Do ever you find yourself picking apart things you're an expert in? I'm not talking about the things you think you're an expert in. Not the topics that fill our newsfeeds: politics, officiating, coaching, quarterbacking. I'm talking about the things that consume your everyday lives: jobs/fantasy football/fonts/pickling. You actually know a little something-something about these things and can talk intelligently about them. You know, the things you list on your LinkedIn profiles. The categories you dominate at Wednesday Night Trivia.
I like to think I know a little something-something about sports video production, gender studies in the media, local news/radio production, The West Wing, and movie soundtracks (guys, I once won a cruise ship contest). I can't sit in the movie theater before the previews begin without naming the movie that goes with the song playing. I can't watch a local newscast without production room sarcastic commentary. And I can't watch a sports video without thinking of ways to improve it. That mostly applies to work that comes across my desk. I'm my biggest critic. I know that's pretty cliche to say...perhaps it's even old hat (pun point!).
I don't go all Miranda Priestly on our work, but if you're not constantly trying to improve or be willing to take chances in the creative biz, WHAT'S THE POINT?
I think we all have a "Wish List" when we look back at our work. Some things are in our control. Some things are out of our control. Here are just a few of my nonspecific wishes:
- I wish we had more time on that shoot.
- I wish we had more time on that project.
- I wish my writing was a little less cheesy.
- I wish we didn't have to use that same concept every single year.
- I wish they had used a tripod.
- I wish that song had never been written.
- I wish we had better highlights.
This last wish: better highlights. When I wish for better highlights I'm not commenting on the quality of the play or the players. You don't have to have an awesome record to have an awesome video. My commentary is directed at the collection of highlights selected for editing. Below are five tips when picking highlights to use for a video.
1- Don't cut too soon.
The thing that makes your team different from other teams isn't the touchdown, the dunk, or the goal. It's the personality of your players and coaches after those actions. Their celebrations. Their emotions. Include the reactions after the actions.
2- Variety is the name of the game.
Some of our best videos have highlights that are from multiple camera angles. You'd be surprised how big of a difference it makes with the pacing (aka: keeping things interesting) when you're able to cut from the full court camera to the under the basket cam, and then to the rim cam. Think about watching a sporting event, your favorite tv show or movie and how boring it would be if it all came from one camera angle.
3- Understand team politics.
Every coach is different. Every team is different. Before you start editing your slick hype video you better figure out the team politics. Does coach only want to show the starters? Three out of five starters? Seniors only? Does every player need to make an appearance? Has she really earned her spot in the video? You might not think coaches have an opinion on the video, but they do. You don't need to know all of the nitty-gritty details of what's going on with the team, but you need a general idea so you're not re-editing the night before the game. Sometimes a hype video is more than a hype video.
4- The audio. The audio. The audio.
Radio and television play-by-play can add an extra POW to highlights. It's an added layer of awesome to your video. There's something about hearing somebody get excited about a play. But remember with great play-by-play comes great responsibility. TOO MUCH p-b-p can have the opposite effect and slow down the pacing of the video. Most calls last longer than five seconds. Not every highlight needs it.
5- Don't be THAT guy.
No editor wants to go through multiple game melts when putting together a hype video. Seriously, when you're in video-making-mode you don't have time to watch hours of games searching for the best 20-30 highlights (that includes reactions, multiple camera angles, only the seniors, and radio play-by-play) for a one minute video. Don't be that guy to your future self or to others. Don't sabotage the video. Organizing these clips throughout the season or at the end of the season will help you out in the long run. You can do it by players, by plays, by games. Just do it. Yes, it takes time, but it takes a lot more time trying to find that one awesome dunk by Jackson in hundreds of minutes of footage. Plus, now you can spend a whole bunch of extra time making your video more amazing.
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.
Okay, so I borrowed that from the Runnin' Utes...but how can you argue with that philosophy? While it is meant for the basketball team, it most certainly can be applied to our projection video creative process.
