In the spring of 2021, the Savannah Banana’s show will momentarily leave Grayson Stadium and take it on the road to Mobile, Alabama on March 26. On today’s podcast, Jared Orton walks us through why they chose that city, how they got to the marketing around the announcement, and what it’s been like for the past month and a half since they made the announcement and the feedback they received. With only a couple of weeks before the launch of the One City World Tour, Jared lays out their plans – from creating their announcement video to building the demand before tickets go on sale.
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The One City World Tour Launch In Mobile, Alabama
Happy new year to you and yours. I hope your 2021 is off to the start you wish, and that you’re looking forward to an amazing year. I know we are here with the Bananas. In this episode, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. It’s been about a month or so since we recorded the last episode on our culture and hiring process and leading with vision through that. It’s a fun episode where we talk with Barry and Marie and go through what it looks like when we bring someone on. We geared up as we go into this new year, in this new vision of bringing more people on and our sales staff up to a new level. We’re retooling for the future growth that we see going into not only this year, but as is the theme of this new season of the show, 2025.
We’re not just gearing up for the next 6 to 12 months. We’re gearing up for the next five years. One of the big steps that is a part of that five-year plan is taking the show on the road. If you read a couple of episodes ago, the Taking The Bananas Show On The Road episode, where I lay out our goal and our vision for what it’s going to be like when we take the Bananas Show away from Grayson Stadium and take it on the road during the spring of 2021. Things have moved quickly and have gotten to an amazing start as we made the announcement, as we picked our city. We now are going on the road to one city for the One City World Tour.
If you follow us, if you follow the Bananas, if you follow anything that we do, you know that we’re going to Mobile, Alabama. I am so pumped to go to Mobile. I’m so pumped to be in that city. We’ll walk you through everything that went into that, but we’re pumped to be in Mobile. We are pumped to take our One City World Tour there. We’re pumped to go to Hank Aaron Stadium. There’s a lot of history in that city with baseball. It’s going to be a lot of fun. This episode is going to walk you through a little bit of why we chose that city, how we got to it, the marketing around that, the marketing around the announcement, what it’s been like since we made that announcement, and what the feedback has been.
It’s Mobile, Alabama
Obviously, the work that we have to do because we’re going to Mobile on March 26, 2021. We’ve literally got a couple of months, the rest of January, then February. It’s a couple of weeks away as we get into March there and launch this One City World Tour for the very first time and become the first traveling baseball circus thing in a long time. It’s exciting. Our team is energized about it. Mobile is extremely excited about it as well. If you go back again and read that previous episode where I talked through what we were going through in that moment of trying to pick out our city, we had narrowed it down to a few different ones that we thought had the potential to be the city that we go to.
We visited Mobile and absolutely fell in love with everything about it. We went to the stadium and visited it. It’s a twenty-year-old ballpark that had AA baseball there. Unfortunately, the Minor League baseball team that was there left in 2019 and went somewhere else. That stadium is sitting empty. If you followed anything with 2020, there was no Minor League baseball season in 2020. That stadium has sat empty for over a year. They played baseball there in 2019, and then there was nothing there in 2020, and here we are going into 2021. There are people who are operating this stadium, and that’s how we made this connection with these people. It was some of the operators from the baseball team, the Mobile BayBears, who are now operating the stadium as an event venue.
They’re killing it. They’re doing light shows. They’re doing Christmas shows, they’re hosting high school and college baseball games all spring and tournaments. They’re reinventing the programming around that park. We made a connection with them and reached out. We said, “We want to come tour the place. We want to tour the city. We want to see if this place is going to be the spot for the One City World Tour.” Fortunately, a little bit of backstory here, Jesse had spoken and given a keynote address at the Mobile Alabama Senior Bowl, which is the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, which brings all the top college football players from across the country to Mobile for one game. He spoke at a business development seminar to local business leaders.
