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A Whole New Ballgame By 2025: The Savannah Bananas Vision

FFE 121 | Savannah Bananas 2025

 

In its five years of existence, the Savannah Bananas has changed what entertainment means in baseball and the whole sports industry. What does 2025 hold for the world’s most entertaining baseball team? How will they keep their customers and fans excited? How will they keep themselves excited? Join in as Jared Orton lays down the Bananas vision for 2025 in terms of team, product, promotion and impact. The next five years will be a whole new ballgame that will redefine what the Fans First Experience means. Every year from now will be a 24/7/365 Savannah Bananas experience. Listen in to know what to expect!

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A Whole New Ballgame By 2025: The Savannah Bananas Vision

If you’re joining us for season two as we’ve kicked it off, you are on a journey with us in getting a front seat to our business on a day-to-day basis. It’s exciting to go through this journey with the readers. The trailer for season two got a lot of amazing feedback. It is one of the most downloaded episodes of the show so far. There’s a lot of energy and excitement behind this. We’re trying to answer this question that we get all the time from people who don’t understand what our business is like. We’re answering this question of, “What do you guys do in the offseason?”

As we’ve been in business for years and have had moderate to somewhat success, we want to peel back the curtain for folks and take them through our process of what are we doing every single day, week and month that leads us to the opening of this ballpark, Historic Grayson Stadium to the masses and selling the merchandise. What’s our marketing strategy look like? What’s our content? How are we hiring people? What are our conflicts? What are our challenges? How are we overcoming those things? Who are we learning from and who are we inspired by? That’s what we’re going to be bringing to you as we journey into this season two and beyond.

As promised, this episode is all things vision. We’ve been in existence for years and completed our fifth season as the Savannah Bananas. It’s been an amazing five seasons. We’ve achieved this level of success and now what do we do next? How do we keep people excited? How do we keep our customers and our fans excited? How do we keep our team and our employees excited? How do we keep ourselves excited? Jesse and Emily, as the owners of the team, and myself being fortunate enough to lead this team as the Team President. How do we keep everyone motivated and driving forward, inspired to do more new things and take on new challenges? How do we keep doing that and not to settle for the status quo, for whatever is normal, doing the same old same old, and getting a different result?

We embarked on this journey, me, Jesse, Emily, Marie Gentry and Berry Aldridge, who make up more of the senior group of our team here. We’ve been getting together for the past months. We read a book, The Vision Driven Leader by Michael Hyatt. We use that book as a framework for crafting this new vision for the Savannah Bananas over the next 3 to 5 years. I know a lot of times you can read a book and say, “I’m going to do all those things.” We had this concept of what our vision wanted to look like. We didn’t use every single point, chapter and word in the book, but as a guiding light and a framework, it’s powerful. It got us to start mapping out and writing down, where do we want this thing to go? What do we see as the destination in the future?

If you think about how this thing was created, it was us pitching out there, “In 2025, what does this place look like? What do we have to do to get there? What’s it going to take? What are those ideas? What are those aspirational goals for us as a team and as a company? What do our fans need from us? That’s where this vision crafting or drafting process started with us, our leadership team, getting together on a week-to-week basis and charting out the hard questions, “What is this thing? What do we want it to be? Who are we to our fans? Who can we be to our fans? What does our fan look like in the next 3 to 5 years? Where will they come from? How will they buy from us? What will the experience be like?”

FFE 121 | Savannah Bananas 2025
The Vision Driven Leader: 10 Questions to Focus Your Efforts, Energize Your Team, and Scale Your Business

There were some difficult conversations and there were some conversations that needed to be clarified, “Are we on the same page here? Does this mean more work for us?” A lot of hard conversations have to be had. Going through the book allowed us to seek out this all-purposeful vision that now we are all behind and we’ve got to share with our team and we’re going to now share publicly like we’re doing now on this show. We’re going to put it out to prospective employees, to our fans, our community, our city leaders and to everyone. The hope is that it inspires people to want to join in on this crusade of us taking on the world and this next challenge on the next 3 to 5 years. That’s where it came about.

I’ll tell you the reason that we had this come to Jesus moment is these past years, let me take you back to the original vision. When we first came here to Savannah, Georgia, I’ll never forget it was October 5th, and I was handed over the keys to Grayson Stadium, this magnificent beautiful ballpark, this 1926 ballpark that was built on these grounds and rebuilt in the ‘40s. Many professional players have come through here. I’m even looking out at the time one of the teams that came through here. President Roosevelt and President FDR gave a presidential address here. The Olympics torch was brought over to Grayson Stadium in the ‘90s when it was in Atlanta at one point. There’s so much beautiful history has happened here in Savannah.

