Investing in Innovation (and Why You Can’t Afford Not To!)

May 13, 2021

Let’s take you ALL the way back to the summer of 1955. Disneyland opened its doors on July 17th, 1955 and it was not a smooth sail! In fact, we discuss how badly it really did go in previous episodes. Walt Disney founded Disneyland with the intention that it would never be completed. He wanted people to push past what is comfortable and continue to grow and reimagine things. If you are intrigued as we are at how Disneyland came to be, check out Imagineering Story. Disney is always under construction, creating something new or renovating something that’s been loved by all. 

We want to share with you how innovation has been the bread and butter of Disney’s success, and how you can practically innovate in your own business with some of their methods. 

Incremental Innovations

First, let’s discuss the smaller, less risky ways in which Disney innovates. More often than not, it’s the incremental changes that bring about the magic. Think about the IPhone. The IPhone 12 is really not that much different than the 11. But it’s new and edgy and their audience is bought in. 

You can guess when Disney is the slowest. Yep, winter and fall when school is in session! So the Imagineers took that slow season and created the Arts Festival at Epcot in the spring and the Food and Wine Festival in the fall to bring us “older kids” into the parks on the weekends. They frequently close down sections of their resorts and parks to give it a good refresh and create a new experience for their guests. In the winter, they alternate closing down one of their water parks for refurbishing and updates. 

How does this apply to your business? Think about ways you can innovate during your slow seasons. What are ways in which you can make a small edit or refresh to your product, website, or service? Maybe changing up the photos you have on your home page. Or even a refresh to the packaging your product is shipped in. Incremental changes are extremely powerful ways to innovate.

Taking Huge Risks

Walt Disney was in full support of taking big risks to push past the envelope of the imagination. The opening of Disneyland Japan and Paris were two monumental risks— in fact, Disneyland Paris almost hit bankruptcy! The Imagineers team was approached by partners in the East who wanted to create a Disneyland experience in Tokyo. They got out the original blueprints from the 50s and started to build the replica, and then followed this same process later in Paris. 

However, the Imagineers team missed one important step in their process of expansion… They did not evaluate their audience. They built the American version of Disney in Tokyo and Paris rather than adapting the Disney vision for a Japanese and European audience. In Europe, Disneyland was priced in accordance to what Americans would pay for the Disney experience state bound. They quickly realized that Europeans had a different approach to what they were willing to pay when their Paris hotels were at 60% capacity — unheard of in the US! 

Years later, when Shanghai Disney and China were opened, they carefully evaluated their audience after learning from mistakes. For example, they recreated the Haunted Mansion ride to reflect Chinese beliefs of the afterlife. Can you imagine what would have happened if they put the American replica of the Haunted Mansion there?? 

Understanding your audience is key when innovating. Asking the question, “What do they want?” will help you narrow in on exactly what your audience truly wants. Sounds great, but how exactly do you do it?

One of the best ways to really engage with your audience is to take them on the innovation journey with you. Pull back the curtains and let them take a front row sneak peek into what you are working on next. Disney does an incredible job at teasing new rides, giving sneak peeks into refurbished resorts, and announcing the next big project that will undergo construction. 

Again, let’s apply this to your business. How can you draw your audience in? Maybe with a countdown to your next launch date. Share behind the scenes footage of your next project. Tease photos of what the next product is going to be. These are some of the best ways to really keep your customers engaged.

Experimenting with New Ideas

You may have heard about the time Disney decided to cover Cinderella’s castle in pink frosting for their 25th Anniversary and made it look like a birthday cake. Or most recently, when they did a complete refinish of the castle. Talk about some controversy! It can be really scary to do any changes to your original, signature product or brand, but sometimes it can be so beneficial to experiment with new ideas. The great thing about this experiment is that they could have always turned it back to the original. 

Thinking about making a change to your original product or service may feel way too risky, but it will absolutely create new excitement and conversation about your business. And remember:  you can always go back to what you started with. Nothing has to be permanent! Maybe you do a fun release for a holiday or anniversary with a limited edition version of your product or service. It’s something to think about when it comes to innovation.

Get to it!

Truly, we could write (and talk) all day about innovating like Disney. This is why we have created an entire workshop experience where you will have the opportunity to sit down with us and apply these principles of innovation to your own business. We break down everything from changing your mindset around innovation, to identifying what innovation means to your unique individual business, and looking at how investing works for you. 
We are bringing you years and years of our own experience of using these tools and strategies in our own businesses with workshops, masterclasses, and even the Profitable & Productive Party.  We know what it’s like to buy all the books and expensive courses and training modules. We wanted this workshop to be very affordable and very accessible as we know many business owners invest a lot of capital into programs and training, yet still leave them unsure of what to do next. Our goal is for you to be thriving in your business and to take these strategies with you to implement immediately. Sign up here to be notified of our next upcoming workshop or masterclass! 

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Growth by Collaboration

May 6, 2021

Do you thrive on competition? Do you love being the best, winning by a nose, or that rush of adrenaline when you reach a goal?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being competitive, and in fact, it can make life fun and more interesting! However, we have a suggestion for a different way of growing and scaling your business: collaboration. Instead of fighting it out with your competitors, find complementary brands that will lift up your business and support you. You can cross the finish line together.   

That’s just what Disney did when they partnered with Lyft and Target. Let’s talk about how the “collaboration, not competition” mindset is a healthy one for your business.

Lyft partnership enhances the Disney experience

In the summer of 2019, Disney partnered with rideshare company Lyft to create “Disney’s Minnie Van™ Service Connected by Lyft,” as they’re officially called. If you haven’t seen them in person, Disney’s Minnie Vans are Honda CRVs decked out in Minnie’s signature style: red with white polka dots. 

What’s even cooler is that through this partnership, Disney guests can enjoy convenient pickups and drop-offs around the parks and resorts. The Minnie Vans have set hours that they operate only on Disney property. They’re often much faster than using the complimentary bus system or the gondola system. And okay, they’re just super fun and cute.

Disney and Lyft’s partnership is a great example of Disney addressing a need for their customers by teaming up with a third party — but also maintaining the Disney brand and unique experience. And rather than spend more time and resources building their own rideshare service from scratch, they found an existing company that would also benefit from collaborating.

