Last week I took my kids to Disney World for the first time. I had been there many times as a kid, and even my Senior year of college. Taking young children is a very different experience. Not necessarily a bad experience, just different. Good food is sacrificed for a meeting with a Disney character. You sprint past Space Mountain so you can reach the front of the line at “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”. And at the end of the day now you’re the parent carrying a sleeping child or pushing the stroller. I certainly developed an appreciation for what my Parents experienced. You find yourself constantly repeating the mantra “It’s for the kids. It’s for the kids. It’s for the kids”. In the end they had an amazing time. I burned several thousand calories hoofing it across 4 Disney parks in dreaded humidity. By the time we returned, my body felt an exhaustion I had only felt once before, after completing an Ironman.
Disney is the company all other companies strive to replicate. Their reputation for innovation, customer service, and capturing “the magic” is so famous that The Disney Institute was created so others could learn how “Disney does it”. In all honesty, I wrapped up an exhausting week thinking, “I’m not sure I get it”. Sure the kids loved it, but I didn’t think “yeah, I’m ready to do that again”. It wasn’t until I started looking through the pictures and telling the stories that the real driver of Disney success became apparent. It isn’t the characters, the rides, the food, or the souvenirs. It’s progress.
I had asked the kids what their favorite ride was. My 4-year old son loved the Tower of Terror, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. My 5-year old daughter said her favorite ride was the Carousel of Progress. No lie, that was her favorite ride. You remember it. It was the attraction Walt Disney premiered at the 1964 World’s Fair. You sit in a rotating theater and listen to robotic people from 4 different time periods sing about “a great big beautiful tomorrow”. They state at the beginning of the show that Walt Disney was passionate about progress. Every success associated with Disney reflects this focus. Just look at Disney’s EPCOT. The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow opened in 1982 and was meant to capture the promise and opportunity of tomorrow. It still does that. It’s not the same 1982 EPCOT. EPCOT continues to evolve and deliver on progress.
The strategy and vision of the Disney Corporation still must keep “Progress” at the forefront. When boarding the Kali River Rapids ride in Animal Kingdom I was trying to figure out the best way to sit on my bag to keep it dry. Low and behold the rafts use the center area to store baggage with a waterproof cover. Many of the rides now have pouches below your seat or in the space in front of you to place baggage. Brilliant! Simple, yet progressive. The evolution of the Fast Pass to avoid ridiculously long lines was the first of its kind at amusement parks. Many of the attractions that used to have robotic characters now use holograms to create a more realistic look. Progressive. And if you have the opportunity to see “Fantasmic” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios you’ll experience the most progressive storytelling, using water and fountains as the literal backdrop for the show.
While Disney succeeds at creating the perfect customer experience, I don’t think they originally set out to do that. I believe Disney focused on advancing the use of technology, art, and people. That advancement is what lead to the superb experience.
Does your company have a clearly defined strategy? Do you believe you execute against this strategy?
You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.
Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.
She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.
Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
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