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.
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.
Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas is quickly approaching, but do you know what I'm most excited about these days? The fact that basketball season has started! Not because I'm a rabid basketball fan (I actually really don't enjoy watching basketball, but don't tell anyone that), but because that means that Old Hat's super crazy busy season is finally slowing down a little. Don't get me wrong, there's always plenty of Old Hat projects going on, but from June until the start of basketball season things are just super crazy busy, but in a good way! That is when a large amount of clients are gearing up for football and fall sports which then rolls right into prepping for basketball season. Now that basketball is under way, a lot of these projects we've been working hard on over the past few months have been delivered. Here's a few of my favorite projects that I've been fortunate to work on over the past six months!
There is a chance we will have our first frost this weekend. It is actually a little late in the season for this to be happening, but I am still bothered because my garden is still growing and producing. Once the frost starts to become more and more frequent, that is done and I will have to rip my plants out of the ground. It is kind of sad considering how much work and effort I have put into keeping those plants alive. It was worth it, I have loved to be able to harvest vegetables every day after work or be cooking, run out of something, and only have to walk outside to get what I need. The harvesting is the easy part.
I do not mind putting in the work at the beginning of the season. The stress of spring rains and tornados ends up being worth it, but I am still going to be annoyed at the present time. That is kind of what our busy season at Old Hat is like. It is stressful, it is annoying, and it can be a pain, but in the end it is worth it. We create some amazing pieces for our clients and we do things that should make all of our staff proud. We are not completely through the busy season, but check out some of the cool things we have done below.
If you caught last week's newsletter, we showed you one of our most recent derby's created for Northwestern Football, the Coca-Cola Zero Race to Refreshment. Northwestern brought Coca-Cola on as a sponsor for this project and they wanted their derby to focus on their product, Coca-Cola.This project was unique since most of our derby's feature coaches and mascots.
For this derby, we created custom helmets that completely covered the drivers face. Each car represented a Coca-Cola product (Coca-Cola, Coke Zero and Diet Coke) by using the brands colors and logos on the uniform and license plate.
As the cars race around the track to "Black Betty", the song chosen by Northwestern, you'll find several sponsored items where the Coca-Cola brand and Northwestern brand have been incorporated.
Each derby comes with three outcomes so that each car wins once and you can create a promotion based on the result. For this particular derby...
To see the full version of Northwestern's Coca-Cola Zero Race to Refreshment, click here. To see how Northwestern used this derby to create a sponsored promotion, click here.
If you're interested in creating a custom derby for your upcoming men's or women's basketball season, give us a call at 405-310-2133 or email us at email@example.com.
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.
As I watched the opener of the NFL season last night, I followed along on Twitter. Sports remains the top must-see live fare, and ‘watching’ it in realtime via social media along with others seems to be the way to go. Because my Twitter feed is full of sports sites and sport-industry creatives, I saw an abundance of graphics highlighting the matchup and especially Antonio Brown's hair, Rob Gronkowski's TD catches and the return of Tom Brady. Even if people aren't able to watch the live event, they want to follow along on their devices.We're certainly seeing this in college athletics, as evidenced by the increased amount of social media graphic creation that's popping up in our workflow. Graphics for the next game, pregame lineups, in-game updates, postgame wrap-ups, season tickets - we can certainly do them all whether matched to your poster/current campaign or a completely new look.
On a side note, one thing we haven’t liked that’s also been showing up in the workflow is changes to athletic department brand standards. While we don’t mind a school looking for uniformity in their projects, these style guide changes are especially frustrating during the school year once the creative look has already been established. (And yes, those changes usually do hamper creativity.) So to schools… please change your brand standards in April or May, not August or September!
And finally, on a completely different and more important note, it’s impossible to not write a blog on this day and not look back to fourteen years ago. I will never forget where I was, on my way to work hearing about the events from a radio show which originated in New York. While I didn’t know anyone that lost their life that day, we should pause to remember them and their families as well as the police, firemen and first responders that helped or assisted during the tragedy. It's unfortunate that cultural attitudes toward the police and military have changed for the worse over the last decade, but we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who continue to protect, serve and guard against future incidents.
Just a note to the internet (and T.Swift if she reads this blog)..every day I wake up is a day I question why I didn't dip into my savings to go to a Taylor Swift show on her current tour...because it seems like the show is amazing and I want to go.
ok but now to my blog for the day.