Unfortunately, the team that left in 2015 said that baseball would no longer exist in Savannah. They said that baseball and the stadium was dead, the city was no good and the fans were no good. Baseball should no longer be played at this ballpark or in this city until a new stadium was built. We didn’t believe that. We thought there was a better brand of what could be done here in the name of entertainment, of fan experience and putting on a show for people. We play good baseball and we have the top college players in the country, but from a pure experience entertainment standpoint, we feel like we can deliver one of the best sports entertainment experiences that are available for people. It’s absolute chaos.

When we first set out in the thought process of what could this be, our vision for this place in 2015 going into 2016 season was to resurrect Grayson Stadium. To bring it back to life, to bring the fans back to this beautiful ballpark, to sell out games, to create an all-inclusive experience, to build incredible value for the fans that were going to be able to come here. That’s how we set out to do it. We thought, “What if we could sell out 5 or 10 games? What would that look like? What would it look like to have an all-inclusive one price, all the food and drink experience? What would it look like to deliver nonstop entertainment?” If you’ve read to this show for a while, our company’s name is Fans First Entertainment and our mission through all this is, “Fans first, entertain always.”

Our mission is to keep our fans first in every decision that we make and to be non-stop entertaining. That mission of what we’re trying to accomplish and how we’re trying to accomplish this, that never changes. The vision and destination, that has to change but our core beliefs won’t change. Our core beliefs are to always be caring, different, enthusiastic, fun, growing and hungry. Those things, that’s our DNA and that’s who we are. That’s what we believe in that our people are caring, different, enthusiastic, fun, growing and hungry. Those two things within this will never change. Those foundational elements of our company will never change. The destination of where we’re going, that has to change.

Numbers don’t matter. It’s the impact you make on people that does. Click To Tweet

I’ll use an example if you’re going on vacation and you’re going on a trip, once you get there, you’ve gotten there. For us, once we got to this point of all the games are selling out, our entertainment has reached a high-mark, we’ve got content going out constantly and the merchandise is going well, if we don’t change our destination of where we’re trying to go, we will only get back to every single year selling the same number of tickets to the same number of fans, games and entertainment. We might make some incremental changes over time. We might make some marginal changes, add a game here, maybe add a hospitality space or add a new product, or heaven forbid change the price as a form of growth. We could make marginal changes through these things, but not the sweeping drastic exponential changes that we saw in the first couple of years.

We shared this graph with our team from year 1 to year 5. We saw revenue growth of absolutely epic proportions. We saw revenue growth of almost 100%, somewhere around 75% in the first year, then somewhere around 25% from year 2 to year 3, and then another like 15%, 20% year four. Going into 2020, a major drop-off of almost 50% decrease in revenue, but we saw a dramatic increase in revenue, in number of fans. If you look at it from a graph standpoint, you can see that we’re going to hit a level that cannot be topped. We’re going to flatten out. Our curve is going to be flat if we were to continue on this trajectory. This is a turning point in our company where we’ve got to make the switch and we’ve got to set the next course of direction for our company. That’s what we set out to do. That’s what we’ve created and that’s what I want to share with you all.

One of the most interesting things here, some of the parameters for how these decisions were going to be made, the four rules for casting a new vision that Michael Hyatt lays out in The Vision Driven Leader book are four important things. The first one is to focus on what isn’t, not what is. How that’s described is you can’t focus on, “This is the way that things are right now. This is the way that our business operates right now.” You’ve got to throw that out the window. Suspend the present moment for a certain amount of time in this vision casting and focus on what isn’t. One of the things that was interesting in this conversation is Emily Cole, our owner, she had the question of, “What if we have a season and an offseason? What would it look like if we never had an offseason? What would it look like if we were always in season?” That’s never happened in our business or any sports business at all. We started working around that conversation of what would it look like if we never had an offseason? Focus on what isn’t, not currently what is.