A project of this scale is not something you can just throw together last minute. For an October release date, we started the planning and concepting last June. We had weekly phone calls with Grant at Utah to discuss our plans and how we could best execute what he was looking to accomplish. We talked about how many versions would be needed, what kind of effects to use, key moments and players to feature, coach's philosophy, music, and even crowd participation. Grant spent time with his team to provide a story board outlining the videos and providing content. We then took those initial story boards and brought them to life in production. New 3D effects and concepts were created to show the court falling away into darkness, the Block U logo matching the beat of the music, and the court rippling and waving to name a few.
Sure, the 3D effects are awesomely cool, but it means more when there is a story to tell. We took the time to artfully script the video to flow as nicely as possible. Other things to consider include crowd participation and timing with the pre-game festivities. We also follow our well-tested process of providing smaller segments at a time for approval so we can be as efficient as possible.
There's no way this could have been done without the help of Grant and his team at Utah. They understand what they need to provide regarding direction and input and trust us to do the rest. Our editing team has so much fun with these 3D projection videos. While we have gained valuable experience and learned a lot over the past three years of projection videos, the sky's the limit as to what we can do next!
Here's a look at this year's Runnin' Utes intro video:
Using some of the same 3D elements but different player features, here's the women's basketball intro:
At the 2016 NACMA Conference, Old Hat lead a presentation on marketing automation. We highlighted the success of RaiseUpCarolina.com, 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 (goheels.com, 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 RaiseUpCarolina.com 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.
"Great moments are born from great opportunity." That's the first line of US Hockey Coach Herb Brooks' motivational locker room speech in the movie Miracle that is about the 1980 victory over the USSR in the Lake Placid Olympics. It's unclear if Coach Brooks actually said it, but man, when you hear Kurt Russell deliver it, you're hooked.
The 2000 film Remember the Titans is chock-full of inspriational speeches. Here's one delivered by Denzel Washington:
And of course who can forget Gene Hackman's rally clap inducing speech in Hoosiers?
Hollywood has got the sports motivational locker room speech nailed down and it begs the question: Is there such a thing as an organic motivational coach speech in real life?
This ESPN College GameDay feature answers that very question (be sure to maximize the video frame for full goosebumps).
I've seen and helped produce Intro Hype videos featuring coaches and players giving pre-written lines and I've seen and helped produce videos featuring completely organic, from the heart speeches. Honestly, I prefer the later. Coaches are awesome at motivating student athletes and scheming up plays, and players are awesome at delivering on the field of play. The fact remains most do not have the acting chops of a Denzel Washington or Gene Hackman. Don't feel bad; I'm sure Gene would get destroyed on the field. Some of my favorite videos that we've produced feature real genuine audio and/or video of locker room speeches. This audio takes an otherwise solid video and raises it to another level.
Nowadays, it's just about standard practice to have a team camera in the locker room during the pregame and postgame. Not every speech is going to be THE SPEECH, but you might be surprised by a few special nuggets from your team. It's worth keeping track of during the season and communicating with your video staff, because it's really hard to trigger those goosebumps, unless of course the person delivering the speech has won an Academy Award. It's to your advantage to use these organic moments that fans crave to see. There's a reason the HBO and Showtime sports documentaries following teams behind-the-scenes are so popular. I think it's a pretty good recruiting tool as well because it shows the passion a coach has for his/her team.
Point is, these speeches can and should have life beyond the moment, beyond social media. They are special. They are unique. They are POWERFUL. And they can mark a major change for a program. If you don't think so, rewatch Coach Dino Babers speech to his Syracuse Orange.
Recently, I ventured down to Dallas for a photo/video shoot with SMU basketball. This could possibly be a record of the most things captured in one day!
Our shoot included:
2 on campus locations
1 green screen setup
1 seamless backdrop photo setup
1 on court practical setup
1 audio/video interview setup
WBB on campus intro footage
WBB green screen player features
WBB on court intro footage
MBB green screen player features
MBB green screen intro footage
In order to capture everything in one day, it took a lot of planning and working together with our friends at SMU. Shout out to Ronnie, Director of Marketing, for helping organize everything. We needed to have every detail planned from where we were set up to what time student-athletes were coming to be sure we could capture everything in the most effienct way possible. I think we did just that!
