I recently read an article about how venues across the country are looking to improve the fan experience. Not shocking, I know. But the way they're doing it is by providing fans with the comforts of home while at a game. This isn't shocking either, seeing how most people would rather be sitting at home in a comfy recliner, flipping through multiple games (with the ability to pause the game), go grab a drink and some food at their leisure and fast forward to the live game at any point. You just can't match that level of empowerment at any venue. Combine that with bad weather, lots of walking, ticket costs, sitting by obnoxious fans and missing out on everything else going on in the world and it's not surprising that it's hard to get fans to games.

So how DO you truly provide a home experience at a venue? I'm not really sure, but I thought I'd throw some ideas out there about how I would best feel at home. The whole idea being that everything surrounding the game is done just for me (and maybe a friend or two I take with me). Probably not going to be a lot of practical applications to this, but who knows…?

In no particular order (but we'll just say chronological, since that's the order I'm going to put it in):
Pre Pre-game. My perfect pre pre-game would be hanging out on the field, throwing the ball to a couple of the receivers as they're getting warmed up, talking with coach a little about the game plan and probably giving a few pointers based on last week's performance (after he asked for my advice, of course). I'm not looking to run the team here, just offering a few insightful observations. Once the team is done warming up, I'd go back to my tiki hut on the sidelines and resume my traditional pre-game massage.

Pre-game. I'm all for the band taking the field and doing their thing, it's tradition after all. But instead of the normal marching band routine, it turns into marching band karaoke. I get to choose from my list of favorite karaoke tunes and grab a microphone while the marching band plays back-up. Welcome to the Jungle would be my karaoke debut, with a live solo performance by Slash. There would also be multiple fog and bubble machines around the field, but just the standard amount of pyrotechnics.

Game time. Once the smoke and bubbles cleared, it's time for the game. I'd have my recliner in the 1/3 back position on the 50 yard line, 7 rows up, eating a juicy swiss and mushroom burger. In addition to a headset, I'd have the full playbook on my iPad and could select the plays to run. Every now and then I would inadvertently make a bad play call because my greasy fingers didn't register correctly on the iPad. There'd be no trick plays because every play is a trick play in my book (so I guess there'd actually be a lot of trick plays).

Half time. After an enjoyable first half of perfect play-calling and mediocre execution, I'd go back down to my tiki hut on the sidelines and sit in the hot tub for a few minutes while catching up on all other scores on the jumbotron, while also catching my favorite episode of Arrested Development (PIP display). I may even get a little power nap in as the band plays a favorite concerto faintly in the background.

Third quarter. I overslept at halftime and am awakened by a running back being tackled into the side of the hot tub. I make the replay on the jumbotron in slo-mo and everyone cheers. The call is personal foul- unnecessary roughness, and I decide to take my normal seating back on row 7.

Fourth quarter. I opt out of play calling in the third and fourth quarters, and coach needs me back on the headset after the opposing team gets a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth. I reluctantly give in to his pleading, and with time running out on our own 5-yard line, I call the Presbyterian bounce pass and it works like a charm. The crowd goes crazy and I do some crowd surfing from the comforts of my recliner.

Post-game. After a few post-game interviews, the chopper lands at center field to take me home. We stop by Dairy Queen for a Reese's Blizzard.

TBT

I have a box of dark chocolate hershey kisses on my desk because #busyseason

 

also i am getting married in a month and #woah. 

 

So, in honor of Throwback Thursday, here is an Old Hat Haiku from a couple yeas ago. I didn't write it. It was written by the penguin in the photo above. But I'm throwing back to it on this blog today.  


Rice Krispies are good.
Gotta add some sugar though.
Snap. Crackle. Pop. Yum.

Beep Boop Beep KAPOW!
Onomatopoeias, yall!
Grrrr WOOP! Honk swoosh BOOM!

Train goes by with pride.
The little engine that could…
Could? DID. Done. Choo! Choo!

So cold yet no snow.
Come, sweet precipitation.
Make the BRRR worth while.