The second rule in this vision casting is thinking exponentially and not incrementally. I’ve been guilty of this, but the one-tick better approach is nice in theory and nice on paper but that’s not exciting. That’s not what gets people fired up and out of bed in the morning, “We’re going to have 10%, 20%, 50%. We’re going to drive this thing forward by 100% in the next five years.” That gets people fired up. I’m always wanting to get one-tick better every day. I’m always wanting to find a new process, find a new way, do something a little bit different, but that’s not going to push this thing dramatically forward. There’s a book called Upstream by Dan Heath. He made a comment, “Our systems are built perfectly for the results that they get.” For example, if we’re okay with 1% growth every single year, that means we’ve built a system perfectly designed to execute a 1% growth. We’ve got to trash the whole system. We’ve got to trash the previous vision.

If we’re going to still focus on selling out games and providing a great entertainment experience, we can only get incrementally better because we’ve reached that cap of what’s possible. We’ve got to crank the dial-up exponentially on our vision, and then figure out how we can get there in the future. The third thing on the framework here is we’ve got to think risky, but not stupid. These ideas that we’re coming up with and that we put together in this vision, these are not company-dooming ideas. You can’t come up with a vision that’s going to put you at a business most likely. There’s got to be an element of risk. There’s got to be an element of, “Will it work? Will this pay off? Do we have the finances to do it? If we lose every single dollar we put into this risk to and put into this adventure, will kill us? Hopefully, not.” We can’t kill the business but we’ve got to be risky enough to see those exponential gains, that exponential mindset and that exponential thinking. We’ve got to take some risks.

FFE 121 | Savannah Bananas 2025
Savannah Bananas 2025: It all starts with the team because we can’t do the product, promotion and impact without our team being the right people on the bus.

 

What you’re going to hear as we layout this vision for you, there are some risks that are going to be involved. There are some elements of this that might not work. As we get into it day by day, and more episodes of these show, I’ll be sharing with you, “Here’s the risk we’re taking. Here’s where we’re at right now. Here’s how it’s paying off. Here’s how it’s not paying off. Here’s the roadblock we’re having. This product is not selling. This market is not responding to us.” There are going to be some inherent risks that are to be taken with this, but that’s the only way that this new vision can get out, inspire people, get people excited and have that exponential growth.

The fourth framework is, and this depends on your personality type but it’s crucial in the thinking of the vision, especially if you’re someone who’s going to put one of these vision casting documents together and share it with your team, your customers, your fans and anyone else. This is an important one to nail down and make sure you train your mind to think this way. This fourth framework is to think about ‘what’ not ‘how.’ I know a lot of us are how thinkers. We hear an idea and we’re like, “How are we going to execute it? Roadblock, that’s not going to work. Red flag. I don’t see a way that we can get around that. That doesn’t make sense. We don’t have the infrastructure for that.”

You have to throw, suspend your belief in thinking about how any of this is going to be accomplished. I, Emily, Jesse, Berry and Marie, we all had to reframe our minds and say, “We’re not going to figure out the how.” At some point we will. We’re going to have strategy sessions, meetings and an actual detailed strategy on how we’re going to execute. Right now, as we craft this vision and share it with our team, we’re going to focus on the what, on the destination, on where we’re going, on the actual tangible characteristics of what the vision is and not necessarily the logistics of how, the strategery, the details, the marketing plan and all those things. There are going to be a lot of things that you’re like, “How in the world are they going to do that?” That’s what this show is for. We’re going to share with you all the way to the finish line hopefully over the next five years on how we’re doing it and the strategy that’s going around it.

Those are the four rules, guidelines and frameworks on how this new vision was crafted and casted. I want to go and give you the four topics that are part of this vision. There are four rules, the four guiding lights of this: what isn’t, not what is, exponential not incremental, risky not stupid and what not how. The four topics of this vision, the four categories that we broke it down to were as following. We had the team, our employees, ourselves, our team and our people. We had our product, this thing we’re going to sell and the thing we’re going to put out in the marketplace that our fans are going to choose and tell us whether we’re idiots or whether they love it. This beautiful free enterprise marketplace that we all get to enjoy every single day of our lives. We’re going to put something out in the marketplace that people are going to say yay or nay. That’s the product.

The third thing is promotion. In Michael Hyatt’s book, he calls this sales and marketing. We’ve shied away from the idea of sales and marketing because we feel like nobody likes to be sold but everyone likes to buy. Nobody enjoys being marketed to or advertised to. In our mind it’s called attention. We want to create attention. We want to create so much attention that people are excited to buy from us. We wrap that into a word of promotion. How are we promoting this thing? How are we getting the word out? What’s that process look like? The fourth thing is why does all this matter? What is the impact going to be on the world, your team, your organization, your fans, your customers, your community or your bottom line? What is the impact going to be? Why does all this matter?

