Note: This list could be applied to any industry, but insurance is my thing, ya know…..
I just returned from a week at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” My kids, of course, had a wonderful time and I enjoyed myself too (courtesy of some excellent meals and fantastic drink menu). Yes, I was happy to be getting away for a week, but I was really excited for the chance to observe the Disney Marketing Machine up close (what can I say, I’m always thinking about marketing). One word is simply not adequate, so I was forced to make up my own word:
And pure genius.
Forget about McDonald’s, I think Disney has the ingredients for the secret sauce.
So…..here are four marketing lessons learned from Walt Disney World and real-life application to the insurance world.
Insurance Marketing Lesson #1- Branding is everything
That damn mouse is EVERYWHERE. From souvenirs to clothing, to even the hotel decor, you could not escape him. Take a look at the picture below- this is the carpet in front of our hotel room. What do you see? (kudos if you found two Mickeys)
So how can you apply this to your situation? Your brand identifies who and what you represent. Cultivate it, spread the word, scream it from the rooftops if you must. I’m not saying you have to get your agency logo tattooed on your forehead, but you have to have something that represents you. And it needs to be a part of everything you do. And if done well, your brand can outlive you. Did you know that Walt Disney died before the Magic Kingdom was even built? But his brand is alive and very well.
Insurance Marketing Lesson #2- It’s all about the EXPERIENCE
When we arrived at our hotel, the first words we heard from the bellman were “Welcome Home.” Hmmm. I didn’t expect that. But, you know what? It relaxed me. It made me smile. And I had good vibes for the rest of the trip.
A major experience was the “character” meals. These meals allow you to interact with Disney characters. Whether it was a luau or a meal with Princesses, you were 100% THERE. My favorite was breakfast at Cinderella’s castle. You were escorted in for a picture with Cinderella, then whisked away to the top of the castle. Children are encouraged to dress up as a princess or prince- again, it adds to the experience.Wands and wishing stars were distributed and the kids were asked to close their eyes and make a wish. When they opened their eyes, twinkling lights all around the dining room lit up. Hokey? Maybe. But a pure testament to living the experience? Hell, yes 😉
Another fun note- my daughter was greeted as “Princess” at the parks, as well as at the hotel. We heard a lot of “Hello Princess” or “How are you today Princess?” Even the security guards said it…….
My favorite “experience” though? When I booked an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for a royal makeover for my daughter. I booked the “Castle package” which unbeknownst to me, included an escort to the front of the store and into a display window private salon. My daughter got the royal treatment and Disney “advertised” the salon services available. BRILLIANT!
What could your experience be? We can’t all be Disney, nor have Disney’s budget, but maybe that’s not necessary after all. Maybe it’s just knowing your customers name (here’s a post I wrote about this).Or asking about their families. Maybe you have a coffee bar and pastries in your lobby/reception area. Or you write blog posts promoting your own customers. Or you greet a caller with “Thank you for calling XYZ Insurance Agency. How can I make your day exceptional?” I don’t care what it is. But it needs to be something. You need to be referred to as the agency that does/is (fill in the blank).
Insurance Marketing Lesson #3- You must create a culture and get buy-in from staff
Every employee I came into contact with was courteous, extremely friendly and eager to please. I would almost call it a “cult” of Disney as opposed to a culture, it’s so ingrained. Those employees are 100% all in. Everyone believes in the Disney magic. It’s. All. About. The. Mouse.
So how do we apply this idea of culture and buy-in to our agency? Start an open dialogue with staff. Ask why you’re in business. Ask what they think their purpose is in the agency. Ask for suggestions/feedback on critical processes. If staff feel valued and have a clear focus of the mutual goals and their role in helping to achieve those goals, I sincerely believe they’ll be more apt to be “all in.” Making money is great, but deep down I believe that most people aim for a higher purpose. Give them that purpose and watch them exceed your expectations.
Insurance Marketing Lesson #4- Dazzle your customers with unexpected extras
Oh where to begin? My highlight was when I bought souvenirs at a park gift shop, but didn’t really want to walk around the park all day with the bags. Before I even asked, the lady at the register asked, “Would you like me to have these bags sent to your hotel so you don’t have to carry them?” What an unexpected courtesy. I simply had to complete a short form and when I went to the hotel gift shop the next day, there they were. A small thing, but extremely valuable to me and helped make the rest of the day at the park that much more enjoyable.
How could you dazzle your customers? It could be as simple as a handwritten note. Or maybe you swing past their house to do some paperwork because they’re recuperating from surgery. Or you make an introduction to someone they want to meet or arrange a special service on their behalf. Maybe you just pick up the phone and ask how they’re doing. Think about what would be a pleasant and unexpected surprise to you and just do it. You can also read my prior post, “Warning: Creating a Positive Customer Experience Can Help Your Business” for additional guidance.
The parks are spectacular, but the marketing juggernaut called Disney is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
How about you? Any Disney stories you want to share? Have you had similar experiences, whether at Disney or elsewhere? Any marketing takeaways you have from those experiences?
And here’s a few more photos from the vacation. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.