2011 College Football Predictions

Do you feel that?  It’s something different in the air this week…excitement and a little bit of animosity.

That’s right ladies and gents, it’s college football season! 

The truth is that the folks in Austin and Portland have some pretty different views on how this season will turn out, so we decided to share our predictions for who will win it all in the 2011-12 NCAA College Football Season with you.

Who is going to take home the big prize this year?  Well, let the guesses and trash talking begin!

OU

Aaron

The University of Oklahoma – I’m curious to see if I’ll be able to hear the disappointment in Texas if OU wins it all.

ASU

Adam

I’m going to pick Arizona State. I actually almost ended up going to college there (and the Beavers keep letting me down).

Nebraska

Cassie

Even though the Texas Longhorns won six years of my tuition dollars, my season ticket purchase and their own ESPN network (HOOK EM HORNS!), I don’t think this is their year for a title run. I’m going to pick the Nebraska Cornhuskers, making their Big Ten conference debut. There is no place like Nebraska: Taylor Martinez is now an experienced QB, and DT Jared Crick was voted the preseason #1 player in his new conference, making the blackshirt defense hard to beat. The Huskers’ success ultimately hinges on their ability to develop the passing game, which seems to always be Nebraska’s biggest downfall–are you listening Bo Pelini? GO BIG RED!

Oregon

Chris

I’m rooting for the University of Oregon because I’m from Oregon. And I like all 384 combinations of their uniforms. Go Ducks!

Oregon

Dan

I’m going with the Oregon Ducks. They have a lot of returning players and I think they can go all the way this year.

Texas

Jessica

Call me a Homer but my prediction for the 2011 National Championship team is the University of Texas Longhorns. You may say it’s “just” a rebuilding year, but I say we’re rebuilding our way all the way back to the top, baby! Fortunately, college football is a game of passion and heart, so it’s not completely unheard of an AP Poll, preseason unranked team to walk away with the title. The Horns’ new coaching staff will ignite that fire to lead us to victory, week in and week out! Hook ‘Em!

Seattle Seahawks

Jeremy

Last year, I chose my dear Portland State University Vikings, only to be mocked by everyone in my office. This year, I have aimed to be a little more realistic, so I am choosing my also beloved Seattle Seahawks to win the NCAA National Championship. With the off-season acquisition of Tarvaris Jackson, under the tutelage of former outstanding college head coach Pete Carroll. I am quite certain that we would have a way better chance of winning something if we were playing at the NCAA level. Go ‘Hawks!

Boise State

Justin

I’m going with Boise State. They are returning the same team that climbed to as high as No. 2 in the rankings in 2010. The senior class is 38-2 since 2008 and are ready for the big time this year.

Oregon

Kendra

Although OU has is one of the strongest returning teams, as a Longhorn, there is no way that I can pick them to win.

So I am picking the Oregon Ducks.

15 of 22 starters are returning, and assuming a win against LSU this Saturday at Cowboys Stadium, their only schedule challenge will be Stanford on Nov. 12th, which will easily be the biggest Pac 12 game of the season and could be 1 vs. 2 match-up by that time.

Texas

Monika

As I thought about my prediction, I looked at the top teams and realized that I hate them all so much I couldn’t bear to pick any of them. My “other” perennial favorite, Ohio State (I was born in Ohio and raised by Buckeyes), just admitted their coach was a cheater-pants, so I obviously can’t pick them.

So what’s a girl to do? I’ll pick my Alma Mater and root for my Texas Longhorns, although all I’m personally hoping for is a running game and a winning season.

Baylor

Rebekah

With the return of star quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Baylor Bears are hopeful to prove they aren’t just the little sister of the Big XII anymore with a winning season in 2011-2012. (By the way, am I the only one that doesn’t understand why it’s still called the Big XII if there are only 10 teams?) Crossing my fingers for a bowl game again! Sic ‘em Bears!

Business Etiquette from NALS & RMA Conference

It’s not often that I feel 76.8% wrong, but the business etiquette course by Marion Gellatly of Powerful Presence did just that.

My favorite thing I learned was that when someone is toasting you, you shouldn’t drink. And this came in handy immediately after the conference.

I shared this new information with my business partners and their families at dinner, and a few of us decided to constantly toast our creative director for the rest of the night! (It became slightly less funny when he started toasting us back in retaliation!)

