Hear practical business lessons learned from the Disney+ launch that you can apply to your small business.

Episode 12: Business Lessons Learned From the Disney+ Launch (Transcript)

Nov 26, 2019



Intro (00:01):
Pixie Dust & Profits is a podcast for small business owners who love Disney and want to sprinkle some of that magic onto their own businesses. Join your host, Nicole Boucher and Yasmine Spencer. As they explore the mouse’s $12.6 billion operation and break down exactly how you can apply these big scale concepts to your own business.

Nicole (00:26):
Welcome to this week’s episode of Pixie Dust & Profits. I’m Nicole Boucher, and I’m joined by Yasmine Spencer. And this week we’re going to talk all about business lessons learned from the Disney Plus launch. So this is super exciting because we have been waiting for Disney Plus for probably a year now, ever since they announced it. And we kept seeing all of these offers come through, we’d get emails, like building up the excitement, telling us to join in for two years, three years. And we’re really excited to talk about the business lessons. So I’m going to jump right in and start talking about the bundles, all the options they offered for us to purchase Disney Plus I started getting emails probably two or three months ago. I’m a vacation club member. I go to Disney World often. And so I was definitely on their list of people who will probably buy the service.

Nicole (01:17):
So I would get these emails and they would only have two options for me, prepay for two years or prepay for three years, the three-year option was $180, which you know, is kind of a significant amount of money, especially with the holidays coming up and you break it down $60 a year. Okay. That kind of makes sense. It’s like $6 a month. And it seemed like it was a good idea, but at the same time, my husband and I just, we don’t like to lock ourselves into something like that. If it’s a long period of time, I don’t know what shows are going to be on Disney plus they hadn’t announced a lot then. My son loves Disney movies just as we do, but he doesn’t watch all of them and some just aren’t for him. So we were wondering if this was even worth it to pay for three years for something we might not even use.

Nicole (02:07):
So we kind of just shelved it and said, we’ll wait for the next offer to come through. And of course, another bundle offers started coming out and this was to buy for two years, but we were still waiting for that one year option because we have experienced with Disney it. And as much as we love going to the Disney parks, there are often it issues. We had one vacation last year where we were taking the extended family with us. So my mother-in-law my father-in-law, my brother-in-law and his whole family of two kids and his wife and my brother-in-law and my account could not be connected for some reason. I could never see him. He could never see me. It got to the point that when we arrived, we weren’t even sure that we had a room reservation. I was on the phone with people all leading up to the vacation.

Nicole (02:55):
We didn’t get our room until like six or seven o’clock, which check-in’s usually around four. We had little kids, like two year olds who were melting down. It was just not a really great experience, especially for how many times I have been to Disney World and had not gone through that before. I was worried that he wouldn’t have any of his fast passes and not be able to join us on the rides that we were going on. And this was his first and only Disney trip with his family. So I was really, really excited to make sure that he had a good time. And I know that the department that handles that kind of like park operation stuff, isn’t the same department that probably handles Disney plus streaming. But those experiences are in my mind as not really trusting that the service would work on opening day or that it would have the movies they wanted.

Nicole (03:41):
I was worried that it would have, you know, four or five things. And then the rest of the stuff would be a dud which obviously just plus is out now. And we know that is not the case because they have had over 10 million signups and growing. So yeah, that’s a little bit about like the pre-sales process. Now, when it got closer and closer to the date, they started announcing what their regular pricing would be and they had two different options. They had the Disney plus standalone option for six 99 a month. And you could prepay for a year for 69 99, which essentially means you’re paying for 10 months. You get two months free. So that is the option that I ended up choosing because I knew that we would at least want this for a few months and two months free. That’s pretty cool.

Nicole (04:26):
The other option that they had was a Hulu Disney class and ESPN bundle and the bundle of those three things was 12.99 a month. And this is really smart of them because ESPN is their own brand. And so they can put anything related to that realm on that network. And everyone has access to it. You know, they’re trying to grow it. They’re trying to make sure people are, who know ESPN as a brand name. So they’re kind of bundling those together. And then Hulu, everyone knows what Hulu is. Everyone has either had it for a long time or they have heard of it and how it has recent episodes of shows that are on television. And so if you don’t have Hulu, you’d probably be very interested in this option. And if you do have Hulu, they gave you the option to upgrade to the Disney plus bundle.

