One of my initial questions when beginning the process of debunking the Disney empire was to find out – how did Disney achieve this? How did Disney become Disney? Why can every child recognize a Disney princess, or sing the lyrics by heart to songs from “The Lion King,” or recognize an evil step-mother? How did Disney do that?! Although that still remains somewhat of a mystery, how they maintain that position is through a strategic business plan. Not only does Disney know how to gain new customers, but they know how to continue pleasing repeat customers. Their target audience may be children, but everyone knows that most of the money funneled into Disney comes straight from the pockets of those children’s parents.
So, how does Disney target those parents to make sure they’ll see them a second, third, fourth…time? According to Carmine Gallo, a writer for BusinessWeek.com, it’s done by following these 5 steps (2):
1. Employees should be respectful of all customers, including children. Reach out to the kids, it may make the parent more inclined to stay in the store.
2. Nobody likes to wait in line, so make it entertaining. Employees should strike up conversations with customers in line, tell them about upcoming events and new products (essentially: sell, sell, sell).
3. Keep up the appearance of your store, venue or website. Whether you’re the CEO or the janitor, if you see a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up! If you don’t have a store or physical location, your website becomes your location. Make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing, easy to use and functional.
4. Differentiate between public space and private employee space. Off-duty employee activities should be done out of view from customers.
5. Be “assertively friendly.” Disney wants employees to seek contact with guests. If someone looks confused or unhappy, approach them and ask how you can help. Offer assistance until a solution is found.
Businesses that are a fraction of the size of Disney are implementing these tactics and finding huge success. The fact that Disney does it on such an enormous scale explains at least some of the success they have in continuing to please children and their families. So, instead of wondering how Disney casts this magical spell on you every time you walk into a store or theme park, snap back to reality and realize that no one is waving a wand in front of your face, the employees are simply taught exceptional customer service and selling techniques. Doesn’t sound so magical when you put it like that, does it?
(1) Barker, Jeremy. Popped Culture. Image posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuUTdaJ_Obw&NR=1
(2) Gallo, C. (2009). How Disney Works to Win Repeat Customers. BusinessWeek.com, 20. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.