Taking action and doing is how we learn. Click To Tweet

For us, it’s not bigger wallets, bigger notoriety, we’re more famous or whatever. There’s a bigger purpose to this. We had some struggle in identifying why does all this matter? Why do we get up every single morning, come to this office, make that phone call, send that email, make that tweet, put that Facebook post out, deliver that video, make it fun and do this crazy stunt? Why do we do this? We had one whole impact thing written out and we trashed it. We said, “Just because we hit a number, that doesn’t matter. Just because we sold this number of things, that doesn’t matter. It’s the impact we make on people’s lives, that is what matters.” The four vision topics: team, product, promotion and then impact. That’s where we put all this together.

What I’d like to do for the first time, read and explain to you each piece of these topics, each piece of the vision of where the Bananas are going in 2025. When we got our team together and presented this to them, it was inspiring. People were leaning forward, people were asking questions, people were saying, “This makes me think of this. What about this? What if we did this one day?” It was exciting. We had food, drinks and presentation. This was important and a monumental day for our company when we shared this. We started off with team and employees because we feel like we can’t do any of this, we can’t do the product, the promotion, the impact without our team being the right people on the bus but also in the right seat. That’s a very important thing that we made an emphasis on is that we’ve got to have the right people on the bus but we’ve got to have them in the right seat as well. Jim Collins made a great quote when he said that, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

Here’s the team portion of our vision for 2025. For the team portion, we broke it up into our culture, our atmosphere and our benefits. You’re getting a front-row seat to what it’s like and to being a part of our team. You’re getting the nitty-gritty details. Here we go. “Working with The Savannah Bananas is fun, challenging and exciting. We have a team of extremely talented and positive people who are committed and energized by our mission. When it comes to The Bananas, they live and breathe fans first, entertain always. The fans first way guides our team and our teammates embody being caring, different, enthusiastic, fun, growing and hungry. Everyone shows personal and professional growth, and they are constantly serving and impacting others. We’ve built an all-star team of the best creators, performers and doers in business. We constantly bring on people who contribute to the atmosphere of intelligence, passion, and fun. Our team is obsessed with challenging the status quo and finding a better way to do almost everything for our fans.” That’s our teammates. Those are our people who we aspire to have with us in 2025.

Our culture, “We attract thousands of applicants a year, including the most passionate, hardworking and talented people from around the world. This list continues to increase every year because of the impact The Bananas and our culture make and our unbeatable work culture. Our team loves being around each other. Everyone who joins our team passes the beer and barbecue test as people we want to grab a beer with and have a team barbecue. Everyone has mutual respect for each other and their work. Our people bring their whole self to work. We encourage people to do differences and what makes them unique to show up daily. Collaboration is crucial to our team. While everyone has individual goals and products to work on, they understand how their role impacts the direction of the entire team. Collaboration between departments is critically important. The team and people thrive when we work together. Our team enjoys unprecedented freedom with their jobs. While most people who work for sports teams are often burnt out and exhausted after seasons, our team feels refreshed and energized throughout the year. This is accomplished by a flexible year-round work schedule and our successful intern and seasonal staff program. This system allows each of us to have freedom from work and work from the office less because of these assistants who do exactly what we do.

Family comes first. Family matters will always be prioritized over work schedules. Our team truly feels supported to spend as much time as possible with their family and bring their family to work too if they wish. Our team believes that working with The Bananas is the best job to be in to start and have a family. Our celebration dinners and parties throughout the year are epic, including our annual Bananas Gala, which becomes a can’t miss event.” That’s the idea of what our culture would look like in 2025. Our atmosphere, “We want to be named one of the best places to work in the country and numerous other top company culture awards annually. We’ll reimagine the way work has to be. All the things people dislike about work, they’re eliminated: the long hours, the rigid work schedule and the micromanagement.

FFE 121 | Savannah Bananas 2025
Savannah Bananas 2025: The Bananas are the voice for change in baseball by putting fans first and entertaining always.

 

Our atmosphere feels like we’re a part of this startup where our team is inspired by crazy ideas and continually inventing new products and experiences for our fans. We encourage experimentation and invention on behalf of our fans. Testing new ideas as part of our culture. We realize some ideas will not work but we’ll move on fast. Taking action and doing is how we learn. We are a high-productivity workplace that is balanced with constant fun laughter and smiling. We are proud to bring outside people into The Bananas world and show them how we operate.” That’s the atmosphere around what it’s like to be in our workplace in 2025.

