Back in the day, there was one group you could count on to be at the game and stick with you ‘til the end: students. The good news is that yesterday’s students are today’s involved alumni. The bad news is that when you look at the student section today, it’s looking a little thin…and sometimes practically empty by the time the final score is up. 

You’re not alone. A Wall Street Journal study of stadium turnstile records showed that student football game attendance decreased by about 7% between 2009 and 2013. In contrast, total average attendance decreased less than 1% during that same time period.

So what gives? Why is student attendance down?

There are a lot of other options.
Game day isn’t the only game in town. You’re competing with a variety of other entertainment choices. And remember, you’re asking students to pay for tickets out of their limited beer and pizza money and sit in uncomfortable seats in a venue where most of them can’t drink. If you want them to be there and stay there, you better make it good.

There’s not enough connectivity.
And that’s a problem. 53% of Millennials would rather lose their sense of smell than their technology. No joke. So being able to connect during the game and feeling connected to the team are both really important. If you don’t offer stadium wi-fi and opportunities for students to feel connected both digitally and in-person, don’t be surprised at lower attendance numbers.

There’s no reason to stay.
According to a recent study commissioned by NACMA and the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, almost a quarter of students say they’ve left a game before it’s 75% complete. You’re not keeping their interest long enough for them to stick around.

Here’s the real question: what can you do about it?

The best defense against declining student attendance is a good offense. You’re competing with countless other ways students could be spending their time, and going to a game is a pretty big time commitment. Especially when you consider this fun fact: a goldfish has a longer attention span than the average student. To capture and keep students’ interest, you need to get aggressive with your marketing efforts.

Get social.
Driving engagement through social media before, during, and after the game can help you boost your numbers.  The NACMA study showed that students who follow a team on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram are more likely to attend three or more home games than those who aren’t engaged on social media. Think about how you can use social media to hype the game experience ahead of time and make being there live more exciting than watching the game from their home or dorm room.

Go deeper.
Being a fan isn’t just about attending the game or talking about it on social media, it’s about feeling a real sense of connection to the team. To forge a deeper bond, you have to offer content that goes deeper: showcase fan culture, give a behind-the-scenes peek at practice or other team events, share candid player or coach interviews, recognize new recruits, or even make student fans the star of the show sometimes. Comedy and movie-style content resonates particularly well with Millennial fans – who also happen to watch a lot of YouTube.

Make it worth staying for.
Seeing the last few minutes of the game isn’t incentive enough for a lot of students. While giving away freebies like t-shirts is a good start, you need to look for other ways you can make the end of the game exciting and rewarding for students. Consider options like a post-game party or concession discounts. The NACMA study found that loyalty programs and player meet and greets were big draws for students. When the final minutes count down, the game might be over for the players but it’s not over for you as a marketer. If you walk away after halftime, your student section will too. Make every engagement opportunity count.

Well, it's official. Today marks the date that the merger we've been talking about for the past few months finally takes effect. Truth be told, Old Hat Creative and Third Degree Advertising have been working together for many months now in preparation for combining into a single company. But today is the day that we no longer exist as separate entities. Old Hat and Third Degree are one.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, on one hand, not much. And on the other hand, it means a lot.

What is NOT changing?

Primarily, Old Hat will continue to be the company you know and love...

1. You'll still get birthday cards every year with a coupon for free Fightin' Gnomes gear from the Old Hat University Team Shop.

 

2. You'll continue to be the life of the party by being able to quote random facts that you found by viewing our email signatures. 

• When hippos are upset, their sweat turns red.

• Banging your head against the wall burns 150 calories per hour.

• Billy goats urinate on their own heads to smell more attractive to females (female goats, I assume).

 

3. You'll continue getting the most amazing creative to help you engage your fans, improve the gameday experience, sell tickets and increase fundraising.

 

4. Our dedication to ridiculously good customer service will never fade. We'll continue to always be available, always be responsive and never miss deadlines.

 

What IS changing?

Well, we're getting bigger...

1. Old Hat is currently headquartered in Norman, Oklahoma with remote employees in North Carolina and Utah. Starting today, we will have talented employees working from offices in Oklahoma City; Durham, NC; Greensboro, NC; Salt Lake City, UT; Charlottesville, VA and Frederick, MD.

This is me outside the OKC office with the downtown skyline in the background:

 

And, we're getting better...

2. Old Hat has a long history of producing amazingly awesome creative. This merger puts us in the position to make that creative even more awesome by adding research, media planning/buying, digital strategy and implementation, content creation, repositioning, media audits, copywriting, marketing automation and much more. We're taking our creative and making it smarter.

