“I just watched a stage show about a ride,” I said to my daughter when we were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios over Spring Break this year. I was only off by a small detail. It was a show about a new section of the park.
Disney’s big push this year (besides Avengers: Endgame) is clearly the Star Wars franchise. As we walked around the park for a few hours, I learned a ton about Disney’s marketing game and I have to tell you, it’s on point.
Round 1: A Stage Show
They rolled a huge three-part stage out in front of the replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, Darth Vader, stormtroopers, BB-8, and even Rey herself came out on stage where there were pyrotechnics, music, and a huge crowd had gathered.
What was it all for? The new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge experience at the park.
Well, of course, Disney is going to be promoting their new ride. But silly me – I thought the fiery production was it.
No, no. Ems and I decided to hop over to a short show featuring Star Wars. I’m not sure what she thought it would be, but we’d already seen “The Festival of the Lion King” musical in the round that morning and had just come out of a puppet musical based on “The Little Mermaid,” so at least I figured it might be something similar.
The Cast Member who was operating our line told us about some cool props to check out in the exhibit when we were to leave the show. In particular, he told us to look for the ice cream machine – a small bit of fandom humor that I wasn’t aware of before then.
Round 2: A Micro-Documentary About A Section Of The Park!
Y’all. It was a movie about the new Galaxy’s Edge. We go into a little theater and watch a short film. As it starts, we go down a little bit of memory lane. Ron Howard talking about going to the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (Ah! I see what you did there!); women talking about how great the fandom is for women. Okay, I’m into this. About 2/3 of the way through, the movie starts talking about how they’re taking cues from the fandom to create Galaxy’s Edge.
It was cool to get a little glimpse of what’s coming, and we weren’t disappointed by the experience, but we’d just been in round two of promos for a new section of the park.
And if you think we were done, well, you would be as wrong as we were.
Round 3: Mini Museum Of Props
No, there was a whole other section with props, costume pieces, and more from the Solo movie and other productions, all geared toward letting people know what to expect in the new part of the park.
Now, I’m both a marketing expert and a lukewarm Star Wars fan – give me the first three (Episodes 4, 5 & 6) and you can keep anything made after that – and I got excited about the idea. It seemed really cool. Would I be making a trip to Hollywood Studios just to experience the new Star Wars land? No, but I could see the appeal.
What Can We Learn From This?
Exposure increases enthusiasm
A customer has to see an ad 7 times before they make a sale. It’s called the Seven Times Factor. Yes, Star Wars is practically omnipresent in American life, but I didn’t really know anything about Galaxy’s Edge aside from it being a ride – Wow, it’s so much more than that – that a Facebook friend of mine is excited about going to.
But at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, not only were there little hints about the new section of the park, but we were also treated to a special stage show, a documentary, rides, and movie exhibits. And I’m sure if we continued to meet some of the characters or through parts of the related exhibits, we would have been told even more about the upcoming park additions.
Visibility that doesn’t feel like marketing works wonders
We’re all really good at knowing when we’re being sold to. Even preschoolers can tell the difference between an advertisement and a regular television show. They may not be able to tell that the goal is to get them to want something (or their parents to buy something), but they recognize the bright colors, fast-talking narrators, and flashing effects as something different than their already very colorful shows and cartoons.
The key is to expose people to your brand or our offerings without beating them over the head with it. Without just shoving it in their face. Customers are people, after all, and people want to be understood, entertained, empathized with, and treated as individuals.
Make it fun
If you can make it fun, even better! The Star Wars productions were engaging. They appealed to the emotions – Disney is king of appealing to emotions and a sense of nostalgia. The actors got people literally cheering in the middle of the park. And, through fun, engaging brand visibility, we all knew who was about to step out when we heard the tell-tale “Dun, dun, dun, dun-dun-dun” theme. And we LOVED it! If you can strike the right fun chord with your customers, they’ll THANK you for selling to them.
Draw people in through emotional connections
I’ve been talking about the emotions and the nostalgia throughout, but it’s SO important that it needs its own section. Emotions drive us to do more than we think. We start and end relationships and friendships with emotion. And guess what? We buy with emotion! If something makes us feel happy, peaceful, excited, romantic, nostalgic, etc…we’re buying it!
If you can tap into that instinctual, emotional part of your customer’s brain – the part that says “buy” first and challenges the logical part of the brain that wants to take more time to consider things second, you’re golden.
So the question is this: Are you ready to take things up a notch? Drop me a line!