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Magical Marketing Lessons to Learn From Disney

When it comes to iconic American brands, none are bigger than Disney. With theme parks, movies, television and radio, not to mention products loved by children and adults around the world, they have defined family entertainment since the days of Steam Boat Willie!




You don't grow to the size and scope of the Walt Disney company without strong marketing genius behind you. Disney has owned their market space for decades by constantly refining their marketing strategy, just ask any family with children or grandchildren. Let's look at some examples of great innovative business marketing strategies incorporated by Disney, and some of the lessons we can learn by looking at why they are so effective!

It's Not Just About The Business, It's About People!

Of course every marketing campaign Disney creates does focus on the business, but they're experts at using their assets to deliver benefits to their consumers, while still keeping the brand values front and center.

Their “Healthily Ever After” campaign uses Disney characters to reinforce healthy eating habits and regular exercise for the entire family. This is just their most recent forray into the space. They recently partnered with Public Health England on the National Health Service's Change4Life program, and with USA swimming for the movie Finding Dory.

They put their "value marketing" efforts into practice in their own parks as well. For over a decade, Disney has used nutritional guidelines when choosing food vendors for their parks. It's a brilliant strategy that seamlessly fits into their marketing of engaging with parents, as much as with children. It works to engage moms and dads, through the clever use of content to highlight their broader brand values.

Using Technology to Improve The Customer Experience

When most people look at Disney, they see the characters, the theme parks, the children's movies...but look behind the curtain and you'll see that from the earliest days of the company, it's been about leveraging the technology of the time.

From basically creating the animated cartoon genre to creating the first real theme park with Disneyland, it's always been about using the technology available to awe, entertain and develop the brand. Today, Disney is creatively using RFiD and CRM technology to improve customer satisfaction and deliver unique personalized experiences for their visitors.

In 2013 Disney made a huge leap in the customer experience in their parks when they introduced “MyMagic+” which includes something they call MagicBands. The system allows users to avoid lines by booking slots for rides, restaurants, and meeting characters throughout the park, even opening their hotel room door! Customers can sign up via their website, or with the Disney app. The bands can store payment information, identification and more.

While customer's enjoy a unique Disney experience, Disney is collecting more accurate data about visits, purchases, and customer satisfaction. They can then use this data to improve their digital and social profiles.

Marketing To The "Kid in Every Adult"

Between 2007 and 2014 Disney Dream Portraits created by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz were featured in print and online advertising, along with in content and on the Disney website. These photographs of Hollywood stars dressed as classic Disney villains, heroes and princesses were targeted at adults and older fans.

It was a brilliant way to add some A-list gloss to the brand and reconnect the brand with adults, who would now remember their Disney experiences when they were kids and of course bring their kids to Disney, creating another generation of loyal fans!

Disney's Main Rules To Innovative Marketing

The above examples are just highlights of Disney innovation when it comes to marketing. The fact is by sticking to several key concepts, Disney has created a marketing juggernaut that has spanned decades, creating a powerful brand by using technology to connect with consumer's subconscious as well as touching the emotions. Here are some overall key concepts:

Brand Identity

Disney has built a youthful, fun, magical family oriented brand. Almost every one of us has been touched by Disney's magic at some point in our lives, either as children or adults. Today, it's really difficult to execute a brands promise. Disney is so ingrained in so many channels that bringing the brand to life can be complicated. That being said, consumers are interacting with brands today in so many ways, from traditional print, radio and TV to the internet, and Disney is entrenched in all of them!

Brands have to move quickly, personally, and deeply, in order to capture consumer's decreasing attention spans. The heart of Disney's marketing strategy IS their brand. By focusing on the consumer, for example by using technology, to give each visitor a unique experience, the Disney brand stays top of mind.

Customer Immersion

Disney fans stay loyal to the brand because there's always something new! Both in the real world in terms of the parks, with new movie franchises, and through new innovative Internet experiences. Disney's motto is “The Happiest Place on Earth” and they keep it fresh by always giving customer's something new.

Whether it's creating advertising with A-list stars dressed as classic characters, or buying a franchise like Star Wars, Disney keeps it fresh, and immerses the consumer in the experience through all of their marketing efforts.

Adapting To Change, Quickly and Completely

From the earliest days when Walt Disney had little more than a vision, Disney has been leading the way when it comes to adapting new technologies. Disney stays ahead of consumer trends and needs, from personalizing the theme park experience, to innovative content and web marketing strategies, they're always trying new things, especially when it comes to marketing.

Continuous Personalized Marketing, Building Lifetime Value

One thing Disney has done since the days of Walt, is to continuously promote the business. It keeps Disney front of mind when it's time to plan a vacation. Every customer is unique and has different needs. Disney understands this, especially once a customer has engaged with the brand.

When you book a Disney vacation, you receive a book, unique to your family. It's specific to their hotel, includes reservation details, MyMagic+, and all of the information specific to that families needs. Continuously keeping the brand front of mind and personalizing the experience has created a brand loyalty that keeps customers coming back, often for decades!

The bottom line is that Disney has masterfully integrated every marketing effort to reinforce the brand and the message. They key is having a central theme to the brand, in Disney's case it's built entirely around family, fun, and happiness. Integrating every marketing effort to reinforce the brand, is the most important part of their strategy. That's the lesson to take away from all of this. Every effort should be about defining your brand, and focusing on the needs of your customer.

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Rob Steffens

Rob Steffens

I am the Director of Marketing here at Bluleadz. I'm a huge baseball fan (Go Yankees!). I love spending time with friends and getting some exercise on the Racquetball court.