It was put on by the Senior Bowl. He spoke there a few years ago, and he met some of the local and business leaders. He met one guy by the name of Scott Tindle who’s been in Mobile for a long time. He owns a lot of businesses. He’s an entrepreneur. He had a ton of connections in that city. He was our key to understanding what the possibilities were with the business community and what the city at large on what it would be like if we came. He said, “Mobile is ripe for the Bananas to come and bring baseball back to this town.” As we started narrowing it down, we realized after we looked at the 4 or 5 cities that were potentially interested in this, we got reached out to by people from all over the country.In business, the most powerful thing you can tell people is that they can't get it right now. Click To Tweet
There were 300 nominations of cities. Over a thousand different people put in their nominations, fifteen different countries. There were many different places we could have gone and we narrowed it down to five. That was Johnson City, Tennessee, and there were some people had reached out from College Station, Texas. A lot of people from Texas A&M are reaching out. There’s a stadium in New Orleans, which is empty right now. There was a group out of Pensacola, Florida with the stadium there who had reached out, and then Daytona was an interesting possibility. There were a few different things that we had looked at, but as we started going into it, Mobile kept standing out. We make the visit there and I’ve never seen more enthusiasm from a group of people from the Chamber, the tourism folks, the city leaders, and the stadium management folks.
Filming The Promotional Videos
It was unbelievable. It was evident that they wanted the Bananas to come to Mobile, and to come to Hank Aaron Stadium. We started filming promotional videos in case it did end up being that thing. We stayed there for two days. We brought our team down there and we left knowing this is the place we need to be for our One City World Tour. We get back to the office and we start putting things together. We start mapping out, “Here’s where the announcement’s going to be. Here’s where the marketing is going to be. Here’s when we’re going to announce the five finalists, and then we’re going to announce the one city. We need to make connections with the media. We need to make connections with the business community.”
We start laying out all of our plans on what it’s going to be like to announce where we’re going. This is the one city. We get back to the team and we started putting things together. We start putting the announcement video together. You can feel the excitement in our team that we’re doing this. We’re, we’re executing on this vision on going to this one city. We’re going to put our money where our mouth is, make the investment, and go to this place. We had put the five cities that are the finalist out. I think it was November 4th, right before the election. The week after that, on November 11th, we had everything lined up with the promotional video ready to go.
We had all the news outlets. We had the city on board. We had sent merchandise to different groups in town, the sports authority, and the stadium. We blitzed the main leaders of Mobile with all the information, all the links, all the videos, all the content, and the merchandise. On November 11th, we put it out there that we’re going to Mobile, Alabama. If you go back and watch the videos, it’s funny. A lot of people thought we were going to New Orleans. Most people wouldn’t know about it unless you’re from the area, but Mobile is the original Mardi Gras city. New Orleans has the whole notoriety as being the city of Mardi Gras and the parade on Bourbon Street and all that stuff.
Mobile was the original Mardi Gras city. If you see the video, we’ve got all these carnival themes and Mardi Gras themes. These kinds of old streets that look like Savannah as well. A lot of people thought, “They’re going to New Orleans.” That was one of the finalists. Right at the end, Jesse makes the announcement. We have this drone footage that goes up and says, “The One City World Tour is going to Mobile, Alabama.” The drone goes up. We put the text on there and you can see that we are indeed going to Mobile, Alabama at Hank Aaron Stadium. That went out and the media and the people in that city started clamoring. It was amazing.
The Marketing Strategy
We started seeing all these people go to our website with everything lined up on the marketing side. We had this website built that would turn over. We’re not selling tickets at this moment, but we were accepting people to our waiting list. Hundreds of people started joining our waiting list immediately. We had 20 or 30 businesses write in for group tickets. Immediately, we had everything ready to go so that people could start joining and giving us their information. That started that campaign on November 11th. Part of the whole marketing plan and strategy is we want to make the announcement and build the demand before tickets go on sale. Part of our oversubscribed strategy is that we’re constantly building our list until we’re ready to build up so much demand where the supply is less than the demand. We can then put those tickets on sale, and then they sell out immediately.
We’re taking information from businesses to book hospitality, to book suites and things like that. For the individuals, we’re still asking them to join our waiting lists. I think in business, the most powerful thing you can tell people is, “You can’t get it right now.” Fear of missing out, “Join our list, give us your information. We’ll tell you when you’re ready to buy.” If things are on sale all the time, anyone can buy anything at any time, there’s no demand for it. There’s an element of fear of missing out that we put into this process that we tell people, “Just wait.” We build it up and finally, when we tell them, “It’s time to buy your tickets,” the flood gates open, and they should sell out in a few minutes.
