We recently took a trip to Disney World and I wanted to share some of my observations about what is arguably the biggest marketing machine in the history of the world, and how you, too, can borrow some of Disney's magic formula.
We stayed on property, so as soon as we landed at Orlando Airport, we got on the Magic Express and our "magic" Disney experience was under way. Actually, it began long before we left home on the awesome and thoroughly informative web sites Disney has developed. We didn't have to touch a suitcase - everything was delivered right to our room. On the way back home, you can check your luggage right at the resort. All your travel arrangements are made extremely convenient.
The first stroke of brilliance about Disney's marketing is that everything is "magic." Of course, it's not really magic but the inner child in all of us wants to experience magic. Right away, they capture our imaginations.
Everything at Disney World is geared toward making your experience as easy, comfortable and "magical" as possible. All the transportation is a piece of cake to navigate and seamless. The food - even the burgers and pizza - is great, the service is first-class, the atmosphere is relaxing, fun and constantly captivates the senses. There's always something to see, look at, watch, ride, eat or listen to. It's all about "the show." That's why staff are called "cast members."
When you arrive at your resort - in our case, Pop Century - the Disney branding is everywhere and there are constant reminders of half a century's worth of Disney magic - so maybe you'll remember how much you loved "Jungle Book" and buy the DVD. The Disney experience is also skillfully tied into the American experience. In Pop Century, for instance, each section of the resort is themed after a particular decade - in our case, the 60s, so we were surrounded by images of my childhood - bellbottoms, hippies, lovebugs, Beatles, etc. At the entrance to Magic Kingdom, you walk down "Main Street USA," which includes all the quintessential elements of a typical American Main Street - City Hall, the firehouse, the Chamber of Commerce. The inescapable message - the branding - is that Disney is as American as baseball and apple pie. And, of course, it is.
The other thing you see on Main Street USA are shops - lots of shops. Everywhere you go in Disney World, there are abundant opportunities to part with your money and everything is expensive. But somehow, caught up in the magic of the experience, you find yourself gleefully reaching in your pocket for your debit card.
When you get on the bus - any bus - the video monitors strategically located throughout the bus start the spiel, and the spiel is always geared toward your destination. If you're heading to Animal Kingdom, it's all about the many sites, attractions, rides and restaurants you'll find when you arrive. At every park, there's something for every age and every taste, so your kids and your parents can have an equally magical experience.
And the merchandising - oh, the merchandising. At the exit to every major ride, before you can get back out into the park, you are routed through a gift shop with all manner of merchandise from the ride you were just on. I admit, being a guitar player, on the way off the Rockin' Rollercoaster (which is based on the music of Aerosmith and includes a welcome from the guys themselves - on video, of course) I had to buy a very cool t-shirt with a Fender Stratocaster on it - for the bargain price of $39! Interestingly, many of the shops also cross-stock merchandise from other popular Disney movies, characters, rides, etc., so in just about every shop you can find something you might want to buy.
Aside from the great time I had with my family, the Disney experience, for me, was pure total integrated marketing magic. I always tell my clients that everything you do is marketing. In other words, advertising will bring people through your door, but what they experience when they get there is what keeps them coming back. Disney gets that - in spades - and they have spared no expense in making their guest - sorry, their audience - experience as special as possible. You can do it, too - at far less than what Disney spends.
So take a page from the Disney's playbook and put a little magic in your marketing. And remember, the magic is in you!