You’ve seen them. The young girls in their green or khaki sashes standing at suburban grocery store entrances around the country.
“Want to buy Girl Scout cookies?” Their childish voices call out in unison while their moms keep a watchful eye. You feel guilty when you don’t buy but…how many boxes of cookies do you really need?
11-year-old Charlotte McCord of New Jersey decided to try a more sophisticated approach to selling her quota of Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties. Instead of parking herself in front of the local Wegman’s, she incorporated one of her core values in her sales pitch.
Ranking from 1-10
Top 10 lists have been popular since at least the David Letterman days. Why not apply the 1-10 ranking system to the cookies themselves? After all, everyone has their favorites – Thin Mints is a top seller according to Wikipedia. But the last few years have seen the Girl Scout organization introducing new flavors every season…including two gluten-free varieties this season.
So young Charlotte decided to create her version of the Michelin Guide and apply a ranking system to the famed cookie. After all, she didn’t want her customers to be disappointed.
The “Hook” of Honesty
Invoking the Girl Scout pledge, “I will do my best to be honest” with the earnestness of, well, a Girl Scout, young Charlotte set about her task.
Many of them didn’t fare so well. Take the Toffeetastic, one of the new gluten-free varieties, which Charlotte declared a “bleak and flavorless wasteland. It tastes like dirt.”
Well, now that’s not something you expect from an 11-year old Girl Scout!
She even wrote a letter to her customers where she said, “The Girl Scout Organization can sometimes use false advertising.”
(me thinks there’s professional marketing parental guidance afoot. But still! )
You can see the entire story here.
Whether buyers appreciated her moxie or her honesty, Charlotte had sold 23,219 boxes of the cookies when this aired on CBS’s Sunday Morning
A Powerful Story
Humans turn to stories to entertain, to teach, to console, and yes, to persuade.
A good story sells and this enterprising young Girl Scout relied on the power of story to sell five-figures worth of merchandise.
There are so many unanswered questions regarding the marketing strategy yet, there are lessons to learn in what we do know.
We know she incorporated:
- “Branding” — The child declared a stance and stuck to it. Call it positioning. Call it branding. It boils down to having the guts to say “This is who I am and what my business stands for!”
Do this successfully, and you’ll have more business than you’ll know what to do with.
- Creating a Common “Enemy” — Psychology tells us that people want to feel part of something. One simple way of doing that is to create an “us vs. them” mentality like Apple did 20 years ago against PC’s and every financial newsletter continues today. By positioning the organization itself as occasionally having “…false advertising…” she made them the enemy! If you’ve ever seen a financial newsletter, you’ve probably seen this in action. “Big Government is stealing your retirement!”
She’s giving you the insider intel! You’re on the same side!
- Full Funnel — Chances are, she had family assistance in making up a large list of people to connect with. The McCords must have a large Christmas card list!
Those are just 3 aspects of her marketing strategy that leap out at me in addition to the novelty factor. I hope the McCords have help fulfilling their orders.What about you? What struck you?
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