Jordan. Jazz. Game 5.
Shots flew like H1N1.
Thirty Eight. Sick. Eew.

Brown bears speak loudly.
Koala bears talk softly.
Bears don't rawr the same.

The roar of the snore.
The pool of the drool. Sleeping.
Please do not disturb.

Comfy fruits sleeping.
Bananas in pajamas.
Ssshhh. Breakfast awaits.

Eyeing some cuties.
You know…little oranges?
Mmmm. Hubba Hubba.

Relaxing. So Chill.
Kick back. Sink in. No troubles.
Bloop Bloop. Bubble bath.

I have spent a lot of time in my garden for the last six months.  It has been a lot of work, but at this point in the year, it is pretty enjoyable work.  Why? Because all I really have to do is walk out and pick things to eat.

That has definitely not been the case throughout the last six months.  With twenty-seven inches of rain in twenty-nine days, it has been a struggle.  Plants have gotten sick and/or needed constant attention.  I have faced more bugs or diseases this year alone than all of my previous years combined.  I have spent more time on garden forums than I want to admit and have read through a 300 page garden reference book.  It has not been overly enjoyable, and it is a hobby that has it ups and downs.  Through it all, being able to harvest has driven me.  This Saturday I made gumbo. About half way through, I ran out of peppers and okra.  It took all of two minutes to walk out and pick what I needed from my garden.  It was rewarding.  

I find that busy season for Old Hat is a bit like harvesting my garden.  The stress level is definitely different, but the steps we take to get here are very similar.   We spend more than six months reviewing our processes, creating new products, and telling the sports world about them.  This year we have added an extra source of information in Marketing Automation that is producing more data than we have ever had.  We are able to see what people are doing, clicking on, reading, and looking through on our site.  It allows us to target our products to those that we know are interested.  It is a great service and another product we spent the off-season preparing for our clients and ourselves.  Zac blogged in detail about it here 

You should check it out and then we can all be harvesting at this point in the year!

I wrote a blog once about how art was hard and more specifically how design was hard. It’s hard because not everyone has the same taste. What might look good to one person may not look good to another

The job of any designer is to figure out a way to please as many people as possible. Achieving this can be very difficult; achieving this while not letting your ego get in the way is even more difficult. 

When I first started designing I would often take a client’s criticism of my work personally. I would often get frustrated with client revisions. Things got to a point where I considered maybe doing something else for a living. 

But then one day a few years ago a thought occurred to me. I realized that everything I could ever possibly design would one day be gone. After the season was over, the poster I designed would be taken down. After you entered the game, the tickets I stressed out about would be thrown in the trash. And the logo I worked so hard on would be replaced with another one someday. Sure, these things might be saved for a while as souvenirs, kept in a box in someone’s garage as a reminder of that one awesome season when their team went 12 and 0. But in the end, just like everything else, they will cease to exist. That’s their nature. That’s the nature of everything really. Everything is impermanent.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re thinking this all sounds so negative, depressing and nihilistic. You may even be thinking that this somehow means that I no longer take my job seriously because “everything is meaningless”. However, nothing could be further from the truth. To me, the idea that everything is transient, is just a simple yet powerful reminder that no matter how personal I take the criticism, no matter how irritated I get by it, it’s all just an illusion. It allows me to do my work from a different perspective, one that allows for more give and take, which in the end makes me a better designer. 

 

I wrote this blog a few years ago but as we are in the throws of our busiest time of year, when opportunities to fail to deliver on our promises are at their peak, I thought a little blast from the past blog about customer service might be fitting. Enjoy:

Two of my favorite places to eat in the entire world are Victoria’s Pasta Shop on Campus Corner in Norman, and Meers Burgers in Meers, Oklahoma.  Both have amazing food… some of the best on the planet.  In fact, the MeersCheeseBurger was listed as the 3rd best cheeseburger in the nation by some food publication.  What’s interesting about these places is that their service typically ranges from mediocre to awful.  At both places, you have to wait too long for initial service, too long for the food and the wait staff is anything but friendly.  At Meers, there doesn’t even seem to be a rhyme or reason to who waits on what tables.  It’s like the waitstaff battles over who has to take you until someone finally gives in.

