Pixie Dust & Profits | Small Business Podcast for Disney Lovers

Episode 49: Building Hype: Disney’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

Oct 12, 2021

New rides, limited-edition merchandise, and once-in-a-lifetime fireworks displays await inside! Listen now for tips on building excitement and anticipation with your customers.

Download Episode 49 transcript right here

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How Disney’s After-Hours Events Can Help You Drive More Revenue

Aug 5, 2021

In January, we found ourselves needing to meet with one of our clients in person, and we had another client trip that was also on the other end of Florida in the Panhandle. So one idea that we came up with was doing a Pixie Dust & Profits business intensive, and we actually spent four days in Orlando, close to Disney property, where we sat down with our client and went through her entire business. We did a deep dive into what happened in the past six months and came up with our plan for the next six months and worked in a little bit of Disney magic. 

We discovered a few interesting things that we think you guys would be super interested in learning about.

2 just-for-fun days at Disney? Count us in!

This trip marked the start of our Pixie Dust & Profits podcast, so we could finally start working on this podcast that we had been talking about for at least six months. We had the name of it. We had 12 episodes outlined for it. And we had yet to record a single episode. When you work with as many clients as we do, sometimes their work takes precedence. And if you don’t know, we are both operations strategists working on the back end of a number of teams, which we feel incredibly fortunate to do. We’re the ones coming up with strategies, plans, analyzing numbers and trying to really move things forward so they can grow and scale their businesses. So because of that, as much as we wanted to start this podcast many, many months ago, it took us a little bit of time to get things off the ground, but we did it. We got it done and done is better than early. 

Business strategy with a side of magic

So, let’s start off with the beginning of the trip and what we ended up doing. We met with our one client for that deep dive intensive. And of course it wouldn’t be a Pixie Dust & Profits business intensive if it didn’t actually involve a trip to Disney. So we did our very first after-hours event. Now, we’ve been to Disney quite a bit, we’ve been on all the rides. So why would we spend what was basically an extra hundred dollars to go to an after-hours event? And of course, take our client along with us, right? 

Well, we were working hard during the day, doing this deep strategy work, figuring out the teams that we’re going to be working with, and how to implement a big project we had coming up. Then, at the end of the day at seven o’clock, we would go to this after-hours event. It was dark out. So it wasn’t super crazy hot either. 

There were so few people in Magic Kingdom! It was February. So it was kind of cold actually. And we were all wearing sweaters and pants, which is unheard of in Orlando. And we just had such an enjoyable experience walking around without any heat, without any crowds. You also get free popcorn and ice cream and drinks, and probably a bunch of other things that we can’t remember at this point while you’re walking around the park. So if you fancy getting a Mickey Bar, it is included. And even if it was kind of on the chilly side of things — we are from the North, we were able to handle that ice cream and what was 65 degree temperatures like champs. 

On that trip, we actually did what we like to consider the highlight of our business career: delivering a financial report on the People Mover. You know, we found ourselves trying to take like a little bit of a break to enjoy our Mickey Bars and our sodas. And you know, we thought, “Why not now to talk about financial results?” We had everything prepared. So we walked our client through how we did for the past six months, what our goals were for the next six. And frankly, we wish we could do all business meetings on the People Mover because that would just be such a treat.

The after-hours experience

The thing that we really want to stress here with this after-hours event is that, from a business perspective, Disney got people who have annual passes to pay more money and to come to something they already have access to. That just got us thinking about your business and how you can give little order bumps and one time offers and things for your customers to spend just a little bit more money with you, even if it’s for the same thing that they already have, but with an elevated experience, right? 

What we were paying for was not just to go to Magic Kingdom… we can go to Magic Kingdom any time. We were paying for less crowds walking onto seven doors, mind train, and Peter Pan’s flight. Like when do you do that? You wait 15 minutes in line with the FastPass or you’re waiting an hour to get in. And just to have all the treats our heart desired. It was an amazing evening. It was just low stress. And we actually were able to hit every single ride we wanted to!  And when you compare that to the price of a regular park ticket, I think it’s around $150 for a single day, you get less time in the park, but we were actually able to maximize that and have an enhanced customer experience.

Elevate your offerings (just like Disney!) 

There are ways that you can take your existing offers and add an additional level of experience, a higher touch point and charge more for it. And your customers would be fine with paying for it. One example is if you have a group program. Obviously when someone’s coming into a group program, they’re sharing your time and your expertise with a bunch of other people. Now, if they want your one-on-one advice outside of the weekly or monthly calls that you have, you can charge them a little bit of a premium for that and get them to pay extra for one-on-one access. 

So if you offer a bonus clarity call or a bonus strategy call, you can discount that from your usual price. Because again, they are a customer, but get them to spend an additional hundred, $150 for that hour of your time, which is going to be insanely valuable for them because just like Disney, they’re not competing with everyone else for your time. This can also be something like a Slack channel. If you just want to have access to someone for a month to be able to talk to them or Voxer, if you prefer a voice communication, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a 30 minute call. 

