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.
Obviously, I don't have favorite clients...I would never...I love you all the same! However, when it comes to projects, even though I love everything that comes from our designers, I have a few that I could call favorites from this season.
So, without further ado...away we go!
In no particular order:
Illinois Football Intro Video:
This was our first trip out to Champaign for the season to see our Illini friends. Deb and Dustin worked with Brad Wurthman to create a visually appealing concept, and we used orange and blue gels to cover the lights we set up to give the video an intense orange and blue look.
I love how we incorporated their Victory Badge logo into our transition effects.
My favorite part of this video is the music...its so dramatic. Gets me everytime...
And that stare at the end...my goodness.
Mizzou Women's Basketball Intro:
I love this whole concept. The song is "I put on for my City" and we used campus and city b-roll, and even incorporated those into the silhouettes of the girls.
While this silhouette concept was trendy this year, I like this one because we used city footage instead of highlights.
Colorado State Basketball Commercial:
Deb had an idea, and Nick at CSU let her run with it. Inspired by American Horror Story, this commercial scares me a bit. It definitely makes me want to come experience the Moby Madness. If not for basketball, at least for this guy:
Presbyterian Men's Basketball Poster:
Simon at PC wanted to highlight the one senior on the team this year.
In years past, the designs we did had a darker look to them. This one is lighter and just stood out to me among our posters this season.
Syracuse Template Posters:
This design started as a unique poster for women's ice hockey last year.
They liked it so much, they decided to use it as the starting point for the template for most of the Orange sports this season.
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.
If you have read this blog, this blog, or even this blog, you'll know that I love to read. I received four books this Christmas, and once I finish The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (she's my favorite!), I'll be diving into these. For 2016, my work New Years resolution is to share what I am learning from each book listed below with you on our blog. If you've read any of these books, let me know in our comment section or on Twitter. I'd love to discuss with you!
1. I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown
Brene is my favorite author. She studies negative emotions and discusses how we protect ourselves from shame, judgement, vulnerability, critisim, blame and so on. She's great because she tells the truth on a tough subject. She shines the light on how we are subconsciously acting out when we experience these negative emotions so that we can become aware of our actions and change our reactions to these negative emotions.
2. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes is best known as the creator, head writer, executive producer and showrunner of the medical drama TV series, Grey's Anatomy, along with Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. With iconic characters in her TV shows who openly speak their minds, you wouldn't know Shonda is an extreme introvert. When her sister said, "you never say 'yes' to anything", Shonda decided to dedicate a year saying 'yes' to anything that scared her.
3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth inspires her readers to tap into their creativity by embracing curiousity.
4. Living With Intent by Mallika Chopra
Have you ever felt guilty? In Living with Intent, Mallika shares her journey to find more meaning, joy and balance in life. In her book, she shares wisdom from experts such as her dad, Deepak Chorpa, and Eckart Tolle, two of my favorite thought leaders.
- The $10 I spent for 3 months of Spotify Premium (normally $10/1 month) was totally worth it for how often I've been driving back and forth to Texas.
- I planned ahead a little too early and am going home for the weekend because I thought Illinois State football would be making another trip to Frisco, Texas, for the FCS Championship game on January 9, but they lost...oops. NDSU will be there for the 5th year (I think) in a row, and the town will be overrun with green and gold.
- I think for the first time since I can remember, I did NOT go to a mall Thanksgiving or Christmas weekend.
As a sports marketer, what do you sell? The simple and obvious answer is, of course, tickets. Those game ticket sales in turn fuel other revenue streams: concessions, merchandise, and indirectly other types of program support.
But in reality, you’re selling much more than tickets. You’re selling an experience of your school’s brand and what it means to be a fan of your particular sports program. That experience means different things to different people.
Your entire target audience has one important thing in common: they’re all fans of your program to some degree or another. That means all of them are likely to respond to certain visual cues like your logo, colors, and images of your team, campus, or game venue. However, if you really want to market yourself strategically and effectively, you need to segment your audience further and get to know what drives them.
There are several ways to segment your fans: alumni, donor level, development group member, fan club member, season ticket holder, single game ticket purchaser, whether they’re die-hards or jump-on-a-winning-bandwagon fans, and of course the usual demographic indicators such as age, gender, and geographic location. One of the best ways to segment your current target audience is through market research surveys that enable you to understand their motivations for being a fan and what the game experience means to them.
Here are a few simple examples of what this might look like and how you could use it to drive tailored communication strategies:
·Students might value the fan experience because it reinforces their connection with the school and contributes to their sense of personal identity at this stage of their lives. What makes the student experience unique at your school? Think about how you can tap into traditions like these.
Alumni might be motivated by the opportunity to relive the fun and excitement of their college days, reconnecting with the brand through a combination of sense of tradition, nostalgia, and present day pride. Why not take advantage of opportunities like social media’s #TBT (Throwback Thursday) to help you reinforce that connection and encourage greater engagement?
Parents of students might see the experience as a way to strengthen their connection with their child and may feel a sense of ownership and pride based on their financial contributions to the school. Consider how you can encourage mom or dad’s commitment to the team.
Parents of younger children (whether they’re alumni or not) may value the fan experience as a means of creating memories, passing down a love the game, or teaching kids about teamwork. How is the game experience different for them, and what can you do to showcase the family-friendly side of your brand?
Locals who aren’t alumni and don’t have children attending your school may relate more to a sense of local pride or deep-rooted geographic rivalries. Think about what you can do or say that will recognize and encourage their continued support as honorary members of your organization.
When you understand what motivates your different fan groups to be part of the game experience, it’s easier to identify the right marketing themes. Some motivations or feelings will span segmented groups and resonate with the majority of your fans. Those are the themes you should consider for your overall marketing message. Other motivations will be specific to certain segments, and you should use those to tailor your engagement with each group.
Every ticket or season tickets package you sell represents a wide range of emotions and motivations that are felt by your fans as part of the game experience. So don’t just sell tickets: sell can’t-hold-us-down commitment. Sell remember-when-we nostalgia. Sell ours-is-better-than-yours rivalry. Sell this-is-our-house pride. Your fans will love you for it.
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.
The last time it was my turn to blog I ended up forgetting. If there’s one thing you don’t want to do around here it’s forget to blog. I forgot to blog once a couple of years back and as punishment I was marched outside, place up against a brick wall execution style and had a barrage of snowballs thrown at me. That was nothing compared to the punishment I received this time.
It all happened so fast. I was asleep when it started. I heard rustling coming from under the bed. At first all I could see was the top of a little blue hat. Then there was a blinding light and something hit me on the head.
When I finally came to, I saw Lil’ Duey standing over me with one of my prized pink flamingo lawn ornaments in his hands. The head had been chopped off. I’ll never forget the look on his face; he looked like some crazed animal about to be let loose on his prey. He was shouting something at me but I couldn’t make it out because every time he shouted he smacked me in the face. I’m not sure but I think he was yelling something about “who’s never gonna forget to blog again!?”.
As I laid there bleeding and trembling trying to make sense of what was happening, I saw Zac. He was sitting in the corner with an evil smile on his face and a miniature Robert in his lap. From time to time he would pet his miniature Robert and instruct Lil’ Duey to continue the vicious beating.
I don’t remember much else from that night; I was in and out of consciousness the whole time. What I do remember though I can’t bring myself to talk about. I still have nightmares about it.
Needless to say, I will never forget to blog again. They promised that if I ever forgot, bad things would happen… baaad things.
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.