If you come from a small town where Lyft and Uber aren’t commonly used, you may not trust or be used to rideshare services. But try the Minnie Vans, and you may feel more safe and comfortable using a rideshare service because it’s backed by Disney. That’s where Lyft benefits.

Finding a partner that’s good for your business

You may not be able to partner with Lyft or another big corporation out there, but think of brands that would complement your business. How can you forge a partnership with another brand that would benefit both of you? 

Something that’s worked really well for a lot of our clients is joint venture webinars, or JV webinars. Through a JV webinar, you partner up with someone else who has a similar audience for their business. You leverage each other’s audience and credibility to increase your reach and sales.

There are so many types of joint partnerships, and you’ll probably find a lot of potential partners out there. When choosing the right partner for you, try to find a brand that aligns with your brand! Consider what they’re bringing to the table for your business and for your audience. You don’t want to start a joint partnership only to find that you’re not right for each other.

And if they don’t mesh well with you? Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s not selfish, it’s smart business. You can and will find someone better for you.

Target partnership brings the parks to shoppers

Disney was pretty busy in 2019, because not long after they announced their Lyft partnership, they announced another partnership with Target! Twenty-five Target stores across the U.S. opened Disney store “shop-in-shop” locations in October. They also launched a new Disney digital experience on Target’s website.

These mini Disney shops carried exclusive products only available in Disney stores. This was a brilliant move to bring Disney products to people who weren’t able to shop at the parks, or who couldn’t visit a standalone Disney store at the mall. 

Again, Disney addressed a customer need and kept costs down by partnering with a third party retailer, rather than launching their own locations, handling distribution, worrying about inventory, and so on. Through this partnership, they also don’t have to hire new employees. 

Leverage other platforms and networks

In essence, Disney leveraged Target’s infrastructure and assets to sell their products. You can do the same by using large platforms to sell your products or services. Like selling your handmade wares on Etsy, putting your own designs on Minted, or selling your self-published book on Amazon.

It takes a lot of work to get noticed on the internet these days. Getting someone to your own website or online store takes a good amount of advertising, social media hype, SEO, and positive word of mouth, for starters. Using a bigger platform can help you get your business in front of more people and build a loyal customer base more easily. Plus, you can move away from that platform in the future and primarily use your own website or shop when you’re ready.

Think collaboration, not competition

What can collaboration, not competition, do for your business? Let’s recap real quick:

  • Enhance your customer experience
  • Keep marketing costs down
  • Keep operating costs down
  • Build trust in your audience
  • Boost your brand’s credibility
  • Increase your brand reach

That sounds like a win to us! Remember that it’s really important to find the right partner to collaborate with, however. 

Someone whose business and values align with yours. Someone who can share resources and bring something unique to the table. Someone whose partnership will uplift your brand and create an awesome experience for both your audiences. Once you find the right partner for your joint venture, magical things can happen!

Pitch ‘em, partner.

If you’re wondering how you can collaborate with people, or how you’d even start the conversation… start pitching! In our Biz Bundle, we have pitch templates you can customize for anything, from podcasts to collaborations and more.

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Weathering the Storm: Getting Through the Slow Season

Apr 29, 2021

Let’s talk about seasons in our businesses. Disney has them, too. Naturally, it’s colder during the fall and winter, but not in California and Florida, really. During this time of year, you would be hard pressed to find any kind of discount or special offer because during the holiday season, especially around Christmas, that’s basically one of the few times that Disney approaches near capacity at their parks, because who doesn’t want to spend a magical Christmas or Thanksgiving at Disney?

The slow seasons for Disney are around September to October and then after Halloween to November and then again in January and February. For us, we love to go during these times because the weather is cooler and everyone is in school. The parks are pretty quiet and wait times are still there, but they’re a lot lower. So every fall, Disney sends out more emails about their discounts. Often their room discount. You can get 25 to 35% off of your room, depending on which room category that you use, whether it’s value, moderator, or deluxe. And sometimes you get Disney dining offers where you actually get free dining.

But why does Disney offer these discounts? 

It’s pretty simple: Like any business, Disney wants to drum up interest in the parks. In fact, Disney’s lowest season tends to be in late August, early September, because it’s hurricane season. The risk of another massive hurricane hitting Florida can be really scary to a lot of vacation goers. And let’s be real, you don’t want to spend three or four of your trip indoors because it’s pouring or raining and Disney says that everyone has to stay in their hotel rooms for safety purposes. Disney is actually one of the safest places to ride out a hurricane in Florida. But you know, you want to go for the parks, the atmosphere, the food, not to be cooped up in doors all day. So that could be a huge bummer and a huge risk. So in order to maintain crowd levels and to maintain their revenue goal, Disney tries to lure you in with discounts. 

So what does that mean for your business?

Well, it’s super interesting as Disney’s busiest seasons, which tend to be around the holidays and even the summer, so you don’t have to worry about pulling your kids out of school. Families tend to do a lot of vacation time then, which is the exact reason that it’s a slow period for our clients, because everyone is sort of out of office. They’re trying to enjoy time with their family, enjoy the beautiful weather. For us northerners, we spend as much time outdoors in the summer when we can, because it gets cold, real fast around here. And it’s kind of hard to keep people engaged, keep them focused when they’re kind of off their devices and computers and enjoying the great outdoors and their families. 

So one thing Disney does is stay aware that these slow periods are coming up. They prime their audience with offers in advance of them to get them interest in, to get them to commit. Of course, when things quiet down for your audience, it tends to be different for everyone. Your exact slow periods may be a little bit different, but knowing that summer’s coming up and your audience is going to be a little bit more offline than usual. 

You can offer promotions on your programs in April just to get them engaged and purchasing before they sort of move into that quieter period. And you can also customize the messaging to encourage them to stay engaged. Hit on their pain points, too! They’re busy, that kids are at home for a lot of the mompreneurs and they can’t spend as much time on their computers but they want to continue to move their businesses forward. So speak to the fact that coming to your program or offer your service can help keep them on top of things and have that momentum that they normally would have let go of a little bit during that time.

