Posts Tagged ‘Disney’


September 14, 2015

In our busy lives, we touch so many products and services, we are bound to call, email, or chat with those businesses (perhaps your business) for help with directions, questions, and problems we are having. Over the past several months, I’ve had more than my share of interactions with customer service departments. Here are the 10 most important lessons I learned:

  1. Don’t Leave Customers On Hold – If the government knows this, why don’t we? When your customer service lines, live chat, or even in-person CS desk starts to stack up, offer customers the option for a callback. It really makes all the difference. Even the IRS does this!
  2. Ask For A Callback Number – Great way to get permission to follow-up, can be used to identify the customer in the future, and of course gives you a way to call the customer back if you get disconnected. If you haven’t already, you should read this by Seth Godin, his first big hit…
  3. Ask How To Pronounce The Customers Name (and what they prefer to be called) – Calling someone by his or her name makes a big difference.
  4. Listen Carefully To Your Customer’s Questions and Concerns – Although many customer issues can be very similar, every customer is unique, and so are their concerns. It isn’t enough to say; “I understand” from a script. Sure there are tricks like repeating back what the customer said, but without authenticity, it feels hollow. Disney rocks it here!
  5. If Transferring To Another Representative, Stay On The Line Until That Connection Is Made – My bank (Wells Fargo) does a great job with this. It makes the customer feel safe and shows you care.
  6. Don’t Script Everything For Your Reps – A simple example, delivering a rehearsed apology without real knowledge of what you are sorry about is worse than not saying you’re sorry at all.
  7. Train, Don’t Just Script – Go to the Genius Bar in an Apple retail store and you will see and feel what good training will do. Knowledge of a product or service is everything. Spend the money to train your staff properly.
  8. Follow-up – So easy to do, yet so few of us do it. Make sure you have resolved your customer’s question or concern. It can be as simple as an email. Less than a minute. Asus makes the best routers, their customer service is amazing, and they followed-up to make sure everything was straight.
  9. Keep Your Promise – If you say you will call on a specific day, do that. If you promise to have your customer’s issue resolved by Friday, make sure that happens.
  10. Don’t Reward Only New Customers – I’m an AT&T and DirecTV customer, and have been for many years (been through several name changes with AT&T…remember Cingular, AT&T Mobility). AT&T is running a promotion with DirecTV but the small writing in their TV ad says “DirecTV new customers only”. Rewarding loyal customers will get you far.

When is the last time you went through your own customer service process? If you haven’t lately, do it now! You may be shocked at what you find, and remember, the customer service team should be a big marketing advantage for you. Want to create a message for your customers to spread? Solve a problem for them. Exceed their expectations. The money will come.





March 8, 2012

Have you ever seen the movie The Player (great film)?  Tim Robbins plays a movie exec (Griffin Mill) that accidentally kills a struggling screen writer he believes is sending him harassing postcards. 

In a creative meeting, Larry Levy, a competitor of Robbins’ character at the studio played by Peter Gallagher suggests that movies can “write themselves” and ideas can come from anywhere…even newspaper headlines.  Gallagher’s character then asks those sitting around a conference table to start reading headlines from the day’s paper aloud, giving movie premises for each (e.g. Bonnie & Clyde meets Driving Miss Daisy…).  Of course it isn’t as easy as Larry Levy would suggest, and in the end, the studio ends-up paying the $1 million a script Levy said wasn’t neededed…even as a bribe to keep the person who actually did write the post cards from talking (his script was based on Robbins’ character killing the struggling screen writer). Live entertainment and events are different.  You can harvest concepts from what’s right in front of you.  Here are four places to start.

TV – For years, television has brought their act on the road.  Recently we have seen tours from American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance (who should also do a dance camp for fans), and Glee.  Culinary stars Guy Fieri, Anthony Bourdain, and Paula Deen (to name a few) have created real businesses through their live performances. There are even popular attractions in Vegas like the CSI Experience and Price Is Right where guests become part of the shows. And there are still an infinite number of ideas out there.  Just take the shows with the word “War (s)” in them for instance. 