Why are these places successful?  One reason: their product is AMAZING.  Victoria’s serves the best Italian food I’ve ever had.  I’ve eaten Italian food in Little Italy in NYC, in Vegas, in Chicago, New Orleans… all over the United States.  And if I could go anywhere for Italian, I’m going to Campus Corner in Norman.  Their chicken lasagna is something I’d kill for.  People drive from all over the state (and country) for a burger at Meers.  And I have to admit that their burgers are truly stellar.  And at any given time during peak hours, there will be a line of people waiting to eat at each place. 

Is your product that strong?

Victoria’s and Meers Burgers don’t need great customer service.  Their product is why people keep coming back.  And because they have virtually no competition, they can get away with it.  Oklahoma Football falls into this category.  Marketing Sooner Football successfully involves one thing: providing seats.  As long as the product is good, people will show up. 

My assumption is that there are few of us who have this luxury.  Don’t get me wrong… Old Hat’s product is second-to-none.  I stand behind what we do 100%.  However, the 150+ sports organizations that utilize our services don’t do it for the product alone.  The Internet has made the world flat.  While Meers has no competitors anywhere close, the Internet has made it so that every design firm in the world is a potential competitor.  There are probably a thousand places that make Italian food just as good as Victoria’s.  Problem is, I can’t easily get to them.  With the services we provide, there are a lot of places that can provide a good product AND our clients can get to them just as easily as they can get to us.

We Flipped It

What Old Hat has done is flipped it.  Part of what we sell IS our customer service.  That’s why our clients return over and over again.  I wish I had a few thousand dollars for every client that has come to us and said, “We used to use XYZ Sports Marketing for this but their service was just terrible."  Oh wait, I DO have a few thousand dollars for every client that has done that.  I cannot count the number of clients we’ve gotten and kept just based on their desire to never work with our competitors again.

So is your product strong enough to make you successful without great customer service?  If so, congratulations.  I envy you.  But for the other 99% of us, our great products have to be combined with great customer service.  Always respond to calls.  Always return emails.  Always communicate.  Never miss deadlines.  Set the bar high and then jump over it.  That’s what Old Hat does.

 

*UPDATE*

Victoria's service has gotten much better since I posted this blog. In fact, they opened a second location and the service there has been nothing short of spectacular. Great service, great product... Sounds like Old Hat to me.

Meers, on the other hand, has gone the other direction since I posted this blog. The past few times I've been, the burger was nearly inedible. And their service still sucks. So I don't go there anymore.

Ever want to be the best around?! Of course you do! Well I'm here to tell you, you're on the right path. So get ready to get your "Wax On! Wax Off!" going!  Okay enough with the corny infomercial talk. 

Earlier this month, Yahoo! posted an article about 11 Websites That'll Teach You Awesome Skills For Free.  I found it to be one of the most useful articles I have read on their site.  I already had heard of Instructables.com and CodeAcedemy.com being the nerd that I am, but found some of the others pretty neat too.  Currently I am brushing up and improving on my high school Spanish using Duolingo.com's app.  I still sound like a redneck speaking it, but my vocabulary is building every day I use the app, which makes me happy.  So here is their list so you don't have to leave our awesome website to see it:

