3 Things Disney Can Teach You About Content Marketing

I love Disney. There are few companies that deliver the total package of marketing and operations (which is really just fulfillment of the marketing promise) better. In my house we've been living on Planet Disney since our first daughter was born. With two girls in the house, we get more than the recommended daily dose of the Mouse...and that's just fine with me.

You see, Disney provides some of the best marketing education in the world for free. All you have to do is watch and learn.

I can hear your cries now..."but Steve I'm not in the entertainment/themepark/movie business"...that's where average business owners stop. But you're smarter than that. You're going to figure out how you can apply what Disney does to your business.

So here are the 3 things Disney can teach you about content marketing:

1. Create your own celebrity (that means you).

Disney is a master at selling the content they produce. The Disney Channel, which is essentially free (included in most cable TV packages) pumps out TV shows featuring a regular parade of tween and teen stars.

The shows build up the stars from unknown to celebrity status with factory-like regularity. Kids from age 2-15 (and beyond) go nuts for these stars because they're presented in sit-coms and Disney Channel Original Movies as cool, but approachable characters. They've copied and updated the successful formulas from sit-coms and movies from my childhood like the 'Facts of Life', 'Different Strokes' and 'Grease'.

Notice there's no innovation here, just a new twist on an old and proven idea. It's smart for two reasons:

1. It removes most of the risk of a new idea 2. It's easier and faster to implement

With a blog or YouTube channel you can have your own media outlet to turn yourself into a celebrity in your specialty.

2. Monetize, Monetize, Monetize

When one of Disney's home-grown celebrities reaches critical mass, Disney pops out a movie, DVD, licensed toys, clothing, books (every kind of licensed widget you can imagine), concert tours, celebrity cruises...and on and on.

Disney is the world's largest licensing company. They don't try to do it all themselves. They create the irresistible content and gather together the market.

They package and sell the content and let licensees create and sell the products. As a result they extract maximum revenue from the investment in content without having to produce and sell every item themselves.

They could never achieve the success they have without sharing the wealth and sharing the work.

What can you add to your core product or service (even if it's delivered by someone else) that will enhance your customers' lives? If you added just 10% to every customer transaction what would that mean to your profitability?

3. Cross-Sell, Cross-Sell and Cross-Sell Some More

Go to a Disney resort and turn on the TV. Every TV starts on a resort version of the Disney Channel with the latest batch of teen stars selling activities in the theme park.

Watch the Disney Channel (which doesn't show outside commercials) and you'll be inundated with inside interviews and 'behind the scenes' infomercials for the latest Disney feature film, theme park ride or Disney Cruise special (the latest is a cruise with cast members from some of the sit-coms).

The Hanna Montana craze over the last few years is probably the best example of the brilliance of this play. The character was introduced in a sit-com. Music CD's and licensed products followed.

Popularity among young girls exploded (I think I live at the epicenter of it) and a concert tour was launched (with the highest priced ticket scalping in history). Then a 3D concert movie, followed by a second movie and a mainstream music career for star Miley Cirus.

Each piece reinforced the others driving the popularity (and sales) higher and higher. It'll end at some point, but Disney's already bringing up a couple of successors.

So you don't have 10 businesses you can cross promote...so what. You know 2 or 3 or 10 other business owners who you can strike deals with to cross-sell to each other's customers.

Done right, you all help your customers by bringing them good products or services and all of the businesses involved benefit by growing the pie.

So take some time to digest these lessons from Disney and figure out how you can use the ideas in your business.

Tell me what you think of this article in the comments below. Your feedback really helps us know what content you find most helpful.