How about Neighborhood Cupcake Wars or Storage Wars Showdown?  You could have a Whale Wars educational tour presented by Greenpeace.  AND if someone doesn’t produce a Project Runway tour for the fashion industry, I’m going to (in fact email me @ 

FILM Spider-Man, Shrek and several of Disney’s movies are on Broadway.  Batman will be coming to an arena near you.  Feld Entertainment has been entertaining girls and their moms for decades with Disney On Ice.  Music peeps (Gregg Perloff and Spencer Churchill) produced Star Wars: In Concert.  So what’s your idea? Maybe Stunts and Gadgets of 007, orCREATURES OF HORROR (highlighting the best movie monsters)?

MAGAZINES/PRINTRolling Stone has had their name attached to college tours for years.  American Express Publishing (Food & Wine Magazine) owns upscale culinary events like the Aspen Food & Wine Classic.  Fortune and Forbes have put their name behind many financial conferences and gatherings (e.g. Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit is in its 14th year).  A story in March 5th’s Advertising Age titled “Events businesses are paying off for publishers” shows the profits publishers are making from their Live Entertainment extensions (included Fortune, Time, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, O Magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Times and Vice Media).  Shoot I’ve even developed the Jeep World Outside Festival with Outside Magazine that played 23-cities in 5-weeks. 

Let’s come up with ideas for publications…Men’s Health’s Adventure Days (could promote with Living Social, etc), Vogue Presents “What To Wear”, Cosmopolitan’s Secrets To Relationships, or People Magazines’ Celebrity Photo Gallery.

BRANDSNike does their Run Hit Wonder. Vans own a large piece of the Warped TourHeineken has sponsored many music festivals including their own. Almost every automobile manufacturer has “ride-n-drive” events.  This is Branded Live Entertainment at its best. 

Sears’ Craftsman Tools should start the Ultimate Handyman Show (like a home show hosted by their stars Ty Pennington and Bob Vila)… or based on their rank as the number one seller of exercise equipment, perhaps partner with NBC’s The Biggest Loser for a health expo?  Brands should also go outside their box.  For instance Coke has always put their brand behind sporting events.  Why not Coca-Cola’s Sports Fantasy Camps?

Please share your ideas.  There are plenty of places to mine from.

Live Entertainment Advertising

February 27, 2012

Do you think live entertainment advertising and marketing creative materials makes a difference?  

Lori (my wife) and I were watching TV a few weeks ago when a Harlem Globetrotters spot came on.  I asked her what she thought compared to the other commercials that ran during the same break.  Lori’s gut reaction, “does it matter?” 

Well of course it matters, doesn’t it? Next I asked Lori if she thought Apple’s ads matter. She said that “Apple is different”.  Why?  According to what I read, it was a TV commercial “1894” (along with their products of course) that really put the computer maker on the map.  Today, their ads touch an emotional chord with fans and non-fans alike…and so should ours!

Watch and listen to movie trailers (TV, Radio, etc) like this .  They are well done, explain what the viewer will see (action, drama, suspense), how they will feel (romance, fear, fun), what they will do (laugh, cry, cheer), and what they will hear (music, laughter, sound effects).  In theatres and the web where there is a captured audience, studios let their products do the talking for them

For the most part, live entertainment ads are more like announcements that are supposed to inform guests with the who, what, and when…rather than what the guest may actually experience .  Check-out Disney’s simple video on their site  Guests are experiencing the brand in Times Square. 

We don’t need the budgets of Disney or the movie studios to create great creative.  Instead just think of the fan…what do they want…then give it to them.


A mutual friend of many of us owns a successful Social Media company.  I asked for advice on how to make the newsletter, twitter feeds, etc, better.  “Write more… and find your voice” were the two big things I took away.  So expect more newsletters in your inbox as we work to find our voices together.