The Canadian offer for Disney goers

Yasmine speaking. I’m going to speak to the Canadian offer that Disney sends out pretty much every year. So if you don’t know, the Canadian dollar and the US dollar are no longer in parody and haven’t been for awhile. In fact, it typically costs Canadians 30% more if they buy anything in US dollars. So when you tack on that additional 30%, that can be a pretty tough pill to swallow because it’s not really easy on any Canadian’s wallet. Disney offers a discount on park tickets to basically mitigate that exchange rate and make going to Disney a little bit more affordable for people North of the border. And they address that pain point because they know Canadians tend to hate paying those really high exchange fees to buy anything from the U S or to travel to the U S.

Create NEW offers!

You don’t always have to discount things to bring people in during slow periods… you can create new offers. So one thing that Disney has is their Moonlight Magic Events, which are a hard ticket event, meaning you have to pay extra on top of your ticket to attend. That takes place in the evenings where you deal with a lot lower crowds. You get a lot of free treats and popcorn. This is what we did with one of our clients, Christina, last January that tends to happen during the quieter periods. And it’s another revenue source for Disney because during a time that’s already slow, you’re getting people to spend an extra hundred or so dollars to spend a couple hours at the park, but the added bonuses that all the rides tend to be like walk ons or very minimal waits. 

Talk to your audience during their quiet periods

So if you know that there is a special offer or program that you can offer your clients that again, address their needs and their pain points. Do this during your quiet periods and just make sure to sell them on it in advance so you can get them to commit before, you know, things get crazy and busy. So that’s the other way that you can bring in a bit of a cash injection during a quieter business period. 

We hope you were able to take away a few things that you can do to really drum up business and revenue during quieter periods in your company. And if you aren’t following us on Instagram, you can do so @pixiedustandprofits. And if you’re not on our newsletter, we highly encourage you to join because that’s where we share a lot of special tips and bonus content! 

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Beyond the Main Attraction: Immersing Your Customers in the Magic

Apr 22, 2021

For people like us, who have Disney Vacation Club and go back multiple times a year, we know that there’s so much more to do and see. We’re going to talk about what to do in the park, outside the rides and the experiences that Disney created, so you can see how you can replicate that for your business to keep your audience engaged. 

The cool thing about having all of these magical experiences that fall outside of the traditional rides and attractions at Disney is that, ultimately for them, it really helps with the flow of the audience. It mitigates some of the bottlenecks. You know, those lines, they can get pretty long and that’s arguably the worst part about going to Disney. But they have a few ways of making it exciting. By keeping people in other areas of the park, doing things that don’t necessarily require a lot of waiting, they can keep their customers really engaged and have something for everyone.

Let the games begin!

One attraction that we really wanted to dive into as we get started is Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. It’s basically a card game where you use your cards to other cards. There are sort of like mythical creature types and all these rules and the cards have different values in terms of strength and toughness. And you have to be strategic with which cards you play in order to win the game. And sorcerers are the magic kingdom, which you can play in Magic Kingdom is kind of a simplified, more kid-friendly and more interactive version of that. 

So you get a deck of cards that have different qualities like charm. They have a different character that reflect each of the cards and you go around to these really cool portals where an interactive villain actually pops up and tries to cast a spell on you. You have to hold up the right card based on the qualities of the hero that you have in your hand and try to defeat the villain. And so if a dragon is shooting fire at you, you might want your Elsa card to counteract the dragon.

The fun part is these cards are interactive, but it’s also helping you walk around the Magic Kingdom to different parts of the park. You have different areas that you go to. And it’s something that’s fun for everyone. Yasmine actually got her husband Dylan into it because he’s a huge Magic the Gathering fan. That’s why they play it now. And that was a really fun way for him to sort of open his eyes up to the full Disney experience. 

At Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party and the Very Merry Christmas party, you can actually get special edition cards that you only can get during the events and play those as well. So they’re always looking at ways of enhancing the experience and really giving you a lot of fun things to do outside of just waiting in line and getting on all those fun rides. A few of the brilliant things about the sources of the magic kingdom are that the interactive exhibits. Like a mirror inside a display at a shop. And so you have to hold your card in a specific spot to activate the mirror. And all of a sudden this display becomes interactive to the environment. Other people stopped to see what you’re doing, what’s going on. And Disney’s also getting you to go inside a lot of shops while you’re playing this game. And another thing we mentioned about the lines; there’s usually no line for the sourcers game because they can start you in different places in Magic Kingdom. So you can start right on Main Street. You can be in Adventure Land so they can disrupt the flow of people.

The target market is probably the 10 year old pre-teen teen crowd that maybe feels like they’re a little too old for some of the rides at Magic Kingdom and who isn’t quite ready for all the thrill rides. So the card game is really fun. 

I put a {pin} on you

Pin trading is something Nicole and her husband do a lot when they go to Disney world and this really started because it was something her husband got into. So every time they go, they make sure to buy a couple of pins that are special to them at the end of our trip. If you don’t know about pin trading, it is an entire world at Disney World in and of itself, you can get special event pins for the Christmas parties and things like that.

You can get pins that have the year on it. There are grab bags in case you like the mystery element where you can get like last season’s pins, but you don’t know what it is until you open the bag. Cast members are involved in the process, so they each have pins. They might have a lanyard and you can walk up to them and trade pins. And with a little kid, this can be difficult because they don’t always want to give up a pin in order to get a pin. But it ends up being a really fun way to interact with cast members that maybe even you would never talk to before, but you’d be like, “Hey, can I just check out the pins that you have?” And it’s a barrier that doesn’t exist because you’re talking to a cast member and an employee versus you can also pin trade with other guests at the park. 

So there are usually stations. There’s a nice one at Epcot where people just kind of go and they bring their collection and they trade with each other. But for us, we just like buying pins that are special to us and trading a couple of the ones that are in our favorites with other people around. So pin trading is really fun and something that we make sure to do every trip. The cool thing about pin training. When you think about it from a revenue standpoint is you are getting people to spend lots of money on these pins. They’re not cheap. 

