Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Captivated Audience

As most of you know, my family and I went to Disney World last week. It was a great trip and fortunately we didn't have any 'incidents' that would prevent us from coming back anytime soon. I do believe that they have even forgiven Zachary for punching Pluto the last time we were there a few years ago. Though Pluto did turn tail and run when he saw us! I suspect that as long as no additional physical assaults occur, Disney has decided to make by gones be by gones.

The trip in and of itself was amazing. It provided an incredible amount of research for me as it turned out to be a veritable observing smorgasbord.

One such observation, though not much of a stretch, was without a doubt....Disney is a marketing machine. A machine so large and encompassing that it will consume you, your family and every last greenback that you own. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you simply can not escape the power of this modern day Hoover Vacuum as it sucks every last will from you until you simply concede and haplessly convert.

I truly believe that Disney's Theme Parks were created for the sole purpose of punishing us as parents for having children. If you have kids and have ever been caught in their cross hairs you know what I mean.

Despite the education in the art of willing disembowelment from my wallet and disengagement of free-will, I learned a valuable lesson that can apply to most everyone's business.

So I believe I first noticed it when we attended Star Wars Weekend at the MGM Disney Theme Park. My seven year old son and I were jazzed to take the Star Wars ride that he was too young to ride the last time we were there. For a brief few minutes as we entered the Galactic Empire's strong hold we were transported to a galaxy far, far away. All resemblance of what either of us knew as reality was quickly replaced by our group's joint fight to take on the evil Empire. The ride proved amazing and certainly had us both pumped up as we walked down the decorated exit or escape portal as it were.

We escaped alright....right into the grip of the dark force. The long hallway which signified the exit was actually a hidden ploy to drop us right smack into the bonanza of Star Wars memorabilia, t-shirts and a litany of toys so amazingly attractive that the seven year old in me even revealed himself.

I could feel my heart pounding as my pulse quickened. A slight bead of sweat darkened my brow as the intensity of my perilous situation occurred to me. My true seven year old was standing next to me and was literally salivating as he suffered from sensory and entertainment overload. Disney had me and ultimately my money.

So it went for the next three days. Whether it was a Buzz Lightyear ride, Winnie The Pooh, or the Safari ride, the rides were all geared towards anchoring in the experience and then marketing. Not to me or my wife mind you....but to the two wide-eyed kids that became absolute freaks at the possibility of taking something...anything home with them. We as parents were helpless as our two kids developed arms like a bundle of octapuses in mating season. "Damn that Walt Disney," crossed my mind and slipped from my lips a few times I can assure you.

The lesson I learned is that the experience (i.e. the ride) leads to action (i.e my purchasing whatever I could to shut my screaming/begging kids up as quickening as possible). Though I must admit, after a fun ride where you witness your kids enjoying the absolute heck out of an experience, your otherwise mental neurons aren't firing in defense but appreciate for what is sure to be a life-long memory.

It was only after I had realized we had been caught up in the experience and the moment that I realized that Disney did what Disney was supposed to do. Their system was perfect. It made me reflect on business in general and how the Disney system could perhaps be duplicated for our own purposes.

Imagine immersing your customers in such an amazing experience with whatever product or service you might offer and at their heightened satisfaction, excitement, endearment, etc.. delivering the next "great thing" your company offers. They become a captivated and far more receptive audience.

You don't need nifty rides and overblown productions to make the Disney experience a reality for you and your business. It just takes a little ingenuity, forethought and the commitment to making the most memorable experience possible for your customer. It is possible to turn your customer into that babbling seven year old when you bring the power of mystical magic and wondrous amazement to their experience in working with you and your company.

Until next time.....

Ripple On!!!

Steve Harper

1 comment:

Carlon Haas said...

You are right about Disney being a marketing machine. Dan Kennedy, a marketing mentor of mine, recommends going there once a year to study Disney's marketing. Now, if I do that, that means I can write it off as a business trip...something worth thinking about.