November 6, 2011

The Steve Jobs book is having a big effect on my thinking lately.  There’s a quote from Jobs about halfway through that hits like a sledgehammer.  “In the end, you just don’t want someone else to control a big part of user experience.”  In Live Entertainment, that’s all we do…with a few exceptions.

The talent/artist/act/athlete/producer/director has their vision and from there, the watering down begins.  Costs play the biggest role in diluting the message.  The show needs a place to play (w/ venue ops people, box office, security, ticket takers, ushers, parking attendants, customer service, etc, all between the show and guest) , marketing, ticketing, production and design, crew, etc, which can all have negative impacts…yet can be cost prohibitive to carry.  Cirque du Soleil has their touring shows in tents and the others, installs/sit-downs (Vegas, NY, LA, etc) where they can transform and control the environment.

Disney is similar in wanting control of the experience.  With Broadway, the theme parks, cruise ships, adventures and vacations, guests are coddled from the first interaction. The exception would be Feld Entertainment’s Disney On Ice which is a license that has been in place for decades. 

So what do we do?  It needs to start with a hybrid model.  Let’s use Feld as an example. 

Tickets are sold, mostly through Ticketmaster rather than Disney or Feld’s own ticketing.  This is necessitated by the multiple venues the show plays under contract (although Feld does have their own promoter agreements with TM).  The same with ticket takers, security, ushers, box office, etc.  Yet Feld does promote the shows internally (w/ help from venue marketing), caries production, crew, performers…and their own merch and concession operations and sales people (to the dismay of venues around the world).

Take a look at your upcoming projects and find every touch point with guests that you can take control of.  Apple, along with Disney and Cirque believe in the end-to-end user experience.  You should too. 

Aspen Update – The 16th Annual Aspen Live Conference is filling up like it hasn’t in years.  At this point, The St. Regis, Aspen is completely sold-out.  There are still Grand Deluxe rooms available at the Limelight Hotel.  Please go to and register today.


April 26, 2011

My whole family’s favorite show is Family Guy.   We even let our 11-year old watch.  If you are one of the few who haven’t seen the show, you must.  It is the funniest most creative show on television.  In fact, you should start watching a lot of TV (if you don’t already) these days as that seems to be where the creativity is.  Just look at how many shows from TV have turned into live events and tours (Glee, Idol, Dancing w/the Stars, X-Games, Hanna Montana, Cheetah Girls, etc)Selena Gomez star of Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place is doing good business in the sheds this summer but paid her dues doing a TV show rather than banging it out on the road.

As a network, Fox seems to be more open to extending their brands off the small screen than others.  But as it relates to Family Guy, all the shots are called by Seth MacFarlane, the show’s creator, writer and star.  Seth is a creative genius who uses animated characters to say things most of us think.  He pushes the envelope and we should all be trying to not just emulate what he is doing, but to get Seth over to the dark side…live entertainment.

In the past, Seth and company have done a few “Family Guy Live” events…but just a few.  They were instant sell-outs.  Trying to get an opening in Seth’s schedule big enough to take a show on the road seems to be nearly impossible based on all the projects he is involved with yet we must try.  We wouldn’t necessarily need him to go on the road as Seth could look at producing new events…although touring “Family Guy Live” is a dream. 

Turn on your TV.  There are ideas everywhere.



September 17, 2009

For those of you who read Lefsetz, you may remember a few years ago when he wrote about our discussions at the Aspen Live Conference regarding a Season’s Pass to rock clubs.  In fact, Don Strasburg from AEG in Denver actually tried the idea out with a limited number of passes at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO (Bob wrote about that too).  The passes sold-out as soon as Don’s team put them up on the club’s website.  In Aspen, the big questions were “what will the agents and managers say…and how do those tickets count towards the show gross.”  Those were the exact reasons why Don only sold a limited number of passes at the Fox.  He didn’t want to make things messy but wanted to try the experiment for us. 