It could also be a bundle of things that you’ve sold in the past, or you have sitting on your hard drive that you use in your own business already — like our Business Bundle ;). Just tweak it up a little bit and make it more of a template. Don’t give them over your customer information, but you can sell these little things. In addition to the regular product that you’re selling, you already have them sold. This is the best opportunity to give them just a little bit more that they actually need and want, and they already have their credit card out. So it’s a perfect win-win for them and for you.

Think about getting your Magic Band. How genius is it for Disney to offer the opportunity to pay $10 more, just $10 to get a custom band?? When we go to the parks, we know those Magic Bands are $25. So this is another opportunity where you can easily sell something. We’re already coming. Now Disney can just send us that one little extra bump and it’s only $10. You can do the same thing — but think about it across 20 clients. You’re charging $10 or $25 for something, and  that adds up very quickly. It’s not necessarily additional time or effort on your part. You just set up the system and it delivers that bonus and that’s extra money you’re raking in every month. 

How can you add this magic to your biz?

We encourage you to look at your business, look at the products and offerings you have. What are ways that you can add a little bit of an extra touch point or a little bit more value to your customer in a really meaningful and intentional way that you can charge more for? 

The best way to do this is to create a Customer Ascension Model, which can show you easily how you kickstart a sale — and continue to sell to customers once you have them in the door. We have a totally free Customer Ascension Model in our Business Bundle. This is the same model we use with all of our clients when mapping out their strategy!

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A Not So Small World After All

Jul 29, 2021

“CUTE EARS!”

Hearing that in your day to day life might make you wonder if the compliment giver has some Hannibal Lecter-esque tendencies… but it’s something that’s totally common to hear when you’re on property, as Disney vacation goers say.

In fact, walking around at Disney World or Disneyland, you’re hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t showing their Disney love in the form of a cute Minnie Ear headband, a funny Disney themed shirt or some sort of other Disney accessory.

Case and point—We’re delving into the entrepreneurial world that Disney has spurred and inspired themselves. It’s called the Small Shops and these shops are by Disney fans like me and you who create shops to sell Disney-inspired gear and accessories to decorate your home, things to wear in the park. And even some things that are really innovative and enhance your overall Disney experience. 

When I (Yasmine) was a kid, I’d go to Disneyland often because I had family in LA. And we’d always go for the day, but I had never experienced the magic of the world until I was an adult. In fact, I was 34, my first trip to Disney World. I spent so much time planning every moment of the trip. And I just remember going on to shop disney.com and looking at all of the cool ears and wishing I can get them all to match all my outfits because of course I was going to try Disney bounding for my first trip there, but the shop doesn’t really ship to Canada and it was going to be really expensive to get five different sets of years to match every single outfit. 

Enter…the Small Shops!

Bows, anyone?

I went to Etsy just to see if anyone had anything or I could find anything that would be an adequate replacement. And my mind was blown. I ended up not only finding a whole bunch of years to choose from but I found a pair of ears that had sparkly, interchangeable bows. So all I had to do was buy five or in my case, 10 different bows, and I could match every single outfit. I was able to Disney bound as all the princesses and have ears to match with only one pair. 

Let’s run! For…fun?

I (Nicole) did a run Disney race. It was my first one and I was really excited about it, but I was more in my head about the running than about the experience of it, because I am not a runner. I trained for months to try and even be able to finish a 10K and the extracurricular side of it didn’t even come to my mind until probably a day or two before we were leaving to go to the race. And it’s a big deal to run a Disney race! Apparently there are costumes, there are tutus, anything you can possibly imagine. And the joke I had made when I first signed up for the star Wars run was that my husband was running on the dark side. He was the rival run. So it’s the dark side versus the light side. He chose the dark side and I chose the light side. 

And if you are a Star Wars fan, you probably know that hope is what the rebellion is built on. So I would use this phrase when I was talking about this run; I’m huffing and puffing with hope because I don’t know if I can actually run a 10 K, right? And so I get there and you know, it’s two 30 in the morning, the race is starting in three hours. And I see all these people wearing amazing outfits that they either made themselves, or they went to Etsy and found. And I was like, man, I really should have gotten a shirt that said huffing and puffing with hope. And I felt so left out and came home. And I immediately went to Etsy to search for “run Disney” to see what’s even available.

Talk about Small Shops! 

There’s a whole industry that supports people who are addicted to running and Disney. It’s amazing how many small shops created all this stuff, probably because they are Disney runners and they went and wanted all these items for themselves. And now you can see, Disney’s kind of copying them in some ways, because when I entered the expo, the first thing you do when you get to run Disney, is you have to go pick up your bib and they have an expo there and it’s just insane how many products they have available to you. 

And they’re specific to the race you’re running too. They have 5K shirts, they have 10 K, they have challenges, they have special metals, commemorative pins, everything possible. And so there’s so many things to buy while you’re there. And that’s all spurred from the fact that these other industries are creating things. They may as well create and upsell it. So we definitely spent a good number of dollars in that little area to commemorate our first run Disney. And now we’ll probably be back because of it! 

I read a lot of stories about parents wanting to save money and shopping in the parks and stopping at Walmart and Target and picking up cute little Elsa costumes and Mickey shirts so they have Disney gear in the parks that they don’t have to spend Disney parks prices for. But now they have so much more choice and they’re stepping beyond the sort of standard Disney licensing products or licensed products. 

