The Walt Disney Company is inarguably one of the most successful corporate brands in the world. Like it or loathe it, there are certainly valuable lessons we can learn from Disney’s success over the years.
Originally known for its animated films and theme parks, The Walt Disney Company has developed into a “Diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise.” Today, with more than $46B in revenue, 175,000 employees worldwide, and five mammoth business segments, Disney is considered one of the most valuable brands on the planet.
So, what practical strategies can we learn from Disney’s success model to positively impact our own sales and marketing efforts?
- First, know this: Disney’s success did NOT happen by chance.
Only by constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries, has Disney developed into a full entertainment experience company. They consistently seek new and creative business opportunities to create customer demand that continues to drive growth. Every year brings new Disney innovations, ideas, and boundary breaking business endeavors. In recent years, Disney’s new business pursuits have included live entertainment (e.g. theater and ESPN sports), cruise liners, and entire residential communities such as Celebration, Florida.
This kind of innovation allows Disney to continue to provide creative value to the market. As a result, Disney is not only able to maximize sales from its current customer base, but it also continues to attract new customers every year, further bolstering its success.
So – what practical ideas or strategies can we use from this success story? Below are several real-world Disney concepts to consider adopting in your own business. (As you read them, choose one or two you can implement during the balance of 2016 to directly impact your sales results.)
1. Sell more to your current customers.
It is much easier to up-sell existing customers than to attempt to secure new ones. Disney knows this, and uses every opportunity to sell you more while you’re in the Disney parks. From countless gift shops and food vendors, to Disney cruises and timeshare offerings – Disney seizes every chance to up-sell and cross-sell current customers. Once you return home, enticing customized direct mail pieces arrive in your mailbox, encouraging you to “build your next Disney family vacation.” Smart. Very smart.
- Challenge: How can you apply this concept to your business? Can you expand your offering to meet new market demand? How do you engage your current customers to learn what they want or need? How do you meet that demand by providing add-on products or services? Your current customers are ready-made “warm prospects,” prepared to buy your next offering. Don’t squander this opportunity! Find out what they want or need then seize the chance to present them with additional purchase options.
2. Always improve and add to your offerings.
“Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.” – Walt Disney
Even back in the 1950’s, Walt Disney knew change and innovation had to be central to the growth of his business. Of course, by releasing animated feature films every year or two, Disney has created an ongoing, steady flow of customers. Their films are the entry point for thousands of up-sell and cross-sell opportunities via their merchandising products, home videos, music, theme parks, live theatrical productions, and computer games.
Even today, Disney continues to innovate to meet customer demand, all under the umbrella of creating a “diversified family entertainment” business. They never stand still.
(Last year, Disney Publishing Worldwide announced the release of “Mickey’s Magical Arts World,” an app for children to explore creative arts using curriculum-based tools. They make it their job to push boundaries with creative, new ideas to drive revenue and repeat business at every turn.)
How Do You Remain Relevant?
- Are you constantly providing new and improved offerings to your current clients?
- Even if you are a small or mid-sized company, what additional products or services should you offer to meet changing market needs?
- How can you make your customers’ lives easier?
- How will you remain competitive?
DO NOT STAND STILL. Stop being complacent in your business. Steer away from thinking that what you did last year will be enough to keep your clients happy this year, or your competition will swamp you under!
After all, your competition is not standing still either. They are always looking for ways to better serve the market. You must work hard to stay ahead of the game or your competitors will beat you out. How can you continue to differentiate your offerings from those of your competitors? Learn what your customers really want or need, and find ways to rise up and meet that demand.
3. Make it easy to do business with your company.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but consider how Disney continues to creatively meet this challenge…
In the past few years, Disney launched an ingenious new technology, called the MagicBand. This technology improves the consumer experience in the Disney Parks, while making it exceptionally EASY to buy more with the “swipe” of a wrist band. By wearing a MagicBand bracelet, embedded with radio frequency (RF) technology, Disney resort guests can simply wave their wristband across touch-points throughout Disney Parks to open their resort hotel room, gain access to theme parks, charge meals and merchandise, make reservations for rides, meals, entertainment, and more. How easy is that? Talk about innovation!
