Take a moment think back to the last conference you attended, and try to remember the session immediately after the mid-afternoon tea break.
Drawing a blank?
You aren’t alone. By 3 p.m. at most conferences, many of us have one foot out the ballroom door and one eye on our phones, texting fellow attendees about where to meet up for happy hour.
But for several hundred people attending last October’s sold-out NextCon in Scottsdale, Arizona, that script was flipped on its head.
At exactly 3:30 p.m. on the second day of the three-day conference, when attendees were downing coffees and wondering how they were going to last the next two hours, the ballroom’s speakers started blaring tunes from Jock Jams (anyone else miss the 90s?!) and out ran Jesse Cole from the back of the room to the stage, fully decked out in a bright yellow tuxedo and top hat.
For the next 90 minutes, Cole had the crowd rapt, sometimes laughing, other times moved nearly to tears, as he told the story of purchasing a fledgling amateur baseball team in Savannah, Georgia, and turning them around to a smashing success. The team is called The Savannah Bananas and Cole comes to every game in his yellow tux.
Unsurprisingly, the theme of his talk was how companies can stand out and why it’s important to be different.
Here are just three of his dozens of tips on how to stand out from the crowd. Make sure to check out the full video for all of his advice!
Identify your “mirror moment”
Business owners need to look at themselves and their companies in the mirror to determine the business they are really in. It is only from there that they can reach success.
“All innovation starts in the mirror moment; the moment when you face what frustrates you about your business or industry—what upsets you,” he said. “Think about your customer. What frustrates or irritates them?”
After acquiring The Savannah Bananas, Cole realized the team was losing fans and money. Even with a pretty good winning streak, people found themselves bored at games.
“That was my mirror moment. I realized that we were no longer going to be a baseball team,” he told the crowd. “We are going to be in the entertainment business—we will have choreographed dances in the outfield, diamond rings in the infield. I finally looked at myself and realized what business I was really in.”
Cole’s efforts paid off and today his team is wildly successful, and has high attendance at every game.
Create attention over marketing
“When you create attention, you win,” he said, while jumping up and down on stage.
In addition to The Savannah Bananas, Cole is also owner of the Gastonia Grizzlies, a baseball team in Gastonia, South Carolina. He took over the team when it had just 200 fans.
What did he do to increase attendance?
“I held a farting contest with Whoopie Cushions and had a Grandma beauty pageant,” he said. “We now crown the Grizzly Grandma of the Year. The last one was an 87-year-old woman.
“It’s all about creating attention. When you do that, marketing becomes easy. When Obama’s presidency was over, we offered him an internship and said we’d pay him a $1,000 per week stipend. It went viral.”
Love your customers more than your product
A loyal customer can pay dividends for a company for many, many years, Cole said. Because of that, he tries to make every one of his clients feel on top of the world after each interaction.
“When people come to our games, they see parking attendants dressed like penguins, guiding people to their spots,” he said. “As they walk into the stadium, they are greeted with a 27-piece pep band and the Banana Nanas, a senior dance team.”
The effect? Customers tell their friends and family and more people come to the games for the positive experience.
“The exit greeting is one of the most important things you can do for your customers,” said Cole. “At the end of every game, our staff waits at the gate and thanks fans. It pays to think about how you can give the perfect experience to your customers from the beginning to the end.”