Last weekend, I was on my way home from the "polar bear plunge" in Wildwood, NJ when I stopped at a local convenience store for a bottle of water for the 2-hour drive home.
As I approached the store, I saw a mother and her daughter selling Girl Scout cookies by the entrance.
"I haven’t bought a box yet this year," I thought to myself. "If I don’t get one now, I might have to wait until next year!" I reached for my wallet, pulled out a $5 bill, and handed it to the young girl in exchange for a box of Lemonades.
As I got back into my car with my bottled water and my brand new box of cookies, I started to think about how simple yet effective the Girl Scout cookie program’s marketing campaign is. After all, it took me approximately 15 seconds to decide to make a purchase.
As a social media marketer, I instantly started thinking of the ways businesses can learn from the cookie program’s campaign. Here are my conclusions:
- Make it scarce. Everyone knows you can only get delicious Girl Scout cookies for a few weeks out of the year. So, when they finally go on sale, people jump at the chance to make their purchase. If you don’t have a product or service that is only available for a limited time, why not run a promotion to urge customers to act fast? This is not a new tactic or a novel idea, but the Girl Scouts seem to have perfected it.
- Have a cause. For the Girl Scouts organization, selling cookies helps young girls develop essential life skills including money management, goal setting, and people skills. I know I felt good about helping the young girl in Wildwood try to attain her sales goal. Try to give customers a warm, fuzzy feeling about buying your product and it might just pay off. For example, if you sell pet products, why not donate a small percentage of your proceeds to an organization that benefits animals? Determine your passion or what makes the most sense for your business and stand for something!
- Know what you do best – and focus on that. Recently I read an Inc.com article about how 37signals is refocusing their business on a single product: Basecamp. The article described the way that the company’s co-founder came to the decision to change the business’s name and focus on only one product. This is what the Girl Scouts organization has done and it’s a lesson that many businesses can learn from. The Girl Scouts don’t try to do cookies and cupcakes and pies; they stick to cookies because they’re good at selling cookies and now most people associate the Girl Scouts with cookies. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, businesses should figure out what they do best and focus on that.