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.
- 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.
As a sports marketer, what do you sell? The simple and obvious answer is, of course, tickets. Those game ticket sales in turn fuel other revenue streams: concessions, merchandise, and indirectly other types of program support.
But in reality, you’re selling much more than tickets. You’re selling an experience of your school’s brand and what it means to be a fan of your particular sports program. That experience means different things to different people.
Your entire target audience has one important thing in common: they’re all fans of your program to some degree or another. That means all of them are likely to respond to certain visual cues like your logo, colors, and images of your team, campus, or game venue. However, if you really want to market yourself strategically and effectively, you need to segment your audience further and get to know what drives them.
There are several ways to segment your fans: alumni, donor level, development group member, fan club member, season ticket holder, single game ticket purchaser, whether they’re die-hards or jump-on-a-winning-bandwagon fans, and of course the usual demographic indicators such as age, gender, and geographic location. One of the best ways to segment your current target audience is through market research surveys that enable you to understand their motivations for being a fan and what the game experience means to them.
Here are a few simple examples of what this might look like and how you could use it to drive tailored communication strategies:
·Students might value the fan experience because it reinforces their connection with the school and contributes to their sense of personal identity at this stage of their lives. What makes the student experience unique at your school? Think about how you can tap into traditions like these.
Alumni might be motivated by the opportunity to relive the fun and excitement of their college days, reconnecting with the brand through a combination of sense of tradition, nostalgia, and present day pride. Why not take advantage of opportunities like social media’s #TBT (Throwback Thursday) to help you reinforce that connection and encourage greater engagement?
Parents of students might see the experience as a way to strengthen their connection with their child and may feel a sense of ownership and pride based on their financial contributions to the school. Consider how you can encourage mom or dad’s commitment to the team.
Parents of younger children (whether they’re alumni or not) may value the fan experience as a means of creating memories, passing down a love the game, or teaching kids about teamwork. How is the game experience different for them, and what can you do to showcase the family-friendly side of your brand?
Locals who aren’t alumni and don’t have children attending your school may relate more to a sense of local pride or deep-rooted geographic rivalries. Think about what you can do or say that will recognize and encourage their continued support as honorary members of your organization.
When you understand what motivates your different fan groups to be part of the game experience, it’s easier to identify the right marketing themes. Some motivations or feelings will span segmented groups and resonate with the majority of your fans. Those are the themes you should consider for your overall marketing message. Other motivations will be specific to certain segments, and you should use those to tailor your engagement with each group.
Every ticket or season tickets package you sell represents a wide range of emotions and motivations that are felt by your fans as part of the game experience. So don’t just sell tickets: sell can’t-hold-us-down commitment. Sell remember-when-we nostalgia. Sell ours-is-better-than-yours rivalry. Sell this-is-our-house pride. Your fans will love you for it.
You should probably check it out. It was one of the more fun projects to work on and we were able to do some really cool things with the client.
Remember this guy?
Have you ever seen him do stuff like this before
and enjoyed it?
Well, if you answered yes to the first part of that last question, but then no to the second, then you are probably a reasonable person with well rounded hobbies for entertainment. If you answered yes to ANY part of that question or just think that site I mentioned above is really cool, then you are in luck because on February 11th, Old Hat will combine those two amazing categories into a rock block of fun. And by “rock block of fun”, I mean a webinar that goes through the process of helping you sell tickets with an amazing Old Hat website.
Stay tuned for more info as we get closer to the date, but as with all things Old Hat does, it will involve a little bit of random, a little bit of awesome, and a lotta bit expertise.
The last time it was my turn to blog I ended up forgetting. If there’s one thing you don’t want to do around here it’s forget to blog. I forgot to blog once a couple of years back and as punishment I was marched outside, place up against a brick wall execution style and had a barrage of snowballs thrown at me. That was nothing compared to the punishment I received this time.
It all happened so fast. I was asleep when it started. I heard rustling coming from under the bed. At first all I could see was the top of a little blue hat. Then there was a blinding light and something hit me on the head.
When I finally came to, I saw Lil’ Duey standing over me with one of my prized pink flamingo lawn ornaments in his hands. The head had been chopped off. I’ll never forget the look on his face; he looked like some crazed animal about to be let loose on his prey. He was shouting something at me but I couldn’t make it out because every time he shouted he smacked me in the face. I’m not sure but I think he was yelling something about “who’s never gonna forget to blog again!?”.
As I laid there bleeding and trembling trying to make sense of what was happening, I saw Zac. He was sitting in the corner with an evil smile on his face and a miniature Robert in his lap. From time to time he would pet his miniature Robert and instruct Lil’ Duey to continue the vicious beating.
I don’t remember much else from that night; I was in and out of consciousness the whole time. What I do remember though I can’t bring myself to talk about. I still have nightmares about it.
Needless to say, I will never forget to blog again. They promised that if I ever forgot, bad things would happen… baaad things.
A certain movie comes out in two days. Well, two days for the majority of the U.S. Some lucky souls have already seen it. Your social media timelines are stacked with stuff about it. Maybe you’ve heard of it, or one of its predecessors? I’ve had my IMAX 3D tickets for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens for nearly two months, so you could say I’m a fan. From all appearances, the movie looks to reference the original trilogy more than the prequels, with real actors and sets and less CGI. That return to basics approach should satisfy the majority of fans, after the bad taste left from some of the prequels.
