What we can learn from Disney to Market Our Businesses
It had been years since my parents had taken me to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, so when the time came to take my two daughters, Elaina (4) and Evelyn (2 1/2) to Disney World this summer, I was more than excited to see what had changed. I was also eager to look at the company and the experience from a different perspective (a marketing angle), since launching my Indianapolis marketing business in 2005. Why not learn from one of the masters of marketing? So when we arrived with our extended family for our 2-day adventure, I took note. Here were some of the things I noticed:
- Keeping it Classic: The old, familiar Dumbo ride where I got lost (not once, but twice) as a toddler is the same as it was 30 years ago. The Country Bear Jamboree show was very much like I remembered it (but much cheesier now that I’m an adult). Even the evening electrical light parade through downtown had the same feel to it, even though the light displays were much more modern and elaborate than when I was a child. Disney has done a good job keeping some things classic, so that through the years, they stay consistent in their brand experience. Business Marketing Takeaway: Do you have some things in your business that you hold onto because they hold a special place in customers’ hearts?
- VIP Treatment: Disney has many options for visitors to make them feel special. For instance, we received “1st Time” buttons for my daughters, which was supposed to give them extra attention throughout the park. And another extra package my daughter, Elaina, got to experience was at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where she received the royal treatment from her own, personal
“fairy godmother” with a princess dress, hair, makeup, tiara and accessories. Despite the 90-degree heat, she didn’t want to take the dress off for most of the day! I also experienced what it was like to see my daughters meet and get autographs from Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White and all of the princesses for the first time at a Disney Character breakfast. These experiences made the Disney trip extra special for them (and for me), and were worth the extra cost. Business Marketing Takeaway: Could you offer some kind of VIP package or special treatment for customers willing to pay more for the experience?
- Improving Customer Service: One of the coolest features of the two days at Magic Kingdom were the Fast Passes. These allowed us to avoid waiting in 90-minute lines with impatient toddlers just to enjoy a 60-second boat ride. We were able to skip around between several rides by picking up a Fast Pass ticket, and then coming back later to ride the ride or see the show with no more than a 10-minute wait. Disney has done a great job with this system, because it alleviates a common complaint that visitors have had for years — lines are long during peak operating season — and improves the overall customer satisfaction with the Disney Experience. Business Marketing Takeaway: Is there something you could improve upon in your current business process to enhance the customer experience, wait time or service expected?
- Creating Memories (and Brand Evangelists): Aside from the many Mickey Mouse eared-souvenirs we could purchase from the various gift shops throughout Magic Kingdom, Disney also gave us a photo pass, which we could use to get our picture taken in various places throughout the park. While in concept, it’s a great idea for an additional service offered (and who wants to tote around a digital camera all day?) the drawback to this was the $15 per photo price tag, which made it a negative for me. One marketing tactic that I think they’ve done well with is their “Let the Memories Begin” ad campaign. If you’ve seen the TV spots or magazine ads, they feature submissions from real families visiting the parks, sharing a photo or video of their experience with Disney parks. One photo shows a family riding the famous teacups ride, and another features a video of two parents (and the children’s reaction) telling their kids that they’re packing their bags for Disney. The website also allows you to share your own memory, and thus feeds the emotional connection between the Disney brand and the customer/visitor. They have also re-purposed these memories on their social media sites, blogs, ad campaigns and more for greater impact. Business Marketing Takeaway: How can you create an emotional bond with your company and its customers, and get them to share their experiences with others, as brand evangelists?
Overall, I was very impressed with my most recent trip to Walt Disney World – from the hotel staff at the resort to the rides and the experiences. And I was even more impressed with Disney’s marketing prowess. Hopefully you can learn a few lessons from a marketing master on how to improve your marketing and customer experience.