During my eight busy seasons with Old Hat, the list is short for people who have remained at the same institution for several years. Don't get me wrong, one of the best things about my job is getting to work with so many different teams. However, it's also pretty cool to be able to say we've been creating video board entertainment with North Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin for 5+ years. I know a lot of people will question how much a sports creative agency in Norman, Oklahoma could ever understand about an athletic institution deep in the heart of Texas, the Wasatch Range, or America's Dairyland, but honestly that's our job. It's really so much more than just creating cool-looking posters, videos and websites. It's researching, strategizing, and building relationships with the teams, the marketing department staff, and the fanbase that you might not normally get with one-and-done projects. 

The Wisconsin Badgers have a fantastic in-house video department that handles media responsibilities for 23 varsity teams; so the marketing department looks to us to handle their historical videos. And let me tell you, these projects are massive. We're talking more than a century of moments. In 2012, we took on the Men's Basketball Historical video for the very first time. 

Here's a quick By the Numbers:

  • 25 Audio Clips
  • 46 Photographs
  • 44 Video Clips

Over the years we've updated this video with several new clips thanks to a lot of March success. 

This year we'll be updating the design and music as well as adding a few new clips.

We've also had the awesome opportunity to work on Football, Men's Hockey, and Women's Hockey for several years:

U2 and the history of Badger Football are a staple at Camp Randall Stadium each fall.

We're pretty excited about the overhaul to this particular video this year as a few familiar faces return to Madison.

The Number One team in nation will be adding more accolades to this year's update.

Wisconsin Athletics has some seriously storied programs. Is it cool to work on projects featuring Ron Dayne, JJ Watt, Frank Kaminsky, Chris Chelios, and Hilary Knight (just to name a few)?

Do I consider myself one of the most knowledgeable people in the State of Oklahoma when it comes to the History of Wisconsin Badgers Athletics?

A few of us went to a digital marketing conference recently, and one of the speakers talked about storytelling. It kind of took us by surprise. A digital conference should be about high-tech stuff, right? And storytelling has been around since before any kind of tech existed.

But here’s the thing. Engaging your fans online is like telling a story. You get people interested in who you are and what you offer with the story you tell through digital and social media. You get them to come back to your website time after time through storytelling. If you do not tell the right story, in the right way, consumers lose interest.

So how do you tell a good story in the digital world? These tips 7 tips for digital storytelling will help you capture attention and build trust.

1. Be genuine.

Marketing can be tough. All marketers are liars, right? That’s what some people think, so it’s your job to convince them otherwise. You have convey your brand’s message in a way that is honest and appeals to people. Spend a minute thinking about the recent stories that have been proven to be false and how that worked out for people (cough, cough…Lochte).

2. Utilize your resources.

Not sure you have a story? There are so many around you that you can tell. Use them! You have access to the locker room, to the players, and to the coaches in one way or another. Tell those stories. Most of your fans or players probably won’t take the initiative to share their stories on Facebook or other social media outlets. Seek their stories out and share them.

3. Seek out stories and write them down.

This one seems simple enough, but most of us forget to do jot things down…which means we forget about them. Keep a running log of things you can use in the future. If you overheard an employee talking to a fan and felt the message was great, write it down, record it, do whatever it takes to get a record of that story so you can retell it down the road. It’s not every day that you get to share how your athletic department helped make someone’s dream come true. But if you look for these stories, you might be surprised at how often they actually do happen. Write them down so you can remember to share your story with the community. That also helps you avoid those social media upkeep panic moments, because you’ll always have a good story to use.

4. Ask others to share their stories.

This one goes with the one above. Sometimes you are not going to be able to tell a story as well as the person who originally experienced it. If that story helps further the community you are growing or helps engage your fan base, ask the individual to come out and tell their story. You can’t get more genuine that that. Plus, everyone else sees a fan who cares enough or had a good enough experience to share their story with the world. That’s powerful!

5. Pick the right moment.

This is probably just a general marketing rule, but even the best stories will fall on deaf ears if they are not told at the right moment. Think about it and plan. You want the right message, in front of the right people, at the right time. There’s nothing wrong with using tools to schedule part of your digital engagement, but if you forget to monitor what’s happening in the world you could accidentally make your brand appear insensitive, self-absorbed, or just tuned out of what’s trending.

6. Be creative.

Again, this is marketing 101. In addition to being creative with how you tell your story, the whole process needs to be creative. You need to look in different places to find the stories. Of course take the obvious ones that come your way, but don’t forget to turn over a few rocks or dig a little deeper so you can deliver something unexpected every once in a while. Then challenge yourself to find new and interesting ways to share those stories instead of doing the same thing every time.

7. Pick the right medium

Some stories can only be told in person, face to face. Others can work well in a video or as a speech. Some have the greatest impact when paired with an image, making them good choices for channels like Instagram or Facebook. Some are easy to tell in a few words, while others take a little more explaining. The point is, you need to find a way to deliver your story that fits the story and your community. Choosing the right medium will help you maximize the impact of each story and get it in front of the most relevant audience.

When it comes down to it, a lot of the work we do is storytelling. One way or another we are trying to help our clients tell their story to the world. Your brand has a story. As a marketer, part of your challenge (and opportunity!) is to find all the different chapters, scenes, and memorable lines that make up that story and share them with the world. If this is done correctly, it will help you grow your community and engage your fan base in a way that improves the relationship.


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