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sales funnel

Disney's Better Mousetrap Captures Customers of All Ages

Its magic sales funnel is a perpetual motion machine of leads, with many entry points. Can it work for you?
Disney's Better Mousetrap Captures Customers of All Ages
Image credit: Patrick T. Fallon | Getty Images
5 min read

Take a pen and a piece of paper (no, you don’t have to be an artist for this) and draw all the different ways in which your company generates new business. What brings people to hear about your business, and what brings them through the door or gets them on the phone with you?

An example might be classified ads; searches on Google could be another, and pedestrian walk-by traffic near your retail location, a third.

Each of these lead generators is a little highway exit that earns additional attention from people traveling by on “the highway” of their busy lives. You’ve got them intrigued, and now it’s your job to deepen this relationship further! As they decelerate, they showing more interest in you, your products and your services. The greater number who exit the highway into your world, the more traffic you are generating toward your business. As people become aware your business exists and understand your offering, they will ultimately buy from you at least once, if not many times over.

Related: 8 Tips to Help Marketers Conquer the YouTube Analytics Dashboard

And in fact, on a more advanced level, it’s not that YouTube is one exit ramp into your funnel top, each individual video is its own mini-highway exit, generating awareness and traffic to your business! Which means that instead of looking for more off-ramps, you can simply make more videos for people to stumble upon to get new eyeballs seeing your business.

The mouse that roared.

Here’s a little secret; You can amp it up and do way better! How? By tweaking your business funnel so it looks more the way Disney’s does! 

Here’s how Disney does it: Its marketing "funnel" isn’t shaped like a conventional funnel at all. Rather, it is a circle, continuously turning, pouring sales into the business. Disney's funnel has so many entry points that it spins on its axis, channelling to Disney a never-ending stream of sales.

How does it do that? Well, when a mom buys her young daughter a happy meal at McDonald’s, the kid will find a surprise nestled amongst the drink and burger: it just might be a small, plastic Disney character. Even if the kid has never heard of Disney before, she’ll enjoy the prize. A free toy! And now that she’s been exposed to the Man and the Mouse.

Related: 16 Inspirational Quotes From Walt Disney

When this little girl is in the mall the following Friday, she’s going to beg her mother for a Disney briefcase, Disney sandals, Disney T-shirt, whatever Disney item she comes across. After all she loves Disney now!

Getting the referral.

Now, another kid in her class is going to see that briefcase or T-shirt, or what have you, and is going to find out about that McDonald’s giveaway. This little boy is going to make sure that his mom also buys dinner at McDonald’s -- and not Burger King. He, too, wants that free Disney toy. We’ll call that referral marketing.

Then, there’s a third kid, a neighbor, whose parents take her to a Disney themepark on vacation. Why? Because they remember it from their own childhood. They feel compelled to give their daughter the same magical childhood experience. And even if this is the child’s first exposure to Disney ever, by the time this family gets back, this kid is going to become a Disney customer.

Why am I telling you about these three kids? How is this sales journey different than a regular sales journey?

Disney’s customers move from one point to the next, to the next, along the circumference of its wheel-shaped sales funnel, bringing in continuous revenue from many different avenues. It doesn't just have one or two funnels pouring into its business. Disney diversifies business opportunities to maximize sales opportunities not only by reaching out to multiple clients but also by leading the same clients through all of its funnels.

Many journeys, one destination.

In essence, Disney uses different journeys, or starting points, to bring new people into the Disney wheel. Instead of one set starting point to begin the journey. Disney has an almost unlimited number of starting points to get people involved in Disney. There’s no beginning or end.

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

Instead, no matter where you enter from, you are likely to be giving Disney tons and tons of money going forward, in various forms. Perhaps going from the happy meal to Disneyland, or vice versa. Or perhaps your kid was at a birthday party that had a Disney theme, and that was their path into all things Walt and Mickey!

There’s no question that a company of Disney’s size and growth -- and with its ability to fill so many children (and adult-children!) with joy and magic -- is something worth studying and learning from to see how you can model its successes in your own business.

How can you create more entry points into your own sales funnel? How can each entry point lead to multiple forms of contact, and thus, more sales and a higher likelihood of brand engagement and thus, more income to you and your business?

Disney has even figured out ways to make standing in line more pleasant, so that waiting is exciting instead of something to dread and grouse about. What lessons can you take from the Mouse’s funnel to improve your own bottom line?

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