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Marketing Magic


Loyal readers of this blog know that I mention Disney Enterprises quite often as a shining example of one of the best-run marketing machines in the history of our planet.

Last Friday and Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit “The Most Magical Place On Earth” to participate in GKIC “Winner’s Weekend” with Dan Kennedy, Rich Schefren and some of the other top superstars of the GKIC world.

The “dinners with Dan” and all-day Mastermind Group experience were full of business-building gems, and I came away with the makings of several million dollars worth of business deals.

But I also took advantage of the opportunity to study and observe one of the most successful businesses on the planet, up-close and personal…

Perhaps you’ve been to Walt Disney World in Orlando, with or without your family, merely as a visitor to enjoy a vacation.

But even if that were the case, I hope you took some time to study and pay attention to some of the oh-so-many details – both big and small – that make it the marketing juggernaut that it has become.

And if anyone tries to tell you that “attendance is down at all live events” or “it’s impossible to get people to attend anything in person anymore,” note that an average of more than 126,000 people visit Walt Disney World every single day, 365 days a year, from all over the world.

And they happily spend amazing amounts of money the entire time they’re there.

Here are some facts and figures, along with their significance to small business owners everywhere…

1. Walt Disney World is this country’s largest single location employer, with over 55,000 “cast members” (and growing).

Are you afraid to hire people to expand your business, using excuses like uncertainty over the overall economy or taxes or healthcare costs?

2. The resort covers over 30,000 acres – roughly the same size as San Francisco. And yet, nearly two-thirds of its land has yet to be developed. Walt Disney purchased the original land for the resort himself, mostly in secret through various fictitious corporations. Within days of word getting out that he was gobbling up swampland southwest of Orlando, the value for land nearby skyrocketed from around $180 per acre to as much as $80,000 per acre.

Are you taking advantage of the greatest buyer’s market we’ll ever see in our lifetime, or are you too timid to make bold moves in this challenging economy? Many of the world’s most successful businesses were started or significantly expanded during tough economic times.

3. To this day, Disney maintains its amazing attitude of attention to detail, instilled by its founder. Buildings such as Epcot’s Eiffel Tower are built exactly to the scale of the real thing, craftsmen from around the world are flown in to aid in construction of exhibits from their homelands and almost all Epcot for-sale merchandise is imported from the appropriate countries and sold at exhibits full of staff temporarily transplanted to Disney from those countries.

Do you pay attention to the details of your business to make sure it’s running at optimum efficiency, or do you make the mistake of buying into the popular myth, “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff?”

4. Almost every aspect of Walt Disney World is driven by personality – from the cast of characters to the ubiquitous Walt Disney himself. Thousands of workers are always displaying the authentic costumes and attitudes of the people and characters they represent, and visitors are made familiar with the resort’s founder almost everywhere they go, even though Walt himself didn’t even live to see the park’s Grand Opening.

Are you using enough “personality” (yours and/or that of your employees) in your business? People respond to stories, and are increasingly looking to buy experiences instead of merely goods and services. Every small business owner should recognize that he or she is in the entertainment business.

5. Target marketing is used throughout the resort, just about everywhere you go. Merchandise, restaurants and attractions are all geared to very specific groups – from toddlers to seniors, from outdoor enthusiasts to “princesses.”

Do you craft specific messages and offers to appeal to specific groups of people, or are you still trying to get by with a one-size-fits-all approach that worked during boom times, but no longer does – and may not for another five or 10 years to come?

6. Although it’s not glaringly apparent to the unsuspecting observer, just about every aspect of a visitor’s experience to Disney is controlled and directed. Just a few examples:

  • Almost every attraction forces participants to exit through carefully laid-out gift and souvenir shops, making shopping a part of the attraction experience itself.
  • Restaurants are situated in high-visibility locations – again, often tied to the theme of the nearest attraction – almost forcing visitors to be constantly in a “consumption” mindset.
  • Merchandise of various quality and price is available in close proximity throughout the resort, so that parents are engaged in a buying experience whenever their children are playing with for-sale merchandise, instead of being bored and wanting to whisk their kids away to the next adventure.

Is everything in your business done purposefully, in order to maximize your average value of a customer? And is it done elegantly, so that the customer enjoys the experience and doesn’t feel he or she is being pushed, manipulated or “sold”?

7. Walt Disney World is a global enterprise, marketing to and attracting visitors from all over the world. Instead of complaining that “the local Orlando area is going through tough times,” it chooses to focus its marketing on a broad, international scale, thus maximizing its revenue and minimizing its dependence on any given area’s current economic or political climate – including that of its own location.

Are you stubbornly clinging to outdated notions like “I can only attract people who live within a 5-mile radius of my business”? No matter what business you’re in, if you pay attention and are willing to do the planning and work, you can expand into the global marketplace and not be dependent on or a victim of your own local economy. Even the most local of family-owned businesses can package its “award-winning bar-b-que sauce,” ship its clever and amusing “I Love Joe’s Hardware” t-shirts or sell its “How To Properly Brush Your Teeth” videos to anyone, anywhere in the world – especially thanks to modern technology and the internet.

Disney Enterprises grew out of the imagination, ingenuity and never-say-die spirit of one great entrepreneur – after he had gone through multiple hardships and business disappointments.

What about your business? Will you be a shining example for generations to come, or will you give in to the fact that we’re currently operating during tough economic times?

Here’s wishing you a little magic in your own “kingdom”…

5 Responses to Marketing Magic

  1. Jerry Bellune Reply

    February 13, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Steve: Great stuff on Disney World but you left me feeling misled that your subject was going to be some lessons from Con.

    Hope you’ll do this in a future post.

  2. Jerry Bellune Reply

    February 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Sorry about the typo. Should read “lessons from Dan”

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      February 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Jerry: Can’t see how you feel misled, but as it so happens almost all of these lessons ARE from Dan Kennedy. He teaches and uses all of these lessons throughout virtually all of his books, newsletters and seminars.

      Those of us at Winner’s Weekend were even treated to his in-person lessons on all of the topics I listed in this blog post.

      Hopefully, you’re using all of them — or at least plan to — to grow your business!

  3. Henry Reply

    February 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Let me guess, Dan apologized to everyone and gave everyone a FREE month of the newsletter?

    ” I would like to apologize and give everyone next months
    newsletter for Free!!” – Dan Kennedy, Never.

    • Steve Sipress Reply

      February 19, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      You don’t really think Dan had anything to do with GKIC sending out its newsletters late or not at all, do you, Henry?

      He definitely doesn’t need a lesson in “PR 101”, if you ask me.

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