That strategy we’ve put in play for a variety of different ways and for a variety of different ticket sales efforts. We tweak it every time, but it continues to work because people know exactly what to do at the exact time. They know that if they miss that, they might miss out on those tickets. On November 11th, we put out the video, put out the announcement. We have been pushing our waiting list and building that information so much so that over 1,000 individual people have opted in for the waiting list. Now that we’ve sold 1,000-some odd tickets to businesses, groups, little league teams, hospitality and suites, once we get to a level that enough tickets are sold to those types, then we will put the individual tickets on sale. The hope is that it sells out immediately, and then we can potentially go to other nights if we’re able to build that demand.
That’s the marketing strategy behind it. There are some nitty-gritty details. We’re running some Facebook ads in that market. It’s interesting where we’re having to deal with marketing in two separate places. We’re trying to make sure our messages only hit a certain demographic of people that it’s relevant to. For example, if we’re trying to post about the Mobile game and going on the road, our 50,000, 60,000, 75,000 social media followers on Facebook and Instagram don’t need to hear about that. They don’t care that we’re going to Mobile. We need to talk to a specific audience about this, and that’s people in Mobile, Alabama.
We’re doing some very specific targeted ads on those people. We’re trying to send that message to them, trying to get them to join the waiting list. It’s been successful. We’re using some of our videos, our fun content, and our images of players dancing and flips. It’s some fun targeted stuff that’s going that way because we’re trying to introduce them to a product they have no idea about. They don’t care who the Savannah Bananas are. They don’t know who the Savannah Bananas are. We’ve got to introduce that market very softly to people who are interested in baseball, or people who maybe have kids, or people who have families, and people who are interested in going to events and going out. That’s who we’re trying to target as they go to these games.
Our sales staff is calling on businesses and fundraising groups and nonprofits and schools and little leagues. They’re the ones that are going after that target of demographic of ticket buyers. We’re trying to build this list on the individual side of people who might buy 3, 4, 5, 6 tickets. I know that’s nitty-gritty, but that’s the strategy we have behind it. We’re also trying to execute Savannah at the same time, and trying to sell Savannah tickets, and trying to send out content to people who expect that. We’re trying to generate leads in the Savannah market. We’ve had to retool our marketing, promotion and content effort to make sure the right people are seeing the right information, the right content, the right ad at the appropriate time for the appropriate thing that we’re trying to get them to move to.
The Big Wrench
That’s the overall marketing and sales strategy behind that. The big wrench in this, and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this before, is the Coronavirus. We’ve met with the city leaders there and we’ve met with the stadium. It appears that we are not going to be at full capacity. As you can imagine, it’s a 5,000-seat stadium, which is awesome. That was one of the things that we were looking at. If we’re going to go on the road, it’s going to cost $50,000, $60,000, $75,000 for us to sign a professional team and take 50, 60, 70 players, coaches, staff, and entertainers down to the city, put them on the road, buses, hotels and feed them.
Everything that goes into taking this show on the road is going to be costly. We’ve got to find a stadium that can fit that but not too big. That was what was some of the other stadiums like in New Orleans that has 10,000 seats. That doesn’t make sense. Daytona or Johnson City that only has maybe 2,000 or 3,000 seats, that doesn’t make sense. Mobile at 5,000 seats made a lot of sense. If we could do one night there and potentially sell it out, and then do two nights, that makes sense for us to do from an investment standpoint. Now that we’re going into an entire year of Corona virus, and going into February and March of a year-plus of Coronavirus, we don’t know if there’s going to be the opportunity from a safe way to put 5,000 people into one venue. That doesn’t make sense.
We can’t do that in a safe manner. People are going to be wearing masks. There’s going to be testing. There’s going to be spacing as much as possible, but you can’t space 5,000 people in a 5,000-seat venue. We’re going to have to adjust. We’re going to have to bring down that capacity. We’re going to have to reduce that. We’re going to have to make sure we work with those stadium operators to make sure that we can execute this in a safe way, but provide that Bananas fun, ridiculous experience that people have come to know and come to expect on this very first time.You can make one big splash, but you're only good as good as your next new innovation. Click To Tweet
These are brand new fans who have never seen the Bananas before. We have one shot to give them that first impression. If it’s halfway, if it’s a half-butted effort, we bring half our crew, and we don’t bring the full entertainment, good luck on us trying to come back to that marketplace. They’re going to say, “I’ve seen that before. I’m not interested. I’m never going back.” We’ve got one shot to make this a winner. Now we’re going to work on what that capacity looks like. Can we do it in a financially responsible way? Can we do it in a safety precaution responsible way so that everyone has a great time, everyone enjoys themselves, but everyone does it in a safe way? That’s one of the hurdles that we’re trying to jump right now as we go into it because we’ve already sold over 1,000 tickets.