Around here, we create things. I don't do much of the creating, but thats what we are known for, I mean, it's in our name. And guess what, creating stuff is HARD. We're in our busy season, so my 4 designers spend their days making something from NOTHING...with little to go off of. Try that sometime if you don't do it for a living, its hard.
Last night, we went to a painting class. We've done this before for staff infection as an office, and there is always a groupon for them, so we had a little date night. And now we have art for our new house.
So, we started off like:
After some instruction, our paintings started to look like they were going somewhere.
We took a break, which was like watching paint dry...(thats what we were actually doing). And then we added more to our canvas.
After some more time and some more instruction-we had our final products! I added an animal to mine, cause, obvi. It has to match my other paintings I've done at classes like this. In the past I have put an owl in a tree, and a moose in the Nashville Skyline.
I really recommend doing this if you ever have the chance. It's a fun night and it will take you outside your comfort zone...especially if you don't get to create things a lot.
It's time for football!As the start of a new season and school year approaches quickly, Old Hat Print is already deep into our busy season. Make sure to follow Old Hat Creative (@OldHatCreative) on Twitter as we tweet an Old Hat-designed football poster each day leading up to the start of college football season. Prior to that, here's a sneak peek of a few of our favorites from the home base in Norman.
Football posters are just a portion of the work we do. There are many other sports to highlight. Some schools prefer a uniform look, with the same design for several sports. Other schools choose different looks for each sport. Some also opt to put several sports together on the same poster. It doesn't matter which option to us, as you can you see below - we can make any option work well. This is just a small sampling of work. There are tons more projects in the queue or that haven't been released yet to the public. And not just posters, but tickets, logos, game programs, media guides, ticket brochures, annual reports, development brochures, stadium displays, signage - the list goes on and on. Be sure to check here or any of our other social media, as we will have an abundance of work to showcase in the weeks ahead.
Well, you’ve come to the right place! That is our favorite thing to do! Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get the best poster you’ve ever seen for your upcoming fall sports!
• Figure out your printing budget. Maybe you can do a non standard size for the same price as a regular old 18x24?! We can design for any size, so talk to your printer about speciality printing options if you are looking for something unique, or even if you don’t know how much printing this rad-tastic poster is going to cost you!
• Who is the decision maker on the poster? Is it you, or your AD or your coach? Whoever is going to have an opinion that matters, talk to them before we start, and let us know what they want. “My AD is wanting to keep things dark and gritty this year”. We want to make your AD happy, so let us know if they have something they like before we start so we can make it look the best instead of trying to work it in down the road.
• Do you like something you have seen another school do? If so, what do you like about it? We don’t want to copy another school’s design, but if you tell us what you like about something, then we’ll take that and make it unique for you and your school.
• Do you have a tagline? If so, what does it even mean?! Send us the tagline and a little description of what it means and we’ll work that into the poster design. If your tagline is “FAST AND FURIOUS” then lets make that look like its moving across the poster. If your tagline is “Rockin Red” then lets use every color of red we can find!
**I do not encourage either of these taglines…unless you have a guy that looks like Vin Diesel who likes cars. and if you do, please take a photo of him jumping out of a car for the poster. If you don’t have anyone to do that, we’ll send Dustin. He’ll make it happen.
• Who are you going to put on the poster?! Do you have a super stud football player thats going to be all over the Sportscenter Top 10? Then lets feature him! Do you want to feature your 14 seniors? Then send us those pictures! Think about if you want to feature any individual bigger then another, or if they need to go in a certain order. If none of that matters, we’ll place them on the poster the way they fit best.
• What is going on with your brand?! Did your university just decide they are going to only use certain fonts? Do you have a custom font we need to use? Send us your graphic standards guide and any fonts we need to use and we’ll make sure we are keeping your University Brand consistent.
• What about that schedule!? Do you like it formatted a certain way? Do you want it to feature logos or do you want it really small at the bottom of the poster? We’ll change it up if you want something different, or we’ll throw it on there formatted all pretty for your fans to make sure they don’t miss a home game!
So if you haven’t even thought about your fall sports materials yet, don’t worry! There is still time! Call one of our CR’s today and lets get it started!