Can you think of a time when you asked:

- "What do you think?"

- "Should I do it?"

- "Do you think it's a good idea?"

- "What would you do?"

Can you also think of a time when you received the response:

- "Go with your gut"

- "What does your intuition say?"

We've all heard the words "gut" and "intuition". In Brene Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection she states, "psychologist believe that intuition is a rapid-fire, unconscious associating process- like a mental puzzle. The brain makes an observation, scans its files, and matches the observation with existing memories, knowledge, and experiences. Once it puts together a series of existing matches, we get a "gut instinct" on what we've observed. 

Sometimes our gut instincts are great, they guide us in a good direction, but when we don't have enough information, out gut instincts steer us towards fact finding and reasoning. It's at this point where one becomes uncomfortable with the not knowing, the uncertainty. We start asking the questions listed above OR we start to say:

- "I'm just going to do it. I don't care anymore"

- "I'm tired of thinking about it. It's too stressful."

- "I'd rather just do it than wait another second."

- "I can't stand not knowing."

At this point, we want to get the decision over with because we can't stand being in a space of not knowing, but it's at this point where we need to slow down, be still, and gather more information.

The next time you are basing a decision off your gut instincts or doing it a certain way because that's how you've always done it, take some extra time to work through the decision, don't be in a hurry to get through it. With our upcoming merger, this is something Old Hat can help you with! We're adding research to our process so that we can help you find the facts and build a strategy that works best for you, your fans, and your teams. 

There’s a whole spectrum of fandom out there, ranging from the passively positive to raving loyalists with a lifelong commitment to the team. Your goal is to move as many fans as possible forward along this spectrum, deepening their relationship with and commitment to your program. 

But how do you turn a lukewarm supporter into a fired-up fan? And once that fire is burning, how do you continue to fuel the flames?

The answer is engagement. If you want your fans to be invested in your team, they need to feel like they’re involved. The worst thing your program can do isn’t losing games – it’s losing touch with your fans.

Here are 3 ways you can increase fan engagement and loyalty.

1. Be a good social host. Think of yourself as the one throwing the party, not the guest of honor. In other words, your social media engagement should focus on providing an experience rather than simply providing updates. There are a myriad of ways you can do this. Invite fans into the conversation before, during and after games through channels like Twitter. Profile star players on Facebook. Share clever visuals (think infographics of key statistics or animated gifs) through Instagram. Look for ways you can support and encourage your community of fans as they interact both with your program and with each other.

2. Make it personal. The more personal a connection somebody feels with your brand, the more likely they're to stay engaged. Fans want to feel like part of the team, and they also appreciate recognition of their commitment to the team. It’s within your power to do this, so why wouldn’t you? Segment your fan base, understand their motivations, and personalize communications such as emails. Make a point of recognizing individual fans during games. Hold fan appreciation events during the season. Give fans the opportunity to feel like they know players personally through player interview videos and updates.

3. Keep it exciting. The game experience isn’t just about the game itself, it’s about how you make the in-person event irresistibly better than watching the game at home, at a bar, or anywhere else. Part of what makes live sporting events so compelling is the drama and excitement of each game’s unpredictability. Infuse more of that excitement into the overall experience with unexpected surprises like 3-D court projection videos, fan trivia contests or unusual giveaways. In the off-season, build anticipation with tactics like behind-the-scenes videos, sneak peeks at new recruits, or insider reports on venue improvements.

Remember, your program’s relationship with its fans is a two-way street. They’re willing to give you their loyalty, but you have to give them something too. And like any other relationship, it needs to blend the comforting and familiar with the exciting and unexpected in order to stay fresh and grow over time.

So it's 2016 which you've probably already heard, and you know what that means... it actually means a lot of things- like a presidential election year and the Summer Olympics in Rio and Leap Year and yes... Groundhog Day! Actually I think that occurs every year. Either way, none of these things bring me to the point of my blog.

The rollover into 2016 means I get to blog about my favorite projects from 2015 (hence the reason for the large 2015 graphic up top)! We like to do recaps and favorite projects lists around here, and sometimes we may even overdo it. But that's what we're all about (why do it when you can overdo it?).

With that, let's see how we did in 2015.

You may have seen in our latest newsletter how many new clients we were fortunate to work with this past year. Even I was surprised at all the new business from 2015. One of these new clients, the American Athletic Conference, just held their first-ever football championship. I'm proud to say Old Hat was able to work with the client on multiple projects to market the event and enhance the in-game experience for fans. It all comes down to One was the tagline for the championship, and that theme was used throughout the year in print, interactive and video work leading up to the big game. Here are a few of the pieces from the American Football Championship.

 

 

 

Another group of projects that turned out exceptional and unique are the Notre Dame template posters that have been used for their olympic sports. Notre Dame has been more conscious and deliberate about keeping their brand consistent (which I applaud), so the template posters this year came with a more stringent set of guidelines to ensure we were staying within the brand. Our designers did a great job not only staying within the guidelines, but the template poster could be seen as a **big word spoiler alert** microcosm of the style guide itself. 

 

I would eventually include every project as one of my favorites if I had more time, because our designers across all media (interactive, video and print) are truly experts at what they do. We're very fortunate to get to work with the clients that we have, and our clients are also very fortunate to get to have our designers put together incredible projects day in and day out. I'll leave you with a few more of my favorites from the year. Here's to a great 2016 for Old Hat and our clients!

 

 

 

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