Our benefits, “The Bananas set the gold standard for benefits and bonuses in the sports industry. Physical and mental health is a huge priority for us. Our team has gym memberships. We’re awarded for proper sleep and healthy eating, and there’s time off or sabbaticals are always encouraged and provided. Compensation is high and our company provides the base for long-term financial stability through education as well as funding retirement investments. Everyone on our team has the financial freedom and opportunity to live comfortably and contribute to their community. Our people are given the opportunity to learn anything they want with any class or experience around the world. We have annual epic trips with the team, their families and unexpected fans for surprises and experiences occur year-round, and they celebrate our accomplishments and anniversaries.” That is the layout and framework of the vision for our team, our people and our employees in 2025.

The focus of this vision is we’re trying to knock down the sports industry right now. We’re not using terms like, “The Best in the World or The Best Company to Work Forever.” We’re not trying to take down Amazon, Apple, Zappos and Southwest Airlines. We’re not trying to take those people down. We’re not trying to achieve that status yet because that’s not realistic. That’s a little bit of stupid thinking I would suppose. We want this risky thinking of, “What would it look like in 2025 for our team?” A lot of these things we’re doing right now, but we’ve got a lot of room to improve if we want to be named best place to work. If we want everyone to say that this is the best job to be a part of to start a family, if we’re going to take epic trips around the world, we’ve got a lot of work to do to get there. The beauty of this vision document and this putting it out there to the world and making it public is the world is going to hold us accountable for this. Our team is going to hold us accountable for this. We’re going to hold ourselves accountable for this. We have said this is where we’re going. This is how we’re going to be accountable to our team.

The next piece of the vision topic is our product. This is my favorite part, writing out this product piece. This is where you’re going to hear the, “Not what is but what isn’t.” This is where the conversation with Emily came very powerfully into this of, “What would it look like to have zero offseason?” This is the product piece of our vision in 2025. “The Savannah Bananas are a 24/7, 365 experience. People become Bananas fans every single hour of every single day. They’re consuming Bananas content all the time through our website and social media. We have a team of people producing blogs, interviews, podcasts, long and short videos, paid content and photography year-round. Through this medium, we create ridiculous attention that continues to bring more fans to The Bananas.” Our year-round shows, “The Bananas have become the first team to play year-round with no traditional off-season, special holiday games like Oktoberfest, Halloween, Fansgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day, and the Breakfast Bowl are all can’t miss events at Grayson Stadium.

In the spring, The Bananas take the show on the road. Our roadshow series will be in eight cities, each selling out a Friday and Saturday in March and April. More cities are recruiting us to come to their stadium, but we are particular on where we grow. With these added shows, we are able to experiment and continually test how to make the games faster and more exciting for our fans. These new innovations with our live shows drive more and more Bananas fans. Over 200,000 people will experience 50 Banana shows throughout the year. Thousands of fans additionally tune in online to watch our globally-recognized broadcast that reimagines and redefines the way that games are streamed online.” That’s our year-round show aspect.

The Savannah Bananas is 24/7/365 experience. Click To Tweet

Grayson Stadium as a part of the product, “Grayson Stadium has been upgraded while maintaining the simplistic historical field. The stadium feels like a theme park where fans are able to move about from attraction to attraction throughout their time inside. Beyond the games, people arrive early in the day to have special experiences with our characters, players and coaches. Some fans choose to stay overnight at our Airbnb at the stadium, while others eat lunch overlooking right field after their morning tour. Some fans arrive early before the game to experience the Savannah Bananas brewery or even check out the 1926 speakeasy hidden inside the ballpark. The stadium is buzzing every day with visitors and fans who stop by even if they haven’t secured tickets for a show that night.”

This is the Banana Show and experience as it relates to our product, “With everything we do, we challenged the traditional baseball game fan experience from the way baseball games are played, to the way they are watched, to the way they are experience. We continually push the boundaries. We fight the long, slow and boring out of baseball. Our live shows are dramatically different than any baseball game on Earth. We are the voice for changing baseball and making it fun. By putting fans first and entertaining always, we are known for the most electric and fun atmosphere in sports. We show that you can have fun, entertain fans and still dominate on the field. In fact, the more fun we have, the better we play. Our hydrants create attention, but we back it up with our extremely talented ballplayers. Overall, our show in circus-like behavior and promotions receive global media attention and that grows our fan base by staggering amounts.”

