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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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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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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Tailoring Your Offers for Your Audience

Jun 17, 2021

Did you know?: Disney World has a lot of hotel rooms—over 30,000 rooms, to be exact. There are 27 different resorts on property, not even counting all of the hotels around the parks that don’t fall under the Disney umbrella. Phew!

All of these resorts fall under one of three general categories: value resorts, moderate resorts, and deluxe resorts. Disney has cleverly created tiered hotel options to fit every guest’s budget and needs. You can take a page out of their book when creating offers for your clients.

Explaining Disney’s tiered hotel options

If you’ve never stayed at a Disney hotel, here’s how the tiered hotel options work. Most of these hotels fall under three categories. The first is the value resort, which are themed rooms that cost about $150 or less a night. They’re the budget-friendly option that make up around 40% of the hotel rooms at Disney.

In our experience, the value resorts are great if you want to spend more of your trip budget on the parks or dining. There are some challenges though: there’s really only one place to eat onsite, and these resorts are a lot farther away from park drop-off areas. And that can make a difference after walking around a theme park all day. 

Then you have the moderate resorts, larger rooms with more access to amenities and closer positioning to bus stops and lobbies. They’re not hugely different from the value resorts, but if you want more space to shower and spread out in your room, and more dining options, you may choose a moderate over a value.

The third type are the deluxe resorts, which make up about 25% of the rooms on property. The Grand Floridian, for example, averages around $800 per night. Deluxes are top of the line with immaculate theming, gorgeous rooms, and luxurious amenities, like high thread count bedsheets and nightly fireworks shows.

Meeting people where they are

What Disney is doing with these hotel options is meeting every potential guest and parkgoer where they’re at. In other words, offering an experience tailored to different budgets and tastes. Not everyone can cough up $800 to stay at the Grand Floridian (as much as we’d want to) but they still want to visit Disney. So Disney gives them an option that meets their needs.

Think of your ideal customer for your business. The clients you actually get in real life don’t always fit that persona, right? The people you end up working with may have different budgets or client needs or values. Like Disney, you can meet most potential clients where they are by offering various packages or tiered options.

Say you’re a photographer who wants to offer tiered service options like Disney. Your “value” option, for example, may be a mini photo session for budget-minded clients who want family photo cards. Your “moderate” option may be a one or two hour family session with prints thrown in. Your “deluxe” option lets you do it all for the client, from edits to prints to digital files.

When you give people multiple opportunities to work with you, you up your chances of securing a new client. And if you really impress them, you might make a loyal customer who comes back and purchases a pricier option.

It’s not all about price—experience matters, too

Just because you create a value option in your offers doesn’t mean you should skimp on customer experience! You still need to provide value to make your customer’s investment worthwhile, whatever tier they fall under. 

We encourage a lot of clients to build an ascension model, which is a ladder of different value offerings that grow with the client. It’ll help you work out your pricing, yes, but more importantly, an ascension model can outline what you offer valuewise. 

One way to think about what your customer values is to put yourself in their shoes. What problems do they have and what solutions are they looking for? What level of immersion or support do they want? What would make their experience truly magical?

A loyalty program can boost the customer experience and bring you more revenue. It can also entice customers to keep supporting you. Say you’re a web designer and your “deluxe” option is a fully customized website with yearly updates. As part of your “moderate” option, you might sell upgrades to build extra pages. Someone choosing between the two options might go for the deluxe if it looks like the less expensive option with more services thrown in (even if it’s not). 

Keep it simple and build from there

Remember that you don’t have to have your entire ascension model or tiered options built for your business at once! That’s a surefire way to get disorganized and provide a lower quality customer experience that doesn’t really meet your clients where they are.

Focus on one tier at a time and get it to a good place before you unveil the next one. You can stick with three tiers and call it quits, or maybe work your way up to four or five tiers if you want. However many you choose, start simple with fewer tiers, and build up as demand grows. And don’t forget to consider what your clients want and need.

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Small Business Tools You Can Borrow from Disney

Jun 10, 2021

After listening to the Walt Disney Company’s Q1 FY20 Earnings Call for about an hour, we were inspired to break down some of the stats they shared, as well as go back to our MBA roots and geek out over stuff like quarterly reports. There are tons of other small business tools you can co opt from Disney and use for your own biz, too.