They range from probably like $6 to $20, depending on how intricate it is. And some of these are crazy. They’re getting people to buy these every year, every trip, multiple packs. And then if they go out of style, they just put them in a black bag that no one can see through and sell those. So it really is a revenue generator for them and another way to get people out of the lines because they’re exploring and running around for pins. And some of them are quite exclusive. We tried to get one at a Christmas party and could not find it in. Nicole’s husband went into at least six stores looking for it. And a magical cast member, days later, while we were still looking for this pin, found one down underground in storage for him and brought it up. So we hunted that down for a while. 

Mickey? Where are you?

So speaking of hunting things down, another fun thing you could do at Disney is look for hidden Mickeys. So hidden Mickeys are basically little Mickey shaped figures that Disney sort of sneaks into and hides all around the park. You can find them at the resorts, you can find them in the parks and basically anywhere on Disney property. Like one of our favorite discoveries of a hidden Mickey was realizing that the solar panels that Disney has that really generates a ton of power for the park is in a Mickey shape. You can walk around and you’ll see, you know, a little Mickey on the ground. You can look up during certain rides and see one hidden in the ceiling. It’s really cool. And they’ve extended that with other characters. So when we were at Disney World in January 2020, someone mentioned to us that we can go on a Pascal scavenger hunt in the Tangled area of Magic Kingdom and find the little Pascals!

 We were running around trying to find that cute little lizard wherever we could. Nicole went back a few months later and was with her son and husband, who was going to ride the Mine Train. Nicole and her son went over to the Tangled area and told her son about finding Pascal and his friends. And they had a blast for half an hour, hunting them all down and some of them are really hard to spot. We had to look up on a blog to help find some of the last ones, but we had a blast! It’s just one of those little things that makes waiting for someone who’s riding a ride that you can’t go on.

Fun for the little ones

In 2019, Nicole and her family went to Disney for the holidays and they took the extended family. Her son, who was four at the time, and just did not want to do some of the rides and other activities. So they found something that he would want to do. And they had this scavenger hunt called the Chippendale Christmas tree spree. And it’s basically Chip and Dale being naughty as they are. And they were going into the wreaths and stealing ornaments from all the different countries in Epcot. And so it was a scavenger hunt that you paid like $9 to participate in. 

You get this little guide that shows all of the countries of Epcot and each has a sticker. And once you find Chip and Dale in that country, you put that sticker on that country. And then once you finish, you hand it in. And so they had a blast for probably two hours running around the world trying to find Chip and Dale. Nicole’s son thought it was hilarious that they were stealing ornaments everywhere. And then once it got finished, he handed it into the shop at the end. And they gave them the option of choosing a pack of greeting cards. And there was one with Mickey on it and one with Minnie on it. And they were Christmas themed and he just had such a blast doing it. That was fun and of itself, but getting a reward at the end was also amazing to him.

So there’s plenty of stuff for you to do if you don’t want to wait in line, you’re tired of waiting in line or you just want a different type of experience. We go to Disney because we love the environment and we love the fun and we’re there to spend time with family. So it’s really fun if we’re doing a scavenger hunt or we’re waiting in line, we’re having fun together. 

There’s an app for that

Another thing that Disney has now is the Play Disney Parks app. So if you are waiting in line and not doing anything, you can still have an experience. The play Disney parks app came out in 2018 and it’s essentially an app that is location-based. So if you were waiting in line for Toy Story Mania in Hollywood Studios, there are games that are themed to Toy Story that you can only play while close enough to the ride. There’s trivia, there’s music. You can play from your phone. There’s also badges and achievements, so there’s a little bit of gamification in it. 

Then the other cool thing about it is that Disney’s not really reinventing anything here. One of the games that you can play is like Heads Up, essentially, it’s just got a word for you to guess and act out, and it’s just Disney themed. They didn’t invent Heads Up. They just put Disney licensing on it. And now people are playing that in line. So even when they’re waiting in line, maybe traditionally they’d be upset about being in the heat or just being there for four hours, if you’re waiting for Avatar and you know, it just gives them something to do that is still Disney themed. They’re still having fun and they’re still seeing your branding everywhere.

The wait is always worth it

Disney spends as much time designing the waiting in line experience as they do the rides sometimes. If you ever get the chance to walk through the actual standby line, the experiences for a lot of the more recent rides are just incredibly in depth, like Seven Dwarves Mine Train. There are little games that you can play like those barrels of gems that if you spin all of them around and you kind of have to get like people who are waiting in line with you around that area to participate, it’ll project Snow White dancing with the dwarves. Through the standby line for Frozen Ever After, there was this one little cabin room you walk into, and it’s the guy who has a wandering Oaken shop. And then if there’s a sauna window…all of a sudden his face pops up and it’s so funny. Even when you’re in a regular line, you can have fun.

So…what does this mean for you?

So we’ve talked a lot about Disney and some of our favorite out of ride experiences. How does this apply to your business? What can you learn from this? Well, we actually thought hard about the lesson here, and we have a few examples and this time we want to include not only service-based examples, but product based examples. We know a couple of Instagram accounts that sell Disney merch that we love and adore, and one of them is Pop Line Bling

If you have lived on this planet for the past, like four or five years, you probably know what a pop socket is. Pop Line Bling creates these really adorable Mickey and Disney themed pop sockets. And one of the things that’s really unique about her designs is that she uses Swarovski crystals or glitter enamel to really jazz them up and make them super unique. So you can get a Cinderella mini PopSocket or like Elsa mini Pop socket. And she has different ways of using the crystals to customize them. And the other crazy thing about her business is that she likes to sell out like that. Like literally she’ll announce pre-orders for a product and they’ll be gone and you just kind of have to wait till the next pre-order. And she only releases a certain number of styles at a time. 

Keeping your customers happy while they wait 

So, you bought this thing off of Etsy and you’re waiting for it because it’s pre-ordered. You’re going to have to wait a couple of weeks until it comes to you. How do you enhance the customer experience at that point? Well, one thing that I love that she does is on Instagram, she actually shows a lot of the behind the scenes photos of her actually putting the gems on the pop sockets and the new styles that she’s coming up with. If you have a studio sharing the behind the scenes, you’re not necessarily showcasing to the customer that you’re working on their product, but you’re showing progress and you’re showing new things and you’re giving them insight into why it takes so long to create such a gorgeous custom product, which helps manage their expectations first and foremost, but also really enhances the anticipation.