I can't wait to see what Deb and her team do with what we captured. These intros, player features, and interviews are going to be awesome. Plus, these photos will look great on the posters and print pieces we are about to design.
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.
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
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?
Last week Dustin and I were in Murray, Kentucky, capturing footage for the Murray State men’s basketball team intro video. We’ve been fortunate to travel to Murray State the past few years for an on-site video shoot.
You can check out some of the past videos we’ve done for them here:
Each year, we work to create something new and different, and this year was no exception. Without giving too much of the video away, we shot all of the players in a dark gym using stop motion photography. This will give us the ability to create a really unique look with the footage we captured. The players had a really fun time with the lights, and I was impressed that they were still able to make baskets with lights flashing really fast right in their faces. That's probably why they play D1 basketball and I don't.
Be sure to check back in early November once their intro video is released along with all of the basketball video projects we're currently working on.
EUGENE, OR - University of Oregon Athletic Department officials announced Wednesday that they have ended their long-standing relationship with Nike and have signed with Walmart's Avia brand to provide all athletic apparel and shoes.
"We appreciate everything Nike and Phil Knight have done for the University of Oregon and respect the organization immensely. However, we feel that it is time for a new era in Oregon Athletics and we are confident that Walmart is the right organization to represent the Oregon brand," one official stated.
Okay, did anyone believe that for one second? Did anyone truly believe that Oregon, a major collegiate athletic program, would drop Nike in favor of Walmart? Of course not.
A lot of reasons, most likely. For one, Nike and Phil Knight have given so much support to the University of Oregon, they'd never dream of going with any other apparel company, much less Walmart's Avia brand. But let's swap out Oregon, and let's say Michigan instead. Or Bowling Green. Or UConn. Or East Popcorn State University. Would you have believed the headline then?
East Popcorn State drops Adidas; Walmart's Avia to provide Colonels Team Apparel
Would that headline be any more believable? Probably not.
Avia makes fine apparel. I have a pair of running shorts from Walmart, and I don't run any slower when I wear them than when I wear my Nike shorts. In fact, I can't tell the difference. My favorite pair of running shorts are BCG brand, not Nike. Avia could provide athletic team apparel to the Ducks that feels pretty similar to what Nike provides. The Ducks could take the field in apparel provided by Walmart and they wouldn't run any slower, throw the ball any less accurately, shoot with any lower percentage or hit with any lower of an average.
So if Walmart were to come to the table and commit to providing everything Nike provides and a financial incentive far greater than Nike, would any major university be willing to announce that they've dropped Nike or Adidas or Under Armour in favor of a Walmart brand?
Not a chance. But why?
The answer, of course: Perception. Pride. Respect. Quality.
There's no coach or athletic director in the country that is going to send their team on the field wearing Avia or BCG or C9. And even if they were, how tough would it be to recruit kids to come play for a school if they know they'll be trading in the swoosh for the... uh, "I" with a little arrow thingy on top? The coaches, the department personnel and the kids would be embarrassed to compete in anything but a top name brand. And why? Because they'd look ridiculous. It's the same reason NBA players don't shoot free throws granny-style, despite the scientific data that shows they'd make way more shots that way. They'd get laughed at. And no one wants to be laughed at.
I'm not arguing that this is a bad thing. I jog in cheap jogging shorts. But rest assured that if I were going to be on national television, I'd go buy some brand new Nike shorts. I'd also probably try to drop a few pounds. Because on the national stage, we all want to look good. And no disrespect to Walmart, but running out of the tunnel wearing the Avia logo on your chest is not an idea that gets anyone excited. It all makes complete and total sense. I get it.
But there's something I don't get.
There's something I don't understand at all.
This philosophy of looking good and only being willing to wear what looks the best or shoot the way that looksthe best... the philosophy that we all think makes complete and total sense... why does that not apply to everything that represents our collegiate sports teams?
