Core Marketing Techniques That We Can Learn From Disney

As I was scrolling down my Facebook feed I came across a cute photo of my friend’s daughter. She was dressed up in a cute glittery princess outfit for her birthday. The theme for her birthday was inspired by Disney’s movie Frozen. I haven’t seen the film and even though it was released this past holiday season (almost 6 months ago) I can tell you that I’ve come across the something Frozen related several times. Actually, this happens every time a Disney movie is released. Even if you are like me and don’t have kids running around all day, each time Disney releases a movie you’ll hear about it in some way or another. So, it got me thinking and researching. What lessons can I learn from the way Disney movies are made and advertised? Can I apply them to my business?


What I learned is that they haven’t really done anything out of the ordinary or pulled any marketing tricks. What they have done is use familiar core marketing strategies that have worked for them time and time again.

4 Core Marketing Techniques That You Can Apply to Your Business

Who Are Your Repeat Customers?
You can spend a ton of time and money figuring our your target market. You may just want to focus on what has worked before and go back to the same audience in which you’ve already experienced success. For example, at Garrett Specialties, we have a high rate of repeat customers. We love to service our repeat customers by offering them annual reminders that it’s time to purchase the promotional items again or by giving appreciation discounts. Well, Disney time and time again has given us heart felt princess story’s that have our young girls dancing, twirling and singing along. They know how to reach their young female market.

Reach Adjacent Markets
Have you noticed that movies like Frozen not only attract girls but have the whole family hooked. That’s because Disney knows how to pull in adjacent markets as well. What I mean is while the main focus of the movie is fairly tale princess based, there is almost always a scene in their for the boys too. Usually some sort of action or adventure. They don’t leave out parents either. Have you listened to some of the dialog? I remember watching Shrek for the fist time and laughing my butt off. They throw in jokes geared towards adults. Like Disney, we can consider adjacent markets. Using your main target audience, how can you reach through and expand your market? Maybe you can tweak your strategies and make them unique based on industry. For example, we categorize almost all of the items on our site into an industry. Industry related promotions help you reach your marketing goals.

Find a Promotional Business Partner
Partner with other businesses and come up with a plan to promote each other’s brand. The same way McDonald’s uses Disney toys to sell Happy Meals you can partner with another company and come up with a promotional plan. It’s a win win situation.

Warm and Fuzzy Feeling
Of course, Disney always gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling. You can give your customers that feeling with good service or by showing your good side. Do something positive, give to the community, donate time or money to a charity. It’s a great way to make a lasting impression and reach your client’s hearts.

Watch the movie trailer for Frozen below. Can you see how the 4 core marketing techniques mentioned above are used?

What can you learn about marketing through Disney? What’s your favorite movie and how did it reach it’s target market? Can you take those ideas and apply them to your business?

65 thoughts on “Core Marketing Techniques That We Can Learn From Disney

  1. It’s so true, sticking with the basics pays off and helps to keep us on track. After all, it really is about our repeat customer and the audience they represent. They are the ones who will bring in new customers through the almighty word of mouth. When you add that warm and fuzzy filling to the package, you have a home run, much as Disney does over and over again. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Homemade Candy For Mom: #RecipeMy Profile

  2. Hi Arleen. Disney certainly practices good core marketing techniques. I have been involved in numerous licensing programs with them over a long period and found them consistently professional and lateral
    Paul Graham recently posted…BEST OF THE BBC ?My Profile

  3. So true! Back to basics and it’s really not that hard, right? I had to laugh when I read your comment about Shrek…absolutely loved it but would never have discovered it without my 2-year old great nephew! And it reminded me that in my childhood, my father really loved to watch Fractured Fairy Tales with me. I never understood why until I watched them as an adult! Nothing beats a warm and fuzzy…Disney has that down pat!
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…Happy Mother’s Day… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

  4. Repeat customers is really important. Agree with you that adjacent markets and finding a partner to broaden what you have to offer. Maybe not when it comes to promotions but actually working as a “network company” i.e. you both have your own companies but work together as one and can hence offer something more than you can do individually.
    Catarina recently posted…Is the world heading for patrimonial capitalism?My Profile

  5. Love these insights about the marketing strategy of Disney. We had the chance to see Frozen when visiting my granddaughters a few weeks ago. For me, I thought the story line had some moments in it that escaped real meaning for my 3 and 8 year old granddaughters. In that respect, it makes me think of Disney when I was growing up. Obviously, they are counting on these 2 as repeat customers as they get older.

    Love this post Arleen. Thanks.
    Patricia Weber recently posted…Light up Your Business Meetings the Introvert WayMy Profile

  6. There are so many ways in every aspect of life to make sure we confuse ourselves and complicate the task at hand. Simplicity wins every time. As I am sitting here looking for a new mirrorless camera I am drawn to the marketing that offers me the least complicated approach. I think that should be a life lesson and one that Disney obviously, on the outside, adheres to.
    Tim recently posted…More than a Dry SpellMy Profile

  7. We just watched Frozen this past weekend and I have to say I thought it was lame and boring! My girls are 16 and 19, but that doesn’t stop my husband and I from checking out the latest Disney movies on DVD because we usually enjoy them. Disney has the bucks to hire geniuses in the marketing industry. I must say I do not agree with their decision to collaborate with McDonald’s. Their food is terrible for young people and encouraging parents to take their kids to eat an overly processed, poison piece of chicken is a disgrace. I feel so strongly about healthy food that their marketing expertise does not impress me.
    Laurie Hurley recently posted…How A Root Canal Wrecked My Editorial CalendarMy Profile

  8. Hi Arleen! I have no idea how to market books (which will be my business soon) – but I am going to have to learn! Perhaps I will be able to apply some of your strategies when I do. I think appealing to a teen audience is something Disney is good at (was good at) and I do know that I will have to have help from others (like book bloggers) to help spread the word about my book (my book of short stories will be out soon). As for reaching adjacent markets? I’d love to hear your advice on how to do this, if you have any. Thanks!
    Lorraine Reguly recently posted…What Are YOUR Colours (and what do they say about you)?My Profile

  9. I’m a huge fan of Disney, they are always thinking about their audience. It’s easy to say they have lots of money and so can accomplish a lot, but Disney uses smarts. They were worried about the personal brand of their actors long before the rest of us even knew what personal brand was and they have always understood that kids don’t go to movies by themselves. We had a Barney free zone when my children were growing up because the makers of that dinosaur never worked out that mom and dad had to tolerate the show too.