Nicole (05:11):
So it was going both ways. And this option at 1299 a month would actually save you 33% than if you bought Hulu Disney class and ESPN all on their own. So there’s all these different options out there, which can sometimes feel really overwhelming if you’re looking at it from the standpoint of like going into Google, like much it’s Disney plus. But from the standpoint of like sending those marketing materials out there, there was an option for me that made it a no-brainer click. Yes, I’m signing up now. And it wasn’t the three year I wasn’t the two year, I am sure they hadn’t many subscribers come in from that, those first few emails, those first few promotions, but they knew that they had to change along the way. So he has one and I were talking about this, like before we started recording about how this relates to launching. And she’ll talk about that a little bit more, and then we’ll go back into like, talking about bundling your own offers.

Yasmine (06:04):
Yeah. So just want to add a couple notes from a Canadian perspective on the launch as I always do. So I was actually really excited when they announced the three-year subscription deal. Like I was like Disney take my money. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a little girl on the way. And in fact, maybe by the time this episode is released, she might be here. She might be a few days out. But I was going through and like literally adding Disney movies to my baby registry because like, obviously I want this child’s like on that Disney train. And it occurred to me that for the cost of like a handful of those videos, I can get unlimited access to the entire Disney library. And then some, so as some of you may know, like Disney actually did a lot of acquisitions prior to the launch of Disney plus they acquired a lot of assets from like Fox, so you can actually watch the Simpsons on it.

Yasmine (06:55):
And that was something my husband was really excited about having access to like all like what 30 seasons of the Simpsons. But anyway, can you perspective going back on track, I’d get these emails and every time I’d click, like yes, to give Disney my credit card, I would be directed to the Canadian page, which was just like, keep me updated. So I didn’t actually get to sign up until the day of launch. So that was November 12th. And we only had that one option here in Canada. So dif there were a lot of like bundle offers for Americans, but like one thing, doesn’t, it could’ve done as they’re going through this launch was maybe segment out those rabid Canadian fans of theirs who were disappointed every time they got a marketing email and they couldn’t give Disney their money. And that’s always frustrating from a customer service experience.

Yasmine (07:41):
Right. So they unfortunately didn’t really make any changes to that pivot during the pre-launch phase, in terms of shifting gears and making sure that they were excluding Canadians and I may have sent like a, you know, a very kindly worded email or two as Canadians typically do to Disney, just letting them know like, Hey, this offers them to be able in Canada, you might want to exclude us from your list. They didn’t make those changes. But they probably dealt with a boatload of issues and stuff along the way as everyone does with a launch. I know that as entrepreneurs, we think of launches as these like big things and we have like this plan in place, or just so excited to follow it and like get results, but like a plan during a launch, it needs to be treated as a guide and you need to be able to sort of roll with things.

Yasmine (08:30):
So on day one of the launch now, Nicole, I don’t know if you had any issues in the US but in Canada there were tech issues galore. So I signed up as soon as I could, then I immediately started trying to like watch things and movies wouldn’t load. I couldn’t create a second profile for my husband. So, you know, he could start his like Simpson’s marathon while I wanted to watch like Aladdin, Cinderella, all the classics again. And we wouldn’t like screw up our recommendations so we can set up a profile for him. We got into a wee bit of an argument over like the profile images, tiny things. But I was like Mickey, because that was the default one. And he was like, no, I should be Vicky. And it basically took a day or two before all these issues were resolved and the service was working smoothly and I’m sure Disney was freaking out. It was freaking out behind the scenes, but they rolled with the punches and they fixed it.

Nicole (09:26):
I was actually pretty impressed because I was at an event on Tuesday. And so I couldn’t even look at Disney plus until the evening. And didn’t have time to watch anything, but in the morning I downloaded the app and I was super excited that I can even download the app videos weren’t available, but they didn’t like, it was very clear that they weren’t available yet that they weren’t like, you were just able to download the app to kind of like log in and get ready. And I did make my son a profile and they have a kid restriction, which made me so happy that like the kids area, which is nice. But I went and downloaded a couple of movies, so that way I could watch them on my flight home and it worked perfectly, I had no issues getting on, on the plane or anywhere else.

Nicole (10:12):
So I was actually really impressed, especially when the figure story coming out that like 10 million people had signed up for the service. And I’m like, can we talk about that for a minute? I think that it created this huge sense of like FOMO fear of missing out if you don’t know what FOMO is. Especially in social media, that everyone was kind of taking a picture of. I know I did it too. I took a picture of the little magical Disney screen. It was like the castle came up in the pixie dust came up and it was like Disney. And, you know, I took a picture of that. I had a bunch of friends who were like digging in what he watching first. And, you know, there were a lot of comments. I don’t have it yet. Should I get it? Do you like Hulu?