The star of the Q1 show and what you can learn from it

Unsurprisingly, the star of Disney’s Q1 report was Disney+, which launched in November 2019. As of December 31 when Q1 ended, their streaming platform had 26.5 million users, exceeding analyst expectations of 20 to 25 million users. To put it in other terms, Disney+ gained 25 million subscribers in three months…which took other streaming service giant Netflix six years to attain. 

Yes, these numbers are phenomenal. Maybe that’ll inspire you to strive for a certain goal in your own business. One thing we suggest you avoid? Comparing yourself to someone else in your industry and thinking, “wow, I’ll never get to their level.” 

You can be a latecomer to the market and still do really well! Instead, look at what other people are doing in your space and figure out how to do the same thing, but better. Be inspired by your competitors. And remember that some established brands take years and years to get to where they are today. If you don’t find success overnight, don’t fret.

Reaching new audiences and diversifying your brand

The success of Disney+ can also teach you the importance of diversifying where your product lives. About half of Disney+ subscribers came from the Disney website, but that means the other half came from elsewhere, like brand partnerships or other subscription services. Imagine how different Disney’s subscriber numbers would be if they only promoted to one audience.

Don’t limit yourself to your email list or your professional network. You may be surprised at where you can reach new customers when you try something new. Team up with someone in your industry who complements your brand. Join a summit and get more exposure for your business. Use all the social media platforms and tools at your disposal.

Speaking of diversifying, think about diversifying your actual brand as well. Disney is the ultimate expert of this. Not only do they have a huge range of merch, theme parks, movies, and TV shows, but they also have other properties like Star Wars and Marvel and National Geographic under their umbrella. They have something for everyone. 

We don’t mean you have to try and appeal to every demographic out there, but if there’s a target audience you can reel in by tweaking your brand, why not give it a try?

Reducing churn rate

A great medium for diversifying is using a product bundle. For example, you bring in a product from another creator who’s in a complementary industry to you. Bundle your products or services with theirs, and you’ve tapped into a whole new audience and broadened your reach.

Bundling can boost your income and brand reach, but it can also reduce your churn rate. That’s something we learned from the Disney Q1 call: bundling Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN actually helped to reduce their churn rate. 

Churn rate is an important metric for subscribers, sure, but Disney used other metrics to make sure that people were sticking around. How long until someone unsubscribed? What content enticed people to stay? What content brought new subscribers to the platform? 

For example, Disney noted that 65% of the people who watched the Mandalorian continued to watch ten other things on Disney+. The stat itself is interesting, but it’s also worth noting that Disney had a system in place to measure it. You can do the same for your biz. Plan the metrics you want to use in advance and shore up your systems before you launch a new offer. It’ll make things easier for yourself after the fact, especially if you’re not a numbers kind of person.  

Have a backup plan for when things go awry

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the success of Disney+ in this blog, but it wasn’t all sunshine and roses in the Disney Q1 call. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Disney suffered about $200 million in losses minimum because they needed to close their international theme parks. It’s a good thing they had Disney+ to balance that out.

When things don’t go quite the way you think they will, have a backup plan in place. This is a super important skill to have as a CEO or small business owner. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to scramble to take care of yourself, your employees, your clients, and your business operations.

Training your team thoroughly, having resources and guides on hand, and keeping contractors or freelancers in mind in case you need extra hands will help. So will being financially prepared for downturns in your business. Make sure you’re setting aside savings for quiet periods or when something unexpected—like a global pandemic happens. We suggest setting aside at least 10 to 20% in a business savings account.

Manage your own expectations

One last thing we recommend you do as a small business owner is to manage your own expectations. We’re constantly chasing growth, and it’s easy to focus on our goals. But managing your own expectations is incredibly important. You can celebrate your achievements and small wins, but be practical and plan for the bad times, too.

We hope that breaking down Disney’s Q1 call inspired you to use some of their own tools for your own small business. Reaching new audiences, diversifying your brand, reducing churn rate, and having a backup plan in place can help you run your business more smoothly and efficiently.

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Pricing Strategy for Maximum Profit

Jun 3, 2021

Right now, a 1-day ticket to one theme park at Disney World starts at $109. Prices vary if you choose to visit more than one park on the same day (Park Hopper upgrade option), visit a water park or golf course (Water Park and Sports upgrade option) or choose both upgrades (Park Hopper Plus). 

