Summit County business owners learn secrets of destination marketing
Opening a business in a tourist destination like Summit County doesn’t necessarily mean the new enterprise automatically becomes a destination.
Although headquartering a business in Summit County has its advantages, particularly during peak summer and winter tourist seasons, entrepreneurs often find themselves struggling to maintain profit margins during the shoulder seasons.
“The challenge up here is business owners already think they’re a destination, but they shouldn’t be dependent on the community to fuel their growth,” said business coach and marketing expert Jon Schallert. “The hardest thing about running a business in an area so dependent on tourism is you have limited time to grab a consumer’s attention, budget concerns during the off-season and a whole host of competing messages.”
Last week, Schallert appeared at the Silverthorne Pavilion to present his seminar, “Increasing sales and profits as a destination business,” to business owners from the towns of Dillon and Silverthorne. The seminar was brought to Summit County free of charge through a partnership between the towns and the Dillon Business Association.
Schallert also runs a 2.5-day Destination Business BootCamp from his hometown of Longmont and provided those in attendance with a brief taste of his 14-point “Schallert Method.” Schallert highlighted three main points of his destination business strategy, including how to create a unique positioning statement, how to create an ultra level of customer service and how to spotlight products, all designed with the goal of attracting customers from outside a businesses “typical” market.
Stephanie Cheval owns a Dillon-based business focused on web site development and marketing strategies. She said she not only found the 90-minute seminar beneficial, but also entertaining.
“He (Schallert) was funny and engaging and kind of reminded me of a toned-down Lewis Black,” she said. “But I also learned that marketing is about highlighting the things that make you unique, even if you don’t think what you’re offering is unique.”
A big part of developing that marketing strategy is by creating a unique positioning statement, Schallert said. This is usually the hardest part for business owners, he said, and typically entails two to four paragraphs, with a “killer” first sentence.
Studies show “customers are going to judge or misjudge you in about seven seconds,” Schallert said. “You have to disrupt that and alter how you currently interact with consumers.”
Schallert told the audience about Coal Creek Coffee Co. in Laramie, Wyo. as an example of a business that had a unique product to offer, but wasn’t living up to its potential.
Coal Creek Coffee Co. offers a blend of coffee that features three times the caffeine, Schallert said, which was usually purchased by the few truck drivers passing through who knew the product existed. When Schallert asked the owners what they called their coffee, they responded, “coffee with three times the caffeine.”
After working with Schallert, the owners changed the name to “Edgy Coffee.” The first line of their unique positioning statement, which is written on their front door, reads, “Coal Creek Coffee Company: Home of malcontents, revolutionaries and do-gooders of all types.”
“It’s emotional, it’s catchy and now Coal Creek Coffee Co. has people coming to their shop from all over just to try their ‘Edgy Coffee,’” Schallert said.
Schallert then opened the seminar up to six Dillon business owners to share their unique positioning statements. The six owners also attended Schallert’s Destination Business BootCamp earlier this year.
Cindy Trimble, owner of Café ProFusion, is in the process of moving away from her previous slogans of “a little gourmet hole in the wall” and “not just another curry house” to “the world’s highest gluten-free fusion restaurant.”
“It’s going to be hard to dispute that,” Trimble said. “I don’t know of any gluten-free restaurants in Leadville and I doubt there are any in the Himalayas.”
Although Trimble still is in the process of crafting the rest of her positioning statement, Schallert said Trimble is well on her way. Through their conversations, Schallert said Café ProFusion has a lot of unique features.
For example, Café ProFusion specializes in curry and pairing wines with their dishes. The menu is so small that Trimble touts each dish as being “a specialty of the house.”
Another unique aspect to Trimble’s restaurant is the fact that all its spices are ground, toasted and mixed in-house.
“We get a lot of people with food issues and we know our food down to the grain,” Trimble said.
It takes that kind of brainstorming, Schallert said, and often times the best aspects about a business are the ones that seem the most obvious.
“Smart business owners will figure that out, figure out a way to capitalize off what they are already doing to make themselves unique and grab a larger share of the market,” Schallert said. “I’ve seen these techniques work everywhere, but they really work in tourist destinations.”
For more information about Schallert, his seminars and his Destination BootCamp, visit http://www.jonschallert.com.
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