Customer Experience

2 Key Lessons From Disney That Help on Kickstarter and in Business

2 Key Lessons From Disney That Help on Kickstarter and in Business
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As you read this, we're 24 hours away from finishing our Kickstarter campaign with more than 75 percent funded. We have a backer who has agreed to match all pledges on the final day. I attribute much of our success to Walt Disney’s inspiration. I admire his vision and ability to deliver mind-blowing experiences.

Your best ideas will come from outside your industry.

That’s a central message in my book Seeds of Success and it will play a key role in the movie as well. How do I know that “outside your industry” is the best source for your ideas? Two reasons: It’s where Disney got a lot of his ideas and because the strategies he applied to the customer experience are the same one’s I’ve successfully applied to my Kickstarter campaign. You can apply these same strategies to your business to get better results as well.

Related: 4 'Magical' Keys to Business From My Stint at Disney World

The two big ideas for our most popular campaign rewards came from my family’s experience at Disney World. The key word is experience. You don’t attend, go to or visit Disney World. You experience Disney World.

1. Backers can be cast members in our movie.

If you haven’t been there before or didn’t know, there’s a parade down Main Street in Disney’s Magic Kingdom every day at 3 p.m. After the parade finished up, I saw a street sweeper cleaning up trash along the sidewalk. I walked over to throw our trash in his garbage can. (He was smartly disguised as an ice cream vendor with a matching cart.)

I asked him “So what’s it like to be an employee at Disney?” He looked up at me with a smile and said “Oh, I’m not an employee. I’m a cast member. See my ice cream cart and costume.” I immediately began smiling, realizing that the magic of Disney had just given me a great idea. (Remember where our best ideas often come from.)

Disney doesn’t just paint the picture of a “magic kingdom,” it paints employees into the picture and lets them help paint the picture. All of its employees are referred to as cast members, customers as guests and crowds as audiences. What a great philosophy! Anywhere else and that guy’s a street sweeper, but at Disney he’s a cast member happily playing an integral role in the performance.

There’s an old expression, “people support what they help create.” I assure you this is as true in crowdfunding as it is at Disney. The most popular rewards in our campaign are experiences where backers are directly involved in the movie.

Seeing the Disney cast member’s reaction made me realize that we needed to paint our backers into the picture and give them a chance to help paint the picture. So we created rewards where backers can appear in our movie and even receive an IMDb actor credit.

Related: Delight Your Customers by Being Effortless, Not Over the Top.

2. Create VIP backer experiences.

On our last trip to Disney, my wife and I took our daughters to a special event called Cinderella’s Table where you can dine with all the princesses in Cinderella’s Castle. Seeing the magic of this one-of-a-kind VIP treatment led us to create a way to bottle it up and design our own grown-up versions for our movie. We created “The Hollywood VIP,” which is a behind-the-scenes tour of one of the Hollywood production lots and includes lunch with our producer, Bob Burris.

To take it a step further, we also added “The VIP day on set,” where the backers can spend a day on the set of the movie, watch the filming from their own personalized director’s chair and get an assistant producer’s credit on the movie. These two experiences got backers on board faster than any other rewards and has kept them talking about the campaign.

The takeaway is that our best campaign ideas never would have happened if I didn’t have my antenna up and radar on, so to speak, looking for ideas outside my industry.

How you can bottle up that Disney magic and use it in your business:

  • Your customers are guests, not transactions.
  • Your value proposition isn’t a product or service, it’s an experience. Specifically, an experience your guests have a hand in creating.
  • Your business is a performance, not a job.
  • Your employees are cast members in the performance.

Speaking of cast members, there's still a couple spots in our movie if you want to become a cast member.

Related: 5 Magical Tips Walt Disney Can Teach Entrepreneurs About Marketing