How to Train Your Dragon – Are You Exceeding Expectations in Your Business?

My mouth is still open. On the floor.  Completely gobsmacked.  Yesterday I saw the Greatest Show on Earth.  Stay with me.  I will explain.  Actually…… just watch this video. Then my words may not be so necessary


“How to Train Your Dragon – Arena Spectacular” was exceptional.  And now let me tell you why (as if you need any more convincing).  

Before I go on about How to Train Your Dragon – Arena Spectacular and how fabulous the production was, I need to tell warn you, that I am a huge Disney Fan going way back to my childhood. Even as an 18 year old I couldn't get enough of Disneyland and went to the park for 3 days running on a trip to the States. So that should paint a little picture about my childlike anticipation about all things animated, mysterious and full of wonderment.  Same goes for Disney Pixar.  And Steven Spielberg.  Dreamworks Animation Studio and all that Mr Spielberg and his team do, quite frankly, has me at the opening credits every time.  Their efforts on How to Train Your Dragon are no exception.  Yes, I was a card-carrying ET fan, and I always will be.  So, why do I love them them all? Because in the words of Walt Disney, they “exceed expectations” (more of that later).  I never come away from any products from any of these amazing companies without a little wow factor and a little something more than I expected….actually a LOT more.

Exceed your clients expectations
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This was me yesterday. Excited much... with childlike anticipation.

But what did make me exceedingly proud is that my glowing praise for this production (as wonderful as Mr Spielberg and his team are) largely lies with an Australian Company.  Yes.  An Australian Company. The same company that made “Walking with Dinosaurs” the no 1 Touring Hit around the world has played a massive part in this production by designing and building the animatronic dragons for How to Train Your Dragon.  They are called the Creature Technology Company. And they rock. Part of the Global Creatures Group, these very clever people have been working on this production for more than 4 years. And this was not some tail-end Australian Premiere. This was the World Premiere.  Like I said.  Proud Aussie.

It is a production not to be missed, with:

  1. the back wall being made up of 9 (yes 9!) movie size screens combined (not to mention the fact that the entire set , the arena, is the size of a FOOTBALL field).  It's the biggest darn powerpoint display I have ever seen. With so many cinematic options, Dragons has you flying through mountain ranges, dropping to the bottom of the ocean and engaged in battles that fully immerse the whole audience.
  2. 25 dragons, yes, some of them fire breathing, with full facial expressions, and the most sophisticated animatronics ever seen. Yes, I connected emotionally with a fake dragon. I admit it. But then, what is not possible when the 1.6 tonne dragon consists of 24 microprocessors to control movement, 15 hydraulic rams (whatever they are), 6 hydraulic motors, 7 kilowatts of power, takes 3 months to build with 25 people working on it and requires 3 people to operate it – a driver (lying almost flat in the base of the dragon), a lead pupeteer controlling the main body and an auxiliary puppeteer remotely controlling the mouth and facial expressions as well as sound (these random bits of trivia are all courtesy of the program guide, which I highly recommend purchasing at the show if you have children in your house!).  My son has been engrossed in dragon stats ever since.  Oh let's face it. I wanted the program.  More than I have ever wanted a Mary Poppins, Cats or Phantom of the Opera Program.  I simply had to know how they made those flippin' dragons work!
  3. 50 model makers, designers, artists, dragon skin fabricators (did you know that was a career?) and technicians taking over 2 years to bring the dragons to life (and I say life rather openly….they do appear quite real!).
  4. 80 cast and crew
  5. flying dragons. Yes, with all of the above set not being enough, they also fly.  If you were ever a kid wanting to be in a show or production, I would hazard a guess that this one would be the holy grail!  All of this is completed by amazing special effects combined with sensational cable aerial acrobatics.

Phew.  Like I said. Gobsmacked.

The only thing that brought me out of my fantasy bubble during the show was my little girl asking repeatedly “Where's Toothless” as she showed her concern that her favourite dragon was not in every scene and something had happened to him!

So, what has this to do with business? Well, quite frankly a lot. But I do admit, that I really did just want to write about my experience yesterday, that is true. But there is a message from all of this.

No matter what business you are in, the one thing that you can always do to ensure that people walk away talking about you (excitedly!) can be taken from Walt Disney's famous quote:

“Our aim should always be to exceed our Guest's expectations”   Walt Disney

You may have heard this quote before and often it is quoted as “exceed expectations” but there is something that can be missed by focusing on just a few words from this powerful phrase.  What can be missed is the word: ALWAYS.  If you are consistently focusing on exceeding expectations in your business then you will move from having happy customer to “raving, purchasing, referring happy customers”.  It is the consistency of your service that sets you apart from other businesses – who may spring a promotion once a year or hold a client appreciation day once in a blue moon. Your day to day service, and the value you provide, will set you apart as a business.

It can be in the way you act, the way you provide customer service, the follow up phone call, email or mail; the acts of appreciation, the quality of the content you provide and the value that you give. It is often the little things that count.  I have posted about this before. If you know your values, your clients values, and you provide MASSIVE value, then you will be very likely to exceed their expectations. Exceeding expectations is a great way to ensure that your customers not only buy your products and services, but they return for more….bringing all of their friends with them.

In your business think about this one thing: How can I ensure that this person walks away from my place of business feeling like they got more than they came for?  How can I help this person move from being a client or customer, to a raving, referring brand advocate for my business. The answer is the same regardless of whether we are talking about in-person interactions, phone calls or social media.  The answer? Exceed their expectations.

You may not have your own Global Creatures crew working with you to create magic, but you would be surprised how many tools you have at your disposal. And hey, if you get nothing else out of this article, then just be sure to go and see How to Train Your Dragon. I guarantee it will exceed your expectations.

Have you received customer service, experienced a product or had an experience with a business that exceeded your expectations (making you want to tell others about it). Give them a plug here!  And if you have seen How to Train Your Dragon or Walking with Dinosaurs, tell me what you thought!

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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About in 2019". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes and Entrepreneur Online and she is a contributor to Social Media Examiner. Donna speaks about digital and visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.
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  1. Katie

    Donna, I totally agree!! Funny – I am learning about expectations for the umpteenth time! Every (and I mean every) marketing subject that I have done at Uni – stresses the need for business to appreciate the consumers, increase satisfaction, and to leave the consumer with the warm and fuzzies – which obviously you experienced with the Dragon! What is also interesting is – I have learnt that sometimes the satisfaction level can be ‘too much’. When consumers receive absolute delight….the company will be expected to perform to this standard each and every time! Lucky for you – Walt Disney knows how to do this!!!

    • Donna Moritz

      Thanks Katie and I hope you are not too sick of hearing about expectations after all the Uni subjects ha ha. You have made a great point though – you do need to obviously “scale” your customer service in some instances, so that you have a next level to take it to. In the case of Disney, that next level is the difference between a massive theme park or production such as “Dragon” but in the real world for small businesses it can be a sliding scale from a smile and a handshake to a follow up call to a thank you gift for referral and so on and so on. The little things can be just as impressive, and at the end of the day the customer wants to know that you care about them and their desires or problems. So yes, I think you made an excellent point, and having a next level to go to is always worthwhile (and keeps the element of surprise coming too). But in the case of Disney, Dreamworks etc, I think they will always find a way to completely wow their customers!


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