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Abbie's Column : Starting a Business


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5 Secrets to Walt Disney World's Success

By Abbie Drew
May 11, 2006

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Wow!

Last week, I had the pleasure of taking a little time off for a vacation. My family and I went to Orlando, FL and yes, of course, we visited Walt Disney World.

If you’ve been reading DEMC for a while, you know this was not my first trip to visit Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida. In fact, I’ve been numerous times and I’m sure to go back. (smile)

Every time I go, I’m always impressed with the Disney business. It is well tuned and planned to every last detail. And the marketing I see at Walt Disney World is exceptional.

These visits to Walt Disney World always inspire me to improve the marketing of my own business. As any business, large or small, can learn from their model. So today, lets review just a few of their marketing tactics and see how we can apply them to our Internet businesses.

Here are 5 Walt Disney World marketing success strategies:

1) Sell More to Existing Customers

While at the Walt Disney World theme parks you are continuously offered other products / services to purchase.

* Upon exiting attractions, you enter a store themed to that attraction with gifts.
* During travel on trams, monorails, trains, boats, etc. there are always marketing announcements. These recordings inform you of ways to upgrade your ticket, to stay longer, to visit other parks, to dine at restaurants, to stay at resorts or to go to other attractions.
* Booths in the parks have representatives selling Disney vacation packages for future visits.
* Stores with gifts and restaurants with food are on every corner for your convenience.

Disney knows that current customers are the easiest customers to upsell. As a result, they take every opportunity to sell you more.

Your Internet business can follow this same principle. When a customer buys have a back-end sale you offer. Be it an upsell on your existing offer, an add on to your offer or another product. Immediate back-end sales will make your business money. So follow Disney’s success strategy # 1 and sell more to your current customers!

2) Expand Your Marketplace

Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL attracts visitors from all over the world, as does Disneyland in California. However, Disney realized they could grow their business if they offered their product to other marketplaces outside of the USA. As a result, Disney developed country specific theme parks and delivered them to these marketplaces.

Disney built a Disneyland Paris, a Tokyo Disney and most recently a Hong Kong Disneyland. These parks bring in many visitors, as well as many repeat visitors who would not have traveled to the USA. Disney has increased their marketplace and expanded their brand worldwide by building these country specific theme parks.

Your Internet business can again follow this business principle and do it with less of an investment. It’s as easy as developing your site in other languages and then submitting your site to search engines in those languages.

If you’re hesitant to develop your site in other languages, you could expand your marketplace by creating landing pages specific to niche groups. For example, you might create a landing page just for Moms or a landing page for golfers or a landing page for dog enthusiasts. Depending upon what you sell, creating niche specific landing pages can expand your business into that marketplace.

3) Continuous Promotion

Walt Disney World is always advertising. They do not start, stop and then start again. They have a marketing budget and plan that’s designed to keep their message in front of audiences.

You regularly see their ads on TV, in print publications, on the Internet and I’ve even gotten their ads on grocery store coupon print-outs! Disney also continually sends direct mail pieces to past customers with varying offers.

Disney’s promotions are designed to keep them in your mind. So when it’s time for vacationing, you think of going to Disney World or perhaps another (undefined) destination. But as Disney has kept itself in your awareness it is always a consideration. Other vacation destination have not established themselves nearly as well!

Your Internet business should consider the advantage of continuous promotion. Placing an ad here and there does not establish your business in the mind of potential prospects. Evaluate your marketing and determine how you can regular promote. What can you do to ensure every week you’re sending out a marketing message?

Plan out how you’ll place ads, submit articles, run press releases, improve search engine rank or offer incentives and then follow through. When you start to continuously promote you’ll find it will build your business.

4) Always Improve and Add to your Offerings

Disney is never complacent. They are always growing, building, expanding and improving. With their existing theme parks they continuously work to add in new attractions and shows. They update old outdated rides, as well as refurbish and modernize long standing favorites. These regular improvements draw back repeat visitors, like myself, as well as impress new visitors – so they’re sure to come back.

In addition to improving their existing theme parks and building new theme parks in new marketplaces, as noted above, Disney is constantly creating new products to sell. The most well known of their products are their movies. Disney studios is always working to create new motion pictures. Constantly making and releasing movies to the marketplace brings in consistent profits for Disney. In addition, Disney further leverages their movies by creating products – dolls, toys, games, etc -. as well as incorporating them into their theme park attractions.

The synergy Disney has developed between their theme parks and their movies, helps drive movie sales in theaters as well as on dvds, leads to increased sales of their dolls, toys, games, etc, and continues to bring visitors to the parks. If Disney failed to continuously add and improve their profits would suffer.

Your Internet business should recognize the importance of bettering your offerings. If you’re not always working on expanding and improving what you sell you’re falling behind. If you write just one ebook and think you’ll be rich, think again. Or if you have a single product to sell and believe you’re set, you’re not.

Business is about constantly improving what you offer and developing new products / services to offer. If you don’t keep working to offer the best product / service possible, your competitors will. And soon you’ll be out of business.

5) Tracking Business

Disney knows the times of year which are busy and those that are slow. They track attendance at their parks and resorts and plan accordingly.

Rather than simply accepting the slow times, Disney runs promotions to improve sales. If you look at Disney resort prices, each time of the year has a different rate. During summer time and Holiday weeks, when students are out of school, the price of a room is significantly higher than say in September.

When times are slow, as they are in September, Disney offers free meals with your lower priced room. They also target their advertising to people who do not have children in school, such as empty nesters and parents with toddler children.

Disney entices school age children during the year by offering school bands, cheerleading squads and other student groups opportunities to come to the parks and perform. These packages work to boost attendance as well as improve Disney’s reputation.

Disney’s determination to bring in customers year round has worked. If you examine crowd attendance levels over the years, their theme parks attendance overall has increased and slower times are not nearly as slow as they once were.

How can this apply to your Internet business?

Your business should be tracking your sales. You need to know when sales are up vs. down. You also should know why sales are better or worse. Once you know your business’ results you can run specials during slower times. You can test targeting different niche groups to see if sales improve.

Good marketing is made up of tracking results and testing promotions. On the Internet tracking programs making it easy to know how your advertising and sales are doing. Use these programs and test out various offers. If you work to improve your promotions you will increase your sales.


There you have the 5 Walt Disney World marketing success strategies, I observed during my recent vacation. You do not need to be a huge, publicly owned company like Disney to succeed with your marketing. Employ these tactics in your Internet business, as I’ve discussed and you’re sure to see your profits rise!

###
Abbie Drew
DEMC Editor



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