The UNC Ticket Sales site is a perfect example of taking our current offerings (web design and development, video production, on-site video shoots) and combining that with the expertise of our new partners (research, strategy and marketing automation).

 

So to summarize, nothing that you like is going away. We're just going from ridiculously-awesome to far-more-ridiculously-awesome. And just for fun, here's a photo tour of our OKC office.

 

This is a map with doorknobs showing all of the locations of Third Degree's clients from all over the United States. It's rad.

 

This is a cool yellow couch. The wall behind me says, "Elevate." 

 

This is a really big pencil we use write all of our really big ideas down with. It's bolted to the wall so no one will steal it.

 

This is the room where we keep a guy named Richard.

 

Just kidding. The men's room says, "Dick" and the ladies' room says, "Jane." How clever is that?

 

This is a cool red refrigerator where I get to keep my Diet Dr Pepper.

 

 

2015 was busy! It was filled with lots of projects for a wide variety of clients. When I was asked to share a few of my favorite projects from 2015, I knew it was going to be challenging. Every project is fun and unique in its own way. A few of the projects from 2015 that stick out to me are:

1. Towson Women's Basketball Intro Video

I enjoyed this project because the Towson Women's Basketball coaching staff had a clear vision of what they wanted this video to be. We traveled to Towson to shoot footage of the women's basketball team and Baltimore to bring their vision to life. It was the first video shoot I'd been a part of where we captured footage off campus. My favorite part of the video is how our video crew was able to show the movement of the team and basketball through the iconic locations in Baltimore.

2. Army Football Videos, Graphics and Animations

We had the opportunity to do 6 different videoboard projects for Army football. I really enjoyed these projects because each one was so unique. We had the opportunity to do a high end 3D logo animation, a Make Some Noise crowd prompt animation, a Shuffle game, a Derby game, a hype video and an intro animation for Army to use prior to their own video features. Stay tuned for some awesome new projects for the Army / Navy basketball game on January 23 at Madison Square Garden.

3. Delaware Custom Font and Wordmarks

This project was great because we had the opportunity to create a custom font for the University of Delaware and then used that font to design wordmarks for Delaware and all of their sports. Since Delaware was getting a new uniform supplier, all of these marks were then used on their 2015 team uniforms. It was really cool to see our work being worn by all of the Blue Hen athletes.

4. Duke Social Media Graphics

I enjoyed this project because we were able to work with Duke to create a consistent brand across all of their sports. This included creating profile pictures and cover photos as well as a wide variety of templates and holiday graphics for each sport to use. We based the social media profile and cover images off of the Olympic sport poster template design to create an even more cohesive look.

 

  

2016 is already off to a flying start with some exciting projects underway. I'm looking forward to another year of memorable projects!

Old Hat Creative recently launched the website RaiseUpCarolina.com.  It was and is a unique project that had some interesting results. 

First, while this is not always an option for websites, we were able to meet with the clients face to face and discussed the website.  UNC has long been a friend of Old Hat’s, but this was the first website we would be doing with them.  Zac and I went to Chapel Hill once together and then Zac returned with Dustin to shoot some of the footage used on the site.  We were able to go through what they wanted out of the site and get a feel for what they envisioned for their athletic department over the next year.  We do not always get to do this with clients, but when we do, it helps the process go considerably smoother.  Plus, I always enjoy a trip to see our clients.   

Once we have met with the client and received the content we start building out the site.  Dustin is great at what he does and his ability to lay out content in an efficient manner is one of the things that take our sites to another level.  Our process is another one of the reasons we are able to create amazing websites and working closely with a client on a website allows us to refine this process to match the goals of their website.  UNC wanted to push season tickets for football and that is the main goal of the website.  To accommodate this push, Dustin worked hand in hand with the marketing and ticket staff at UNC to make sure the content was laid out in an effective and aesthetically pleasing manner.  

Combining marketing automation with a well laid out website can bring a whole new level of efficiency to your staff and this was one of the primary goals of the Raise Up Carolina website.  We were able to target specific demographics of the fan base with newsletters and content, see how they reacted, and then adjust our focus to fit that specific demographic.  This is something we work closely with UNC on and that is still going on at this time.  When we know and understand the goals of our clients, we will adjust what we do to make sure we help them accomplish those goals.  Ashley and Joel (from our OKC office) have studied the goals of UNC so much that they are starting to see things in shades of Tar Heel Blue, but this is what we mean we say we are here to help.  