They are able to buy from independent sellers that are coming up with the most creative and let’s be real slogans for shirts. They’re coming up with cute costume accessories. If you go on Etsy and you search for Mickey ears right now, you’re going to come up with over 39,000 results. Let that sink in for a second. 39,000 different types of Mickey ears, and Disney has won their shop 10, 15. I know they’re constantly adding things, but it doesn’t compare to the selection that you can find online.

I also think that people making their own and selling them spur Disney to get into this let’s-create-as-many-ears-as-we-can. Let’s have the vault again, where we put some ears away, we bring some new ones out. There are way more, many ears now and styles and options than there were even two or three years ago. When we would go as an adult we didn’t even see people wearing many ears as much as you do now. Now everyone has a different color for every outfit I personally travel with too. 

The innovative products 

I want to take a second to talk about some of the innovative products that they’re coming up with. So did you know that you can actually buy a case to hold your Minnie ears? I don’t know about you, but like I carefully wrapped them in my suitcase. Try to make sure, you know, the bows don’t get smushed, but how cool is it that there’s an actual accessory for those hardcore Disney fans to protect their most valued accessory?

And one of the things I saw with the run Disney stuff is there are people who make things like plaques and things. You can hang on the wall in your house to display all the metals you get, because you know, you do one run Disney, you’ve got to collect all the rest of the metals. So it was just really interesting to see because I never would have thought of that. Like I said,  I’m not a runner. And I don’t have these metals from all these races, but you bring it home. You need to display it somewhere. It’s not going to go in the closet. So now you can get a piece to hang it on and it spurs you to go on more Disney trips. 

There are these really cute wooden Mickey signs that you can basically hook all your magic bands around. You can add four or five, but you really want to fill it up to really make that a display piece in your house. So same thing with the Run Disney medals, you would actually want to go to Disney to get more magic bands to fill that up. So they are coming up with really interesting ways to protect and display your Disney fanaticism, which is so super cool. 

The stylish products

I think it’s also important to talk about how yes, before you could go to Target or Walmart and just get a simple shirt with a Mickey face on it. But now there’s different styles. And I mean, there’s a whole industry of children’s clothing, right? You can have high end children’s clothing where you’ve got these like princess inspired dresses that are still Orlando weather friendly because that is not what the traditional princess dress is. That’s usually a little bit like starchy. The kids don’t really want to wear it all day long, but they do. You can go find some really cute Disney inspired gear from these small shops.

Doing research for this episode, I started getting ads served to me on Facebook for some of these small shops and, you know, things that I would come across were high-end designer-ish brands for kids that were designing Disney inspired gear. So they had like bomber jackets with Mickey ears on the back and they were beautiful and gorgeous. And I just keep thinking as a parent, my daughter would outgrow that in like a month, but it is adorable. And I need that for my trip!

The high-end products

Another super interesting thing with small shops is  yes, they’re creating things for kids, but they’re also expanding the possibility of what adults can buy that are Disney related. So we tease our client about this quite a bit, but she once said to us that when she thinks of adult Disney fans, she thinks of someone wearing a super faded Donald duck shirt from like 20 years ago. And let’s be real… for the longest time, that’s kind of all there was. It was Disney kid’s clothes, but in adult sizes and the small shop industry has been able to create really fun, trendy, really cool shirts that you actually want to wear as a grownup and created this entire market of products for Disney adult fans.

Small shops are getting Disney’s attention

You can buy high-end Disney jewelry with like your favorite quotes on it that are 24 karat gold bracelets. You can buy designer handbags. You know, coaches definitely put out a few Disney bags. Kate spade has too, but some of these Disney’s small shops are actually creating artisan handcrafted leather goods that are Disney inspired as well. So you’re not gonna buy those things for your kids, but as an adult, you might like to splurge on, or dress up your Disney outfit when you’re in the park. So it’s really cool that they basically created an entire market that in a way, Disney was kind of ignoring, had forced Disney to really step up their game. 

Disney came out with so many more ears because they noticed these small shops coming up with super creative and crafty designs in 2017. Disney doubled the amount of merchandise and specifically licensed merchandise that they had in shop disney.com. They noticed that in 2016 retail sales are falling by 6%. People just weren’t spending as much time in malls. And why would they, when they had a plethora of options available to them online at their fingertips? Just not from Disney. They closed a lot of Disney stores all around. Now that’s just really trendy and modern with the clothes that they have. 

They’re kind of bringing back some of the eighties style, early nineties style, and how the shirts are cut. Well, that’s my biggest deal with t-shirts as a woman. And I’m sure most of you can relate. They just aren’t ever cut for our bodies. They’re so square. And they actually make things that fit in, look nicely on all sorts of body types, because everyone loves Disney. And it’s just been great to see that, that transformation, I never bought souvenirs or merchandiser gear and I’ve been to Disney many, many times. And I will say that I didn’t start buying these things until probably the last two to three years, because nothing really ever appealed to me. And now they’re creating these designs that I would actually wear outside of the parks without feeling bad about it, because it’s not a faded Donald duck shirt saying that I’m going crackers or something silly.