Customers no longer need to carry cash or credit cards while visiting Disney parks and resort properties. By creating a safe, secure, and amazingly easy way for guests to spend to their hearts’ content, Disney has made it seriously easy to buy from them.
What’s Your “Magic Band”?
- How easy do you make it for customers to buy from you?
- Are there any hurdles your clients must jump over to purchase or implement your product or service?
- How can you provide a clear path for prospects and clients to buy from you?
You should always streamline processes to make it EASY for customers to do business with you… And remember, if you don’t make it easy, your competitors will. So, stay ahead of the curve.
Ask your customers what they need and how you can better serve them. Create a customer satisfaction survey to capture feedback, “If there was one thing you could change about doing business with us, what would that be?” Then implement changes based on your findings. Always be thinking, “How can we make it easier for our customers to do business with us?”
4. Stay top of mind.
Undeniably, Disney has an amazing marketing machine, designed to pull you back into the next “experience” time and again. Disney’s promotional marketing team works hard to keep their company top-of-mind throughout the year. And, guess what? It works.
- Do YOU stay in touch with your customers regularly?
- Do you schedule regular customer service calls to check in and see how things are going?
- Stay in touch, providing value-added products and services to further meet their changing needs. Don’t sell your customers and then disappear.
- The “set it and forget it” attitude toward customers will not result in business growth.
Always seek to understand ongoing or changing market needs, and rise to meet those requests with products or services within your market niche. Find reasons to stay in regular contact with your customers throughout the year. Regularly provide value-added insights via a newsletter or blog. Send curriculum based, educational content to stay in touch with them. Offer free webinars, providing informative industry trends or best practice tips and ideas to help improve their business.
That’s how you create repeat business, while identifying new customer needs and opportunities. Plan for it, then implement the plan and make it happen.
5. Collect and analyze key business data.
Disney has this down to a science, from tracking time-of-day and seasonal park attendance levels, to analyzing marketing response rates. Their marketing team is continuously testing and tracking promotions, merchandising techniques and results.
But, it’s not just tracking the data that’s important; it’s what they DO with the data to inform business strategy that is paramount. For example, by collecting park attendance data, Disney offers special resort rates and free meal packages during slower seasons to increase park attendance, thereby leveling out seasonal fluctuations.
- What critical data do you track in your business?
- What data do you capture to make improvements in your customer’s experience?
- How do you use that information?
- What should you be tracking? How will that inform business strategy?
- It’s not enough to just collect the data… How you USE that data to improve your business is the key!
6. Disney’s Success Model final tip: Expand your market.
Disney theme parks first opened in California and Florida, attracting visitors from around the globe. In recent years Disney has expanded geographically, opening new parks in Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong to meet increased global demand.
- How can you apply this concept to your business?
- Are your service offerings broad enough to meet your clients’ needs?
- Can you cast a wider net, while continuing to provide unique value to the market you serve?
- What new market needs might you address, while still providing services within your area of specialty?
- Can you innovate to create new market demand?
There are endless lessons we can learn from Disney’s success, and volumes of books have been written about it.
Never Stand Still
In my view, Disney’s success model can be summarized in the following simple phrase: Never stand still.
Continue to innovate and exceed customers’ expectations. Maximize your current customers while attracting new ones, and grow your business well into the future.
- Challenge: Select one or two tips from the list above to focus on over the next few months.
- Where is the low-hanging fruit in your business?
- Which of these strategies will provide the greatest return on your investment of time to make it happen?
– How will you make the customer #1 in your business?
– How will you keep them coming back for more by following Disney’s success model?
– Think ahead in your business. Stay ahead of the competition. Never stand still… What does this mean in YOUR business?
Contact us today to schedule an exploratory call. Let’s identify ways to improve your corporate bottom line by improving sales and streamlining your processes. We offer an array of sales and marketing services to assist.
Call us at 888-887-0556.
We’re here to help you– whenever you’re ready!