Deadlines and seasons change easily in our industry.  Teams that we might think will be sitting at 2-8 end up sitting at 8-2 and looking to get into the playoffs.  Our experience working on campus and in this industry has prepared us for that.  We have our processes in place to handle these changes and are able to deliver for our clients when few other firms could.  Every project will have these challenges, but that’s part of the process and another reason why we make sure we know everything we need to about your goals.  

In the end, major projects like this are about the relationship.  We got in on the ground floor with UNC for this site and it helped throughout the process.  We are still working with them to target their marketing efforts, using analytics to study their fan base, and using marketing automation to make them as efficient as possible.   

We are on the same team on projects like this.  We will help you accomplish your goals. 

Our 2016 New Year’s resolution: share more of what we know.

In the past 12 years, we’ve learned a lot about sports marketing and fundraising. In fact, we’re not going to be shy about saying this: we’re experts. And we’ve realized that our clients, friends, and fans would benefit from our expertise – so we’re going to start sharing more of it.

Over the upcoming year, you can expect to see more articles on our blog about sports marketing best practices, achieving fundraising goals, advice for common sports marketing challenges, marketing trends, and more. If you’ve got a sports marketing question or challenge that’s keeping you up at night, send it to us! We’d be happy to tackle it in our blog and give you some free advice. After all, our staff has a combined 482 years of experience in sports marketing and development. I know what you're thinking. 482 years? Seriously? No, not seriously. But it's a lot. 

But don’t worry, if you like hearing about our antics and personal escapades you’ll still be able to read about them on all our various social media outlets. Robert will still run shirtless through the snow. Zac will still do uncomfortable interviews with the OH staff. And Geoff might write a haiku again sometime. 

So buckle in. Twenty-sixteen is poised to be the greatest year in the history of years. And your best resource for making it the best for you is right here at the Old Hat blog.

 

Recently we launched this awesome little website http://raiseupcarolina.com/ 

You should probably check it out.  It was one of the more fun projects to work on and we were able to do some really cool things with the client.  

Remember this guy?

  

 
 



 

 

 

Have you ever seen him do stuff like this before  

and enjoyed it?  

Well, if you answered yes to the first part of that last question, but then no to the second, then you are probably a reasonable person with well rounded hobbies for entertainment.  If you answered yes to ANY part of that question or just think that site I mentioned above is really cool, then you are in luck because on February 11th, Old Hat will combine those two amazing categories into a rock block of fun.  And by “rock block of fun”, I mean a webinar that goes through the process of helping you sell tickets with an amazing Old Hat website.  

Stay tuned for more info as we get closer to the date, but as with all things Old Hat does, it will involve a little bit of random, a little bit of awesome, and a lotta bit expertise. 

Two days. 

A certain movie comes out in two days. Well, two days for the majority of the U.S. Some lucky souls have already seen it. Your social media timelines are stacked with stuff about it. Maybe you’ve heard of it, or one of its predecessors? I’ve had my IMAX 3D tickets for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens for nearly two months, so you could say I’m a fan. From all appearances, the movie looks to reference the original trilogy more than the prequels, with real actors and sets and less CGI. That return to basics approach should satisfy the majority of fans, after the bad taste left from some of the prequels. 

You might think that Star Wars is the most profitable movie franchise ever, but as of now, it stands fourth or fifth depending on calculations in worldwide box office, behind the likes of the Marvel Universe, Harry Potter, and James Bond movies. Those numbers will likely change over the next 4-5 years as spinoffs and additional sequels are set to be released - Rogue One in 2016, Episode VIII in 2017, a Han Solo spinoff in 2018 and Episode IX in 2019.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of stories and links created ahead of The Force Awakens. Here’s a few of the ones I’ve come across. The branding is strong with these.

 

Poster Spy had a contest for fans to create alternative versions of the The Force Awakens poster, and even had Anthony Daniels (the actor who plays C-3PO) to help judge the winners.

Poster Posse has their round of Star Wars art galleries.  And part two.

 

ESPN is all in for Star Wars, which is expected considering the Disney connection. Here's a few of their links.

Picking the best Star Wars lineups

The Sport That Sparked Lightsaber Lore

Star Wars: The Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel on ESPN

 

Entertainment Weekly has an entire section of their site devoted to Star Wars.

 

Type in the famous opening words of Star Wars (A long time ago in a galaxy far far away) into Google and see what happens.

 

Chrome created a Force Block plugin so that fans wouldn’t see spoilers. And they turned your phone into a lightsaber with this one.

 

Facebook adds lightsabers to your profile pic with this.

 

One of many complete guides to Star Wars, this one by The Verge.

 

The best Star Wars rap lyrics by Wired

 

Harrison Ford surprises fan for a charity campaign.

 

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.

 

 

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!

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.  

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