    Disney even changed how princesses behaved when they realized that the damsel in distress routine didn’t stand a chance against the likes of, The Paper Bag Princess. Little girls wanted to ride to the rescue, get dirty and have adventures, so Disney gave them Shrek’s Fiona and many more. Great post!
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Etiquette – Things You Learned in KindergartenMy Profile

    • Debra- It is just like packaging for a dog product. The dog has no idea what it looks like, but the owners do. Disney markets as you say not only to kids but to the parents. It also gives the parents something to talk about with their children after they see the movie and it is continued with the partners. I know we are not Disney but we can create what our customer’s want.
      Arleen recently posted…Core Marketing Techniques That We Can Learn From DisneyMy Profile

  10. Unlike disney we (meaning me or bloggers) have to use social media to remind those who wanted to come back to our sites but got busy and forgot. I am struggling with finding a way to get people to subscribe to my site. If I could figure that out then i could get more repeat customers than I have now. This is great information. thanks for sharing

  11. I’m always impressed with how Disney markets their movies, but I also think one of the keys is having a truly wonderful product. The buzz will die out if there’s not something to back it up when the consumers who first try it aren’t impressed enough to add word-of-mouth to the arsenal. Frozen is one of those rare movies that lives up to the hype. 🙂
    Meredith Wouters recently posted…Spring Leaf PaletteMy Profile

  12. Walt Disney is a perfect example of not only an entertainment genius, but also a marketing trailblazer. Many feel if alive today, the Disney company might be more aggressive in choosing projects, and possibly even more effective marketing. However, my favorite movie is Independence Day. As a young salesperson I adopted the strategy of the aliens in that movie: huge attack in the beginning and then prepare to attack on the smaller scale.
    Edward Reid recently posted…Does Michael Jackson’s Music Need An Update?My Profile

  13. Disney does a great job. They know their customers very well. By targeting children they have fans/business for life. I am working on trying to get more customers and also provide that warm and fuzzy feeling.
    Jason B recently posted…May UpdatesMy Profile

  14. I haven’t seen Frozen yet either, but am intrigued that Disney is finally putting out more princess stories where the princesses don’t need to be rescued by a man. The best cartoons really are the ones that contain something for all audience segments. Toy Story 3 had really dark undertones, but still appealed to kids as well. The narrative layers in the Lego Movie were pretty impressive as well. Eventually, I hope to find that sort of sweet spot in my creative writing–to appeal to readers who love the craft but to also appeal to readers who read mostly for plot.
    Jeri recently posted…The Legend of King Arthur: When #Fiction is the Greater TruthMy Profile

  15. What a great analogy – the core techniques you note are very appropriate, and we use association in all kinds of ways to draw readers or customers back. Disney has it hands down on the fuzzy feelings and engaging the whole family. McDonalds taps into the same strategy to a certain extent, tho that has also backfired a little with them as people are more concerned with obesity in children. Good post Arleen Thank you:-)
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…Kickstart Your #Flash Fiction With #PhotoFlashMy Profile

  16. Very good insights there Arleen. Disney definately mastered the art of marketing. I like adjacent marketing, where something targeted at a specfic market appeals to various other markets as well and will not make them feel left out.

  17. Hi Arleen. Disney it’s one of the greatest companies practicing very good core marketing techniques. My favourite company ever in the marketing field is Coca Cola, simply the best!

  18. Hi Arleen,

    It is so true. Our repeat customers deserve our full attention. As for Disney, they sure know what they are doing, targeting the entire family unit.

    They always have that warm fuzzy feeling attached to their movies. They just don’t reach out for little girls and fairy princesses, but appeal to some action oriented themes for the little boy crowd too. And of course, their back end products must be included.

    Looking at Disney and the way they make and market their products, is a great way to emulate ours. Why re invent the wheel?

    Great post!

    donna merrill recently posted…Persistence For Online SuccessMy Profile

  19. Hey Arleen,

    I’ve heard so much about that movie but never even watched the trailer. What an adorable movie but Disney is so good at bringing us such entertaining pieces. Makes me want to see it now.

    I agree with your list and I did notice them in the trailer. Let’s face it, who has not seen a Disney movie ever? Okay, we’re not talking about newborns either now. I’m all about repeat customers and giving them what they want. We all know how word of mouth can spread like wildfire and bring in so many new people to our business just because they heard about us from a friend.

    Really great list and you always are showing us how life relates to business. Dang, you’re just so good at that Arleen!

    Adrienne recently posted…Walking On The Blog (Wild) SideMy Profile

    • Adrienne- There is nothing like word of mouth. The movie Frozen you hear people talking about from kids to adults you love the music, etc. That is what we want in business is to have our customers refer us.
      Thank you for compliment. I try to be different and I think it is working.
      Arleen recently posted…How Mentally Strong People Run the WorldMy Profile

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