Disney steps up their merchandise game

Disney’s actually collaborating with some of these like small shop artisans to bring you more creative and innovative products. I’m a big makeup fan. I spent way too much money at Sephora. And some of the collections I’ve been super jazzed about was ColourPop’s collaboration with Disney for both the designer princess collection and the villains collection. Yes, I bought every single piece. No, I will never wear a purple highlighter, but I really, really wanted that highlighter with Ursula on it. Cause it’s super cool. So they’re actually making it more accessible to get cool Disney things by partnering with brands that have an entirely different audience space and in a way, capitalizing on the nostalgia of Disney. And that has really turned around retail sales for Disney. So we’ve talked a lot about what Disney has done, what small shops have done to change the industry and how it’s impacted Disney. 

So… how can you use this for your own small business?

What we really want to get at here is that you as a small business owner:  can you think about things that you’ve created for yourselves and how you can market that to other people? Because a lot of these products from these Etsy shops really stemmed out of someone who really wanted this for themselves and then realized that there were other people in that predicament too. So for an example, there is a travel planner out there named Magical Miranda, who makes a planner specific to Disney. So it’s got all the different dates in there that you should know about. Like Mickey’s not so scary Halloween party is coming up and after hours events and all sorts of things like that, that is something that you probably thought you needed when you were planning a Disney trip and couldn’t find anywhere. And now she makes an annual planner.

So that way you can buy it and you can use it as a regular planner and just get a little bit of a Disney fied feeling to your day, make a magical day for yourself. But you can also use it to plan those trips that you are going to plan. So that exists because she needed it for herself or for her clients because she a travel agent and then she put that out there for everyone else. So what do you have in your business that you use all the time that you think is so simple and basic, and everyone must do this and how can you get that out to people?

What is uniquely yours?

It’s funny, there are tools and systems that we use every single day that we kind of take for granted. And sometimes it takes someone else just being like, Whoa, that’s a really cool process to understand the potential that exists there because here’s the thing, not everyone works the way that you work. Not everyone thinks the way that you think. So you always have something of value to share. I think it’s just a matter of looking at your business and finding out what’s that thing that’s uniquely yours. It could be inspired by someone else’s system, but format it in a way that works for you. I mean, that’s what all of these small shops have done. It doesn’t have to be a hundred percent original. It just needs your take on it. So we really encourage you to look at your business and find what those opportunities are. In fact, our amazing friend, Christina Scalera, who you may know from our intro is all about finding ways to create digital products in your service-based business so you can bring in passive income. She has a ton of great resources on how you can start to find out what those opportunities are in your business and how to go about creating digital products that you can actually sell. Check out our episode where we talked all about copyrights:

 We also want to encourage you to think about that white space in your industry. What do you have and what can you provide to people who you may not even know that they need? 

You could be sitting on a goldmine and you don’t even know it. 

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The Magic of the ‘Gram

Jul 22, 2021

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you’ve probably walked by the infamous purple wall a thousand times, maybe not a thousand, but you know what we mean. This is just a simple purple wall that’s in Tomorrowland and Magic Kingdom that people have just grown to love. 

It all started with an Instagrammer. One day they took a photo and used #purplewall and launched an entire phenomenon. 

We’re going to be digging into how Disney tapped into this trend and created a whole product line around it and how you can capitalize on trends that your audience are asking for.

Tapping into the trends

Back in the 2000’s, Disney was really struggling with this problem where attendance was down; 9/11 had just happened. There was a recession and people weren’t coming back to Disney. They were noticing that they were struggling to remain relevant with the new millennial generation. Their parents grew up with very limited entertainment options going to Disney world was a big deal. And it was like a rite of passage for millennials’ parents. But for millennials, they grew up seeing Disney everywhere. They saw it on TV. There’s Disney channel, there’s Disney Jr. They saw it on Instagram and Facebook everywhere, but there was no reason for them to be coming there because the old way of looking at Disney was sweaty, hot people, riding rides and faded Mickey T-shirts. And you know, that’s not really a pretty picture. Disney really needed to figure out a way to tap into this tech oriented generation.

Exciting the tech oriented generation

They started watching how they were interacting with their brand and amplifying it. They saw people on Instagram taking pictures in front of a purple wall that probably got cleaned in the mornings and never thought about it again. And that was it. And they capitalized on it. They saw people starting to line up to take pictures of the fashion that they were wearing in front of that wall. So what do you think Disney did? They started to monetize it. 

The monetization

There are purple wall ears. There are backpacks, there are shirts. And even if you take out the fact that they created a brand new color, think about the fact that they knew people were taking pictures in front of that to highlight what they were wearing. So they started making clothes that looked like the clothes that Instagrammers wear. That way, they would wear those clothes in front of the purple wall. So they’re wearing Disney gear in front of a wall in Disney world in a Disney. They’re just perpetuating the Instagram story of you-need-to-come-to-Disney-world-because-it-is-a-blast-to-be-here. Look, we’re all smiling. We’re all happy. We’re wearing bright colors and you are missing out. 