Why are we willing to let our team run out of the tunnel after an intro/hype video that doesn't actually build any hype? Why do we show videoboard prompts that are cheap, canned reproductions that don't match our brand? Why do we promote the sport that has the highest potential and greatest need for ticket sales revenue with marketing collateral that is just "good enough," has no research behind it and isn't positioned to actually drive attendance? Why do we not even consider for one second letting our teams wear something that isn't absolutely first-class, but when it comes to promoting those sports, driving attendance and building a game experience, we often settle for what is least expensive? This isn't the case everywhere, of course, but there are so many times at so many major universities that an athletic department will choose the Walmart version of a creative service over the Nike equivalent.
A glaring example of this is most universities' online ticket buying portals. Every school in the country wants to sell more tickets. Every school in the country wants to drive attendance. Yet if you look at the online ticket purchasing experience at those schools, the user interface is terrible, it's impossible to find the information you need, it takes way too many clicks to purchase and the pages are bland and boring and do nothing to actually make a fan want to come to the event. Everything about these portals depend on a fan already wanting to come to the event so badly that they're willing to jump through hoops to buy a ticket. And not even cool, exciting, flaming-hoops-of-fire. Boring, bland, unexciting hoops.
Promoting our teams with poor quality marketing isn't just as bad as sending them onto the court in Walmart brand shoes. It's like sending them onto the court with no shoes at all. We wouldn't be giving them the tools to succeed and by relying on the least expensive option for marketing, we're not giving ourselves the tools to succeed in driving attendance.
So all that said, I'm not ignorant to the idea that sometimes the least expensive option is the only option. Budgets are tight in collegiate athletics and sometimes you can control the amount you're given to promote your sports. So here are some practical tips that you can employ to help drive attendance at your events.
Ticket Sales Portal
Count the Clicks - How many clicks does it take to buy a ticket on your website? On the high end, we sometimes see that it can take up to 7-8 clicks to make a purchase. Some have streamlined it down to as few as 3. Obviously, the lower the number, the more likely people are to purchase. And most of the time, you can make changes to your site to bring that number down. Count the number of clicks it takes to make a purchase and see if you can cut that number in half.
Spruce Up the Joint - Unfortunately, most ticketing companies provide a portal that is boring and unengaging. They don't do much to actually make a fan want to purchase. But there are typically at least a couple of things you can to do customize that page. Take advantage of those opportunities by bringing your marketing campaign for that sport into the headers and other graphics on that page. In a perfect world, add some video content to those pages, even if it's just your stadium intro/hype video. Fans love to watch those things and if the only place to watch it is by going to your ticket sales page, that could go a long way toward driving ticket sales. Best way to sell a ticket to someone is to give them the opportunity to buy when they're most excited about it.
Forget Your Die-Hard Fans - I wrote an article a few weeks ago about how we need to start looking at schedule posters as advertisements rather than promotional tools. Because most of the time, they don't do much to drive attendance. But every advertising campaign starts with research to determine who your audience is. Maybe you don't have a budget for research. That's fine. You know your area and you know who has the most potential to become new ticket purchasers. Spend some time thinking about who those people are and develop a campaign that targets those people. The die-hard fans are going to come regardless of what the poster looks like or the tagline that's on it. So think about a way to appeal (both through messaging and through the visuals) to a different group. You'll probably find that putting all the seniors on the poster with a generic tagline isn't the best way to appeal to those people. Be bold and put something unique out there. Because like I said, the die-hards are coming anyway. And by trying something unique you just might appeal to a totally new group.
Take Advantage of Your Friends & Family - The best thing I can advise for improving your game experience is to identify where things are lacking. And the best way to do that is to engage a firm to do a comprehensive gameday audit. But if your budget doesn't allow for that, make your friends and family work for those tickets they begged you for! Give them a checklist and have them rate every experience on a scale of 1 to 5. Ticket takers, concessionaires, ushers, intro video, band, cheer, etc. You may not get a comprehensive report from industry experts, but you'll have more information than you started with. And sometimes it's good to have input from people who aren't immersed in collegiate athletics 24/7. At the very least, you'll have a unique perspective outside your own.