Our merchandise product, “Because of our dramatically increased reach, Bananas’ merchandise is a fashion item. People crave the newest releases each month. They line up to rush to the store. We’ve made strategic collaborations with other brands across the country to create unique items. Because of our increased buying, we’ve tested a small in-house printing shop to increase delivery speed and cut cost of goods over time. We have a few select national retailers that buy from us because of our sales that they rival their MLB collections. We also have a small cast of full-time players and coaches who reach a large audience through their personal brands. Anytime we showcase camp them, the fans go crazy and their jerseys are insanely popular.”

Overall results, “We continue to invent new products and experiences for our fans. If it’s better for our fan experience, we will test it. If it’s reinventing or re-imagining a better way, we will try it. Nothing is off limits.” That’s the product that we’re going to put into the marketplace. Year-round shows, no offseason, Oktoberfest, Fansgiving, Christmas game, New Year’s game, Breakfast Bowl and St. Patrick’s game and then going on the road to eight cities in the future in 2025. This roadshow series that goes out in March, April and May and goes to cities across this great country and takes this Bananas experience on the road. In a merchandise product that people line up for and barge down the doors for, it’s so big that we have an in-house printing shop to keep up with the demand. In the ballpark, Grayson Stadium, where people move around and they feel like it’s a theme park. This is the vision for what this product is that we want to put into the marketplace in 2025.

Third piece, the promotion. How are we going to get this word out there to the people in the marketplace? How are we going to get this to our fans? We broke this up in two ways, a spread and serve way, and an attention plan. Here’s the promotion of The Savannah Bananas as we go to 2025. “We believe so much in The Bananas experience that we all want to share it with as many people as possible. Our mission to entertain always inspires us to deliver amazing experiences for our fans and share it constantly. The content created by our attention department works hand-in-hand with our sales and experience team, as they work to bring in more and more fans to The Bananas family.”

FFE 121 | Savannah Bananas 2025
Savannah Bananas 2025: If it’s better for fan experience, the Bananas will test it. Nothing is off limits.

 

Spread and serve, “The Bananas continue to sell out every game they play. The sellout streak and mentality spreads to other cities as The Bananas roadshow comes to town. Our over 200,000 Bananas fans are lucky enough to experience a Bananas live show. The demand for these tickets fuels our entire team and creates unprecedented excitement for fans and of all types in demographics to go bananas. The excitement drives our belief that everyone needs to go bananas and that every family in the world needs to experience the Bananas. We are in a constant pursuit to root out the friction and frustration points of the fan experience and serve them in better ways. We believe that sharing this and serving leads to more fans. We have a moral obligation to grow our fans and spread our fun. More fans continue to drive our economic engine. Our team is built with passionate, enthusiastic and hungry people who are driven to reach out to more people on a daily basis for both sales and relationship building.” That’s the idea of how our sales experience should look like. We’re constantly sharing this experience with people that it’s natural for them to buy from us.

Our attention plan. We’ve got rid of the marketing word and we set attention. “We believe that attention beats traditional marketing. We create attention year-round with our products, promotions, players and epic Bananas shows. We entertain 24 hours a day, seven days a week with new content around the clock on all platforms. We believe we are a media company and act like it with numerous contributors to our content, including writers, videographers, photographers, filmmakers, players, coaches, performers, broadcasters and other members from our front office team. We push the envelope on our content and our live shows. We fight against what’s normal and normal for sports teams. Our stories are different. Our stunts are different. Our interviews are different. Our videos are different. We do not settle for, ‘This is how we used to do it.’ We try and do everything. Our tone on social media is sarcastic and fun.

If our brand was a person, we’d all want to grab a beer with them. We’re fast when it comes to jumping on a trend or even we’ll start our own. Our website and app is our central hub. Everything starts from one location where people can get the newest Bananas content with our Bananas Now Feature. They can buy their tickets, they can buy their merchandise, they can plan their experiences, and they can even use it to move around the park. Our emails and our texts are loved by our fans. People look forward to seeing what’s next from The Bananas and being touched by our brand. Our fans look forward to our emails and post on social daily, and they always want more Bananas.” This is how we want to promote and share our product and our experience with the world, with our fans.

