Straight Up Brand-Building with Mary Kellogg-Joslyn

Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, co-founder and co-owner of the Titanic Museum Attraction, shares how she creates experiences customers crave.

By Adrienne Donica | Illustration by Heather Kane

May 2017

Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, co-founder and co-owner of the Titanic Museum Attraction, likes to say the people who board her ships in Branson and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, every day come in as guests but walk away as passengers. At the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, the former executive at CBS and Walt Disney Co. shares how she creates experiences customers crave.

“The first thing you have to ask yourself is, ‘What comes first: your employees or your guests?’ And what comes first is your employees. Our communications with our employees and the programs we have for our employees make them happy employees, which in turn makes them happy that our guests are here.”

“I know if somebody understands marketing or not when I ask the following questions: ‘Who do you market to? Who is your customer?’ And if they say to me, ‘Well, you know, we kind of hit everybody,’ then I know they don’t know who their customer is. So the first thing to do is identify who your customer is. If you know your core value and you can market to that first, then you can expand.”

“You have to stay current. If you stay in your own little world, you will never grow.”

“When Walt Disney built Disneyland, he had a vision. He listened to his guests, and he listened to his cast members, and he decided what worked and what didn’t work. So that’s exactly the concept I used. We went to Pigeon Forge, and we started doing the drawings of what we were going to do. I knew the things we should have done better and could develop better, but I listened to my crew, and I listened to my guests, and we made those changes.”

“Every employee and every owner has to be an ambassador of their business. If you have negatives, keep them within your own company and figure out how to fix it. Don’t be out there bashing the company.”

“My job is to make every employee look good. So it doesn’t matter how many vow renewals we do on the Branson staircase, there will be a rehearsal backstage [so] that they feel comfortable. My reward is when people come back and they say, ‘God, your crew is unbelievable.’ That didn’t happen by accident.”