Episode 199 — Jesse Cole — Change the Game, Break the Rules, and Create an Unforgettable Experience

The Savannah Bananas is an unconventional, one-of-a-kind baseball team that came straight from the mind of Jesse Cole.

Despite the odds being stacked against him, Jesse built an empire that has sold out every single game since their first season and has a ticket waiting list in the thousands.

This is not your average team — and this is not your average leader.

In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, Jesse and Crisp Founder & CEO Michael Mogill sit down to discuss:

  • The power of standing out in your market
  • Why creating a niche will skyrocket your brand
  • How to win by focusing on your fans first
Episode 199 — Jesse Cole — Change the Game, Break the Rules, and Create an Unforgettable Experience
Show Notes:

Learn from the best. “What P.T. Barnum did back in the 1800s was legendary. He was the best marketer, promoter, writer, speaker, and actor around. There’s a reason he was best friends with presidents and met the queen. He knew how to bring together a cast of characters and entertain anyone at any time. I put him up there with Walt Disney in his ability to do so.”

How to stand out. “If you really want to stand out, you’ve got to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. In the beginning, I treated the team as a regular baseball team, and it just wasn’t working. Today, the Savannah Bananas are completely focused on the ‘fans first’ mentality. We have a dance team, an all-male cheerleading team, breakdancing coaches, baby bananas, players in stilts, and so much more — and every single bit of it stems from the idea of putting our fans’ needs first.”

What baseball could be. “I used to have a love for baseball, but now I have a love for baseball for what it could be. I don’t love the current game of baseball, but growing up and living with my dad, our one bond was going to the baseball field every day after school to work. He built a mound in my backyard so I could pitch. I fell more in love with it each day, until I realized that watching the game wasn’t nearly as rewarding as playing it. That’s how 15 years of experimentation developed to see what would make the game more fun to watch.”

Do what you love. “After buying Grayson Stadium, my wife Emily and I were consumed by work. It was the only thing we could focus on. We had so much debt that we needed to take care of, we needed to ensure that payroll would be successful, and so much more. It was full of challenges. Emily is a realist, and she would constantly tell me we weren’t going to be able to continue doing all of this. Having those conversations was difficult, but the biggest thing we learned was to stay in the lane of what we love and what gives us energy.”

Why bananas? “The team’s name ‘The Savannah Bananas’ came from not wanting to be like every other team. We didn’t want an animal-themed name; we wanted to stand out. We held a contest open to the public to help decide on the name. It wasn’t until a 62-year-old nurse submitted ‘Bananas’ as a team name idea, and from that moment on we were throwing out ideas and rhyming words and having a blast. We knew we would get criticism for it, which is why we prepared for two whole days on how to deal with it — and we needed it. When we revealed our team name, we got nothing but criticism for days.”

Over the top on TikTok. “OTT is how we plan our scripts, or ‘over the top.’ This has translated really well to TikTok. For instance, we’ll look at what some of the trends are, try them out, film them, and post them to the app. One of our OTT moments that we filmed got over 15 million views and likes, and that’s when we decided to leverage TikTok more often and make it work for our brand. We currently have 2.4 million followers and it’s just an amazing thing to watch.”

A departure from tradition. “Traditional baseball fans hate what we’re doing — and that’s okay. We make sure to open up the game by announcing to the crowd that this isn’t the game that their grandfathers enjoyed, so we’re intentional on that. I’m not trying to take anything away from the game of baseball because I truly think it’s a great game. We’re just not focused on the traditional baseball fans; we’re focused on the fans who want to have fun. When you open up that audience, it becomes much larger. I think all businesses should ask themselves, ‘Who are we not for?’ Once you know that answer, you can figure out who your business is really for.”

Criticism is a good sign. “Criticism hurts, but I believe if you’re not getting criticized, you’re playing it too safe. If you’re doing the same thing as everyone else, people aren’t going to talk about you. You’ve got to think big — outrageous even. The day we stop getting criticized is the day we need to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to push the envelope.”

The power of team. “When you have a big vision of what you want to do, it’s so important to make sure that everyone involved is excited, fired up, and ready to bring it to life. I feel that every day, but I know that the more we grow, the more challenges there are in store for us. We started off with four people in the office, and now we have 25 full-time and 200 part-time employees. And while we put our fans first, we also put our team members first.”

What does being a game changer mean to you? “To be a game changer, it starts with questioning the game and your industry. The only way you can make an impact is to start. Start doing. Start testing. Just start. Anyone has the opportunity to be a game changer.”

The Savannah Bananas
P.T. Barnum
Walt Disney
Find Your Yellow Tux: How to Be Successful by Standing Out by Jesse Cole
Fans First: Change the Game, Break the Rules & Create an Unforgettable Experience by Jesse Cole
Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park
Jimmy Fallon
The Harlem Globetrotters

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