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

How are your home-grown tomatoes doing?

I check mine a couple times every day, but so far there’s only a little showing. I’m still hopeful, however, for a bumper tomato crop.

The last time it was this bad we had only one ripening tomato. But it was big. As it slowly ripened to ruby red, it was gorgeous. I was eagerly anticipating slicing it, salting it and savoring it down to the last seed. Before that could happen, the beautiful tomato went missing. My husband shared my shock and disappointment.

I slipped into my Sherlock Homes mode and weighed the evidence. The meter is adjacent to our tomato garden. The meter reader had just been through our yard. No one else had been anywhere near the now tomato-less vine. I deduced the meter reader was undoubtedly guilty to the red-handed degree.

A day later I saw Cinder, my beloved black lab, stalking our garden. When I investigated further, I found several demolished baby tomatoes and one happy dog with stains around her mouth.

I didn’t know that Cinder was a tomato-swiping vegetarian, but the evidence was clear. My apologies to meter readers everywhere. My assessment of their character was based on misleading information.

That sometimes happens in business. We see and react to situations viewed through clouded lenses. Thinking that you know something isn’t the same as understanding. Current perceptions can distort realities. Drawing conclusions without confirmation may be hazardous to your bottom line.

Businesses need to engage in marketing to effectively promote and sell their products or services. Knowing that is not enough. Success lies in doing.

Frequently people tell me thatthey want to “be” or “do” something when they haven’t gone beyond dreaming. My last column was about daydreaming, something that can be very healthy. However, to “be” or “do” anything takes some solid reality. Dream big, then follow through with dynamic marketing to make positive things happen.

Businesses are measured by their marketing. Effective marketing reflects reputation, performance, standing in the community, integrity, quality and all the other components that go into attaining and sustaining success. Marketing is a never-ending, constantly changing endeavor. It requires some sleuthing to correctly identify target audiences. It requires stepping outside comfort zones to candidly assess where your business stands in the community and how you are stacking up against the competition. It requires the involvement of focus groups or sounding boards before marketing initiatives are launched. It requires post-launch feedback loops to assess what messages are resonating with target audiences and what is going over their heads.

My advice is to make successful businesses a starting point. What makes those businesses stand out from the crowd? What marketing techniques are they using to engage their target audiences? How are they using traditional and social media? Are their logos, tag lines and campaign themes creative, innovative and memorable? Determine what is worth doing, then do it better.

When it comes to effective marketing, few businesses go it alone. The best campaigns are collaborative efforts that involve the thinking and ideas of talented individuals both inside and outside the business. Seek them out and get them on your team. Use their creativity to your advantage. Getting second or third opinions will help fill in gaps and avoid the stumbles that come with jumping to conclusions.

That’s what I did when I mentally slandered an innocent meter reader as a low-down tomato rustler. I jumped to the wrong conclusion. I humbly apologize to meter readers everywhere.

The dog ate my prize tomato.

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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