We’ve got thousands of people on this waiting list. What is that specific number that we can comfortably get to in a safe manner that everyone’s okay with, that the state is okay with, the city’s okay with, the operator’s okay with, and then can we move to another night? That’s where we stand right now as we go into this new year, going into March, going into 2021, going into the One City World Tour. What’s left to be done is a lot. That’s the fun part behind this because what we’ve realized is you can make one big announcement, you can make one big splash, but you’re only good as your next new innovation. We’re in a 24-hour news cycle. When we made that announcement, there was the announcement, there was some follow-up, there are about 48 hours of news, and they’re on to the next stuff.
The Attention Strategy
Now we’re trying to come up with, what’s our attention strategy? What’s our weekly or every other week attention strategy? What are we announcing? How can we keep these people engaged? How can we keep them talking about the Bananas coming to town? We’re 8 or 10 weeks away from this thing being right up on us. We’ve got to keep the word of mouth going over and over from the media, from the social media, from our announcements, from our content so we can be top of mind from these people every single week leading up to this game. We want people in Mobile saying, “Have you heard the Bananas are coming to town? Have you seen the video? It’s going to be huge. The stadium is going to sell out. The tickets are going to sell out quickly. You have got to get on the list. You’ve got to get your tickets.”
Some things that we’re working on right now is we announced that we’re hiring a coach from Mobile. We sent out an announcement saying, “We’re looking for a guest coach to come and be a part of the Bananas coaching staff from Mobile.” There are hundreds of people sending their nominations to be the guest coach for the Savannah Bananas from Mobile. We narrowed it down to five. There were a lot of different people who were gunning for this thing. There’s one girl who must have had half the city behind her. Everyone was saying like, “You got to get her.”
Finally, we settled on one guy from Mobile to be the guest coach of the Savannah Bananas. We’ve talked to celebrities in that town. We’ve talked to former Major League baseball players who are from Mobile. There’s a lot of power that’s coming into this thing and continuing to be a part of that announcement strategy. The next thing that we’re going to be working on is for someone from Mobile to try out for the Savannah Bananas and to make the team. Imagine that? Someone from that city gets to be on the team for the night for the Savannah Bananas. They’re going to have a coach from that city. They’re going to have a player from that city. What we’re realizing is we can rinse and repeat this in every single town we go to. When we go to New Orleans, College Station, Johnson City or wherever else we go to, they know that this is part of the deal. You get to have a coach. You get to have a player. The city that we go to is a part of this game. They’re a part of the experience. They’re a part of the atmosphere. This is what people can be excited about.
Selling The Tickets
The next thing that we’ll do after that is, we will get ready to put the tickets on sale to the public. Before that, this comes from one of Jesse’s ideas that he got from PT Barnum. It’s a mixture between PT Barnum and Willy Wonka. One is real and one is fictional. I think sometimes we feel like Willy Wonka was real. There’s this idea that PT Barnum had that he would auction off the first ticket to his circus. He would fib it a little bit where he would get businesses to bid against each other. He would tell two businesses like, “You need to bid this amount. That’s your support of the circus.” Tickets would go for $500 or $1,000 back in the early days. That would be a big deal. The first ticket to the circus goes for $1,000 and people lost their minds. They were like, “Are you kidding me? I’ve got to get my tickets.”
We took that concept and married it with the Willy Wonka golden ticket idea. We’re going to launch a golden ticket for Mobile. What we’ve realized is what I was talking about earlier, we’re only able to market this content to the people of Mobile. Our other fans on social media, if you’re not from Mobile, you don’t care about us going to Mobile, Alabama, but what if you did care? We’re launching this golden ticket auction idea which will go out 24 hours before the tickets go on sale to the public. What we’re going to offer is an all-expense, all experience trip to Mobile for anyone. Airfare, hotel, suite at the game, custom jersey, day on the town, penthouse suite in the city for your hotel. It’s absolutely top of the line, no holding back experience for any one of our fans to come to the game for the One City World Tour.
