A Fairy Tale In How NOT To Sell – Disney Style

How NOT To Sell - Disney Style


I’ve recently got back from a brilliant holiday in Florida with Michele and the girls.

It was fab.

And as you can imagine, the highlight of the trip for Isabella and Jemima was the time we spent at Disney.

Upon entering the Magic Kingdom we had just three goals for the day:

  • 1. Visit Ariel’s grotto for a family photo
  • 2. The Little Mermaid Ride (Isabella’s favourite)
  • 3. The Peter Pan Ride (Jemima’s favourite)

And thanks to Disney’s slick processes and systems, the big queues I’d expected didn’t materialise and we’d actually achieved these three things before lunch.

So far so good…

Then, to my surprise, things took an unexpected turn.

First there was the miserable, sour-faced balloon seller who declined to speak with my girls.

Followed by the truly eye-opening experience surrounding lunch.

So sit yourself comfortably and I’ll reveal this not so happily ever after!


Wowing your customers


Whilst we were in the Little Mermaid’s Grotto I overheard the little girl in front ask Ariel if she’d be there at lunch. Ariel replied beautifully; “If I can persuade Daddy to give me legs for the afternoon, I’ll be there”.

It turned out the girl was referring to the daily lunch at the Disney Castle with all the princesses – something I knew my girls would absolutely love. And so I set out to discover more and book us in.


Don’t assume what’s important to your customers


I arrived at the restaurant at 11:55. There were three families in front of me and behind the service counter sat two woman. The older of the two looked pretty intimidating whilst the younger faffed and kept turning to her colleague to ask what she should say to customers. Not a good sign!

But the response was even more shocking…

“Just tell them the cost”…


Are you selling a commodity or added value?


As you can imagine the conversations taking place in front of me were short and stark. People were told the price and then walked away.

I quickly reached the front of the queue and was served by the older of the two service staff. I told her I wanted to find out about having lunch with the princesses and predictably she said;

“Do you know how much it is?”

I said “no” and she replied. “It’s $180 for four people” (that’s about £120).

Now on the surface this sounds a lot – for lunch.

BUT here’s the thing, I wasn’t paying for lunch – I was paying for a 1 off experience that would blow my little girls minds.

Also included though were:

  • Guaranteed, 1 on 1 time with each Disney Princess
  • No restrictions on photos
  • A professional photograph session with Cinderella including prints
  • A 3-course meal
  • Unlimited drinks

PLUS boys get a sword and girls get a wand for the wishing star ceremony. Cool!

When you factor in all that additional value, the seemingly high price tag became an absolute bargain.

Fortunately for me, the two sales reps had done such a good job at scaring away the three families in front by focusing solely on the price that I was able to claim the last table. And it turned out to be the highlight of the day – and the holiday.

In fact, despite spending a mere 6-hours of our two week break at Disney, as far as my kids were concerned, we went on holiday to Disney and not Florida.


So what does this mean for your business?


I’ve noticed a lot of business owners get really hung up on price because they wrongly assume it’s a key determining factor for their customers.

In reality, price driven customers are often the hardest to please and the least loyal. What’s more, your ideal customer is probably far more interested in the value you add and not how little you’re going to charge.

It means when positioning your business, always find something other than price to differentiate yourself. Price is a very poor USP because someone will always undercut you. In addition, if the conversation is all about price, you’ll struggle to communicate the value that price may be concealing.

Instead position your business so it becomes hard for consumers to directly compare you with your competitors.

  • Big up your customer service
  • Hone in on a very specific group of clients
  • Offer a guarantee that puts you in a category of one or
  • Specialise in a particular service within a wider offering

In turn you’ll find it far easier to market your service and you’ll save time by ensuring you can create a highly targeted marketing message to a very specific group of people.

Those two customer service staff were losing Disney a lot of sales. I saw just three families turned off in about 90 seconds – how many others had they scared away during the day?

Don’t make the same mistake they did.

Instead, when dealing with your customers, ensure you get your focus right and don’t assume price will be the determining factor as it could cause you to lose out too.

But what do you think? Please let me know in the comments below.

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