With the start of the new year there is always some time spent going over what happened in the last year.  Whether going over financials or marketing plans or the whole year in general the beginning of a new year can end up with a lot of talk about the previous one.  Even if you look through our blog over the last week there are quite a few mentions of 2014 and probably more than 2015.  

However, there is one thing that we did early in 2015 that is completely about this year.  We launched superfan5k.org and released the information for this year’s Super Fan 5k.  There will be a few changes this year and a few new additions but it will still be the same enjoyable time as years past.  

Check out SuperFan5k.org and get registered for this years race. 

On Thursday, I am headed to El Dorado (like tornado), Arkansas to visit my sister and her family.  My nephew turns five today and his birthday party is on Saturday.  I am a bit embarrassed to say that this is the first birthday of his I have attended.  He made sure to lock down my commitment early last year as he had already decided he wanted a soccer party.  It turns out his fondness of soccer comes down to my obsession with the sport. 

I love soccer and have since I was four.  The only reason I started playing the sport is because a doctor thought it might help with my asthma.  Then it turned into a way to keep me exercising between baseball seasons.   Add in the ‘94 World Cup and Fox replaying F.A. Cup games at random times, and I was hooked.  

My nephew has asthma but has not had soccer recommended to him to help.  His parents, both great athletes in their own right, couldn't care less about the sport, so I took it upon myself to make sure he was introduced.  He has owned Manchester United gear from the get-go and one of my first gifts to him was a blow up soccer goal and ball.  He loves kicking the ball around enough that I get a regular flow of soccer related videos that could make even the most ardent hater of soccer smile.  

Which brings me to a slightly relevant point for this blog.  How did you find your fanhood?   Or more importantly, how did your fans find theirs?  I find it interesting how I became a Manchester United fan.  Marketing.  I have supported them since I was nine or ten years old and came to support them with no family influence.  Around that time, United was at the beginning of a twenty-year period of dominance of England, and at times, Europe.  They amped up their marketing and distribution of television rights to all areas of the world.  On a Saturday morning in south Texas, I was able to stumble upon a replay of United playing in the F.A. Cup.  I recognized the club name from one of the teams on a video game and started watching.  A year later, I saw this goal and wanted to be Cantona.  Twenty years later, I spend money buying gear, follow the team on Twitter, pay to see them whenever I can, and deck my nephew out in everything United.  

It all started with a replay of an old game and some marketing.  I am a lifelong fan.  I am up early every weekend watching and I am going to give my nephew every opportunity to do the same.  

How are you reaching out to new fans?  How are you setting up the newest members of your community and making sure the seats will be filled in twenty years?  

A lot of this comes from your existing community.  Fans bringing fans.  That comes from the community you establish and the feeling of belonging that your fans bring to the table.  

At Old Hat, we Amplify the Sports Experience.  That is our standard line and that is what we pride ourselves in doing.  If you ask Zac why he does this, he will share a story or two about going to Oklahoma football games with his father.  Every sports fan has stories like this, some explanation of how they got to where they are in supporting THEIR team.  We want to help you create those stories.  We want to make sure there are fans with amazing memories creating even better memories in your stadium for the next 20 years.  We want to help you Amplify the Sports Experience.

 

 

Oh and Happy Birthday!

I love the sports world for this last week (and first of the next) of the year.  More specifically I love all the football I can watch.  Bowl games get going earlier than this but not as thick as they are now.  

On top of that, my favorite football (the round one) league forces their teams to play a ridiculous amount of games over a short period of time.  While the coaches and athletes are complaining that the human body cannot recover blah, blah, blah…

I do not care (they are definitely correct about that and I am willing to bet the league racks up a lot of injuries but I hope they are not Manchester United players).  I get to watch the English Premier League on Dec 26th, 28th, 29th, and 1st.  My favorite team will play three times over that span of days.  Add in college bowl games and I will get my fill of the sports I enjoy to watch.  

In case you are wondering, Texas A&M plays at 1pm today and Manchester United are at 6am Thursday morning.  Happy watching!

A couple times a year I spend a day going over the analytics for all of our Old Hat sites.  When it comes to OldHatCreative.com that usually leads to a discussion about the salad bowl game.  

To be completely honest, I had never heard of this particular game, but thanks to Tricia, I am reminded about it every time I look at our analytics.  Interested to know what it is? 

Exciting stuff isn’t it?  