Just getting insight into the process that goes into artists and goods, because it’s easy to see something in a store and see it ready made and to get that instant gratification. But when you’re supporting an independent designer, it takes time. As a customer, if you can understand what goes into it, you can be a little bit more patient understanding of that 20 days turnaround time. You know where your money is going and exactly the level of quality that you’re getting and the care that you’re getting versus, you know, buying something that’s mass designed perfectly off the shelf. 

For the service based providers

For all the service-based business people reading this, let’s talk about when you book a trip with Disney. You’re probably booking that 10 months before you go, if not before that. So there aren’t even any rooms available, but they email you throughout. They’re reminding you about FastPasses, they’re reminding you about new attractions. You get something in the mail that says your name, your dates, where you’re staying, and experiences they think that will work for you. They make suggestions of rides that reflect the people that are coming. 

That’s kind of building anticipation, even though there’s nothing really going on at that point. So if you think about this in terms of like, if you’re a graphic designer or a web designer, and you’re booking custom clients who you might not start working with them for another two months, because of the way your schedule works, what could you be giving to them in the meantime, to be an experience outside of the work? What can you be giving them that kind of show them a before and after of other websites you’ve done? 

You can give them your intake surveys that will help you start the project better. You can get them started on making like inspiration boards and giving them resources to get them on that path. So that way, when your project officially launches, you’ve already got like a good, solid footing. They already know what the process is. They know that month one is going to be the design discovery phase. And that month two is going to be the development phase. And so doing some of that pre-work ahead of time when you’re not even directly working with them, can help make the experience even better when they do work with you. 

If you’re selling a program or a course and you have a wait list, you want to build excitement. Sharing behind the scenes images, stories of what’s going on in the program, your interactions with your students and really building again that anticipation. So by the time the next round does open up, we’ll be buying it right away and then getting access to it. But if they already have made their mind about being on a waitlist and joining your program, you want to remain top of mind and build that excitement and create an experience for them. So by the time they are in the program, they are ready to hit the ground running.

Follow us if you want more of this magic!

We hope that this deep dive has been helpful for you to learn about all the fun things Disney has outside of the rides. We also hope it helps you think about how you can kind of bridge that gap between purchase and receipt of product. The magic is in the waiting!

Follow us on Instagram @pixiedustandprofits if you want to see what happens behind-the-scenes here, and to see what we do to prepare for each new episode! 


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Creating Your Own Transportation Ecosystem

Apr 15, 2021

“All aboard the magical bus!”

Okay, we get it. We totally geek over Disney’s transportation system. But you probably will too…

The inner workings of Disney’s bus system

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know that Disney’s bus system brings you from the airport to your resort. You go straight to the Disney property without making any stops in between. They also have an internal bus network that takes you from your 20+ resorts to the four different parks, the two water parks and Disney Springs. There are water taxis that take you from certain resorts that are right on the water to Disney Springs.

 They have various boats that bring you to Magic Kingdom. There’s the iconic monorail that goes around three resorts and to Magic Kingdom, and also to Epcot. They also have trams to bring everyone from the parking lots to the front gate of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and all of the other parks. There was also a Skyliner in the works that should be opening soon. (hoping that it will be open for our next trip). 

What’s the big deal?

Now, this transportation system is huge. The property at Disney world serves hundreds of thousands of people a day. In fact, it said that over 150,000 people take the monorail every single day. And obviously it varies between the summer seasons and the off seasons, but 150,000 people take just the monorail. So you can just imagine the bus system and everything else that comes with it. 

Now, the reason that we geeked out about this topic is because transportation has absolutely nothing to do with Disney World going to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, everything else. It has nothing to do with going to the parks. People were coming to Disney World. They were driving their own cars. They were taking taxis. They were finding their own way around. But the smart thing here is that Disney invested millions of dollars and the infrastructure that supports their parks to create an entirely one-of-a-kind experience.

The Disney “bubble”

The infrastructure around Disney’s parks are designed to get people from their hotel to the park, to spend money, to not leave their property, to not go visit SeaWorld, to not go to Universal Studios or any other attraction in the area was to create an internal network that basically holds guests hostage to stay at Disney world. They can’t leave the bubble. 

And if you are a Disney fan, you know all about this bubble, when you exit the bubble and you stay off property, it’s very easy to realize, “Oh, Disney World is in the middle of a lot of other things” but it doesn’t seem that way when you’re there. And that’s intentional. Disney has essentially realized that by keeping people on the property and keeping them in their ecosystem, it’s an opportunity to get them to spend more with Disney. 

Think about it. When you book your trip, you prepay for your hotel, you prepay for your park tickets. You know, you may prepare for the dining plan if that’s your jam, but what about all this spending money? What happens when you get to Florida? When you get to Orlando and you’re at Disney property, now you can spend a few days in the parks. And then head off to Universal Studios, check out Harry Potter, but that’s kind of more expensive and hard to do. If you have to rent a car or book an Uber to do that, it’s just so much easier to stay on site and check out the hundreds of experiences that Disney has to offer, and it doesn’t even end at the parks.

Saving money, saving time 

Think about the resorts if you’ve ever been there during the holidays, and you haven’t gone to the various, especially the deluxe resorts to see the gingerbread houses and the beautiful Christmas trees. That’s an activity in itself. And Disney keeps you engaged and onsite by giving you access to this transportation system that can literally get you to point A to point C without a lot of stress or hassle. There are also a few other interesting things that Disney has done to actually enhance the experience and make it easier for people is implement technology as part of the process. 

Now, a few years ago, the only way you knew when buses were coming was if you looked at the sign when you got to the bus depot at your resort. And it told you when the bus was coming, and you had to wait. In the last year or so, Disney has updated the My Disney Experience app to give you a bus countdown. So now you can literally be in your hotel room, look to see when the next bus is coming. Do you have to see if you can make it across in time to the Bus Depot? So you’re not even wasting a lot of time waiting for the buses. It’s a fantastic tool. 

That’s made the experience so much easier and it just, it saves you money and it makes it easier to stay on Disney because you don’t have to worry about the additional expense of getting your taxi or Uber from the airport to the resort. You don’t have to worry about getting to various places within the park. You’ve got the bus system, the ferries and boats and the new skyline, all to get you there. Disney is taking the expense of transportation off of your plate and basically freeing up more of your budget to buy anything else you want. 