  1. Instructables.com: Learn how to DIY just about anything (seriously!) with instructions from hundreds of contributors offered up free of charge. DIY solar food dehydrator, anyone?
  2. Lifehacker.com/Night School: Hidden among the hacks on this uber-useful site are posted tagged “night school” where you’ll find freebie lessons on everything from how to build a computer to photography basics.
  3. Skillshare.com: Find out how to brew a perfect cup of coffee, pickle like a pro, knit, sew, and 100s of more skills. Cram your head full with the site’s complimentary 14-day trial, stat!
  4. JustinGuitar.com: Always dreamed of becoming a rock star? You won’t even have to busk to take advantage of this site’s 850+ gratis guitar lessons.
  5. Drawspace.com: Sharpen your drawing skills with lessons from pros. About 15% of Drawspace’s content is on the house.
  6. YogaMeditationAtHome.com: YOME is made up of 100% free online yoga videos that will get you saying ‘omm’ in seconds.
  7. Chesscademy.com: Become a chess master by watching videos, solving puzzles,  and playing games, all free of cost.
  8. GoHighBrow.com: Sign up for unpaid bite-size courses delivered to your inbox daily, aimed at expanding your knowledge on topics ranging from philosophy to Greek mythology.
  9. Spreeder.com: Quick: How fast can you read these words? Use this Spreeder’s completely free reading program to double, triple, even quadruple your reading speed.
  10. DuoLingo.com: Learn a new language from this site’s extensive costless online courses. Bonus: The ‘lessons’ are set up like games!
  11. Codecademy.com: Get yourself up to speed on the in-demand skill of coding—all without spending a dime.

That's a pretty awesome list, and am looking forward to checking some of the other ones out.  I'd like to end my blog here, but am not really a fan of just copying someone else's blog without adding a little something something to it. So here are some other sites worth noting, though not all of them are free:

  1. Lynda.com: Though this site is not free, it is one of the best places to learn some great skills in the digital digital age.  From Photoshop to Web and Mobile apps to 3D Animation, they are a great place to start.  They do offer a free trial.
  2. Pinterest.com: A go to site for Do-It-Yourself'ers this social media site has it all.  Just find a category and start searching.  Though some of the instructions may be vague, it can give you some great inspiration for your next project.
  3. Youtube.com: This is probably the number one go to place for finding out how to do stuff.  Want to know how to do something, there is probably a Youtube video for that.
  4. OldHatCreative.com: LOL! Okay! Okay! We may not really be a self-improvement site, but we sure would make you look smarter by choosing us to do your graphics and website. ;) 

Have a great day, everyone!

• College students do not know how to drive well. 

• People like donuts

• This is my new favorite jam

• There are a lot of places to visit in Mexico

• Doctors offices like to make you wait

• Life is expensive

• Trapperkeepers still exist

• Bugs are gross

• Technology messes up

• Elephants are cute

 • Fall TV is back!

Yesterday, Ashley and I traveled to Stillwater to meet with the OSU Sports Management Club.  I enjoyed getting to meet the students involved in the group and share a few of the things I have learned from working in the industry.  The excitement they have about going into the sports industry is refreshing. We spent about an hour talking with them about our careers and answering any questions they had about the industry.  I am truly grateful to work where I work.   I consider myself lucky to work on sports projects everyday. 

I enjoy seeing that excitement in young people.  Excited about what is to come and excited to learn.  I help coach a flag football team for similar reasons.  I enjoy working with kids and seeing that spark in their eye when they start to understand the game.  Watching a young person go from confusion to pure joy in their understanding or the lesson they just learned.  Then watching them apply it during a game is something that always brings a smile to my face.  

Sports bring that out in people.  At Old Hat we “Amplify the Sports Experience” and in that motto is the reason I enjoy coming to work everyday.   We want to make every experience a fan has with your team an exciting one.  We want fans to get the tickets they bought in the mail, see the design, and start counting down the days until they are in the stadium.  We want fans to get chills when they watch a team run out of the tunnel to an intro video.  That enjoyment, that passion for the game is what we want to amplify, and all it takes is a young person being excited about sports to remind me of why we do it.  

At some point in the last couple of months I made it a point to recall things that I've learned from my day because I think there's probably at least one lesson to learn each day. Seems like eventually you might run out of things to learn, but I haven't yet. Most evenings I go home and ask my girls what they learned that day, so I figure it's worthwhile for me to at least contemplate those things, even if it's just on my drive home after work.

I don't do this every day, but I should. It's helpful for me to figure out what went well, what didn't go well and what I'll change next time. Or just remembering things I said or did that made someone feel better (and sometimes worse). This weekend and even today I've already learned a few things, none of them groundbreaking or anything, but hey, at least I'm learning. Here are a few of them.

