Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

We all have heard of the salesperson who can sell ice to an Eskimo. I can trump that. I’ve sold poo on a stick to tourists and had them lining up for more.

It’s all in the marketing. Marketing isn’t rocket science, but to do it effectively you need to know what will sell, where to sell it and how to make the sale.

I learned that while working a summer job during my college days. I was the tourist information person at the Lincoln Monument rest area just off Interstate 80 between Laramie and Cheyenne. From my perch on a high stool behind a big desk, I could see tourists when they pulled into the parking lot. As Casey Stengel noted, I observed a lot by watching.

The routine was unchanging. Tourists parked their vehicles, did a quick count to ensure all the kids were accounted for, got out, stretched, scratched, checked for their purse or wallet, then headed my way. They were firing questions even before they entered my domain. Where’s the restroom? Do you have a pop machine? What are those white rocks on those mountains way off in the distance? What color uniforms do cattle guards wear?

Do you have any souvenirs for sale?

Restrooms are down the hall on your left, next to the vending machines. Those aren’t white rocks on the mountain peaks. That’s snow. Cattle guards are spaced bars covering a trench in a road where it passes through a fence. Cars can cross cattle guards. Cattle can’t. Cattle guards keep cattle in their place, but they’re not people. They don’t wear uniforms. As for souvenirs, we have postcards, authentic jackalopes, greeting cards and poo on a stick.

A local artist gathered the authentic antelope, bear and deer poo, glued it on sticks, branches and boards, coated it with plastic and finished it off with a metal nameplate. I was hesitant when it came to touching, but tourists loved the poo items. Whenever the artist showed up with a new inventory, tourists flocked to buy us out. For me, it was an

enduring marketing lesson.

People on vacation are ready to spend money. They jump at opportunities to buy items that are unusual. They covet conversation pieces for show-and-tell sessions with friends and family back home. Poo on a stick sold because of effective marketing.

In all instances, effective marketing is predicated on knowing your audience, recognizing the context in which they are operating, responding creatively to their needs, challenging them to go further and tapping into their desires to stand out from the crowd. Knowing when people are most likely to be interested in your products or services is equally important. Tourists who purchased our unique gift items probably wouldn’t be interested if they were in their own hometowns or if they were traveling solely for business.

Savvy business people are focused on designing and implementing comprehensive marketing and communications plans. Creative sales messages are tailored to specific target audiences. Media buys are matched to the eyes and ears of

those the sellers most want to reach. Strategic plans are multi-faceted and flexible with built-in accommodations for current clientele, for prospective new customers, for former clients who may be buying elsewhere and for tourists passing through.

Effective marketing is the bedrock for business success. It opens doors, expands horizons, strengthens networking, and closes deals. Effective marketing takes businesses from where they are to where they want to be.

For everything from peddling ice to Eskimos to cornering the market for poo on a stick, effective marketing makes all the difference.

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.

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