As someone who makes a living working in web and the digital space and who blogs on a regular occasion, it is not easy to accept that the most relevant blog on the old hat site according to the internet is one about a made up party game. Not one about our work or our staff or even our clients, just a salad bowl. 

I know I am far from the best blogger, but I try to write about things that are relevant to what Old Hat does as a company.  If anything, it makes for an interesting case study.   What Tricia managed to do was to find that long tail or that niche market where her blog can reign supreme.  When I write about thanking our veterans or going viral or about our amazing staff and the awesome work they do or customer service, I am writing about things already saturating the market.  There are other companies thanking veterans and talking about going viral.  Don’t get me wrong, high quality and relevant content is still king, but finding that niche market can go a long way to telling your story and letting the world know who you are.   

The next time you are blogging or trying to tell your story, think about your competition.  Think about how many other people are out there talking about the same thing and then find a unique way to reach your audience.  It may not be as simple as a salad bowl, but finding the niche market that aligns perfectly with your message will go a long way to coming out on top of that google page.

Movies have trailers, computers and phones have conventions, elections have campaigns, and websites have... well... yeah... let me get back to you on that.

So I was watching the new extended trailer for Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron (which I cannot wait to see)

And it hit me! When launching a new site, how do you get people excited about the launch? Here at Old Hat we created another site to countdown to the launch of a redesign.  We posted on social media.  We sent Duey (or gnome mascot) on a tour of the US. My buddy who is about to launch his new business site, held a fund raising volleyball tournament, shot a commercial last weekend, has a Facebook page that regularly posts updates, and is hosting a launch party.  All of these things are great and help raise awareness for your brand.  Only problem I see with the majority of them is that they limit your awareness to only your immediate circle of friends and maybe their friends.

Finding a way to reach beyond the obvious is always tough.  It will be something that continues to be that way.  Right off the top of my head, these are just some solutions I came up with:

  1. Have a Hollywood movie feature your site in some aspect of their movie...
    Which is not going to be anything realistic for most people unless they are a screenplay writer.
  2. Use TV commercials and radio...
    Just don't over do it and make sure it is not annoying.  There are only some many FarmersOnly.com or ChristianMingle.com commercials a sane person can take.
  3. Create another website to announce your upcoming site...
    This just seems really redundant to me. I think you would be better off building a temporary site on your current domain so people get use to typing it in, if you are going to go this route, but may not be possible if you are just doing a rebrand.
  4. Advertise or post on Social Media...
    This is probably the cheapest way to do it, but also just gets ignored or blocked by many users, unless you create some sort of game or contest out of it, such as Fangage. A game or contest such as this will help get it out of your immediate circle of friends.  The more fun and exciting you make it, the more it will spread.  The key here is to gently let users know about your product [site], but just as a "Oh by the way" type of thing, as opposed to a "Beat a Dead Horse" here is our upcoming product [site] over and over again. 

As you can tell it may be tough to get users excited about your upcoming site, but the more creative you are, the better the response will be.  After the initial launch, it will be up to your individual website and its content to bring people back and get new users to join in.  What ideas have you used with your past sites, and what do you have planned for your next site?  Feel free to drop a line in the comments.

If you follow Target on Instagram, you may notice they have some unique posts promoting their products. Every so often, Target hosts #designCRUSH. A designer they've choosen takes over their Instagram feed for one week using their design style to promote Target products. Check out some of the examples below:

Designer: @ddccad - Chalk artists

Product: Nail polish 

Product: Blankets

Product: Tea

Designer: @thuglifeforevs - Photographer and organizer

Product: Ice cream

Product: Sports balls 

Product: S'mores 

Designer: @paperfashion - Shadow dancer artist

Product: Nerds

Product: Toothpaste 

Product: Spices

 

Last year the college football team that won it all, had their poster designed by Old Hat Creative.  The current number one had a new logo designed by Old Hat Creative.  In fact, if you look at the current top 25 you can see it is littered with schools that work with Old Hat Creative.

 


All that could be between you and athletic success could simply be a poster design from Old Hat Creative. 

Yesterday Old Hat was up in Oklahoma City for a Minor League Baseball convention.  It ended with a party at Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City RedHawks.  

It was nice to be among MiLB people at the event.  I spent the beginning of my career working with mostly minor league teams on their websites.  It was always interesting work.  Minor league teams do some incredibly unique things with their marketing and even more unique things with their gameday experience.  If I had a dollar for every web page I built with some freakishly large, quadruple stacked, bacon wrapped, food creation; I would have at least $30.  These teams make use of what they have and work their tails off to deliver for their fans.  