Prices will also change based on when you go; tickets may be more expensive the closer you get to Christmas, or less expensive in early September when summer vacation ends and the kids are back in school. If you’re a Disney park newbie, you might find playing around with ticket prices frustrating. How do you know if you’re getting the most bang for your buck? 

As a business owner though, keep in mind that Disney’s ticket prices fluctuate on purpose. During quiet periods, Disney wants to incentivize people to come visit. And during busy times of the year like spring break and summer, tickets can get pretty dang expensive in order to manage the number of people in the park, but also make operational decisions.

You can learn from and apply Disney’s pricing strategy to your own small business. For tips on forecasting revenue, creating discounts, raising your prices, and more, read on. 

Use your pricing strategy to plan business operations

Using a pricing strategy doesn’t just help you forecast your revenue. It can also help you make important business operation decisions. Like hiring more employees or contractors when you need more hands during your busy seasons. Or picking the best time to give out special promotions so you can increase your revenue.

Disney does this during their quiet periods when the parks aren’t at their max capacity. To bring in more revenue, they may offer discounts to get people in the doors. Or, if people just aren’t flying in for extended vacations, they’ll create special offers to annual pass holders or Florida residents to get them to stay at their hotels. There are other promotions Disney offers too, like special dining plans or food credits that can be used during their Food and Wine Festival.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned, consistent Disney ticket prices would lead to miserable guest experiences. If Disney tickets were always in high demand, every park and hotel and event would be crowded year-round. Imagine the same happening for your business. You’d spend 12 to 14 hours a day hustling, and the quality of your work will probably suffer. Not to mention your energy and mental health!

How to raise your prices in your business

Remember that it’s okay to play around with your pricing if the demand is there. You don’t necessarily have to make huge pricing changes since that may scare off your audience, but you should increase your prices to keep up with demand.

Let’s talk about a few different ways you can raise your prices:

  • Increase your prices annually. Your existing clients are not only paying for your time, but your experience and skills. If they’ve been with you for a year, they’re getting a lot of value out of working with you. Don’t be afraid to increase your prices to reflect that! Just be sure to give them plenty of notice. We like to give a minimum of 60 days notice.
  • Set up a waitlist if you’re at capacity. Demand is high and you’re totally booked. It’s perfectly fine to ask prospective clients to join a waitlist and let them know when you’re accepting new clients. Adjust your prices to meet that demand.
  • Offer discounts to different clients. This may seem a little weird, but if you have strong relationships with certain clients, why not reward them with a discount? It shows them that you value them.

If you’re not used to raising your prices or asking for more money, don’t be discouraged. It takes practice and confidence. Keep in mind that, if you’re working with a team, you need to make enough to cover those hidden costs, like managing, training, or onboarding them. 

What if you run a program or are getting ready to launch one? We strongly recommend determining a starting price point while beta testing. That way when you launch, you can price your program at its true value. Listen to the feedback you get from your customers.

“We’re going to Disney World!” …in 40 years

Fun fact: if you (or your parents, or your grandparents) bought a Disney World ticket way back in the day and it was never used, Disney will still honor that ticket today, as long as you bought it with the No Expiration Option. 

Before they got rid of the No Expiration option, people could pre-buy their park tickets years in advance of their trip. Of course, if you buy tickets in the dead of winter for your summer vacation, they’re going to be much cheaper. You just have to pay the difference in ticket prices if your travel plans change.

Why does Disney do this? Theme park tickets are nonrefundable and nontransferable, but Disney still wants to provide excellent customer service to their guests. You can do something similar in your business. This is an example of offering special promotions or discounts to your clients, rewarding them for choosing you…and choosing to stick with you.

Maximize your capacity and your profits

One of the most important skills you’ll hone as a business owner is managing your time and resources. Your time is not infinite. And you yourself are a resource to your own business, thanks to your skills and experience and training. 

Your pricing strategy will help you make the most out of your resources. And it’ll ensure a good customer experience for your clients, a manageable workload for you, and more insight into the revenue you’ll bring in and business decisions you’ll need to make in the future.

Another great way to map out your pricing strategy? Creating a Customer Ascension Model. This shows you how clients/customers move through your business — from awareness to your top-tier product or service. It can also show you gaps in your offerings that could help with your pricing strategies. You never know: maybe your customer or client wants a mid-range offer you hadn’t thought of before!

