5 Magical Tips Walt Disney Can Teach Entrepreneurs About Marketing
Join us at Entrepreneur magazine's Growth Conference, Dec. 15 in Long Beach, Calif. for a day of fresh ideas, business mentoring and networking. Register here for exclusive pricing, available only for a limited time.
While Disney recently made headlines with Frozen taking home the Oscar for best animated feature (a first for the 91-year-old Disney Animation Studios), the legacy left behind by Walt Disney goes far beyond the face value of his films, parks and stories.
One of the things Disney was so great at was the art of marketing. His story is one of a true entrepreneur, a rags to riches tale, that lives on to inspire the generations of entrepreneurs and his own employees who have come after him. From creating the first full-length feature-animated film Snow White to inventing the multiplane camera that helped him achieve his early film success, Disney had a brilliant mind.
Based on the discoveries of a Quora thread, here are five of Disneyland’s best marketing tricks that every entrepreneur should study and apply to their own business.
1. It’s all about perspective. Take a close look at Sleeping Beauty’s castle and you’ll start to realize that something a little strange is going on. Disney and his team used the concept of forced perspective to design the entire park to look bigger, including the castle. How did he do this? Just like a painting, you can adjust the size of things to make them appear closer or further away. Disney and his team carried this forced perspective throughout the park. For instance, they alternated the sizing of trees and boulders on the Matterhorn, so the mountain appears bigger and in the brickwork of Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
For entrepreneurs, keep in mind it is all about perception. How can you use forced perspective to convey a bigger, more impressive image to the world?
2. Every detail counts. The next time you take a stroll down Main Street, notice the venting systems along the path by the candy shops. These machines pump out very delicate scents to help set the mood for the season. They’re reported to be vanilla candy goodness all year, except at the holidays when scents of cinnamon fill the air.
For your business remember the small details matter. Are you putting that much attention to detail in every aspect of your business? Customers are constantly looking for companies to go above and beyond to meet their needs. Everything from handwritten cards to follow-up phone calls or a top-notch return policy can make all the difference.
3. Accessibility with a touch of exclusivity. Disney created Disneyland for the people. He wanted guests to have an incredible experience that fostered the joyful and loving feelings he had for his hometown. However, even Disney knew that no matter how accessible the park was there should still be a slight air of exclusivity. That’s why he created Club 33, the private speakeasy hidden in the New Orleans section of the park. Not only do you have to be a member to get a reservation here but the club requires significant dues (around $25,000 for initiation plus an annual $10,000 fee) coupled with an incredible wait list times to join (averaging 10 years), makes this place a hot spot.
This strategy can help with entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. Think about offering your best customers a VIP treatment or community, offering them perks and incentives for being loyal to your company. Not only is it a way to say thank you but it creates an exclusive club people want to join. If the value and allure is there, the people will be willing to pay for it.
Related: 10 Lessons in Brilliant Marketing
4. Fan engagement. Getting fans to interact with brands is one of the most talked about strategies in marketing today. With all the buzz of social media, how do you really get your customers and more importantly, potential customers, active in what you’re doing?
Take a tip from Disney and start an organic buzz that makes the best “unkept” secret around. For years Disney fans have made the journey to Disneyland to enjoy the park, but there is also a subset of rabid fans who go back to the park for another "hidden" reason. All over Disneyland, the Disney team has planted “hidden Mickeys” throughout the park and for decades Disney fans have been going back to try to discover and share all the hidden Mickeys in the park.
How can you start a buzz and seed a movement for fans trying to discover your brand?
5. Lessons in outsourcing. How appealing would Disneyland be if you were standing in a line to ride the Matterhorn and a cockroach scurried past your foot? What if you were in the dark tunnels of the Indiana Jones ride when a mouse suddenly squeaked and ran over your toes? Not only would this totally gross out park goers, but it could cause a panic that is potentially dangerous and would most definitely damage the company's reputation. On the flip side, spraying down the park with heavy-duty pesticides doesn't really seem like an appealing option. Disney understood this conundrum.
Disney outsourced this dirty problem by having local felines roam the park at night and take care of the mice and bugs. That tradition continues today along with other creative pest control ideas like releasing ladybugs at night.
Perhaps outsourcing could solve a common problem you’re facing and provide work for someone else better suited to handle your issue? Look at all the unique and unusual solutions in your set of resources. From a marketing standpoint, this can be getting help pertaining to your campaign, social media strategy or how to approach publicity.