Creating an Instagramable experience 

Disney has taken this trend even further. Think about the last time that you went to Disney or the last Disney family you followed on Instagram, right? It’s not just the purple ears and the cute clothes. Disney has made the entire park experience completely Instagramable. And by doing this, they’re attracting a bigger and bigger millennial audience. We know some of you hate that term, but the easiest way to categorize people between the ages of 25 to 35 for them, Disney has become a place to go, to have a fun experience, to hang out with their friends and to basically create FOMO. They’ve turned attending Disney World into some form of social currency amongst their peers. Right? Well, and it’s super fun. They get to come in and just have oversized treats like a giant chiro. 

If you’ve ever got one of those, like almost as big as your head cupcakes at Disney…let’s be real. How many of you have actually finished it on your own? You either need a buddy to help you out, or you’re taking a couple bites and it’s just too much and you might be tossing iy away, but those limited edition treats are what brings people back more and more. They can create fun photos for Instagram AND obviously have a great time in the parks.

The magical audience 

So let’s talk about this audience that Disney has attracted with all of these Instagrammable options like foodie delights and more. We tried to look into the shift in who was coming to Disney World; the families versus adults who are coming on their own. We found that majority of millennial parents and non-parents who are millennials are more likely visiting a theme park in the next year. So the fact that Disney is attracting these millennials not when they have young kids or even before that they have kids is ensuring that they don’t have to deal with that situation where attendance is on a decline for at least another 15 to 30 years, because they’ve basically created a new built-in audience of long time Disney fans who will keep coming back for that awesome experience.

And millennials are more likely to justify the cost of things like this. 62% of millennial parents and 65% of non-parent millennials think of the park as a good value for the money. And their parents are like, no, it’s really not. Only 50% of their parents even agree with that. Millennials generally value the experience and the story around everything going on. They are willing to invest in that and not in stock.

Everything is an attraction 

Disney has turned the entire park experience to be more Instagrammable as a benefit for just customer flow throughout the parks. Think about it. If you think  the idea of someone waiting in line to take a photo in front of a purple wall is ridiculous, then let’s flip that. The longer they’re waiting in the line taking photos of a purple wall, or their giant cupcake, or their Mickey Bar, is less time that they’re waiting in line with you increasing the wait time for Seven Dwarfs, Pirates of the Caribbean or Haunted Mansion. Disney has essentially created an attraction out of every element of the park and not just the actual rides themselves. They were even watching how people act in lines just to see how else they can improve the experience in this technology world. 

They noticed people in line waiting for their favorite rides playing heads up. And so instead of letting people keep playing heads up, they created their own app, the Disney Park Experience app. And you can play that while in line and it’s like geo location. You have to actually be near the attraction in order to play that specific game. So one of those games was heads up and they were like, why give people another way out? Give them the full Disney experience… immerse them 100% in Disney. Let’s give them their own heads up game that has Toy Story characters. 

How can you apply this to your biz?

It’s as easy as looking at the macro trends and the habits that you see from your audience. What are they digging right now? What are they watching? What are they listening to? How are they consuming? Content is the biggest takeaway. So Disney noticed that people were sharing their experience with an audience and essentially advertising for them by creating that FOMO. But how can you translate this to your business? 

Shift with your audience

Well, if you’re noticing that your audience is shifting towards listening to more audio books, for example, maybe that tells you that the way that they like to consume content is an audio form. So next time that you’re putting out a course or any type of program, make sure that you add an audio only version for them because you know that they have the habit of listening to a book when they are driving or on the treadmill, or just cleaning around the house, make it as easy for them to consume your content. So we can actually ensure that they complete your next program and achieve the benefits that you’ve set out for them.

Notice what your followers like

Watch your audience, see what they’re doing, actually take intentional time to stop. Don’t think about your products. Don’t think about your own business. Just look at the people who are looking at you. You can go over to your Instagram profile, you can click on who’s following you and you can scroll down that list and click five to 10 people every few weeks and just see… hey, what are they sharing? What are they talking about? Do they like to share things that have quote graphics? Do they like to talk about churros? If you’re a really big brand and they’re using your products, reconnect with them. You don’t necessarily have to go send them a direct message or anything like that, but just see what they’re doing. And if someone’s doing something that really interests you, then go ahead, reach out, send a direct message. What are you really into lately? You know what people love to talk about the things that they love. So it’s a win-win.

Curious about how to use social to your benefit? 

Download our FREE Biz Bundle, which includes our best tips & tricks for sounding authentically you on social media and with your marketing materials. Because, at the end of the day, you can be as simple as a purple wall and still stand out!

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Business Lessons Learned From the Disney+ Launch

Jul 15, 2021

Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, launched in the U.S. and Canada in November 2019. But in the months before that debut, marketing emails were sent to Disney superfans like us, sharing special signup offers and building up the excitement for the platform and sharing signup offers. 

Early signup offers included a prepaid option for three years and two years. Eventually, a prepaid one year option and a standalone option debuted, as well as a bundle including Hulu, ESPN, and other brands.

Even though there were issues with accessing the early offers in Canada, as well as tech issues with the platform after the launch, we think it’s safe to say that Disney+ overcame those to become a successful streaming platform. They reported around 10 million sign ups within the first day. A year later in November 2020, the subscriber number reached nearly 74 million

You can learn a lot from the Disney+ rollout and apply it to your own strategy when launching something new for your small business. 

Come up with different ways to offer the same thing

Coming up with a variety of offers is a good way to appeal to your different customer personas. Not all of your customers will want the Disney+ three year prepaid option, for example. And not all of your customers will want to pay it month by month.

