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.
You like that play on words? There's a lot more where that came from... well, no, not really. I just realized today was my blog day so I'm keeping it super short (you're welcome).
So today we held the first of many Old Hat/Third Degree productions, and probably one of the most important efforts by both sides. I'm talking about the Chili Cook-off Contest!
I don't want to brag too much about the Old Hat side, but we did take 1st place (thanks to Tanner) and also a share of the 4-way tie for 2nd place.
Here are the final results:
1. Tanner Naeher
2a. Katelyn Drake
2b. Kriste Day
2c. Zac Logsdon
2d. Deb Livingston
3. Misty Copeland
Here's a look at the chili, after we ate it all.
In other unrelated news, I just got back from a shoot in Orlando for the American Athletic Conference basketball media days. We had a good time- got to talk with the WBB coaches and players, and the MBB players from around the conference too. I'm looking forward to the PSAs we put together for both sides.
Here's a creepy painting that was at the end of the hall at our hotel... pretty cool though.
And to tie in videos and painting, I heard Bob Ross' entire collection is now available on YouTube. It's the gift that keeps on giving. I hope you'll find your inner artist and paint what your heart desires.
Monday, Dustin, Stevie, and I flew out to Laramie, Wyoming, for a video shoot with Wyoming men and women's basketball. Dustin and I went for the first time last April, and we were excited to bring Stevie along this time. The weather was BEAUTIFUL! Although, I did have to put on my (The) Northface fleece for the first time this fall season...
Anyway, I got the chance to meet/see again my new contacts at Wyoming - David, Felicia, and Dennis (Hiiii!) They helped organize the shoot and fit both men and women's basketball green screen player features AND intro video footage on the court in one day. Everything ran super smoothly, and we had a lot of fun.
In previous videos we have done for Wyoming, we noted the altitude - 7220 ft. above sea level. We even asked, "How's your oxygen?"
Well let me tell you...not good. Even just walking up the stairs, I would get winded. I was able to get a quick workout in, and oh my gosh it was hard to breathe. I don't know how they do it up there.
You might have seen some of these on Facebook, but here are some photos from our adventure.
As Stevie would say - Photoception! This is from my perspective while being a "test model"
No joke, the MBB team started doing handstands on their own! Then I joined them for a picture...I swear!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, I've been transitioning into a client rep position here at Old Hat Creative. I blogged several weeks ago about a new website we launched for the University of Memphis' Time to Shine capital campaign, but today I want to highlight another client I have the opportunity to work with, Michigan Athletics!
I grew up watching Michigan Football. My aunt lives about an hour away from Ann Arbor, so my dad watches Michigan Football every Saturday morning when he has the chance. A few years ago, I was forunate enough to visit the University of Michigan, as well as walk down the team tunnel and stand on the 50 yard line at the top of the block M at Michigan Stadium.
Over the past month, our production experts have created a pretty unique collection of 2D and 3D animations for Michigan Football this season. They incorporated the brick wall and iron gates of Michigan Stadium to create a traditional look and feel. Scroll below to see these animations.
Ah mid-September it's probably my favorite time of year. 90% of our football projects are out the door and there are only the slight rumblings of the 2015 basketball season in the distance (that might just be the print department dealing with basketball ticketbooks and posters). It's nice to take a breath, watch some football and enjoy the break, because before you know it "the hoopies," as i have started calling basketball, will be here.
With Productions it's our goal, if given the opportunity, to do something different with every video or animation project that comes our way. There will always be that one concept - prepping before a game or green screen hyping into the camera; or that ONE song - I'm looking at you Fall Out Boy and Kanye; that fans and marketers are head over heels in love with. It's kind of the same reasoning there are so many superhero movies with the same type of story structure. It's what the people like. However, that doesn't mean they can't redo Captain America, right? Right. (seriously click that link, "The best scene of the lackluster Captain America film from 1990.")
For our videos we actively look for opportunities to do something different with one or several of the following: music, script, design, highlights, photos, green screen, shoots, etc. We also aim to execute these ideas well, whether it be in the capture, pre-production and/or post-production phases. Execution is something that differentiates an Old Hat project from a lot of the other videos out there. It's not in my dna to half-butt (ha) something here at OH. In fact, it's probably my number one pet peeve.
So without further ado here's a snippet of some of the 2015 Football Videos:
If you work with Old Hat or especially for Old Hat (shout out to all my OH co-workers), you might have guessed things are picking up around here. I'm even late on my blog because of the busyness going on today.
So, as is typical with a lot of my blogs, I'll revert to using photos to tell my story. Today's story will be about my recent travels to the magical campuses I've traveled to.
Since my last trip to USC last month, Dustin and I went to the American Athletic Conference media days in Newport, RI. I've never been to Rhode Island, so I was able to cross that off my bucket list (#282, right after "jump in during act at SeaWorld and wrestle baby dolphin").
Here's my photo recap of Rhode Island and a shoot visit to North Texas, brought to you by Instagram.