But in all seriousness, Marion gave me some things to think about, and the key things I learned are:

  • When setting the table:
    • Remember BMW – Bread (plate), Meal, Water (glass) – in that order from left to right
    • Use silverware from outward in towards the center
  • When you sit down:
    • Enter your chair from the right
    • Immediately put your napkin in your lap, folded in half with the fold toward you
  • During the meal:
    • No getting up for any reason, except for between courses; if you do leave, put your napkin on your chair, only on the table when finished
    • No “grooming” (lipstick, fixing hair, etc.)
    • No handbag or phone on the table
    • No sharing from one plate – ask for an extra
    • Spoon soup away from you
    • Pass food to the right, offering left first
    • If your food arrives earlier, wait for permission from others at the table before beginning (don’t start if they don’t give it)
  • When you are finished:
    • Put your silverware side by side on the right side of your plate
    • Don’t ask for leftovers (This one will be hardest for me!)
  • If you are the host:
    • Ask if they have food allergies or preferences after they accept your invitation; make two suggestions – mainstream and ethnic
    • Reconfirm the morning of the event
    • Wait 20 minutes if they are late
    • Direct your guests where to sit; if only one guest, sit them kitty corner from you
    • Allow your guest to order first; if your guest orders two courses, match his order
    • Don’t start business conversation until the orders have been taken

I hope these tips are as helpful and as interesting for you as they were for me….but I may still take home my leftovers!

My Trip to NALS & RMA Conference

I’ve just returned from the North American Live Stock and Rodeo Managers Association conference in Red Lodge, Montana. And I can sum it up by saying, what a hoot!

These are the nicest people you’ll ever come across, which really validated our decision to focus on this industry. I couldn’t decide whether the people were more like a family or a small town, but they were so welcoming and appreciative of our sponsorship; I truly loved my time with this special group.

I sponsored the conference on the advice of Bucky Lamb, the CEO of our wonderful partner Rodeo Austin. He said there were no guarantees, but he felt this would be a receptive audience to our message. I only went with the hope that I’d make some friends in the industry, and I certainly did. But I think I even gave some events something to think about in raising the bar on their online presence.

One thing I was struck by is just how many issues these event coordinators face besides online marketing and their event websites. I am so engrossed in the online world that it’s easy to forget it is only a small (but important!) part of the myriad of details it takes to put on a successful event.

There was a great session on social media, where I got to hear Steve Richo and Mark O’Shea from Noise New Media give some fascinating statistics and advice on integrating social media into an online marketing plan. There was also a surprisingly informative presentation by Marion Gellatly at Powerful Presence about business etiquette, where I learned I break approximately 76.8% of the rules!  Oops. (More on that in another post.)

But the most fun was in the amazing places Justin Mills of The NILE (the host of this year’s conference) arranged for us to see – from a cattle tagging manufacturer to a bull testing facility to a belt buckle store to the Buffalo Bill Historic Center to World Famous Pig Races and great meals at Irma Hotel and music by a very entertaining songwriter who shared this funny quote: “Drink, because the brain cell you kill might be the one that was holding you back.”

Thank you to everyone at NALS & RMA! It was great to meet you, and I’m already looking forward to next year!

Welcome Belton’s 4th of July Celebration and PRCA Rodeo

Our team is happy to join with the Belton Chamber of Commerce to announce our partnership to market the 4th of July Celebration and PRCA Rodeo.

The 4th of July Celebration is a long-standing annual event in the Belton community, celebrating its 87th year this summer. The event includes a kick-off BBQ, a nightly PRCA sanctioned rodeo, as well as a parade, patriotic program and festival.

It has even received the honor of being named “One of 10 Great Places to Fly Your Patriotic Colors on July 4th” by USA Today.

When the Belton Chamber of Commerce decided it was time for a new 4th of July Celebration website, they chose to work with Saffire.

“We believe Saffire is the right match to bring our July 4th Celebration and its historic traditions to life online, year round and reach a new generation,” said Stephanie O’Banion, President and CEO of Belton Chamber of Commerce.

The 4th of July Celebration website will incorporate an interactive events schedule to help people find and share the events they want to attend.  The Celebration will also enhance their overall online presence with a cohesive look and feel including a blog, Facebook, Twitter and email marketing template.

It will also include a mobile version of the website so people can access information about the Celebration from wherever they are.

We think this is a perfect match and we can’t wait to help create the website this important event deserves.

The new 4th of July Celebration website is expected to launch in early summer 2011, so stay tuned for more details!

Keep the Online Buzz

I’ve preached the importance of social media before, but here I go again!

Previously, we discussed the marketing potential of having your customers share information about your event with one another through their vast social media networks.  But creating your own social media presence is just as important.

Communicate with your customers on an ongoing basis to keep them excited about your events.  Use Facebook, Twitter, email blasts and blog posts to share info and keep customers engaged.

And give them the opportunity to converse with you, too!  Social media is a two-way street.

A great way to make your customers feel important is to have a simple contest.  Give away a pair of tickets to a concert to the best fair food photo or provide an all-you-can-ride wristband to your 500th follower.  The cost is low for you but will go a long way with your customers.