I was happy to be back amongst the MiLB people, and as Old Hat gears up to do work for them, I keep thinking about the similarities we share with the teams.  We do a few goofy things at Old Hat.  Things you typically would not expect from a marketing company and we always work our tails off for our clients.  I am looking forward to working with the teams.  Check out some of the photos from last night at Bricktown Ballpark. 

Writing is hard. 

If I could get away with it, that is probably all this blog would say.  Constantly creating new and relevant content is a challenge.  I blog one to two times a month and still struggle to come up with ideas that actually make sense to go on Old Hat Creative’s blog.  Old Hat Creative is what I do for a living and I still struggle to write coherent and entertaining sentences about what I do.  Life is interesting enough that I should be able to find a few interesting things to write about. 

In the past, I have blogged about writing drills that I was taught at a young age and how I use(d) those to keep my skills fresh and sharp.  You know?  The whole sharpen your axe speech?   

Those are topics that interested me and were easy to write about.  I used to drill myself all the time to make myself a better writer, but lately my axe has gotten a bit dull.  I still write for Old Hat when needed, but I am not doing what I should be to make myself better.  Ahh, the comfort zone…

We all know about it.  Whether it is in a relationship with a significant other or the relationship to a skill you once wanted to perfect.  You get comfortable.  You obtain a level of proficiency that surpasses most people and you rest on your laurels.  We work in the sports industry and there are countless examples of teams getting in this comfort zone.  See Miami Heat 2014 NBA Finals and GO SPURS GO!

And that is the challenge.  Do you have enough motivation or desire to constantly be improving yourself, your craft or just sharpening your axe in general?  It is not something that is easy to do.  A lot of people get into this industry because they are or were athletes and finding this motivation was always easy when playing sports.  “Oh that guy, kicked me in the shin last time… I am going to tear him apart this year.” Every game presents you with an opportunity to get one years worth of motivation, but when we get to the real world and out of athletics, it can be more difficult to find that motivation.  

That elusive motivation that gets us to improve ourselves in areas others may not think we need improving.  For me, it is not the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning; it is the thing that keeps you awake at night.  Laying there thinking about how it happened and what you wish you would have said or wrote or done… that is what motivates me.  

I am lucky to work where I work.  I know that and try to remember that every day.  The last few months have not been easy for me outside of work and that is not how I usually want to go into our busy season.  I like to be well rested and have myself fully prepared for the busy season, but that did not happen this year.  However, that is where the people I work with come into play.  I am lucky to work here for the all the cool stuff we do, but I am also lucky to be surrounded by such good people. The people here motivate me to sharpen my axe.  It can be as simple as Kelby forcing me to blog twice in one week. Realizing that at one point I would have no issue writing two good blogs in a week because I was always practicing is a wake up call. Deb calling me out on something I said and making me prove it or at least provide reasoning.  This makes me better.  It reminds me of the work that went into getting here and what it will take to continually improve.  

Writing is hard and so is finding motivation.  You will always find yourself falling into one comfort zone or another.  How you pull yourself out of those is up to you and will go a long way in determining how long you stay successful or how successful you become.  You can choose the attitude you take into a situation and ONLY YOU can choose what motivates you. 

At Old Hat we like to challenge ourselves.  Whether building a website that will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people, doing a video shoot sixty feet underground, or creating videos/posters that no one has ever seen anything like, we like a challenge.  Clients are great at challenging us and we welcome any challenge you can lay at our feet. 

Tomorrow a few large and high traffic websites will intentionally slow down their website and frustrate their customers.  Now, the slow down may not be noticeable in some places but almost all of them will take the time to place a specific logo on their websites. 

The reason that these companies are taking this step is because they are worried about the future of the Internet.  Old Hat’s blog is not the place for me to launch into a political rant but considering my career utilizes relies on the Internet it frightens me.  One day we could be forced to present our clients with two options.  

  1. Pay $XXX amount to Internet service providers so your website will actually load or 
  2. Do not pay Internet service providers and be prepared for fans/users of your site to have incredibly slow load times or possibly not be able to load your site at all. 

Internet service providers could play favorites.  In the sports world, rivalries can be heated and I would hate to think that someone from a teams rival school could slow down a website.  

For more info, check out www.battleforthenet.com/sept10th/

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