Business Lessons from Mickey Mouse
I recently returned from a few days at Disneyland. My wife and I agreed to be chaperones for Grad Nite. On Grad Nite, Disneyland is open until 2 a.m. with just high school graduates and their chaperones. (It sounded like a good idea at the time.) I’m sure this goes on at locations all around the country, but being from Southern California, Disneyland is the place to be.
We were able to get a Disneyland Resort Hotel group rate of $165, which amazingly is a great deal since the actual rate is $300 to $400 a night. How can Disney sell this decent, but hardly exceptional hotel room at these prices? It speaks to the power of the Disney brand and the location. Disneyland is “The Happiest Place on Earth,” isn’t it?
It also surprised me how much Disney can get for toys and its very popular mouse ears. I noticed that the "Made in China" headband with ears went for $22.95. It was amazing how many people were wearing these! When I would see a family with a couple of kids, or parents wearing the mouse ears, I realized that was $50 in mouse ears! People connect with Mickey Mouse and want to do business with him.
Since I’m always looking for business stories in real life, there is much that can be related from our business world to the Disney experience. Here are a few thoughts with my take on how this relates to our industry.
People: Disneyland is crowded! There are all types of people at Disneyland from folks who are friendly, to those who are just inconsiderate. They aren’t aware of what’s happening around them and think nothing of the consequences of their actions. You can get mowed over if you aren’t watching what’s going on.
Our industry is filled with businesses of all types from great distributors and suppliers to a few clueless types. It’s a crowded industry. Some build relationships and truly care about meeting their customers' needs. Others don’t look at the big picture and focus only on what they are comfortable with in their world. Many in our industry don’t do change well. It’s beneficial to be conscious of our business surroundings and react based on reality.
Price: Disney is very profitable because it has positioned its brand and business model to be that way.
Disney can sell a simple pencil eraser for $4 and no one bats an eye. Some of us have clients who will pound on us to save a few pennies. The price suppliers and distributors can charge is directly related to the perceived and real value of the products we sell.
Product Safety: Disney holds its vendors to high standards. It must protect its brand! We must also protect our client’s brand, but how many fully understand the importance of this? Product safety compliance comes with a price. There seems to be an increasing number of direct foreign factories that are very willing to sell direct to end-users as well as through our distributor network.
Buyers will risk using a factory that they have no relationship with to get a low price. Of course any additional profit or savings that could be generated may result in a huge loss should something go wrong. And things do go wrong. In addition, the product safety and general liability risk is significant. This has been talked about for years. My sense is that most don’t care, or understand their part in the supply chain. It’s just not a sexy topic.
The Happiest Place on Earth: Is Disney really the “Happiest Place on Earth”? One thing I can say is most of the “cast members”, which is how it refers to its staff, are friendly. That’s a key component of the Disney experience. Are we upbeat and actively engaged in creating a positive client experience?
Disneyland has the appearance that all is well in a world that includes Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and of course, Fantasyland. Is all well in our industry’s Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland?
Our Frontierland offers the excitement of the old west and the challenges that go with it. We’ve also got some good old-fashioned gun fighting going on.
Clearly the promotional marketing industry’s Adventureland actually is filled with adventure. There are new products and directions we can move in. Everyday is different.
While Tomorrowland looks ahead to the future, we look forward to an evolving marketplace that differs from our past and offers new opportunities as well as new challenges.
Some are quite comfortable in Fantasyland, believing things will stay the way they always have been. Reality is that things will always evolve and change. Nothing stays the same.
Over the last few months I’ve covered a variety of topics and touched on the discontent of a few readers over things they cannot change. Wanting an industry where everything is perfect really is Fantasyland.
Industry online forums and a few of our FreePromoTips.com readers have been concerned about our changing marketplace. And we should be concerned. I recently had the opportunity to talk with two key industry leaders who addressed these issues and provided a state of the industry report. I am happy to share these interviews with you.
Tim Andrews, President and CEO of The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) addresses a variety of issues in this video interview.
Paul Bellantone, President and CEO of the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) offers his comments in this video interview.
Wanting everything to perfect, or expect our industry to police how business is being conducted would be like Disneyland, and Disneyland is not the real world.
"The Happiest Place on Earth" can be wherever you are. How you get there is up to you.
Jeff Solomon, MAS, is a distributor affiliated with a top 10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information. On the website, you can opt-in to receive these informative twice-a-month e-newsletters! Check out what’s new in the GP2: Good Products—Good Prices section of the site. Take advantage of free end-user safe product videos you can share from the http://yourpromotionsolution.com website. Like the FreePromoTips.com page on Facebook follow it on Twitter and connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.