Goofy Marketing

Scott Swedenburg I spent spring break in Walt Disney World. Wow, they’re great marketers! Who do you know that looks good wearing mouse ears? They even sell white mouse ears with a veil in back which looks like you’re getting married. Or, who likes walking around eating turkey legs? Yet every day, Disney sells thousands of turkey legs which look like something Fred Flintstone would eat. And none of us mind paying for this privilege.

How can you take Disney’s ideas and use them in your direct marketing?

1. Give your customer more than expected. There’s a sign at the entrance of their rides showing the wait time, yet the actual wait times were always shorter. Every ride was fun, and, no matter how long we stood in line, we were always excited that the wait was shorter than expected.

In your direct mail package, website or email, give your customer something extra they didn’t expect. Free shipping, price discount, no interest for 6 months and a free gift are several examples.

2. Everything at Disney World is easy. Transportation from park to park is easy. Checking into your hotel is easy. Every park has maps to make your visit easy. And if you can’t find something, it’s easy to find help.

How easy is it to do business with your organization -- responding to your offer for example? Does your customer have to fill out a lot of information on your reply device? Does your reply slip have to be cut or torn from the letter? Do prospects have to navigate your entire website to make a purchase?

3. Disney cast members are very friendly, happy people. They all smile with the exception of Captain Hook. Our room towels were always folded and our waffles were cooked all in the shape of mouse ears. Everything about the place makes you happy.

How does your marketing make a customer feel…hopefully good? Is your website inviting and interesting or is it confusing and boring? Not all products or services are as fun as Disney World, but you can help your customer feel good about you or your organization. If you’re a hospice, does your marketing make the patient and their family feel comforted? If you’re an alarm company, does your website make a customer feel safe?

4. Disney does an incredible job of cross-selling their products. Half of the channels in our room were Disney channels promoting their shows and products. The exit from every ride leads you straight into a retail shop with items related to that ride. Before the nightly parades, character street vendors sell flashing wands and necklaces, so you too can be in lights.

What other products could you offer your customers? Include a coupon or free sample in your customer’s invoice. Offer a product or service that complements the order your customer just made on the website. In addition to sending a gift, nonprofit organizations can give donors the opportunity to request information on volunteering, events and major gifts.

5. Everyone knows the Disney brand, and it’s proudly displayed at Disney World. The waffles, name tags, road signs, water towers and ice cream bars are just a few of the items shaped like mouse ears.

How well do customers recognize your brand? Is it prominent in your marketing? I’ve seen websites where I had no idea whose site I was visiting. After opening some emails and letter packages, you can’t tell who sent it. Your brand is what customers think of you. Make sure it stands out like mouse ears.

I paid Disney a lot of money that week and didn’t think a thing about it. Their marketing created a willing buyer, not someone being sold. We can all learn something from Disney…just please don’t let it be It’s a Small World in 200 different languages.

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