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<b>Marketing Lessons from the Midway</b>

Yummmmm! Before your feet can hit the farmer’s dusty, rocky ground they call the County Fair Parking lot, the aroma seduces you like the sirens lured the ancient mariners. The smell is irresistible. Giving your ticket at the front gate you have every intention of visiting the exhibits, but the smoky haze down the midway pulls you forward like a mystery to be discovered.

Strolling the corridor of make-shift booths and multi-colored tents, the mixture of smells from the grilled onions and burgers leap out and try to pull you in. But you fight the urge. Suddenly, without warning, a sudden burst of smoke from a raised pit door shoots out like a smoke signal bearing a secret message just for you. You’re glands are salivating as you’re drawn dangerously close. The smoke clears. The chickens – all halves of course – have the perfect mixture of spicy sauce that blackens them in certain places to ensure their crispiness. You’re only a man. You can take just so much. Hold on! Hold on! You can make it. What? What’s that? The grill master’s turning the plump sausages and as his fork punctures the one you have your eye on, the juices flow causing the flames to shoot up from below.

“I can’t take it any more!” your tongue screams to your brain. “I’ll have one of each,” you practically yell at the devilish grill master, “and plenty of onions to go!”

So…how’s your marketing? What’s missing in your sales? Many people say that if only they could get in front of a prospect, they could sell her anything. “The problem,” they admit, “is simply getting in front of her.”

The problem is not “simply getting in front of her”. The problem is doing something to get in front of her. It’s called marketing. In its simplest form it’s getting her attention to look at your message; to smell the grilled onions. “The person who can capture and hold attention is the person who can effectively influence human behavior,” wrote H.A. Overstreet in his book Influencing Human Behavior. And every company, every salesperson must be masters of the art.

Salespeople think of themselves as just that: people who sell. They think their purpose is to make a presentation, handle the objections, and close the deal. But that was in their father’s lifetime. This is your time. This is your marketplace. You don’t have the luxury of a marketing department or advertising firm. You are them.

You market. You sell. You have no choice.

One mistake companies make, either through neglect or simply because they don’t even know it themselves, is that when they hire salespeople, they fail to tell them that it’s their responsibility to market themselves. The company is too busy promoting itself. They don’t have the time, money, or inclination to market the individuals. That’s not the company’s responsibility. Doesn’t seem fair, but in today’s business climate, that’s the way it is.

Companies may call it selling – cold calling, networking, getting referrals, or working trade shows. But it’s not. It’s marketing in its purest form; it’s getting people to smell the grilled onions.

Market first. The customers will come. The sales will be made.

© 2006 Jerry Hocutt, Hocutt & Associates, Inc. Download your FREE ebook, Creating Sales Opportunities – Five Proven Ways, and get a FREE 30-day trial of the D-I-Y Sales & Marketing Email Postcards™ at For many more sales & marketing tips, visit our blog at

About the Author: I’ve Been Compared to David Letterman. My mission: to help Salesknockers™ (the rare and seldom seen business person or salesperson who creates their own opportunities) succeed. I’ve trained over 150,000 people in business since 1992 through our nationally acclaimed Cold Calling for Cowards® seminars. (“He’s the Zen Master of Cold Calls” – Los Angeles Times.) I’ve been compared to David Letterman by the New Brunswick (NJ) Star-Ledger (“Lord of the Rings”). “Okay, so he’s not David Letterman.” (I didn’t say it was flattering. Just that I’ve been compared to him.)

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