April 19, 2006Volume 5 Number 16 Issue 103     
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Marketing Disney Style

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I have been working on updating The IdeaMerchant and gathering many offers into one place. I have just started posting offers, but take a look, there may be something you will like. Check back as I will be adding offers regularly.

I am off to a Chamber of Commerce "After Biz" event to promote the Technology Breakfast Series for our technology association. This will be the third in our series this year, and we are getting good reviews. Folks are coming out and learning useful stuff for their own businesses.

Well enough of the jibber jabber, on to the main event -

Marketing Disney Style

I have spent many years watching Disney grow and thrive. I have even taken courses from Disney to help me to understand why and how they market their empire. Once I had a good understanding of Marketing Disney Style, I undertook to create a plan that would work for my, or for that matter, any small business. Much of what Disney does is to market their brand is beyond the resources of the average entrepreneur, but the rest can be extremely valuable.

I tried to condense Disney’s Marketing Magic into 1,000 words and quickly realized it was not possible for me to do it. I now believe that I need to write a multi-page article to deliver the full goods on “Marketing Disney Style.” Maybe I’ll turn it into an eBook if there is a market.

What I have done, however, in the following newsletter, is to deliver a view from 30,000 feet.

Before you start marketing you need a product. To paraphrase Walt Disney, “Don’t create the product you want, do a little research and find out what product your market wants.” Or as my grandfather would say, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Or as I am wont to say, “Ask. Ask. And ask some more. And if you still don’t have enough information, Beg, Beg, and Beg some more.”

Knowledge of your market is your most valuable asset. Disney frequently uses focus groups to gather data on a specific topic. You can try to do something similar on-line I suppose - if you are successful, please let me know how you did it.

I have had many “brilliant ideas” over my lifetime. Most of them were retail failures because I didn’t check first to see if anyone else perceived a need for them. Almost every product I have created in response to “market intelligence” has been a success. Some more so than others, but almost all were successful

Disney uses the formula M4 = PI to promote their products. Stated more expansively, the formula for marketing is:

Motives + Markets + Messages + Method = Positive Images

Motives - Why do you want to take action? (Pay bills. Show the world how smart you are. Give a job to someone. Etc.)

Markets - Who do you want to reach? (Define your market closely.)

Messages - What do you want to tell this market? (Make sure it is what they want to hear!)

Method - How will you spread your message? (The size of your budget can be a limiting factor, but many really good methods cost nothing, or nothing up front - think Affiliates.)

Positive Images - The desire of your market to purchase from you. (‘Nuff said.)

Or to put it another way, get the right message, to the right people, in the right way, and you will sell truckloads of your product if it is the right one for the market.

Before you can even start to plan your product development and marketing, you need to answer three questions:

  1. What market do you want to reach? Your mission statement should guide you here.
  2. What do you know about this market? Write it down.
  3. What else do you need to know about this market? Be very specific.

Once your can answer these questions, you can research your market effectively. Once you’ve done your research, you should be in a good position to know what products are needed. Creating your own product to fill a need should be a breeze - well in theory at least.


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Having created a product that the market perceives a need for, you must make the market aware of your product. A marketing plan should be created to transfer ideas into actions. There are a number of action steps in any marketing plan.

  1. Determine the goals and objectives for your marketing plan - again be specific. See SMART marketing below. The more specific you are, the better your plan will be.
  2. Define your motives - why are you getting involved in this campaign
  3. Define the characteristics of your market - Where do they hang out? Where / How can you reach them? What is their favourite activity? What do they do in their spare time? Etc.
  4. Create your messages. (Make them full of benefits, not features.)
  5. Develop your methods to deliver your messages.
    1. Examine what your are doing now
    2. Determine what could be used for this campaign. Write it down.
    3. Implement your plan
    4. Measure your results. Write it down.
    5. Evaluate your results. Write it down.
    6. Tweak your plan and re-evaluate your results. Write it down.

Disney uses another acronym here, SMART. Your marketing goals and objectives should be :

    Specific - who, what, when, why, how

    Measurable - impressions, clicks, sales

    Achievable - make sure that your plan is possible to be delivered

    Realistic - make sure that your plan is within your ability to deliver

    Tied in with your goals - If you don’t know what you want to achieve, it’s very difficult to determine whether or not you have been successful.

Obviously, I’ve only touched on the high spots. Are you interested in much more in-depth discussion of “Marketing Disney Style”? Drop me a line (jim at ideamerchant dot com) and if there is enough interest, I’ll tackle the project.

Until next time…

Jim Green

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