It’s not just transportation 

This isn’t just about transportation and creating a way to get from point A to point B. It really comes down to that customer experience and making sure that they’re delivering on it and making everything worth your while. So investing in something like letting people know the time that the next bus is coming, they actually pay their drivers $15 an hour to drive a Disney bus all day long and that’s actually going up soon. The reason they do that is because they know who the first person is when you start your Disney day — you get on the bus and you see the bus driver. And he says, “Hey, I hope you’re having a magical day. I can’t wait to see what happens when you come back to your resort! Are you going to want to see Mickey Mouse today?”

They invest in those drivers just as much as they invest in the buses themselves because they know that that is the first line to the customer and that needs to be a magical experience. Now they’re also very cognizant of the times. So just this past week, they put into play six brand new buses that feature USB ports. And it’s so smart and so needed because Disney actually has wifi all around their property. And you’re expected to use the My Disney experience app to get your fast passes, to check bus times to quick order food, which we’ll talk about these things in other episodes. But your battery drains very fast at Disney World. And I have grown accustomed to carrying along a spare charger, but many people don’t. And to be able to plug in on the buses is an amazing experience for the customer, because it’s just going to keep them in that shop Disney app. 

It’s an entire ecosystem 

So let’s talk about what the real takeaway is here. And we brushed upon it a little bit earlier on when we mentioned creating an ecosystem that you can basically contain your customers within. You’re discouraging them from heading off to the competition because they’re getting everything that they need from you. So when we’re thinking about the lesson here and an actual real life example, one thing that came to mind is one of our clients, Christina Scalera, who owns The Contract Shop®

Now, if you’re not familiar with The Contract Shop, what Christina does is sell contract templates for entrepreneurs to give them solid protection without the expense of having to hire a lawyer. You need a lot to maintain things and keep yourself in good standing and out of trouble, and that could cost you a lot of money if you worked with a lawyer every time. Christina knows that, in order for people to want to buy her contract, they need clients. So many of her teachings and trainings and courses and challenges are all centered on how to get more clients, because she said herself, if they don’t have clients, they don’t need contracts. 

The other thing that Christina does really well is that, if you purchase a contract, there’s a post-consumption sequence. And what we mean by that is there is a step-by-step tutorial on how to use your contract, how to edit it for your needs, how to use other tools that support it. And there’s also bonuses that we won’t share here, but there’s little bonuses along the way that really just continue to bring magic to the experience. 

And it’s one of those things that Disney — and Christina — does really well. They set you up for success because they’ve taken the thinking out of the process. At Disney, they’ve already thought ahead and considered the transportation that you need. They are giving these bus drivers that authority to give you a magical day and sprinkle some pixie dust on you. And this is all part of the holistic plan that they make in order to get people into their parks, into their restaurants, into their shops, to spend more money with you. And it’s very intentional.

What would Disney do?

So, next time when someone buys something from you, think about what Disney would do. They don’t stop when someone buys a ticket to their park. They’re constantly engaging their customers by giving them an incredible experience and making their vacation a lot more magical. People end up spending more money at Disney than they planned, usually. So if you implement something like a post-purchase consumption sequence that engages your audience and that engages your customer to build that relationship, to build that trust with you. So they come back for more. And if you continue to give them tools and resources that compliment your core offering, you’re only keeping them in your ecosystem a lot longer. 

And frankly, it stops them from going to your competitors. You’re going to become their one-stop shop for anything related to that topic, because they’re going to know that they can trust you because you have given them support in another place that they wouldn’t expect you to give support. And so they’re just going to keep coming back to you with that trust built. 

Want to rock a post-purchase sequence?

Wondering how to create an experience and ecosystem that keeps customers or clients coming back for more? We are going to share some extra tips and walk you through a post-purchase consumption sequence that you can implement in your own business. We’ll deliver this sequence right to your inbox when you drop your email here

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The REAL Magic Behind MagicBands (and How It Can Help Your Business)

Apr 8, 2021

Now, if you don’t know what a MagicBand is, it’s a wristband that you wear at Walt Disney World. It is literally the key to the kingdom. It unlocks your hotel room. It lets you into the parks. It even gives you access to a special line to skip the wait times for your favorite rides. Now MagicBands came about because of a big problem that Disney world was facing in 2008, Meg Crofton, who was the president of Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts issued a challenge to her employees. She wanted to eliminate the barriers to the magic for the guests arriving at Walt Disney World. 

We want you to picture this scenario. You have spent thousands of dollars to go to Disney World. You have heard that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that everyone should have. At least one time. You’ve been traveling all day long. You’ve had delays. You’ve had layovers. Your family is melting down in the corner because it’s so hot in Florida and they just want to hit the pool. And you don’t even know which suitcase has the swimsuits. You arrive at your hotel and you look in front of you and there’s a line. There’s a line full of people checking in and checking out. And you don’t even know if your room is ready yet. And that is not a magical experience. 

Disney realized they had a not-so-magical problem

Disney wasn’t having that. They wanted their guests to arrive and get straight into the magic. They know that they’re there to see Mickey mouse and they want to deliver that as soon as they possibly can. For that guest, they have spent money to be there and Disney, no doubt wants them to spend more money. And they’re not going to do that if they have people waiting in line as soon as they arrive. 

So Disney started envisioning ways to reinvent this process; from how a guest goes from sitting in their home, booking their vacation, to arriving on the property. They wanted the entire experience to be seamless, to be joyful, and to bring that magic that everyone expects when they watch those commercials advertising to come to Walt Disney World. 

This challenge was issued in 2008, to come up with some ideas, to fix this experience for the guests. And in 2010, the vision really started to get off the ground. They had this idea of a single system that seamlessly connects all of these pieces together. And that became the MagicBand. Now, we want you to think about your business and the different projects that you’ve done to launch a new product or to simplify your systems or anything that you may have worked on over the years.