A lot of it is this 24/7 mentality of every moment of every day, someone consuming a piece of our content or becoming a bigger Bananas fan. We hope to do that through an app or some centralized hub. We hope to do that through more contributors, content producers, writers, bloggers, photographers, filmmakers and videographers, all those different contributors. We hope to do that through a gifted sales and experience team where we’re not selling a ticket to come to a baseball game. We’re selling an experience that you couldn’t get anywhere else, where you are coming from all over the country or from all over the world. You’re coming to Grayson Stadium and you want to get a player experience, a meet and greet, a locker room tour, to meet Jesse the owner of the team, to a book signing and coffee with the coaches in the morning. We’re crafting this experience around Grayson Stadium and no longer we’re salespeople. We are promoters that are sharing this experience and this vision with the world. That’s what’s causing more and more people to become Bananas fans.

Last piece of this, our impact. Why does this matter? If we do all this, great. If we have 200,000 fans, great. If people become Bananas fans every day of the week, great. Why does it matter? I get chills even saying that, “Why does it matter?” To be honest with you, the things that I’ve seen in this ballpark, the personal tears that I’ve cried, the tears that I’ve seen other people cry, the hugs, the high fives, the people that have come up and said their personal story to us about how this has changed their life and how they feel connection to this place and their family, it’s the reason why we get to do this stuff. It’s the reason why we put out another video, why we chose a tone of fun during the Coronavirus and not silence because people needed that from us during that time. We felt like we needed to provide that to our fans. I’m going to read the impact to you and give you this last piece of why this all matters.

Every family in the world needs to experience the Savannah Bananas. It is the team’s moral obligation. Click To Tweet

“Millions of people are searching for fun, joy, happiness and belonging. Because of what we do, our fans find this when they go Bananas. No matter their age, ethnicity background, our fans feel like they belong at our show. As soon as they walk into a Bananas experience, they feel transported into a world of fun. They sing, they dance, they laugh together. Together, our fans don’t take themselves too seriously. They let loose and go bananas in every way. We’re their first game. We’re their summer vacation. We’re their reconciliation. We’re their birthday celebration. We’re their engagement. We’re their family reunion. We’re here to celebrate and bring people together. The Bananas experience evokes such strong positive emotions from our fans that they cannot help but share about it with their friends and family. By scripting everything out, we ensure that our fans feel something powerful when they interact with our brand. We are more than a baseball team to so many people.

We provide more fun, more laughter than 99% of other organizations. Our fans know that they can rely on us to bring them joy. We celebrate the high highs with them, and we provide a reprieve from the low lows. Because of our team, fans realize that there’s a better way to experience a sporting event. Win or lose, being a Bananas fan means you belong, and you experience joy and fun. The experience we provide empowers and inspires our teammates to create even more fans first experiences and moments. It all starts with one fan at a time, one teammate at a time, and by reaching more people, our impact is exponential.” That’s why it all matters. For us, we see it every single night. There are people that are searching for something. If you’ve ever watched Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones gives his famous line, “It’s money they have and peace they seek.” People are coming here searching for something and they probably don’t even know that they’re searching for it. It’s that joy, happiness and fun, and that step away from reality that I think that we get to provide here that they don’t get anywhere else.

We signed our ten-year lease with the City of Savannah and we’re so thankful for being able to sign that with them. I got chills listening to our City Council members describe how they felt about this place in Grayson Stadium and what it could be. I realized at that moment, it doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you want to sit on, it doesn’t matter your race, your ethnicity, your gender, your background and your economic status. If you’re a Bananas fan, you’re a Bananas fan, and you have that with someone else. You have that with people across the country and someone across the world. I realized that when we had our Bananas Insiders Program with our streaming and we had Beco as our broadcaster, I saw people make connections with each other and make connections with Beco that they never planned on. They never needed that. They never expected for that to happen but they became Bananas fans together.

They might not have anything else in common at all in their personal life, but now they’re Bananas fans. By doing all of this, by creating this work environment, this culture, this team atmosphere, by developing a product that goes in the marketplace and goes to other cities, it’s an opportunity for people to experience us year-round, every day of the week, and every hour of the day and promoting in a way that generates content for people to consume, share, talk about and to provide an entertainment experience at our ballpark that rivals any other thing you’ve ever seen to do all those things.