In our case for Pixie Dust & Profits, we decided to offer a pay-in-full option and a payment plan option. When you pay in full, it’s a one-and-done thing, and you can get that business expense in before the end of the year. A payment plan may cost a little more in the end, but it’s easier and more digestible for some people. Basically, our options appeal to our different customers.

When putting together offers and bundles for your own biz, look at your customer buying habits. What products would your customers find valuable in a bundle? Which services complement your new offer? Figure out how to meet your customers’ needs and offer them value.

Treat your launch plan as a guide

Fun fact: Disneyland held its grand opening on Sunday, July 17, 1955. Opening Day festivities included a dedication, a parade, and 6,000 invitations to exclusive guests. Designing Disney politely said that “the event did not go smoothly,” but as we described it on the Pixie Dust & Profits podcast, it was more of a hot mess. 

Counterfeit tickets galore meant that over 28,000 attendees showed up, compared to the 11,000 expected. Rides broke down. There was a plumbers’ union strike, meaning water fountains went dry during a record heat wave in California. Food and drink ran out. In some areas, trees were still being planted, paint was still wet, and asphalt was still soft.

What you can take away from the Disneyland Grand Opening and the Disney+ rollout is that you should treat your launch plan as a guide. You have to be flexible, because your launch will probably not go perfectly according to plan. No matter how much you prepare and practice, things will crop up that are unanticipated or out of your control. 

Review every launch

Yes, a disastrous launch is a frustrating and scary thing to experience. And they can definitely be discouraging. But take each one as a learning opportunity. 

Figure out what went wrong and how it should be fixed for your next launch. Analyze what went right and brainstorm how you might make it even better in the future. Focus on learning and improving rather than what failed, and every subsequent launch of yours will run more smoothly.

We like to implement a post-mortem after every launch is over. We review what went well and what didn’t. We pinpoint the successes and the challenges, and talk about what we can do better for next time. You can do the same for your business. Not only will you set yourself up for success, but you can celebrate the small wins, too. Those are easy to overlook when you’re focused on what went wrong.

Always be learning and improving

An unsuccessful launch does not mean that your offer was bad. It just means that your launch could have been better. 

Maybe it could have been marketed differently or earlier. Maybe a different software should have been used. Maybe your audience didn’t resonate with the copy or content. There are so many moving parts to a launch, which is why it’s important to review it so you can figure out what to tweak for your next one.

And if you’re having trouble figuring out what went wrong, ask your customers for feedback. Some people will give you suggestions that you never even thought of before. Others may give you feedback that, well…isn’t so nice or helpful, but you don’t have to implement it all. The point is, insight from the other end can be really valuable.

If a launch doesn’t go as well as you expected, remember that you’re not alone! We’ve had those days, and our clients have too. What matters is what you learn from it and how you can make your next one a success.

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Episode 48: Disney+: Behind the Attraction

Jul 13, 2021

In this episode, we marvel at Disney’s ability to reimagine their characters, rides, and movies in new (and profitable) ways. The latest is Behind the Attraction, a new Disney+ series telling the stories behind the iconic rides at Disneyland and Disney World. We also discuss the upcoming Jungle Cruise movie, live-action remakes, and Disney’s ability to weave together universes through multiple mediums.

Download Episode 48 transcript right here

Have an idea for Season 5? Text us! 207-203-6769 🪄

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Use Your Brand to Create Your Own World

Jul 8, 2021

Have you ever been to Disney World and wondered why the employees are called “cast members” and, well, not employees? Because Walt Disney started in the movie industry, he used movie industry terms for everything in the parks. 

Park attendees are not called customers, they’re called guests, as in guests of a show or performance. Onstage areas are areas in the park where cast members interact with guests, while offstage areas are employee-only areas. Every Disney term is carefully chosen to create a specific mood or experience — a unique world. You can use the same tactic for your small business and create your own world. 

Attract customers with specific messaging

If you’re a diehard Disney fan like us, you know all those key insider terms. Like “rope drop” is when they physically let people into the parks at opening time. Join a Disney Facebook group or meet another Disney super fan, and you’ll probably both speak the same language.

What does this mean for your business? To attract new customers, you want to use language that they already understand. Avoid using words and phrases that are unclear to the average person. But once a customer is through the door — or through the looking glass — you can use specific, specialized language to create a custom branded experience.

Take your website. You need to clearly communicate what you do and what you offer. This isn’t the place to use jargon or industry speak that a casual reader wouldn’t get. But once you’ve hooked a customer or made a loyal fan, you can start peppering in your own unique language, because they’ll know what you mean. 

Use branded language to create your own world

How can you use specific language to create your own world? Let’s use us as a quick example. If we were explaining Pixie Dust & Profits to someone who has never been to Disney World and isn’t super into Disney (yet), we would avoid saying, “this is your 180 day window to get things done.” They wouldn’t know that that is a Disney-specific phrase.

Instead, we’d say something like, “you have 180 days to take part in this offer.” See the difference? It’s more clearly written for a broader audience. But once this person knows our brand and is a new Disney fan, we can use fun phrases like “it’s your FastPass Day!” It makes sense once they’ve entered your world.