Rethinking the experience

Do you know how much work went into just one piece of that? Let’s say you were launching a new program and you needed a marketing and you needed to create the program and you needed to record all the content and all these moving pieces. Right? Well, think about it on the scale that Disney was talking about here with this vision in 2010, when they wanted to create a queuing system for fast passes. You know, something that allows people to book their spot in line at home before they arrive at the parks. And there’s so many variables there, right? 

You’re not just booking for a single person; you’re booking for your whole party and you have to book in 15 minute increments. Oh, and you also have to have your park tickets. So then they needed to create a whole system that housed your park tickets and the turnstiles and the park to actually access the fact that you have your park tickets already.

They also had to connect 30,000 hotel rooms to a single system so that they would know if a room has been cleaned or not. If it’s available, a text messaging alert system to allow people to get a notification that their room is ready so they can skip the front desk. They also created a whole new system for every single cash register that had to be connected together so that you can check out with your wristband when you check out that Mickey Bar that you’re walking past — no need to carry your wallet with you. You can actually get it with your MagicBand. 

So think about all of these systems that they had to put together. They had engineers working on every single one. In fact, the engineer who worked on just designing the MagicBand itself, the physical product spent six months doing it. And that’s because Disney is smart.

Designing the new process

They wanted to make costs as low as possible for these bands that they were going to be giving away. But people of all shapes and sizes come to Disney world. People of all ages come to Disney World and that band needed to fit a wide range of people. And so an engineer spent six months working on this design and it’s actually really ingenious. So when you book a Disney vacation, eventually in the mail, you will get a package of MagicBands and they have your names on them. 

It’s super special. It’s all Disney-fied. It’s the most magical sight for a young child, who’s opening up this box to understand that they are getting their keys to the kingdom. They’re finally getting to see Mickey Mouse. And those bands are all the same for all of us in the whole family. And they’re really ingenious because you just tear off a piece of the design so that way it can fit a small child’s wrist. 

And this is brilliant from Disney’s perspective, they only need to have one mold to make all of these bands to fit all of these people. And that took an engineer six months. So you can just imagine how long it took other engineers to build the other pieces of the system and then get them all together. This was not going to be a cheap project and it wasn’t something that they could fit into the current budget. They needed to go to their Board of Directors and get approval before they could move forward with something of this scale.

The price tag, or the estimated price tag on putting the MagicBand system in place, was $1 billion (with a B). And they had to go in front of their Board of Directors to get approval to spend $1 billion on this crazy, huge idea and concept. And in order to do that, in 2012, they put together a full scale live demo, where they broke down a giant room into little cubbies.

Each cubby represented a space in the journey of the customer, starting with the person, sitting at their computer about to book their Disney vacation and walking them through, arriving at the Orlando airport, taking a bus to get to their resort, and going straight to their room to drop off their bags. Because they don’t have to go to the front desk anymore! 

From there, it was walking them through the entire process that you had experienced if you went to Disney World today. So the Board of Directors, which was filled with people like Steve Jobs and Sheryl Sandberg, ended up approving this $1 billion expense and it started getting off the ground. But it still took quite a while to get into effect. So the Board of Directors meeting was in 2012 and they didn’t do public testing until the summer of 2013.

Experiencing the new MagicBand process

And Nicole was actually at Disney World when they did this test. She wasn’t at the resort where they were testing. She was at the sister resort to it. So she remembers getting on the buses and hearing people complaining about these MagicBands and how they were locked out of their hotel room. And they’ve had to get help. And they’ve been just such a nightmare, but they got some free, fast passes for participating and for all the troubles they had. So they were still happy about it because they got to go on rides that they otherwise would have had to wait in a really long line for. 

Nicole says she just remembers sitting there, feeling so left out because she didn’t have this really cool Mickey band on her wrist. And it’s fascinating to remember. This has all come from an idea on the floor to a $1 billion investment that has definitely paid off for Disney. Now, though, Yasmine’s going to talk a little bit more about the return on investment on this $1 billion product.

Return on an investment of this scale

The first thing to talk about is something that you probably experience when you’re in the parks with your MagicBand. It’s a cashless system that they’ve essentially created for all the park visitors. We don’t know about you, but when we’re walking in Animal Kingdom and we see a really cute pair of ears, it’s just so easy to pick them up, scan our MagicBand on our wrists and not have to pull out a credit card or wallet, worry about cash, worry about fumbling with coins — and just make that purchase. Anyone can enter their pin number and just get out and enjoy the parks. It streamlined things so significantly to the point that, you know, for a lot of customers at Disney World, these purchases are almost mindless and you don’t really realize that you’re spending as much as you are until you check your hotel bill. It makes it really easy to purchase. 

Quick ROI

It’s pretty easy to imagine that Disney experienced instant ROI just from that capability alone, but let’s dive into the business intelligence element of MagicBands. So what Disney has done is they’ve created a tracking system that basically ties in the in-home experience of the actions people take at the parks. You know, they can track how you’re navigating on the website, through their website analytics. They can track how long it takes you to make a purchase. And then once you’re in the parks, they can actually track what you’re doing.

Their ability to track where you’re coming from comes in handy, because Disney has a lot of ticketed events that are special events that happen after hours. So if you’ve been to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or Magic Kingdom After Hours, those are events that you have to buy an additional ticket to, that’s not included in your day pass in order to attend. But if you have a MagicBand, your extra ticket is on your MagicBand as well. You still get the wristband. So park staff, or cast members, as we like to call them, can actually determine if you are there for the event or not.

Path to purchase

Going back to the business intelligence piece, being able to understand quite literally what that path to purchase is for their customers is such a powerful tool for Disney. They can evaluate endless data and identify these trends and patterns that let them understand what steps people take before they make a purchase. Maybe before you end up purchasing that Pirates of the Caribbean little sword that they have in the gift shop, you ride the ride like two or three times with your kids. And that’s when you make the purchase. That can be a really powerful piece of data for them to note, because then they can predict things like when you will likely purchase, and how much revenue that they can make from an individual guest. And from there be able to make other projections for future planning purposes.