To add the impact of millions of people, finding their place here, becoming a Bananas fan, whether you bought a piece of merchandise, you watched a video, you came to a game, you met a player, you signed up for something online or no matter what, you became a Bananas fan. That’s what we’re sharing with the world and that’s our vision for 2025. That’s where we’re going. In 2021, ‘22, ‘23, ‘24, ‘25, we’re going to take steps to get there every single day, every single month, every single year. That’s what we have to do next. That’s what we’re working on now. That’s where we’re going. That’s what isn’t, but that’s the destination. Now the strategy that goes into behind it, that’s the conversation that we’re having every single week.

FFE 121 | Savannah Bananas 2025
Savannah Bananas 2025: The Bananas experience evokes such strong positive emotions from fans that they cannot help but share about it with their friends and family.

 

Those are the meetings that we’re having. We have to remind our team every single time, “This is the vision. This is where we’re going.” Every Monday when we have our staff meeting, we’re going to have someone read a piece of the vision. We had Lizzie read the impact portion to remind people, “This is the impact we’re going to make.” Next time, someone’s going to read the product or the promotion piece or the teammate piece every single week reminding people this is where we’re going as a team. Individually, we’ve crafted out through our Key Performance Points, KPPs, this is what individually your job needs to be every single day, every single week and every single month. These are the focus points for you, your individual role and your department role for you to execute on this vision.

Marketing team, if our vision is a 24/7, 365 brand, we need to have marketing talks, attention talks around what’s it going to take for us to be a 24/7, 365 brand? Ticket experience, sales experience team. We’ve got to talk about what it’s going to be like to create new experiences. We’re going to have a Fansgiving game this year, we’re going to have a March game, and we’re going to have a St. Patrick’s Day game, and we’re going to go on the road this year, that’s going to happen. We’re starting to put those blocks into place. As we have this vision, we keep going back to it, looking over and over it and then we say, “What strategy needs to go into place? What do we need to test? What do we need to try to start executing on this vision?”

What I’ll say to you as the readers is hang on. It’s going to get fun. It’s going to get wild. It’s going to get weird. You’re going to see us announce things that you’re like, “They’re doing what? They’re having a Pilgrim game?” When you hear us announce that we’re going on the road, you heard it here first that we’re going somewhere and we’re taking this brand to a whole other level. When you see videos and content pieces going out at midnight and 3:00 in the morning, when you log onto social media or when you see us create an app where all things Bananas are happening 24 hours a day, I want you to know that’s where we’re going. It’s because of this vision, and writing it out and sharing with our team and sharing it publicly that we’re holding ourselves accountable to it.

What I will say, and we’ve shared this with our team, this all can be overwhelming when you share this grand vision. What we promise to our team upfront was none of this can happen without the right people on the bus, in the right seats, doing the right thing, performing the right role. None of this is going to happen by burning our people. That’s not in our vision. Our vision is not for people to be burnt out. We can’t burn people out in pursuit of a 24/7, 365 brand. What we promised to our team was our brand is going to be working 24/7, 365, but our people are not going to be working 24/7, 365. We have to be known as the best place to work. We have to be known as the best place to start a family. We have to be known as great benefits, time off and flexible work hours and working from the home.

We have to be known by those things and then on the counter side, we also have to be known as a 24/7, 365 brand. That’s bringing the Bananas to the world and that is the pursuit. It is risky. It is crazy. It is not being done in many places and not in the sports industry, but it’s exciting and we’re ready for it. We cannot wait to see where this thing goes in 2021, ‘22, ‘23, ‘24. I can’t wait to host a show or whatever these things are called in 2025 and look back at these conversations and say, “We did it.” Thank you for reading this piece of the show on the 2025 vision of The Savannah Bananas.

We’re going to be posting these publicly. These documents will be on our website. There’ll be on our social media. They will be posted everywhere for you to consume and see and take. I hope you do something similar for your business, for your team, for your people, for your product, for your customers and for your fans, because it’s exciting to draft out those next 3 to 5 years. Thanks for reading to this episode of the show. Always get in touch with us. Text, email, call, hit us up on social media, and get in touch with us. We would love to hear from you. Have a great day.

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Jared Orton

Jared Orton

Because of a relentless focus on entertainment and ticket sales, the Royals were fortunate to see tremendous growth in attendance and revenue during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Jared is now taking those experiences, along with the experiences of Fans First Entertainment, to develop a value-packed, non-stop, entertainment experience for Savannah fans. Jared currently lives in Savannah with his wife, Kelsey.
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