Another great customer service you could offer is simply responding to questions your followers post as soon as you can.  They expect you to interact with them in the same way they interact with you, so please make sure the person in charge of your social media is passionate and ready to put in the time and effort to create your online personality.

A consistent and interesting voice is the key to social media.

Measure Your Website’s Success

Before I began working with Saffire, I was just your average website user spending too much time online shopping and playing on Facebook.

When I joined the team, I realized just how much thought and effort went in to making sure customers were going where businesses wanted on a site and completing the tasks they desired.

And I noticed, I had been “following the leader” without even knowing it!  (I’m a true sucker for marketing, but we can discuss my home shopping network habits another time.)

To say I was stunned by the tracking and reporting taking place would be an understatement, but as I took time to study the reports I realized there is so much information you can gain for future improvements by simply paying attention to the habits of your customers.

In order to get the most of your site and continue to enhance your online presence, ensure your site is meeting its goals by utilizing tools like Google Analytics. This is a full- featured, FREE program  you should be taking advantage of no matter how big or small your website may be.

Here’s a quick list of Analytics features:

  • Setting goals specific to your website and tracking the progress
  • Ecommerce statistics
  • Watch how people get to your website and how long they stay
  • View your visitors by their location
  • Track the views, visits and length of time on specific pages

It may sound too good to be true, but lucky for you it’s as real as can be.

Maintain Your Website with Ease

The focus of a fair, rodeo or festival doesn’t stay the same for long.  When the lights go out on Monday night, they are busy preparing for Tuesday.  And once the 2011 season wraps, they are planning for 2012.

Your customers are the same way.  Their interest switches back and forth daily, and your website needs to reflect up-to-the-minute information.

We’ve talked before about how hard it can be to get in touch with your webmaster for a quick content change.  And while those in the web industry can appreciate your frustration, your customers simply can’t.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We live in an age of instant gratification. When your customers want something, they want it 5 minutes ago.  (Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point.)

You need to keep your site fresh and up-to-date by changing features and updating event information on the fly. We recommend a friendly admin site which allows you to efficiently manage your website content, without needing a web developer to do it for you.

Can you imagine holding the power to your website in your hands?  Sounds like a dream come true.

We’ve discussed the importance of Do-It-Yourself before, so let this post serve as a reminder that you can control your website.

Do a little research to find the tools that work for you. Your website can reach its full potential, and it’s time to get started.

Share the Event Experience

Through my research of fairs, festivals and rodeos, I have been impressed with the large following of each event I’ve examined.  People are passionate about their local events!

But whether it is time or location, sometimes things just get in the way of actually attending your favorite event.

A great option is to invite site visitors to experience the event via your website with live streaming.

Streaming your nightly events will engage customers and give them an authentic taste of your event, whether or not they are able to see it in person.

This is really a win-win situation for you.  Not only will you expand your audience, but Jimmy’s grandma in Montana can see him show his steer at a rodeo in Alabama.

And everybody likes a happy grandma!

Let Customers Share Events

Word of mouth is a powerful tool.  People aren’t afraid to share their opinions, both good and bad, on social media.

Your customers are one of your best marketing tools, so making it easy for them to share event information is essential.

Give them the option to share events on top social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the ability to forward custom messages to friends via email.

Don’t believe me?  Check out these statistics.

Twitter boasts 175 million users who send an estimated 75 million tweets per day. They predict their average growth to be 370,000 new users every day.

According to Facebook, their average user creates 90 pieces of content per month and has an average of 130 friends.

They estimate all of their users combined spend over 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month.

Social media is the easiest way to connect and interact with your audience and is not hard to integrate into your site with simple sharing services like Add This.

Provide a Friendly Shopping Process

Over the weekend, I was doing some online shopping at a site I’d never made a purchase from before.  I added several items to my cart, but the checkout process became so complex I simply decided the cute dress wasn’t worth the hassle.

So please, don’t give your customers an excuse to not complete their purchase.

Ticket sales are the bread and butter of your event revenue, so make purchasing tickets easy.

If you sell tickets directly, a fully-integrated shopping cart ensures customers never leave your site, so they aren’t sent to unfamiliar websites with pages that don’t match your identity.

It shouldn’t matter if users are buying tickets directly from you or from a vendor’s website, the shopping process needs to be streamlined, friendly and intuitive. Think about your own online shopping preferences.

For example, you may think the more information you gather the better, but the truth is sometimes people just want to make a purchase.  Plain and simple.

If I find myself wanting to buy something else from you, that’s when I’m ready to give you more information.  Giving the option to checkout as a guest will go a long way with many first time visitors.

So consider this another reminder that a user’s online experience is just as important as their experience at your event.