They are tracking so much data. What time did they scan into their hotel room? And what time did they scan into the park? Which section of the park did they go to? When did they leave and what time did they have a lunch? It might not be amazing information on an individual level, but grouped with everyone else that’s visiting Disney, now they have an entire picture of how long it takes someone to get through all the rides in each section of each part and the most popular times for lunch or dinner. So they know how to staff, they know when to expect more guests. They’re actually known to know where everyone is so they can deploy characters to disperse crowds. So if there are long lines at a certain ride, they can get a character out there to kind of disperse where everyone is.

Decreased staff (without sacrificing customer service)

One other way that Disney probably makes money for the MagicBand system is that they can actually increase the number of actions a guest takes themselves that doesn’t require them to rely on staff. So let’s talk about the check-in process again, right? You don’t have to go to the front desk and wait in line to get your details to go to your room. That probably decreases the number of people that they need to actually man the concierge in each lobby, because MagicBands take care of that for you. 

When it comes to being able to pick your FastPasses and do it on your phone, that minimizes the number of machines Disney actually needs to have at the parks to spit out fast passes. Magic bands actually minimize the number of people they really need from a customer service standpoint, to keep the magical experience as awesome as it is.

We’ve talked a lot about the business benefits to Disney on this, but we also want to stress that like they do all this with a customer focus, and it really stems from having a better experience for those customers. 

So… what can YOU learn from MagicBands?

Now let’s flip the script and talk about you and what you can learn from how Disney leveraged MagicBands to make a better guest experience, but also to make them more profitable. We think the lesson here is: measure, measure, measure. What MagicBands give Disney is a goldmine of data. And you can have that in your business, too, without having to spend a billion dollars for the infrastructure, because thankfully there are tools out there for you. 

So a couple of ways that you can sort of leverage this Disney mindset about tracking is, first of all, to look at your website.

Check your metrics

For example, if you install Google Analytics, it tells you how people navigate through your website. (If you’re thinking that sounds complicated, don’t worry. Google has an awesome free Google Analytics setup tutorial here.) 

With Google Analytics, you can look at your results and maybe figure out if there’s a specific blog post that you would put up. That’s actually driving people to your contact page or to check out and purchase a product that can be very powerful in terms of knowing what type of nurturing your audience needs before they actually make a purchase for me, or reach out to you. Then you know that you can create more of that content to either increase your sales or increase your inquiries. That’s super powerful.

If you’re just looking to start to gather metrics, we would encourage you to stop and think about what things would be important for you to know about your customer. That could be something like, “I want to know how long it takes someone to purchase from me. If someone joined my email list today or started following me on Instagram today, when can I expect them to actually buy something from me?” And once you know the question you want to answer, do, you can start thinking of the different ways that you can gather that data.

Ask your audience or customers

You can also use the contact form on your website as a source of data. You can put a question that says, “How did you hear about me?” Or “When did you first hear about this brand?” And then you can start kind of getting data points along the way. If you sell products on your checkout page, ask a question (just one — don’t overwhelm anyone!). And then you can start gathering that data and suddenly they become metrics that help you run your business or make decisions about your business.

If you have a higher ticket offering and you’re wondering how people are buying that or where they came from before, check to see if the people in it bought from you previously and what they bought. So now you know who you need to go to, to get them into your highest ticket offer and vice versa too.

Mine for data elsewhere

Another thing that you can do is look at your email software. You’re probably deploying emails to your audience. If someone has purchased from you, just check to see when they joined and what opt in, or what point they joined your list from. That can give you a lot of data about how long it takes for someone to become a customer from being completely cold.

Track everything

The lesson that we learned here is it’s better to track everything and have all those markers in place, even if you’re not using them right away. Because we guarantee that at some point, you’re going to ask these questions and you’re going to want to know the answers, and you’re going to wish you had those systems.

Think about what’s important in your business and what you want to track — and just start tracking it.

Embrace the magic in your own business

Our biggest question for you is: How can you bring the spirit of these MagicBands into your business? How can you streamline the process for your customers or clients? And how can you track important data to help you serve them even better in the future? 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to small business lessons we can all learn from Disney. If you want to hear three other magical lessons we’ve learned from them, check out this FREE resource:

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Our Most Popular Episodes & Favorite Disney Business Insights

Apr 1, 2021

We know you’re a busy business owner, so we thought you’d love this quick start guide to some of our fans’ favorite episodes of the Pixie Dust & Profits podcast. 

Take a listen, and then follow us on Instagram to share which one is your favorite!

Pixie Dust & Profits episodes you might like:

Discover the inspiration behind the podcast…

Queue up Episode 00 to find out how we met, why Disney holds such a special place in our hearts, and why we started this project. 

Learn why operations are so important to your business…

Listen to us geek out over the guest transportation system at Disney World in Episode 04 and how this big expense pays off in spades.

Get a grip on content creation…

You’ll find our best tips on maximizing your time and money through repurposing your content and your products in Episode 08: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose in Your Business

Stop struggling with pricing…

Head on over to Episode 09, where we talk about resource and team planning, supply and demand (even as a service provider), and raising and determining your prices.

See how to hire people as happy as Disney’s bus drivers…

Want to know where to find great contractors and employees, and how to keep them happy? Check out our handy small business hiring tips in Episode 010.

Apply Disney’s quarterly review process to your biz…

Hear what we learned while listening to Disney’s Q1 2020 earnings call — you know, *pre*COVID-19 — in Episode 015. There are a lot of pricing tools we gleaned from the call that you can use yourself, including how to reduce churn rate (cancellations or non-renewals), ways to reach new people through outreach & value, and creating a backup plan for when revenue or reach dip.

Bring that Disney magic into your customer experience…

If you’ve ever been on the new Star Wars ride at Disney, you know it’s more of an experience than a ride. We use this new attraction as an example of how to craft a customer experience that will surprise and delight your customers, and keep them coming back, in Episode 023.

New Disney business insights for your small biz — every other week!

Thanks for being here, we’re so excited to take all of this information and show you how it can apply to YOUR business. 

Because whether you’re a solopreneur, small business, or something in between, Walt Disney has left us all with waaaay more than epic movies and memorable vacations.  

He left us with a business blueprint. 

With a little research, our expertise, and the pixie dust sprinkled on, we will show you how to make the magic happen in your businesses too. Listen to these episodes and more by finding the Pixie Dust & Profits podcast wherever you listen to podcasts!

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