This episode we are joined by Jesse Cole, founder of “Fans First Entertainment” and owner of the Savannah Bananas baseball team. The Savannah Bananas have been awarded “Organization of the year”, Jesse’s been awarded “Entrepreneur of the year”, “Business of the year” and they won the “CPL Championship” in their first year. He’s also been featured on the “INC 5000” list as one of the fastest growing companies in America.
“Loving your customers more than your product and loving your employees more than your customers”
We all go through businesses, challenges, and adversity, even if Jesse always wears a yellow tuxedo, he started like everybody else, but he realized “normal” didn’t work too well for him. Conformity doesn’t work, if you do things like everyone else you’ll get the same results and for the most part the result are not good.
We always look at what our competitors are doing and have the same results. In the case of baseball, it’s become too long, too slow, too boring for a lot of people and the numbers are down, you have to be different like the Savannah Bananas.
When Jesse arrived in Savannah there had already been 90 years of professional baseball, and they did exactly what everyone does, social media marketing, e-newsletters, radio, and they sold one ticket in the first two months, so they decided to name the team “The Savannah Bananas”, only then did people start noticing.
At first, people hated them, they were hearing remarks like “the owner should be thrown out of town” or “you guys are an embarrassment to this city”, but they were noticed. Once they got that attention people started noticing that they had a senior citizen dance team called “The banana nanas”. But it wasn’t until they went to the first game that everything really changed because they saw that this wasn’t your typical baseball game. That’s when people started talking.
“Don’t be afraid to get people’s attention”
Once you create raving fans, they’re doing the marketing for you. During the first year they did tons of marketing, and now they spend zero dollars on traditional marketing. Currently they have a wait list for tickets because they put all the emphasis on the experience.
Thru the years, there were lots of ideas that did not work out, but whatever is normal, do the exact opposite, having that mentality was a big game changer, they started thinking in those things that created experiences which people talked about. Three words that changed everything “You wouldn’t believe”. Those are three words that can change the whole customer experience. That has been built into the entire business.
Those three words have been game changers and Jesse puts them in everything he does.
The priority in Jesse’s business is simplicity in who they are and what they stand for, the name of their company is “Fans first entertainment”, their mission is “Fans first, entertain always”, and the question that’s always asked is “Who are your biggest fans?”. If you have a business that’s going to be enduring then your biggest fans are your own people, you put them first, you care for them, you give them the experience.
When it comes to the baseball team, Jesse and his team do not focus on the game because they can’t control it, but they do focus on the transitions, in between every inning, what’s happening?, who’s dancing?, are they giving something away in the middle of the game? They get the whole stadium dancing, they have the players deliver roses to little girls in the crowd, those situations can be controlled by them. They focus on the fun, the culture and the experience.
“In a noisy world in order to make an impact you have to be remembered, what are you doing to make an impact?”
Love your customers more than you love your product but love your employees more than you love your customers.
Don’t be afraid to say “Love”, it’s OK to say it, it’s OK to say that to people. Do you care about them as a person first? Or do you care for them as an employee and what they can do for you?