When Walt Disney was designing his theme parks (primarily Disneyland; he died while Walt Disney World was in the planning stages), he insisted that his Imagineers include a prominent draw down every pathway and corridor:
"What you need is a weenie, which says to people 'come this way.' People won't go down a long corridor unless there's something promising at the end. You have to have something that beckons them to 'walk this way.'"
At Disneyland, the primary weenie is Sleeping Beauty's Castle, a 77-foot Bavarian chateau (based on the real-life Neuschwanstein Castle near Füssen, Germany) that rises high above the surrounding walkways. It's clearly visible from the entrance of the park and serves to guide people down Main Street, USA - the primary entryway - and toward the rest of the park. To those who are visiting for the first time, it's a source of curiosity and awe; to return visitors, it's a reminder not to spend all of their time on Main Street when Tomorrowland and Fantasyland await.
Once you reach the castle, each land has its own smaller weenie as well - the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse in Adventureland, the spires of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland - just visible over the divisions between the areas, and beckoning guests in. And the rides have their own weenies - at It's a Small World, the familiar song is just audible and Mary Blair's bright, vibrant colors catch visitors' eyes, and across the continent in Walt Disney World, the Carousel of Progress visibly turns (even though the ride is an indoor ride; the entire first floor rotates).
What's your weenie? What is it about what you do that gets people's attention and draws them closer? Do you just let your product speak for itself - or do you have something that stands out and makes people curious?
Where is your Neuschwanstein Castle?
Some quick examples of weenies for small online businesses:
- a low-cost sample (for example, The Delightworks Guide to Your Stupid, Crazy, Incredibly Awesome Idea)
- a blog (where you give away enough to make them want more)
- a phone number (my Crossing the Red Line post on IttyBiz has more on that)
- a case study (let people build on "What if?")
- a product funnel (let your smaller products lead into larger products)
Any other thoughts? I'd love to know if you've got any great examples of weenies - in the small business world or elsewhere!
1 http://www.justdisney.com/disneyland/history.html - The story is that Walt invented the term from his memory of luring a dog home with a frankfurter on a string.
The photograph in this post was taken by ZeHawk on Flickr.