Small Business Lessons from Disney+ | Pixie Dust & Profits
disney+ on phone screen

Business Lessons Learned From the Disney+ Launch

Jul 15, 2021

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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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