The key is we’re going to auction it off for charity. Whoever wins, half of the money will go to a charity of their choice and half of the money will go to a charity in Mobile. We’ll be able to say that the first ticket to the Mobile, Alabama One City World Tour game was purchased for, and hopefully it goes for thousands of dollars. That money will go to charity. It will be a great thing. We’ll get to fly in a Banana fan from wherever. I hope they’re from Australia. We’ll get to fly them in and give them the red carpet or yellow carpet treatment in Mobile, pick them up at the airport, bring them to the game, let them hang out in the locker room, give them the best suite in the city. We will let them go around town for the day, videotape it, get content, give them a suite at the game, all the food and drink that they want, and make this a remarkable experience that they’ll tell their family and friends for the rest of the lives.
We’ll have amazing video content that we can rinse and repeat to the next city, and do this over and over. We build these processes, systems, and marketing plans that can be done in almost every city that we go to. Now we can talk about Mobile One City World content to our regular, worldwide Bananas fan base, and we can communicate to our new Mobile fans. We can do this juxtaposition of back and forth marketing so that we don’t feel like we’re handcuffed to trying to market to people in Mobile. Both of them serve each other independently, but also supplementally so that each of them benefit in different ways. That’s going to be part of this marketing plan going forward. For the next 3 to 4 weeks, something every week is coming out like announcement about the coach, announcement about the tryout, announcement about the golden ticket, announcement about when tickets are going on sale. Maybe a celebrity appearance from a former Major League baseball player, and even other stuff that can go out.
Are we going to do fireworks? Is there going to be live music? The game sells out. All these announcements week after week, day after day leading up to this event. What we’ve realized is that if we can make this thing larger than life, larger than what it is, not just some podunk Savannah Bananas team showing up at the stadium for a baseball game. This is a larger than a life event that this team is coming to town. The town’s shutting down. The circus is here. The time is now for professional baseball. We’re coming back and we’re lighting up the stadium. It’s going to sell out and we’re going to do this year after year. We want to make this larger than life. This is just the beginning of what we have planned for this spring.
I’m going to get into that in another episode because I don’t think we’re ready to totally talk about all these things yet. This is just the tip of the iceberg for what we have planned for the spring. I think we’ve talked about it a little bit, but we see this as the benchmark for future growth as we develop our spring series. We have our summer series with our college players and our college team. We have our fall series with our breakfast bowl against Macon and our Thanksgiving game, fans giving. We’re looking at a couple of more games. Our spring is when we can kick off this premier team where we’re going to sign players, try out, and casting call. We’re going to build this new wave of professional baseball players that are coming to Savannah, playing for the Bananas and having a spring series. Maybe having an international series sometime around St. Patrick’s Day and the week after. We’re going to go on the road.
Ultimately in a few years, we continue on the road and go to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 cities where the spring is this massive piece of our puzzle. We have this premier team, these professional baseball players who come from all over the country to play for the Bananas and kick off our spring season. From March 1st all the way until November, and hopefully even December and January, there is a Bananas game happening. There’s a Bananas event happening. We are building more fans and taking our Bananas experience to impact more people, to bring more joy, more happiness, and more belonging to people.
This brand becomes this 24/7, 365 brand where it’s not just happening in Savannah. It’s happening in Mobile. It’s happening in the next cities. People from all over the country get to come to Savannah and say, “I saw it in my city, but I want to go back. I want to go see Historic Grayson Stadium. I got to go see the show for myself.” That is the goal of doing this. City by city, step by step, month by month, keeping this dream alive of bringing the Savannah Bananas to the world. I’ll get into the specifics of that spring series in the next couple of episodes as we go into it. We’ve got a lot of exciting ways that we’re going to promote that and build the attention.
Hopefully, we’ll get hundreds and hundreds of guys that want to come try out for this team to be a professional baseball player for the Savannah Bananas. It’s going to be electric. If I can say anything, this is something that we’ve dreamed about. This is something that we’ve now put on paper. This is now something that’s a part of our vision. We are going to execute on this vision of bringing the Savannah Bananas to the world. However, it starts with the One City World Tour. Thank you for reading this episode as we take the Savannah Bananas on the road to the One City World Tour. Hopefully, we’ll see you in Mobile, Alabama. If not, we’ll see you next time on the show.
- Taking The Bananas Show On The Road – Past episode
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