Here’s another example of someone who knows how to create their own world. Reina Pomeroy is an amazing coach for busy creatives who is so easy to connect with. Once you’re “in her world,” you start to speak her language. Like calling networking “social glue,” or using the term “dreamies” instead of clients. Reina’s language is more friendly, fun and creative. It puts her  unique brand on ideas to make them more powerful and memorable. 

Polish the customer experience

We all know that Disney spares no expense when putting on a show for their guests. They clean every inch of the parks every night. They don’t cut corners. They polish everything so that it shines for their guests the next day.

You can use a similar approach to the customer experience for your business. Audit your website to make sure every link works properly, every image loads, or every piece of information is up to date and accurate. Review your customer journey to see what needs tweaking and perfecting.

Look, you’re a small business owner, so don’t feel bad if things need improvement. Sometimes things get lost in the process, or we take shortcuts so things get done. And we think, “I’ll get back to that and fix it soon,” but we never actually take that step to do it.

Think about the show that you’re putting on for your customers, and see where it can be spruced up or fixed. Yes, done is better than perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t periodically optimize your customer experience.

View your business from your customers’ perspective

If you’ve ever had the chance to go on a backstage tour at Disney to see what it looks like as a cast member, the experience can be eye-opening. Everything is about form, function, and efficiency. Compare that to the front-facing areas that are bright and shiny and polished, and it’s incredible.

The same goes for your business. While you should look for ways to improve the customer experience, you don’t need to have everything perfectly polished on the backend. The backend operations of your business should be, first and foremost, operational. You can be organized and bare bones, but nothing needs to be fancy. It’s for your eyes only, anyway.

To create your own world, you need to view your biz from your customers’ shoes. You need to look at your business from the perspective of a totally new potential customer and a loyal customer, and tailor your brand messaging to the two audiences. That’s how you attract new customers and keep them around. 

Sounding authentically YOU

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Balancing Priorities & Surviving in the Day-to-Day

Jul 1, 2021

Remember that weird period in Disney history around 2004? Michael Eisner was CEO, park attendance was down after 9/11, and their films weren’t performing as well as Pixar’s. Put yourself in a Disney leader’s shoes at that time, and you can imagine that they felt the struggle was never going to end. But we know that now, in 2021, they have overcome those obstacles…even if new ones have cropped up.

We may be past the one year mark of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, but generally, life hasn’t gotten “back to normal,” has it? Much has changed for good, and we’ve had to adapt to a totally different way of doing certain things.

You’ve probably had to adjust your work as a small business owner, too. Speaking from experience and from what we’ve heard from other entrepreneurs, that constant rebalancing act can be tough. That’s why, in this blog, we’re talking about how you can find your focus and keep working toward your goals when you’re living through challenging events that will make history. 

Give yourself permission to let some things go

How do you work through the chaos? How do you survive the day-to-day? From our own experiences during quarantine, it has been tough balancing priorities: being a mom, a wife, a business owner. Making sure we stay healthy. Homeschooling our kids. You only have so much to give, so how do you choose where to devote your time and energy?

You have to give yourself grace, and you have to give yourself permission to let some things go.

Sometimes, surviving takes precedence over thriving. You can’t control everything during a global pandemic or an insurrection at the Capitol or while homeschooling your kids and working from home at the same time. And that’s okay. 

If you’re frustrated that you’ve had to cancel in person events, or that your number of Zoom meetings has increased, or that you don’t have time to check off everything on your work to-do list, take a deep breath and give yourself a break. 

Make sure you extend that grace to your team, too, because they’re probably struggling as well! Keep in touch with your team members and ask how they are. Work together to help each other out. Not only will it help you run the business, you’ll strengthen your emotional bonds with your team.

Implement some structure to help you stay productive

This may sound like it’s contradicting our previous advice, but we promise it’s not! While it’s important to stay flexible and give yourself a break, you still need some structure to help you get through the day. Playing hooky and watching Disney movies all day is nice once in awhile, but it’s not healthy all the time.

A little structure can keep you going. For example, you might schedule time for yourself after the work day to decompress and stay off your computer. Or, pick a dinner time and a separate block of time to spend with your family. That helped us a lot in the early days of quarantine when we had to figure out our own homeschooling schedules. 

Putting tasks in “buckets” or blocks can help, too. Like sending emails, tidying the house, preparing food, and so on. This kind of system helps you stay on track, but you have more flexibility within those blocks to do what needs to be done.

Revisit your goals

Our New Year’s resolutions may look totally different than they did in January 2020, but people still make them. Try not to completely abandon your business goals, because they still matter.

Revisit your goals and see if they’re still feasible. If so, when might you be able to achieve them? If they’re not, can they be shelved for a later date? If you find yourself not wanting to remove a goal from your list, figure out a way to adjust your goal or break it down into easier components.

For example, some of our podcast episodes we planned in Season 2 had to be put on hold because of COVID-19. So did a special project that we’d been hinting at for some time. We looked at our goals and asked ourselves, “What’s one thing we can do to move this forward? How can we still make it happen?”