Nicole (10:49):
Should I get the Hulu option? And so there was this a lot of social talk from people that I think spurred even more sign-ups. And so when you can make things more interactive and fun, especially when you’re launching it is very important because just resharing, what other people have say with what other people are saying is it goes a long way to show that, Hey, someone else is interested. So maybe I should be interested in it’s this whole like psychology thing at work, but it doesn’t even have to be very difficult or very complex. I mean, it could be something that like someone just comments on a different post and you can screenshot that and share it and say, know, someone else is looking at this too. You should. And then at one point, one of my shares got a notice on Instagram that it was in the like hashtag Disney plus feed. And I was super excited for that. So I went to the Disney plus feed and I started looking through there to see if I could see my own photo, which I couldn’t find it, but it’s just like, cool. It was like reinforcing, like I’m part of this bigger collective.

Yasmine (11:52):
It was really interesting me is that, you know, I talked to Nicole about Disney pretty much like every day, that’s what we chat about pretty often. But there are all these people that are in my like networking community and are friends of mine that I didn’t really know were Disney fans who were signed up and sharing that they were signing up. And I was like, Oh, that’s cool. Now we have something else in common that I can you know, reach out to you about or talk to you about. And it was really interesting to see that sort of like tribe of Disney lovers. It was a lot bigger than I actually thought it was.

Nicole (12:25):
Yeah, definitely. I experienced that too. They were, I was at a conference and so I was sharing an Airbnb with a bunch of other women and they were all very excited to either get it for their kids or just watch it for themselves. And they, the way the schedule worked, I ended up staying the last night. They Airbnb by myself because they all had earlier flights than I did. And so I went to their Roku box and I installed Disney plus on it. So that way I could watch that night and I was working so I couldn’t like really engage with anything. So I put on some like old movies, so I threw on the parent trap and freaky Friday. So that way they could play in the background while I was doing some work. And it was the best,

Yasmine (13:07):
Oh man, I am so jazzed to have like moves from the vault basically on, in the background while I work now, because I can’t imagine a more magical working.

Nicole (13:16):
So what what have you watched so far? Like what was the first thing that you put away?

Yasmine (13:20):
The, they don’t have the movie version or the live action version on there yet, but princess Jasmine, she is my princess. We almost share name and I like loved the live action version and really wanted to sort of revisit the cartoon, the cartoon, the original, the animation. So I watched that while I was working. And then me and my husband watched a couple episodes of the Simpsons and I’ve also watched Cinderella, a bunch of the classics, a little mermaid beauty. And the beast is next on my list. And these are just like movies that like I’ve seen before. And I love, and I basically had them on the background while I’ve been working.

Nicole (13:59):
So today is Friday and we typically record our episodes on Friday. So it’s movie night here at my house and I think I’m going to have to like, pre-plant like go in and check and see like what is available so I can figure out which thing to watch, because it’ll probably become one of those decisions, like what’s for dinner and you won’t actually decide until it’s too late. One thing I wanted to share is that I downloaded the Imagineer story and I don’t really want to spoil a lot of it for Yasmin because she hasn’t seen it yet. And as you can imagine, the two of us just even from the previews have been like dying to see this because it is the behind the scenes that we love and that we can’t wait to talk about those episodes on this podcast. It’s not necessarily related to Disney parks all the time, but the very first episode was, and it was just talking about how Disney land came to be and the experience of waltz dreams and how he got it funded and all of these little things.

Nicole (14:55):
So we can have a whole episode about that. But one thing that I wanted to talk about, because it kind of relates to the Disney plus stuff, is that when Disney land launched on their opening day, it was kind of a hot mess. I know story. Yeah. So like three times more people came then they had budgeted for, because they were actually people making content, right tickets. And so there were more people in the parks then there should be for safety reasons and just like capacity for the rides. There were rides breaking down. I think one of the things said that they were like using ladders to get people off Dumbo. They kids were jumping over the fence to go to the cars, to drive the cars around which they obviously didn’t plan for people to not follow the rules.

Nicole (15:42):
Probably why the offenses are much higher now, but just all these little things that were going wrong. One of the decisions waltz had to make before the park opened was there was a plumbing strike, like for a plumber’s union strike. And so he had to decide between water fountains or working toilets. And so he obviously chose working toilets for the park. But then he later got accused of like trying to force people to buy Coca-Cola by not putting water fountains in the park. When really it was just that there was like a plumber’s union strike. So little things like that on opening day. And so, you know, Disneyland Disney plus just launched and w you know, black Friday is coming up. So it’s probably going to be a couple of days after this episode airs. And what we just want to tell you, if you’re going through a launch of something you’ve launched before or something you’re currently launching for the first time, or if this is something that’s in your plans for 2020, just think about the fact that like Disney world didn’t have marking fountains on the first day or Disneyland didn’t have working fountains on the first day and something’s going to happen.