You might think that Star Wars is the most profitable movie franchise ever, but as of now, it stands fourth or fifth depending on calculations in worldwide box office, behind the likes of the Marvel Universe, Harry Potter, and James Bond movies. Those numbers will likely change over the next 4-5 years as spinoffs and additional sequels are set to be released - Rogue One in 2016, Episode VIII in 2017, a Han Solo spinoff in 2018 and Episode IX in 2019.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories and links created ahead of The Force Awakens. Here’s a few of the ones I’ve come across. The branding is strong with these.
With the holidays right around the corner, like NEXT WEEK PEOPLE, I am sure you are gearing up for a lot of fun family time, present opening and bowl game watching. I am looking forward to all of the above. It doesn’t feel much like Christmas yet because the weather here in Oklahoma has been superb…so if you aren’t quite in the holiday spirit yet, here are 5 ways to get there.
Only listen to the Holiday Christmas Station on Spotify. There are a ton of variations of the holiday station, right now I am loving the “pop christmas”.
Wrap those presents, and put them under the tree! Don’t wait any longer!
Buy an inflatable and keep it outside OR inside, blown up all the time.
Send out your Christmas Cards!
Enjoy the time, folks! Have a great holiday, and see you in 2016!
I love the end of the year. For me, it's a time to get excited about what possibilities and opportunities are ahead in the new year. I like to start thinking about goals and plans and what I'd like to learn and do differently over the next twelve months. I take the time to clean out my email inbox, tidy up my office...all of those "start the new year fresh" type tasks.
Earlier this fall, Old Hat announced our upcoming merger with Third Degree Advertising out of OKC. A few weeks ago, we had several days of meetings outlining this process for our employees. Internally, we'll be meeting new coworkers, learning new processes, and sharing our expertise with each one another. Both of our businesses will be improved in the process.
What will change for our clients? Nothing, except that Old Hat will have more than ever to offer to you. Starting in 2016, we'll have more resources than ever before. We'll be able to provide a broader list of creative services. And, we'll be able to provide more of a strategic approach to your marketing, with services including media planning and strategy, data collection and analysis, marketing automation, market research and more.
Planning big things in 2016? Be sure to include us!
Football season is winding to a close and basketball season is heating up. No matter which sport you work with, these four tips will help you take your marketing efforts from having an average season to dominating your goals.
1. Talk smack.
As a sports marketer, you basically get paid to talk smack. How glorious is that? It’s a beautiful thing – as long as you get it right. Good smack-talk galvanizes your fans and increases ticket sales. Just remember that when you talk smack for your program, there are two groups who have to deliver on it: the team (of course) and the operations guys whose efforts ensure a good game-day experience for fans. Make sure you’re working closely with both. The other thing about talking smack is that in order for it to resonate, you have to talk the right smack to the right group. That can be tough if you’re new to a particular program, because every school and every sport is unique. When your messages are on point, you’re near the eye of the hurricane helping chart its path. If your messages aren’t on point, you’re going to be the guy getting crushed by the hurricane. To make sure you’re not that guy, follow the lead of your coaches and players: watch some tape.
2. Watch tape (a.k.a. do your research).
Do you know any college or professional football team that doesn’t watch tape? Yeah, us neither. There’s a reason for that. Watching game film gives players and teams insight into what went well (or didn’t go well) and what to expect from their next opponent. That type of research and analysis provides an important edge. Why not do the same thing with your marketing? Just like reviewing game film, there are two key areas you need to analyze: your brand and your target audience. When was the last time you thoroughly reviewed what your brand stands for, where it can improve on delivering the customer experience, and how strong your marketing strategy is? You also periodically analyze your customers: who they are, what they value most about the game day experience, how well their needs are being met, and what their satisfaction level is. The good news is that you can get away with investing in this type of in-depth analysis periodically (once per season) instead of having to do it for every game.
3. Develop your plays.
On the field or off, analysis is useless if it doesn’t translate into strategy. Use your brand and market research to develop your overall marketing strategy for the year, select the themes and media that are most likely to help you achieve your goals, prioritize your budget, and develop campaigns. Your marketing year can probably be divided pretty easily into its own set of seasons, and you need to have a solid campaign plan for each. Once you find something that works, there’s no shame in recycling it for the next year as long as you don’t get complacent. Complacency kills. You don’t want fans to be able to predict your next poster, email, etc. any more than your team wants the opposing players to predict their next move. So figure out what worked last season, make some adjustments to keep it interesting, and take the next year on like you own it.
4. Monitor the stats.
Ticket sales, game attendance, season ticket renewals, alumni contributions – these are all statistics you should be benchmarking and comparing to prior data. But don’t stop there: there’s more to measure if you really want to know how effective your marketing efforts are. While it can be difficult to measure the success rate of traditional marketing tactics (posters, print ads, billboards, radio, etc.), digital marketing offers a goldmine of statistics. Go beyond looking at basics like number of new and returning website visitors, and start measuring responses to calls to action and actual conversion. Incorporate a marketing automation tool so you can target your messages to different groups, move them along the conversion path, and measure the response you get to each email you send. Make your emails more personal and more interactive with videos that are customizable to each recipient – it’s more affordable than you think, and it helps seriously drive engagement and ultimately ticket sales.