After seeing a documentary recently on Walt Disney (the man, not the company), it got me thinking about how their business development and marketing strategies can help company's of all types and sizes. There are hundreds of them, and I'm sure I will miss tons, but here are a few that come to mind. If you have some of your own, feel free to comment on this post or submit through e-mail or social channels.
Keep Your Employees Happy
Walt Disney Land came to be because Walt Disney felt that his employees should have a place to go with their families to unwind across from the studio. (His idea became too big for the lot, so it had to be moved, but it's the idea that counts)
While you mostlikely cannot open up your own amusement park, what you can learn from this is that it's important to keep your employees happy. The happier your employees are, the harder they will work for you.
Brand Recognition is Key
Walt Disney started with sketch drawings that later turned into animated shorts, full length movies and are now cartoons. His original idea has transcended time and generations - his Mickey Mouse character is one of the most globally recognizable figures. His original idea still promotes the Disney brand as a whole without words in print, online, through dolls, on TV and in character form. While Disney has other icons too (Cinderella's castle, the Disney logo, etc), but nothing will ever be as recognizable as Mickey Mouse himself.
Whatever represents your business, be it a logo, an icon or a mouse, utilize it in different forms of media and make sure that it is consistant. This is who you are as a business. It's what makes you unique. All of your marketing should have a similar look and feel - colors, fonts, writing style, etc.
The current Walt Disney World commercials evoke a certain emotion with viewers. They are home video's of parents telling their young children that they are going to Disney World in creative ways. Clearly every child in the commercials gets incredibly excited and their idea is to make you say "I want my child to have that reaction." Undoubtably more and more familes have already started doing this and one quick search on YouTube proves it.
The fact is, you don't own the "happiest place on earth" so you certainly may not have children screaming to come visit your business, but you need to get people excited about your business, no matter what it is. Usually the best way to do this is through a great offer or call to action. A large percentage off a service or a freebie usually gets people excited about a business and yours should be no exception.
Customer Service is King
Disney employees, or "Cast Members" as they are referred to, are some of the happiest people on earth (or at least that's how they act while at work). Interacting with any of them - whether its on the phone, at a park, in a hotel or at a Disney store is almost always a pleasure. They take the mantra "the customer is always right" to the extreme, but it pays off - people come back because of them.
Whoever is the first point of contact for your business should be friendly, easy going and a problem solver - 110% of the time. Everyone has bad days, but if you want customers coming back again and again, you need someone who can make them want to come back because of the service they receive. You can have the best product in the world but if people aren't treated well, they will go elsewhere... especially in a poor economy.