- It's good to get away with your significant other, even if you don't have much planned.

I'm pretty sure most people know this already, but my wife and I have such a hard time scheduling a weekend or even a night for ourselves. Some of that's because we have 3 kids, but some if it's just because we're reactive about schedules versus proactive. We wait until Thursday to figure out what's going to fill up our weekend, then work around any "extra" time we might have. That's not the way to do it and I've learned I need to have better control of what takes up my time.

- Texas isn't terrible.

My wife and I went to Texas this weekend. It wasn't terrible. I know a lot of people already know this, but I'm just now realizing it.

- Football season is tough for me.

I like football, but it takes up most of my Saturday if watch all the football I'd like to watch. And at the end of my Saturday, my life has not changed significantly, so I resent feeling the need to sit in front of the TV all day but also feel somewhat guilty calling myself a fan if I don't even see what's happened over the weekend. Poor me.

- Trosper Park Golf Course is a nicer course than I expected.

I went to shoot photos this morning of Trosper Park in OKC (Oklahoma City for you non-Okies). I drive by the course a lot as it's on the same road as my girls' school. But today I stopped, got to see almost all the course and shot a lot of photos. It's a much nicer course than I thought it would be. It's a public course, but from my experience with OKC Golf Courses, they're a step above any other public courses I've played or seen. I'm not an avid golfer by any means, but the next time I golf will most likely be at an OKC Golf Course.

- People surprise me.

It's always interesting when I hear or see someone with a talent that I'd never picture from their personality. During my visit to the Trosper Golf Course this morning, I found out that the director of the course there, Mark Galloway, is also quite the musician. He gave me a copy of a CD he just released (Southern Sweet) and I was blown away by his vocals and guitar. He seems like a fairly quiet guy from my past meetings with him, but performers tend to let out their alter ego when it comes to doing what they love.

 

That's all I learned the last couple of days, and the fact that I need to spend more time preparing my blogs. Maybe next time...

OKLAHOMA MARKETING FIRMS OLD HAT CREATIVE AND THIRD DEGREE ADVERTISING IN MERGER PROCESS

OKLAHOMA CITY—Sports marketing firm, Old Hat Creative and financial services marketing firm, Third Degree Advertising recently announced plans to merge the two central Oklahoma headquartered agencies. The merger is expected to be completed and in effect by January 1, 2016.

Old Hat CEO Zac Logsdon started the agency in 2004, which is headquartered at 102 W. Eufaula St. in Norman. The firm employs 16 marketing professionals and also works with clients throughout the United States. Old Hat is considered to be among the top collegiate sports marketing firms in the country. Additionally, the firm works with a growing list of minor league and professional sports teams with plans to make greater inroads into those arenas.

“Merging these two expert firms seems like a natural choice with both agencies at the top of their games in their respective industries,” said Zac Logsdon, CEO of Old Hat. “We look forward to bringing our shared and expanded pools of knowledge, skills, strategy and idea generation to our clients.”

Founded in 1995 by CEO Roy Page, Third Degree is headquartered at 501 N. Walker, Suite 100 in Oklahoma City with a second office in Durham, NC. The agency employs 15 team members and has gained national recognition for its expertise in credit union marketing with clients represented from coast to coast. Additionally, the firm serves clients in Oklahoma who specialize in healthcare, higher education, social cause initiatives, digital publishing, oil and gas industry suppliers, and more.

“The primary objective of this merger to share expertise and talents such as digital marketing, media planning and buying, web development, video production, and marketing strategy skills across the two firms,” said CEO Roy Page. “The plan is to keep both Third Degree and Old Hat brand names in use for serving clients as well as the two Oklahoma office locations and an east coast office in Durham, NC.”

Both Page and Logsdon will continue as principals of the merged firm. For more information about Third Degree please contact (405) 235-3020 ext. 121 or www.ThirdDegreeAdv.com. For details about Old Hat Creative please contact (405) 310-2133 or www.OldHatCreative.com.

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