Map out your Customer Ascension Model using our FREE template, inside our Biz Bundle!

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Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners

May 27, 2021

Quick question: how many employees does Disney World have in Central Florida? Take a wild guess. We’ll wait.

Got that number in your head? If you guessed about 73,000 cast members, then you win! Disney World’s payroll is over $2 billion, and they have thousands of different jobs and job titles across the entire property. 

Take the bus drivers at Disney World, for example. They’re the first smiling faces that guests see when they arrive. They may work early and late hours, but in our experience, they’re always joyful and pleasant to customers. 

Disney is committed to providing a good show for their guests. Every step of a guest’s adventure should be pleasant and worthwhile. A huge part of creating that experience is exceptional customer service. And that stems from being a good boss to your team. 

How does this relate to your small business? You too can have employees that are as devoted and happy in their roles as Disney cast members. But it starts with your hiring strategy, wages, and the expectations you set for your team.

Have a plan when hiring someone new

When you’re trying to hire someone for your team, it can be really difficult to do without setting a purpose and a plan first. You may just say, “I want to hire someone who’s within my budget,” and not think about other important factors like quality of work or turnaround time. You hire someone you’re not happy with, let them go, and start your employee search all over again.

Not only is that a waste of time, it can leave you feeling really jaded and stressed about the entire hiring process.

That’s why we recommend having a plan before you start your search. There are three things at play when looking for a new employee: your time, your money, and your quality level. Hire someone who is cheap and works on tight deadlines, and the quality of their work may not be as good. Hire someone who produces high-quality work, and it may take more time and money. 

It’s tough finding someone who can balance all three. You have to decide which one you can sacrifice, or at least settle for less. Our advice? Make quality the top priority, and look for other ways to cut costs or make your processes run a little faster. Sometimes it’s worth paying more for someone you can trust to do a great job.

Where to find new employees

Where can you find high-quality employees to add to your team? We always recommend two places to start your employee search. The first is referrals from other business owners in your network. They don’t necessarily have to be in your industry, but maybe you know them through someone else or you’ve talked to them briefly.

Look for those hidden gems in your network and ask if they know anyone who’s a good fit for the role you’re trying to fill, or if they have someone they can recommend. Keep in mind that it’s good manners to do the same if a person in your network asks the same of you. That’s what networking is for, after all.

The second place you may find a new employee is not something that everyone has at the beginning, but it’s easy to start one: an email list. Whether it’s a small list of fans you’ve DMed on Instagram or Facebook, or a larger email list you’ve compiled, it comes in handy because the email recipients already know you and your brand. 

They’ve bought your products or services and follow you on social media. They’re familiar with your brand voice and offers. You have a good chance of finding someone who is passionate about what you do and excited to join your team.

Tips for training and onboarding new team members

A strong training and onboarding system is key for setting your new employees up for success. Without it, you’ll have a tough time setting expectations and getting the quality of work that you want from them. An easy way to train new hires in their new tasks? Do them yourself and record the process.

One of our favorite tools for doing this is Loom, which will let you record and share videos of your desktop with others. If you love to write, you can write out step-by-step instructions on how to do things as well, but trust us, videos of you showing your new employee exactly what to do, where, and how will make things a lot easier for them.

What should you put in your Loom videos and written instructions? Write out a list of what you expect them to do daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. It doesn’t have to be a long list, but be thorough. Basically, make it easy for them to do their job well without waiting on instructions from you first. 

Success starts with you

Putting together a team of happy employees, contractors, and freelancers takes work on your part. Before starting your search for a new team member, take some time to figure out exactly what you’re looking for within your budget. You’ll more easily find someone who meets your needs.

Get creative with your job search, too. Put your network and networking skills to use! Tap into the connections you’ve made in your small business circles and industry. Worthwhile connections will be happy to help you out. (Just remember to do the same for others in the future.)

Finally, set your new employees up for success by outlining your expectations for their role and giving them the tools they need to do their job. It’ll require some effort from you up front, but when you have a happy and dedicated employee on your team, you’ll thank yourself later. 

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Surprise and Delight with Your Customer Experience

May 20, 2021

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t ridden the new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride at Galaxy’s Edge in Disney World, turn back before it’s too late. In this blog, we talk about the importance of customer experience and how it can help your business. We use Rise of the Resistance as an example of how Disney crafted a unique and memorable experience for their customers.

