Girl Scouts Listen Better Than Many Fortune 500 Companies



Today’s post is by Jackie Kolek

Last week I was asked to attend my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop meeting as the “snack and stay” mom.   The girls were preparing for a Girl Scout Cookie sale in front of the local Shack Shake, so I was asked to come in and talk about marketing.  I felt like I know a little about that subject, so was delighted to come in and talk to them.  What was even cooler is that this group of 9-year olds was earning their “Customer Insights” patch.  Customer Insights is one of two Cookie Business patches that they can earn, the other being the “Cookie CEO” patch.   The Girl Scouts have come a long way since I was a Brownie and we went bowling and decorated Christmas trees in an old folks’ home.

In order to earn this patch, the scouts had to do what every good marketer should; listen to their audiences.  The scouts were first asked to think about who their customers could be (a grandparent, neighbor, businessperson, etc.), how they would sell to them (over the phone, at a booth, going door-to-door) and what type of customer they might be (nut allergy, elderly, doesn’t like chocolate).  This exercise really got the girls thinking about what motivates their potential customers, how best to reach them and what might prevent them from buying cookies.

The next step was a visit to the local grocery store.  During the on-site visit, the girls were asked to interview shoppers in the cookie aisle.  What were they buying, who they were buying them for, what they liked and didn’t like.  Mostly importantly, they needed to ask shoppers who were not buying cookies why not?  Hearing people say no to cookies is a part of selling.   The girls are taught to use each “no” to learn more about customers.

Armed with this insight, the girls developed a marketing plan.  Ours was simple; most of the local troops had finished their sales so we would position our sale as a “last chance” before all the cookies were gone. We also created messaging about how buying Girl Scout cookies helps fund activities, like sending a girl who could not afford it to camp.  And one smart little scout suggested that people would buy from them because they were cute, so pigtails were a must.  We created flyers and “blinged out” signs with our messages to attract potential buyers.  Each girl asked their parents and siblings to spread the word via social media.

The result was a very successful sale.  The girls had a blast and sold out of every type of cookie.  I’m extremely impressed that the Girl Scouts have embraced the concept of understanding your audience and is educating girls about the importance of audience insights.  Not only are the Girl Scouts benefitting by increasing cookie sales, they are creating an army of savvy business leaders.  After being part of this experience, I’m happy to say my daughter is one smart cookie.

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