So, now Live Nation is doing it in their smaller rooms.  $49.99 gets you into all shows to Live Nation clubs (it will be limited to one club in each market) from now through the end of the year (roughly 3-months).  This fee does not include parking according to what I’ve read on Pollstar Online.  Obviously, someone spoke with someone before pulling the trigger on this…but there is a lot of screaming going on right now.  Me, I think even if Live Nation did it for the most selfish reasons imaginable, it is good for our business…and great for Live Nation!

Here is my case.

  1. The program will hopefully fill the clubs which is good for the acts and LN
  2. LN said that when they went into the ticketing business they would share data with the artists…This could be a great way for artists to reach out to fans too
  3. Hopefully the price point turns someone onto live music that might not otherwise (for the price of going to the movies a few times, I can see 4 of my favorite bands)
  4. It is the fourth quarter…everyone could use a bump (no not that kind)
  5. The program is only 3-months…so a good test period without giving the store away
  6. LN says that the Passports are competing with hard ticket sales but I bet there is a way around that for artists that will sell-out quickly…I believe we call that the pre-sale
  7. The clubs, artists and thus the business are getting a free ride on the press that LN is generating…how are you going to take advantage of that

It will be interesting to see how the business feels when the dust settles, but I’m going to go out on a limb now and say you will all be happy about it…and will start to emulate what Live Nation did.  The “Season’s Pass” is here to stay!  Everyone in Live Entertainment should follow the lead of the amusement parks.  If Disney can figure out a way to make money with it, so can you. 

Aspen Live Room Registration Open

This year’s Aspen Live Conference, December 10-12,  is really about the Live Entertainment Industry getting together.  There will be no official meetings or speakers planned…at least for now.  We will send out more information about the program as we get closer in.  For now what you need to know is that room registration at the St. Regis, Aspen is now open…and we have held very few of them.  If you would like to reserve a room at our conference rate of $260 per night, please follow the information below. 

A personalized Web site for ASPEN LIVE occurring
(December 09, 2009 – December 13, 2009) has been created for you.

Guests can access the site to learn more about the event and to book,
modify, or cancel a reservation from September 17, 2009 to December 16, 2009.

Below you will find the appropriate link for participants to access the site:


 Guests can also make reservations by calling the Hotel directly at 970-920-3300 or 888-454-9005 and reference that you would like to make a reservation under the Aspen Live Ski Weekend group.

Speak with you soon…



April 18, 2009

Albertsons’ grocery stores have been running ads for their new 4:15 Dinner Plans (Dinner for 4 for under $15 dollars).  This is a great program!  It’s easy for consumers to understand; and on a busy schedule, a great way to help shoppers make purchase decisions not only on where to shop, but what to shop for.  Couldn’t we do the same thing in Live Entertainment?

Six Flags amusement parks are trying with “buy one day’s admission and get the entire year for free.”  Although the right thought (Disney and Universal Parks do the same) Six Flags is closing-in on Chapter 11.  What are they doing wrong???  It must be customer experience!

Go to a Six Flags park and you will understand their problems immediately….as soon as you get to the front gates.  Why are there lines to take people’s money?  Those that should be the most well trained…the staff that first makes contact with guests, are holding everything up by not knowing how to work the equipment properly or understanding what consumer’s options are… and don’t care how long you have been waiting.  From there you can go to food selection and price, chewing gum stuck everywhere on every ride, and employees that either didn’t want to be there or were more interested in picking up the opposite sex than doing their jobs. 

I do believe Live Nation has a program where music fans get  tickets, hot dogs, and drinks for one price…but don’t believe they run those promotions until a show is in trouble (I could be wrong).  We all have some homework to do.  There is no reason the Live business should be out promoted by grocery store chains.  Let’s hear some of your ideas.  Promotions that are easy for fans to understand, fit into their busy schedules…and of course don’t cost a lot.  Maybe instead of the 4:15 plan, we go up to  4:20!!!

Speak with you soon…