I took my daughter to Disneyland a couple of weeks ago, and the experience got me thinking about branding.
My daughter loves Mickey Mouse and Cinderella. These are the big stars, the main brands. How can the small guys compete with the big names? I’ll get to this question if you have some patience.
We saw Mickey Mouse a couple of years ago. We waited in a very long line in Toontown to meet him. It was a great experience; we got good photos and everyone was very nice. But it was such a long line, and once you get your turn it’s time to rush a new group in.
One year, we accidentally entered a line to meet Tinkerbell. After several minutes and scarcely moving forward, we finally realized the long line wasn’t for a ride and got out of it. This year, there was what looked like a reasonable line to meet Cinderella and other Disney princesses. However, in several minutes we hardly moved at all. Fortunately, my daughter decided that her time would be better spent waiting to go on a ride.
On our way to eat lunch, we saw Tiana. There were only a few other girls in line to see her. My daughter got to see her very quickly. I was really impressed that Tiana sat down to get down to my daughter’s level. She spent good time with her, we got great pictures, and my daughter felt very special to get such personal attention from a princess. Tiana moved way up on my daughter’s list of favorite characters (and mine, too).
We got to see several characters during the parade. Goofy came over and patted my daughter on the head during the parade. He scored major points with us from this simple wow-factor.
This reminds me, if you want to see Donald Duck, Goofy, or Pluto in Toontown, you can very often do so with a very short line. You also see them at other parts of the park from time to time, and they are usually very accessible.
What struck me is that the small guys can compete with the big names. Personal attention, little personal touches, a simple wow-factor – these kinds of things can make a huge, lasting impression.
If you’re one of the small guys (like me), striving to brand your own image, personal interaction is something you can use to help stand apart. Branding is about getting people to remember your name (or the name of your product or business), getting recognized, getting associated with some quality, and the potential for word-of-mouth referrals. Personal interactions with members of your target audience can help to achieve this.
Are you just selling a product? Or are you selling an experience?
Have you ever bought a product from someone where without that interaction you never would have bought that product? Maybe you happened to walk by a shop and noticed it. If it had been a vending machine, you never would have put money into it. But after a nice experience with a sales associate, you made the purchase. Not because the salesperson twisted your arm, but you enjoyed the personal interaction. Has this ever happened to you?
Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers