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Friday, 26 July 2013

9 Marketing Lessons from Disney

I've recently returned from a family holiday in tropical storm soaked Florida. I kept my promise to stay offline during those two fun filled weeks, but my marketing brain couldn't help itself.  Here are my observations from countless hours in the Magic Kingdom, on what makes Disney one of the worlds most successful marketing machines.  How many of them could you apply to your business?

1. Make your internal marketing as strong as you external marketing

When is an employee not an employee?  When they're a Disney “cast member”.  Oh yes, from the moment a person decides they want to work for the dream maker, they understand that their job is a performance.  Disney runs auditions rather than interviews. There's a Disney university to make sure staff not only know the brand, but can be the brand, in each and every circumstance.  Disney knows that its brand reputation relies on the 60,000+ cast members it employs and just like good actors, they need to know the script.

2. Understand that the journey is as important as the destination

People go to Disney World to be entertained, but with more visitors than rides, inevitably that entertainment is traded against long queues.  Having captured your attention to actually join the wait, Disney rewards your patience with numerous props and distractions, to keep the spirits high and take your mind off the snaking, (so you never know exactly how many people are in front of you), line ahead.  Often we rush to sell our products or services and all but ignore the journey the consumer takes to get to that point.  As a marketer, the more deeply you understand your customers motivation and their decision making journey, the more effectively you can sell your offering.

3. Choreograph the buying cycle

Talk about upsell/cross sell,  Disney never misses an opportunity to raid your wallet. Every ride ends in a gift shop, with merchandise directly related to the experience you've just had.  Rather than feeling mugged, you're grateful for the chance of instant retail gratification and bouyed by the buzz of the ride, you give no thought to how that 4 foot stuffed toy will ever fit on the plane home.  Retailers know the impulse buys to stock by the tills, what could you be doing to make your customer spend just that little bit more in the rush of their initial sale?

4. Mass market individuals

Throughout the park, visitors queue to have their picture taken with the Disney characters and somehow, despite the crowds of other people waiting to tick that box, when you finally get your turn, the experience is all about you - not rushed or processed, just as authentic as any meeting with a grown up in an animal costume can be.  We all crave personal service.  We want to be served and feel valued.  Today, brands need to act like people and be accountable to their audiences.  One size no longer fits all.

5. Move with the times

Disney know their audiences and realise that there are a whole new generation of users waiting to don those mouse ears.  There are now a host of apps to help you navigate your day, (useful when the rain has turned your paper map to pulp).  While an app might not be right for your business, your future customers are likely to be digital natives who expect the brands they endorse to keep up with the evolving market.

7. Fairytale customer service

I spent 20 minutes stuck on what should have been a 4 minute ride and was instantly given a queue jump ticket to make sure I got to try it again or move on to something new. Grumbles were turned to grins before myself and my fellow hostages had made it through the gift shop.  Customer service is all about turning dissatisfied consumers to their original state of trust in a brand, and ideally making them feel even more loyal with a great story to tell their friends.  In this social media age where companies can gain insight to the thoughts, feelings and reactions that result from our experiences, there's no excuse for poor customer service.

8. Build communities

First visit, birthday, wedding day, anniversary - Disney has a badge for every occasion and will encourage you to wear it with pride so that each cast member can acknowledge how special you, (and several thousand other people wearing the same badge), really are.  Belonging is a trait of human nature which is often overlooked by marketing departments, but sharing commonalities encourages us to be more open to possibilities because we feel safe in our tribe.

9. Keep in touch

Returning home I found two emails from Disney - one sharing photographs taken in the park and the other asking for feedback on my experience. They know that as my tan fades, I can relive the memories and once again feel the happy glow of the brand.  This follow up is not designed to sell, but rather to keep me engaged.  It's back to that personal relationship thing, which helps me believe that Disney cares about my input.  Customers love to give opinions and these shape the perception of your brand in the minds of others. Influence or be influenced.

I wonder if I'm too old to apply for that internship ......

Friday, 5 July 2013

Ghosts of Social Media Future (Guest Post by Eileen MacCallum)

For the next few weeks, my blog is going to feel unloved, as I pack my bags and head for a wifi free zone, but since it's always good to end on a high, this week's post is a real treat by my guest, the copywriting star that is Eileen MacCallum.  You can read more about her at  Enjoy!


One of my favourite pastimes is to imagine which hot SM gizmo currently enthralling us all will be mocked by my kids in twenty – no, make that ten – years time.

Those of us aged 40-plus have witnessed such a massive leap forward in communication methods during our lifetimes.  The giant black-screen-green-text computer monitor I used in my first-ever job (in the 90s) made such a loud humming noise that whenever I called my Dad from work, he knew it was me before I spoke.  These days it’d go straight back to the (online) shop.

The 24/7 me-me-me hail of social media commentary bouncing off our heads wherever we go has taken time to get used to.  The kids have grown up with it; it’s like breathing to them. Many folk from generations older than ours simply refuse.  Never having worked with it, they know they’ll never truly understand it. It’s an add-on they don’t feel they really need.

So which of our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (and the rest) addictions will be joked about and which remembered fondly? As fondly as the boxy plastic phones of our childhood homes and student flats, dragged into bedrooms in a desperate bid for privacy, cord straining at the socket? It’s almost unthinkable now for us to have to share phones.  Or be unreachable – in a practical rather than, uh, emotional sense obviously.

Back in 2000 I felt quite edgy about getting my first mobile phone because it meant I’d always be contactable.  (My 15 year-old niece once asked me why I call it a mobile. To her it’s just a phone – they’ve always been mobile.) But at the time, I’d just broken up with an overly possessive boyfriend and the horrors of that kind of relationship PLUS constant contact were not to be contemplated. 

But I relented because I’d gone freelance and it was ‘for work’.  Ha. Hahahaha. Everyone knows mobile phones are FOR LIFE. Luckily I didn’t repeat my romantic car crash.

So. What shall I hear? “Oooooh God Mum, you must be the LAST person on earth still tweeting away to yourself!” *Nudges sibling, rolls eyes, pats maternal shoulder pityingly* #loserparent