You don’t have to plan a strategy for your goals right away. Just start by reading them and see how you feel. If anything, you’ll be reminded that there was a time before a pandemic, and there will be a time after that will feel more “normal.” And yes, you may become inspired to jump in and accomplish one of your goals.

Keep looking forward

How do you handle balancing priorities and surviving “unprecedented times?” By giving yourself and your team grace, implementing structure to your workday, and revisiting your goals. We know you can survive difficult periods like quarantine. Disney has done it in the past, and you did it in 2020. 

Know that you can’t control everything, so when you focus on what you can control and learn to let some things slide, you can keep your business moving forward. 

Want to focus on your priorities? Stop chasing squirrels.

We know you have a billion and one different ideas — and all of them are great. But instead of feeling like Doug from Up, it’s important that you really get clear on your strategic priorities. If you’re not sure what those are… we have something for you.

Our Stop Squirrel Syndrome resource shares the 6 Strategic Pillars of Success, and even helps you outline the priorities that fall under each pillar. If you need to work on what’s most important in your business right now, this resource will help you figure that out.

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Episode 47: Boo Bash & Busy Signals

Jun 29, 2021

It’s not always pixie dust and magic, but we can learn a thing or two during the wait (or really, really long hold). In this episode, we’re getting real about one of our biggest Disney frustrations —the phone lines. Listen now to hear about why you should be caring for your current and most loyal customers in your small business.

Download Episode 47 transcript right here

Text us (we promise there’s no wait time) at 207.203.6769 😉 

Join our party!

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How Disney is Navigating Coronavirus

Jun 24, 2021

Thanks to the coronavirus, small business owners have had to adapt their strategies not only once, but probably multiple times to keep their employees and customers safe. Some of these changes may be minor, but others can be really drastic. 

Big companies and organizations have had to do the same thing, which is kind of refreshing, right? Because the pandemic is new to everyone, we’re all in the same boat, whether we’re entrepreneurs or CEOs of giant corporations. 

The cool thing is, you can learn from what public companies are doing in response to the pandemic and applying it to your own business. Let’s talk about how the Disney experience has changed so far because of coronavirus, and what you can learn from their actions.

A whole new world…without iconic Disney experiences

The biggest, most obvious change that’ll be hard to handle? Forgoing those classic Disney experiences you find at the parks that aren’t the rides. Afternoon parades. Nightly fireworks shows. Character meet-and-greets and dining experiences. You still get to go on rides and enjoy food and drinks, but without those other experiences? You’re missing a little of the magic.

But as we pointed out in this episode, these changes are meant to give guests peace of mind. Can you really enjoy your Disney visit without worrying about getting sick or second guessing everything you’re doing? While some experiences will definitely be missed, it ultimately comes down to safety. You want your employees and your customers to feel cared for and safe.

And that’s what you can take away from this first change Disney has implemented. You may have to limit in person capacity, stick to social distancing guidelines, or cancel some services for your business for now, but remember that it’s temporary but necessary. 

Keep in mind that your customers may see changes to your business as not getting what they signed up for or paid for. This is your chance to get creative and find ways to keep your customers happy while still sticking to your guns.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

Remember to check your contract or your terms and conditions to see where you have some wiggle room and where you need to hold firm. For example, the coronavirus has hit the wedding industry hard. Wedding dates get canceled and that affects everything else, from vendors to wedding services to rentals. Luckily, your T&Cs or contract can back you up.

One thing that’ll help you provide excellent customer service? Looking at the issue from your customer’s perspective. Put yourself in their shoes and think, “what would make me feel satisfied?” Let that guide the discussion with your customer and your decision making from there. 

This is what we had to do when we changed our Pixie Dust & Profits Live program from an in person event in Florida to an online accelerator program. It’s not exactly what we had in mind when we set it up, but we pivoted. We adjusted and upgraded the experience so we could keep our customers safe, but still deliver what they wanted. 

As a business owner, be prepared to be flexible and make sacrifices. No one loves giving refunds, but sometimes that’s your only option. Carve out some time to talk to your customers one-on-one to find a solution that works for the both of you. It’s worth maintaining that trust between you and your customers.

Be honest and communicate

We’ve really admired how Disney has been open and honest about what they’re doing in regards to the pandemic. They’ve done a good job of keeping everyone in the loop, letting us know what changes to expect and what the new experience will be like. 

Honest communication is super important when your fans are spending a lot of money to travel, stay at, and visit the parks. Can you imagine arriving at Disney and then being surprised by all the changes?

You don’t have to be a giant corporation like Disney to adopt this attitude, too. Being honest and frequently updating your customers is essential for building trust with them. Even if you don’t have the answers to questions, simply letting them know that you’ll keep them in the loop is reassuring.

You can’t make everyone happy

Make necessary changes to keep your people safe. Provide great customer service. Keep communication frequent and honest. Even if you do all of these things, you still won’t be able to make all your customers happy. And that’s okay! You just have to do your best.

Some of your customers will understand the changes you have to make because of the pandemic and they’ll continue to support you. Others won’t, and that’s unfortunate. All you can do is remember that you tried your hardest. You can’t please everyone. (Do you really want a customer like that bringing you down anyway?)

We hope that this episode brought you up to speed on the changes you can expect at Disney, and inspired you to take charge of your small business. We’ll see you next time! 

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