When Mr. Ed Crossed the Mob

“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”
– Vito Corleone

For any Godfather fans out there, who can forget the scene where Vito tells his Godson, Johnny Fontaine, that he’ll make Mr. Woltz – the big shot studio owner – give him the lead role in the upcoming war movie he was crying about (and got slapped for good measure for doing so).

Tom Hagen, Vito’s adopted son, flies out to California, meets Mr. Woltz and promises many good things if Mr. Woltz will do the favour and give his godson the part in the movie.

Mr. Woltz refuses due to a personal issue with Johnny and throws Tom out.

.. a few days later Vito receives a big bouquet of flowers as a thank you gift from Johnny for winning the role.

Tom and Vito knew their audience (Mr. Woltz) and how to persuade him to say yes.

So why did Mr. Woltz change his mind?

Threats? Nope. They did not bring a gun or threaten to shoot him because both he and they knew that it would bring a ton of heat and do much more harm than good.

Money? You know…throw a lot of money at the problem and buy the favour?… nope, Mr. Woltz was bitter because Johnny had stolen one of his leading ladies and wouldn’t listen to any offers of money. This was very personal.

Mr Ed? Bingo.

(For those of you who do not know.. Mr. Ed was a famous 1950s TV show back in the day about a talking horse called Ed).

Mr. Woltz’s prize possession, what he was most passionate about, was the stud in his stables, a beautiful horse.

The next morning, Mr Woltz woke up to find his satin sheets covered in blood and the head of his beloved horse, cut clean off, at his feet.

The horse was his core desire.

And cutting its head off forced him to listen and grant the favour Vito wanted.

Poor Mr. Ed.
And yes an extreme example.. as cutting off horses’ heads is not a viable customer acquisition strategy.

But a great example of knowing your audience, identifying what they cared most about and finding a solution to tap into it.

(Yes…I’m pushing it a bit too much with this example but you get the idea)…

Now back to reality.

You can see how some of the most successful companies are experts at knowing their audience and solving their core issues.

For example, Disney amusement parks.

Vance Morris, who I met in Brian Kurtz’s online Titans Mastermind Group, is an ex-Disney employee who owns several businesses, including consulting on how to deliver a superior “Disney Like” customer experience.

He tells the story of how, when he ran one of Disney’s themed restaurants, he made it the most profitable restaurant in all of Disney’s properties by knowing the audience and providing a superior experience.

For example, he gathered all the staff together and choreographed Mickey Mouse’s ability to walk through a restaurant of 400 patrons, meet and greet everyone, take pictures, provide memories, and do it efficiently enough that the tables could turn and 400 more patrons could come in shortly afterwards.

He found the perfect balance of providing a great experience while also being efficient and profitable.

Patrons were happy because they and the children took pictures with Mickey. They didn’t feel rushed or neglected.

Disney was happy because the tables turned quickly, customers left happy, and it was all very profitable.

Now if only Mr. Woltz had understood his audience…


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