If you haven’t ridden Rise of the Resistance yet, skip ahead to the heading “Getting creative with customer events” so you can still learn about creating a fantastic experience for your customers. 

Ready? Punch it, Chewie! 

A truly unique Star Wars experience

It’s hard to describe Rise of the Resistance as a “ride.” It really is a one-of-a-kind Disney experience that you won’t forget. If you’re not bothered by spoilers or you’re curious what it’s like, keep reading! Otherwise, skip to the next section. It’s your last chance.

As you can expect with any Disney ride, you move through a long outdoors/indoors line to get to the first room. Adorable droid BB-8 is on a pedestal next to a hologram of Rey, who tells you about the mission you’re about to go on. A hologram. It looks so cool.

You leave the room and enter a giant ship waiting outside. After it launches, the Empire begins attacking. Suddenly, the doors that you used to enter open again, and you realize the Empire has boarded your ship. That means the ship has actually moved, and you’re in a totally different place to continue the experience. 

Stormtroopers escort you to the next location, all the while interrogating you and treating you as a rebel spy. You really feel like a character in the story. We won’t completely spoil how the ride ends, but suffice it to say that the Resistance helps you escape in a small ship with an amazing Tower of Terror-esque free fall.

If you get the opportunity to try Rise of the Resistance safely at Disney World, we highly recommend it. It’s so worth your time, even if you’re a casual Star Wars fan or not one at all! The immersive experience and attention to detail can make you think differently about the experience you create for your own customers through your business.

Getting creative with customer events

As you all know by now, we changed our Pixie Dust & Profits live experience in August 2020 to an online event because of the pandemic. We wanted to make sure all of our attendees felt safe. 

Every detail, from the course curriculum to custom gifts to in person events, had to be rethought or shelved after almost two years of planning. When you put that much detail in a face-to-face event and bring it online, you have to consider how to shift the experience so you can still surprise and delight your customers. You can still give them their money’s worth.

First, we ditched the traditional Facebook group mastermind model that’s so popular now and instead used a platform called Mighty Networks to gather attendees. Mighty Networks has a lot of great features, like live chat rooms and open office hours and transcripts of discussions. It was a more personable platform that created the close-knit community feel that we wanted.

Next, we extended the program from four days to the entire month of August. We knew that many of our attendees, like us, were juggling a lot of responsibilities at home already. Four days wasn’t going to cut it. By stretching the program over a month, we allowed people time and space to dive deeper into their work without feeling rushed.

Lastly, we thought of ways we could mail our attendees gifts and items that we had planned on giving them in person. Keeping those “surprise and delight” moments for our attendees was really important to us.  

Think of ways to spruce up customer touch points

Even if you don’t have a big in person or online event coming up, there are lots of ways you can make the customer experience special. Look at a customer’s entire journey with your business and find various touch points that you can spruce up.

For example, if someone just bought a product from you, you know that they’ll be on the lookout for an email confirming their order. What does your email say? Is it the standard “thanks for buying” message with all the basic details? Or do you have a creative, on-brand message that goes the extra mile to make your customer feel special? What about the confirmation page they see immediately after their order is placed?

You can do the same when you ship orders to your customers, too. We’re not suggesting you buy extra gifts or spend too much time customizing every order, because that can take a lot of energy and resources. But think of a way to make their order special, maybe with a handwritten thank you card, confetti, a fun sticker…you get the idea.

Take the extra steps to surprise and delight customers 

Making the customer experience feel special doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Behind-the-scenes or production photos are a great way to keep your customers excited about their order. And it builds trust between them and your brand.

What can you do as a service-based business and you’re not sending customers tangible items? Lots of things! Get creative with your communication. Send a welcome video or message to new customers. Thank them for their business and let them know that they made the right choice supporting you. Share links to your social media or other services that they may like.

Whether you’re a product-based business or service-based business, you can and should find ways to go the extra mile for the customer experience. You’ll build up your brand and your brand reputation. Take a page out of Disney’s book and try to jazz up the customer experience wherever you can, because your efforts will pay off. 

Not sure where your customer touchpoints are? Our Customer Ascension Model can help — and you can get it totally for free inside our magical Biz Bundle!

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