Hello, my name is Ashley Allison and I have a planning problem.

Even when I was a kid, I was the one who had to know what we were doing, when and why. I hated when we had days of nothing to do and would get my brother to plan out entire days with me to make sure we maximized the fun. When I started to think about marketing plans, I realize I havebasically created one for my life that helps guide me in the day to day (and because I am awesome). I don't like to drift, so I know my goals, make decisions to align with my strategies and live in the day to day tactics to make these big goals more manageable.

My love of organization and creativity is what guided me to pursue a career in marketing in the first place. Sports being a huge passion of mine, allowed me to apply it to a field I love.

If I could shout from the rooftops one thing to all of our clients, it would be CANNONBALL. Wait, no. It would be how they all underutilize us as a resource for marketing ideas and planning. We have a solid crew of creatives and marketers who have worked on campus before joining Old Hat. I believe this background allows us to better understand the needs of our clients. We also have the amazing opportunity to see what schools all across the country are doing and what is working. And plus, I really miss working on an in depth marketing plan for each season.

I came across an article in Forbes about how to make a marketing plan. I thought it was a decent article that pushed marketers to think of a variety of aspects that can help/hurt their marketing efforts. When I worked at Northwestern, we utilized a basic outline for each of our marketing plans, like the one below. We would set three goals for the season. These were quantifiable goals (ie have ##### attendance, generate $$$ revenue, have ### interactions on social media pages).

These goals each had three strategies that, if completed, would allow us to hit our goal. These were things like sell $$$ in season tickets, $$$ in group tickets and $$$ in individual tickets.

 

Finally, the last and most important part is establishing the tactics that will make your goals and strategies a success. These tactics were then turned into a calendar that we could look at daily to make sure we were working toward achieving our goals. It makes it a lot easier to reach goals when you have a road map to show you the way and that’s what marketing plans provide, so ladies and gentleman, start your planning!

This past weekend, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. (Not really, but go with me here.) You see, this past weekend Norman and it's surrounding areas were full of super awesome music and I had to pick which awesome music to enjoy. SO HARD. The last weekend of April always marks Norman Music Festival. This is always super fun, great for people watching and hearing lots of local talent, and it's right here in Norman, all for free. Down in Dallas, the local alternative radio station (102.1 The Edge) was having their 24th annual Edgefest - 14 bands, 2 stages, 1 full day of constant live music. And up in Tulsa, one of my favorite bands was playing - HAIM, who I liked from the moment I heard their first EP but fell in love with when they KILLED IT on stage last summer at Gentlemen of the Road in Guthrie. You can see my dilemma. So, what's a girl to do? I weighed my options. HAIM, while I really, really do LOVE them with all my heart, was only one band (and an opener, I guess) so I decided to cross them off my list. So NMF or Edgefest? I've been to NMF before and always have a blast, but I've never been to Edgefest even though I grew up in Dallas, loving and listening to The Edge all the time. So when some of my best friends hit me up last week, telling me they had an extra ticket to Edgefest, I decided to make the trip down.

This year's lineup was a little softer (as in music, not talent) than previous years:  Smallpools, MS MR, Bear Hands, Switchfoot, J Roddy Walston & The Business, The Neighborhood, KONGOS, Grouplove, Chvrches, Bastille, New Politics, The Avett Brothers, Cage the Elephant and Beck. Obviously, as with any festival/multi-band lineup, I didn't know all the bands, but I knew most and the rest could be filled with bathroom breaks, beer runs and t-shirt buying. The concert was at Toyota Park in Frisco, where FC Dallas plays, which was actually an awesome venue. The best part was that you could hear the bands from anywhere in the stadium, so even if you were grabbing some food, beer, water, whatever, you were still enjoying great music. 