Nicole (16:45):
And you just need to know that, like Yasmine said, your launch plan is a guideline, and you have to know when and where to be flexible with it, where to say, okay, I’ve learned something new. This is a conversation I have with my son all the time about, you know, you didn’t know, and you did that wrong, but now, you know, your brain was learning if you did it right, your brain wouldn’t have learned anything. So just take that into consideration as you’re launching these things that even Disneyland might not have had working toilets on day one.

Yasmine (17:13):
Yeah. Nicole and I like together, I think we have been behind the scenes of like hundreds of launches. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that, like

Nicole (17:22):
We, a little like little weekend flash sales to giant three month long campaigns.

Yasmine (17:27):
Yeah. Like we we’ve, we’ve seen it all basically. And I think one of the things that is really important about constantly going through the process and having these hiccups actually occur is, yeah, they’re frustrating at the time. And yeah, they’re discouraging, but like Nicole said, you learn from it. And then next time you optimize. And if Disney up after that disastrous first day, or if Canadians gave up on Disney plus after just not being able to access things like it sure it was frustrating. But if we get like Disney, wouldn’t be the company that it is today. So they focus on continuous improvement. And that’s something that we firmly believe in implementing across our businesses. Our client’s businesses is what can we improve and what can we make better than last time? And my learning these things, every subsequent launch goes a lot smoother. We’re now at the point where, you know, most of our launches are pretty seamless.

Yasmine (18:23):
Sometimes issues come up. Sometimes they’re there things that, you know, we didn’t quite anticipate. Other times there are things that are out of our hands, but because we’ve dealt technology, it’s always tech it’s when, when you have a launch near like integrating like eight different pieces of software, at some point something’s going to happen. But instead of having like 50 people upset and angry about things that aren’t working, we might get like one or two customer service queries right now. And because we know how to resolve it, if it does break down, we’re able to implement the solution quickly, keep that customer happy and continue moving. So, you know, you might not go through the launches in the course of your business, but going through like one or two and just learning from what didn’t work well is going to set you up for success.

Yasmine (19:07):
The next time, so one thing that we always do is we implement a post-mortem after a launch is over. And that basically means we review what went well, what didn’t, what were the successes? What were the challenges? And what can we do better for next time? And by going through this process, not only will you, again, set yourself up for success, but you also celebrate the wins because as you know, things go bad. I swear they’re not as bad as you think they are. And there’s always like some things to celebrate. And, you know, you deserve to give yourself a Pat on the back for that, because you just went through putting yourself out there, putting your offer out there and opening it up to the world.

Nicole (19:46):
The other reminder I’d love to give about launches is just that if a launch doesn’t go well, or you don’t get as many people in the door as you expected, or everything broke, and you were crying on the garner and your office, because you just didn’t know how to move forward. There’s definitely been those days for some of our clients don’t feel like you’re alone. What I’ll say is like, it doesn’t mean that your offer was bad. It just means that maybe it wasn’t marketed as well as it could have been. Maybe you didn’t start marketing early enough. Maybe there’s a different software that works better, or the copy and connection to people just wasn’t there, or you needed more testimonials, like don’t give up on the product or offer that you have, don’t start just scrap it all and try to start fresh and make something new, take the good parts, which, you know, no, because he went through the launch experience and you learned from it take the good parts and make them better edit, tweak them, that continuous improvement that we were talking about earlier. So sometimes when we feel like we didn’t do as well as we hoped, or we failed at something that we just need to scrap it entirely and bury it and move on. And that’s not really the case, we can reuse a lot of what we do and in a different way, or do it in the exact same way. Just better one

Yasmine (21:06):
Great things about launching and going through the process is you get customer feedback, which you might not have had beforehand. So you can find out what’s really working for your customers and listen to them. Sometimes people will give you suggestions that are crazy pants and sane, and you know, you don’t have to implement them all, but other times they’ll tell you exactly what they need. One other point that I want to make is there are times where you kind of have to go through a launch to have those revelations and those insights. A great example is Nicole and I had worked on a launch together for product that we thought was going to be like really successful. Our client had hired like an amazing copywriter to write the sales page. You know, we invested a lot in this and it, it went okay, it wasn’t a failure, but it wasn’t as good as we thought it was.

