Coach Harbaugh has been in the news a lot lately. Whether you agree with his techniques or not, one thing is undeniable: he’s making the off season something worth watching. And from a marketing perspective, that’s powerful stuff.
Sports marketers are challenged to find ways to draw a crowd and keep them coming back. That’s getting harder and harder to do, because there are more alternatives than ever to game day attendance. At a time when collegiate sports programs are struggling with declining attendance, you can’t afford to let your marketing initiatives simmer on the back of the stove in between seasons. You have to find ways to keep fans engaged and maintain your momentum year round.
Even if your program doesn’t have Michigan’s resources, here are a few lessons you can apply in your own way.
Shake things up. Spring break practice in Florida? Friday night games? What?? Breaking away from the status quo draws attention and gives people something to talk about. Whether you go big or go small, do something different. Better yet, do it in a way that offers some sort of advantage for your team or your fans. Don’t just do it as a copycat, because your fans will call you out on it.
Get people excited about your new line-up. Signing day is a big deal, so make it a big deal. You don’t have to make it a circus to make it count. Look for ways to hype up your new recruits and the strength of your upcoming season. Social media (especially YouTube) is an incredible tool for this, and it doesn’t take a massive budget to make a memorable impact.
Decide what you want to be. Then be it. A football program is a football program is a football program…except that it’s not. It’s a lot more. It’s a collective identity and a shared consciousness. Own it. Does your team have a reputation you’re proud of? Find ways to amp it up. Want to have a different reputation than you currently do? Come up with a plan for how to reposition yourselves, then go after it full force.
Controversy = conversation. Being controversial isn’t for everybody, and you certainly don’t want to be on the hot seat in terms of violating rules. But it’s a proven way to generate media attention, and it can be a mobilizing force for your fan base. Just choose your controversies wisely, if you’re going to go there. And make sure you have the right people on board.
Sure, it helps to have a big budget and powerful connections when you want to stand out. But you don’t need those things to do more in the off season. All you really need is a thorough understanding of your target audience, strong collaboration within your program, a few creative ideas, and the will to win.
In the past few years, there's been a great shift on social media - a shift to visual content over text content. Why is this?
Among the many reasons:
Statistics show that 81% of people only skim the content they read online.
The average person gets distracted in just 8 seconds.
It only takes someone 50 milliseconds to form a first impression.
Most people only remember 20% of what they read if the text is not accompanied by visual content.
So now, due to these reasons and lots of others, there's a greater focus on visual content in online marketing. And those of us who are spatial/visual learners...say it with me..."it's about time"! A great amount of people thrive on images, pictures, color, and visual media such as photos, videos, illustrations, and infographics to assist us in our learning process and in information retention. Raise your hand if you're like me and learn more than you ever thought possible from YouTube videos.
Visual content has become so important that it's predicted that 84% of communiation will be visual by 2018.
With this information, it may be time to consider the following:
Don't bother to tell your story if you're not prepared to also show it.
Because most people only skim the content they see online - do whatever you can to make your message stand out, and quickly!
Consider the creation of logos and icons to help sell your message. (We can help).
Look at your use of color and typeography. Are they visually pleasing? Are you consistent with their use? Are your colors and fonts on brand and reflecting of your style and the story you are wanting to tell?
Make stand-out photography and creative videography high on your priority list. The creation of stunning visuals will greatly help sell your message. And PS, one study I read speculates that 79% of internet traffic will be video content by 2018.
Duke is one Old Hat client who has really prioritized visual content on social media this year. We've partnered with them to create some great social media graphics they're using for gameday promotions, score updates, awards announcements and much more.
We started by creating social media cover and profile images so every Duke Athletics team was consistent and on-brand.
Fun Fact: Each individual sport's profile picture uses elements from their schedule poster, that we also designed. So even though they are consistent looking, there are unique differences.
From there, we created a variety of template graphics. Each sport has their own set that they can update with new information such as game scores, athlete accomplishments, and game day promotions.
We've even put together special occasion graphics for holidays, special events and more.
If you're interested in incorporating more visuals into your social media, but need a little help getting started, contact us!
And in the meantime, play this fun matching/memory game to get more tips and fun facts on images in social media.
There is a common critique/observation when people walk into the Old Hat office for the first time: "It's like a library in here. I'm afraid to speak." It's one of those things that can happen with the creatives and open-plan offices. It's crazy quiet and most of us have our earbuds in to help control the cacophonous din while we get all creative and stuff. I think it probably comes across as us being anti-social nerds. Well, there probably is some truth to that statement. What you don't see or hear is that all of the traditional office chatter has moved online. I think it's widely accepted truth that Geoff and I can be pretty quiet, but we are also the biggest GIF users in the office. Now, there's a good rule of thumb here at the Hat: If there's something that the staff is enjoying and spending a lot of time doing or talking about, then Kelby is going to make you blog about it. It makes sense- if we're digging it, that's a pretty good indication that it will be of interest to our readers, too. She's a wise lady.
When I asked Geoff how to start this blog his suggestion was a GIF. I took it under consideration and recommended he reword that sentiment. "A GIF isn't just a repeating video clip that infinitely loops on the internet," Geoff said. "NO. It's a visual representation of ones heart and soul at any given moment." SEE, GUYS. The dude is deep. He added, "GIF is pronounced GIF, not JIFF. Geoff however is pronounced Jeff, not Geff." Listen, we're not going to argue about the pronunciation. Just accept it as fact. Like Michael Jordan being better than Lebron.
Geoff is an old pro at GIF-making. Which shouldn't be a surprise since he is a Photoshop wizard. His style ranges from the absurd, to the absurd, but practical, to silliness and oftentimes genius.
Absurd, but practical.
My GIF style is a mix of silliness, wit, absurdity and practicality.
A lot of our OH TV videos are pretty absurd to begin with. Exhibit A.
Exhibit B. Adding the proper text is the easy part.
I was sort of, but not really, surprised at the sheer number of Dustin Eating GIFs we could create.
Most of my inspiration comes from movies and TV that I find funny and/or entertaining.
Another good source is the cutting room floor, so to speak. Schools send us a lot of footage and there are so many clips that don't make the Intro Video cut.
GIFS might seem simple, annoying, immature and out of place to the average GIF noob, but we live in a multimedia world and they are everywhere. It's a part of our internet culture. A couple of weeks ago Twitter joined the social media cool kids with their new searchable GIF library. In fact, Tricia and I had quite the heated GIF exchange this week via Twitter.
Is this just the latest trend in internet communication? Perhaps.
First we had emoticons ;)
Then there were emojis
And now we have looping, animated graphics:
There's something about GIFs that can help express a tone or clear emotional reaction that IM and emails just can't. Of course nothing can replace just getting up and winking at Geoff face-to-face, but that's not the world most of us live in from 9-to-5. Our casual conversations happen via screens.
From a professional perspective a lot of conversation with our fans or customers happens via social media. Several collegiate and professional sports teams, leagues and organizations have some serious social media GIF game (2-points for the sports pun!). The NWSL (National Women's Soccer League, c'mon guys...) social media gurus are all over the GIFs. I'm a soccer fan and I enjoy seeing the different teams interact with each other on the Twitter. When you use a GIF you're letting the Millennials know you're in on their super cool language. GIFs are easy and they are attention-grabbing - two things the kids love.
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...
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.
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.
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.