My Walt Disney days, would easily be among the most cherished years of my working career. A truly great company, the Indian entity was just about finding feet when I joined them. I was part of the marketing unit, trying various new things, including having Disney characters speak Hindi and Telugu. Odd as it may sound, with the Disney channel not in India, as yet, the option was to air our programs on DD, Zee and ETV. They were profitable, out of the box ideas, that introduced the world’s most adorable fictional characters to India. The Disney experience among other taught me very important life lessons. In retrospect, it was also this stint that perhaps gave me the courage to pursue quizzing as a profession.
Brand Relevance to market
Often, as a marketing person, I wondered if we even required a team to sell Disney. The power of building great brands is that it attracts business and people want to spend money with you to merely celebrate the association. However, as I started out, the realities were very different. Soon, I was to learn that a global brand need not have the same ‘revenue magnetism’ across geographies, even if the recall is very high. This learning made us adapt to the local market requirements and channels that we were on, which perhaps explains why Donald Duck had to learn Hindi or Telugu.
Never discount your brand value
It was difficult to get advertising revenues. The temptation to discount was high. However, Disney had strong guidelines when it came to pricing. You can add value to your customer but not drop prices was the clear dictum. This lesson has stood by me ever since. If you start discounting your brand at some stage you will only be marketing ‘rate cards’ and not creating long lasting brand associations.
Entertainment and Engagement as learning tools
Coming from a pure media background, I always viewed entertainment as entertainment. Disney taught me the power of entertainment and engaging people beyond mere entertainment. It also made me understand when people enjoy what they experience they remember it far longer. This became the pillar stone of what we do at Greycaps. We treat our quiz shows and the books we publish as learning platforms and deliver them with high entertainment and engagement value.
Identify your ‘core’ and work around it
The characters of Disney are the core of their business, but business per say comes from how these characters are leveraged. It teaches you how not to be stuck with just your core but look around it. If we, at Greycaps, had stuck to our core, we would have been a mere quiz company, hosting shows. Today, we are a significant partner for schools in the knowledge space, with over quarter million children reading our books annually. Working around the core is an important lesson especially for startups.
The power of refusing business
In India, you rarely said no to business that came your way. We still don’t. Disney was very clear as a company that it would not accept business for clients that did not have synergy with the audience it catered to or at terms that were not common to all clients. For a nation so fond of ‘special and exclusive’ deals, it sure was an effort to sell, but over time the clients take you very seriously and respect you.
Apart from the above, the most profound lesson I learnt was from a senior executive of the company, who once told me ‘What we do brings our expertise to the table, but how we go about doing it creates the experience. The former gets you a sale, the latter - repeat sales’. Give this a deep thought as you do something new from the new year.
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