Yasmine (21:51):
And after like looking at the data, how people responded to emails, analyzing go through a post-mortem, we just had this like one matrix insight about maybe why people, as many people didn’t buy. And that was a game changer for us and change how we were able to position the sale of the product in the future. And, you know, it’s been selling consistently since then, which is good. But sometimes you have to like go through things, sometimes a seasonality, sometimes, you know, someone else’s launching something similar, unfortunately in the same space at the same time. And you just didn’t know, and you’re competing with them other times, like Nicole said, there’s again, the offer wasn’t positioned properly. You need to start earlier. There’s so many factors. And until you go through it, you can’t anticipate or predict all of these things. So give yourself a break.

Nicole (22:37):
So to just kind of recap the two major things we talked about here in relation to the Disney plus launch and how it relates to your businesses, the first is the bundling, your offers coming up with different ways to offer the same thing, but that will appeal to somebody different. So in our case for pixie Dustin profits live, we decided that we would have a payment plan option. So we have a painful option, especially for those who want to get that expense in before the end of the year. And then we have the payment plan option, which breaks it down a little bit easier, more digestible. It does cost in the end a little bit more. And that’s just because of like extra processing and time that we have to put into it. And also sometimes payment plans lead to collections. So that just kind of like protects our business.

Nicole (23:22):
So remember, if you are going to do something where you have a pamphlet and a payment plan, it doesn’t hurt to add a couple extra dollars to the payment plan. That’s what Disney is doing. If you buy a year of Disney plus it’s 69.99, if you buy it for every month, that’s six 99. So you are paying a little bit less per month when you do the year option. And the reason for that is just, there’s more risk. There might be more turnover. There might be people who don’t pay those types of things with Disney, plus they can turn off service right away. So if someone doesn’t pay it, doesn’t really hurt them quite as badly. The other thing that you can do with bundling your offers is just seeing what things people are buying together. So if you have a product shop, you can probably see, Hey, there’s a bunch of orders that are buying a notepad and a pen.

Nicole (24:09):
Why don’t I make a bundle where these come together, or why don’t I use the pen as an order bump or something like that. So there’s different ways of bundling things. And a lot of it is just looking at your customer data, what things will work together that are complimentary, put those together. So in this case, Disney plus probably has a specific set of shows that attract a specific set, maybe more families, children people with nostalgia or anything. And Hulu is more for those people who are like, Oh, I don’t want to watch that those are who lives for the people who want to watch what’s current. And I don’t know exactly what shows they have on there, but, you know, it’s someone who’s like wants to keep up with the current shows that are on. And I imagine that Disney’s plan is probably anything that’s not PG rated enough for Disney class will probably end up on Hulu. Right? that’s my, that’s my prediction. So those are different ways that you can bundle things. So that way you’re actually attracting two different types of people and you’re giving them both products. The other thing that we talked about as launches fail, so Yasmin wants to go into like the two takeaways you should have for your small business there.

Yasmine (25:10):
So the first thing is treat your plan as a guide. It’s not something you have to stick to, to a tee because things will come up and you have to go with the flow. So be prepared to pivot. And the second thing is when a launch is over, regardless of whether it’s good, bad, amazing, terrible, do a post-mortem analyze what went well and what did it and use those learnings for next time. And that’s about it in terms of takeaways for launches and how you can improve upon them.

Nicole (25:37):
Awesome. So thank you guys for joining us this week for this special episode about Disney plus and launching, and, you know, we would love to talk more with you about launching. So if you have a new product or an idea in the works, or you’re just really trying to figure out what your 2020 is going to look like, we have pixie Dustin profits live, that’s coming up in February and we would love to see you there. We’re going to be making our strategic business objectives for the year. We’re making a strategic business plan. So that way you can actually outline those goals and make a task list that will help you get them done with clarity and confidence and knowing like all the things that we have learned from all the launches we’ve gone through all the products we’ve helped develop the teams that we’ve helped build.

Nicole (26:20):
And we’re really excited to bring this to you. And then, I mean, it’s not the best part. I think the best part is the business stuff. But the fun part is that after all of this really hard work, we are going to celebrate with some time at the happiest place on earth at Disney World. So if you are interested in that, you can check us out at pixiedustandprofits.com/live, and as always, please join us on Instagram, subscribe to the podcast and leave a review because we have been getting told that people love our podcast and they love all these little business tips and other people need to know that too. So if you could share that in a review, we would be forever grateful. Thank you for joining us and see.



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