On to the bands! While every single band was fantastic, a couple definitely stuck out for me. I'd say Bastille was probably the best for playing the crowd really well. The lead singer even took off into the fans for one song, walking through the standing crowd on the field and right up the aisle next to our seats, which was pretty awesome. Another band that played the crowd well was The Neighborhood. I was really excited to see them, but kind of disappointed by their sound, which was more of an equipment thing than the band's playing ability. During the last song, the lead singer told everyone he wanted to crowd surf all they way back to a certain tent and even though the song finished before he made it, he did eventually get there. They also played a new song that was really awesome and now I can't wait for their next album. Another band I love and have actually seen before was Grouplove. Those guys and gal really know how to put on a show. They pretty much have a party on stage while still playing great music. I love seeing them live. My favorite part was when they covered Beyonce's "Drunk in Love" (I actually think they do it better than her, but don't tell Queen Bey I said that). Finally, I'm going to put Switchfoot into this group of standouts. They were one of my favorite bands in early high school and they played a few songs from back then, so I could just be biased. But the lead singer did go out into the crowd a lot and even took someone's sunglasses during a song but made sure to return them at the end. What a nice guy!

This does not mean any of the other bands were bad. I'd like to say Cage the Elephant was a standout, but we decided to go into the standing crowd for their set and I of course ended up behind some 6'+ giant-man. So while they sounded great, for all I know, it could've been a cover band since I couldn't see a thing. There were only two things that were kind of annoying. Some of the earlier bands were complaining about how hot it was... It was in the 70s and breezy. Which is a FANTASTIC day in North Texas in late April. So, you hush. Also, when we were down in the crowd for Cage the Elephant, a TON of fans were crowd surfing from the back to the front. Having to turn back every 5 seconds to make sure you weren't kicked in the head or about to be crushed was really annoying and not to mention dangerous. Luckily, I got out of there with only a crinked neck after one unexpected surfer landed on me awkwardly. But overall, it was a super fun day. I didn't get sunburnt (unlike many, MANY bright pink people in attendance), I didn't pass out drunk/dehydrated (like a few poor souls we saw) and the music was great. 10/10 would go again.

Over the past few months, we've been fortunate to get to go on some really fun trips. Last week was no exception. My husband, Tim, needed to be at the SoCon tennis tournament in Chattanooga for work, so with it being spring break and Easter weekend, we decided to make a family trip out of it. Tim and I love traveling and road trips. So far our two girls have been really good travelers and seem to enjoy it as well. I had never been to Chattanooga, so I was looking forward to seeing a new city. There's a few ways to get there from Greensboro, so we decided to take the more scenic route there through the Nantahala National Forest and then take the main interstate back through Knoxville. The drive there was absolutely beautiful. We managed to knock out about 4 hours of the 7 hour drive before the girls were needing a break. I came across a cool looking place near Bryson City, NC called River’s End Restaurant. It looked to be right on the road we were traveling on and located directly on the bank of the Nantahala River AND they served ice cream. Perfect. It definitely did not disappoint. We sat next to the window and watched kayakers and ducks in the water while eating some ice cream and then went out and walked by the river for a bit.

  

Then it was back in the car to get to Chattanooga by dinner. It was a beautiful rest of the drive and we were all ready for some good food. We found a place called Taco Mamacita that looked to have lots of good reviews and the huge line outside on a Wednesday night when we pulled up had us feeling pretty confident that we were going to be eating well. We enjoyed some great Mexican food and were ready to get to bed and rested up to watch some tennis the next couple of days. 

Aside from watching a lot of exciting tennis, we were able to do plenty of fun touristy things as well. I was really impressed with how pretty Chattanooga is and with all of the different activities there are to do there. We spent time strolling along the Tennessee river, burning energy at playgrounds, riding a carousel, going to the Children’s museum, riding the world’s steepest Incline Railway and visiting an old battlefield atop Lookout Mountain.

  

  

  

We also enjoyed some of the best fried chicken ever. Seriously. EVER. If you are ever in Chattanooga, I highly recommend checking out Champy’s Chicken. The food and the restaurant were great!

  

We all had a blast in Chattanooga and I would definitely venture back there again! I'm not sure where our next road trip will take us, but I'm sure we'll find somewhere new to visit sometime soon.

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