As I was preparing for the 2014 Girl Scout cookie season, I took a look at my last blog post about selling Girl Scout cookies and saw that it has been repinned over three thousand times on Pinterest! Holy cow! It’s been a few years since I wrote that post, and I have some more tips to share with you, both what has worked for Zoë, and what was a complete waste of time and money.
Cookie Selling Tips – Part Two
Last year I decided to teach Zoë about branding her cookie business. Being a scrapbooker and graphic designer, I am a sucker for good marketing. If you have a good logo and nice packaging, there is a 95% chance I will buy your product whether I need it our not. It is also never too early to start teaching your girls a potential life skill or set them down a career path. Who knows? Zoë could be a Photoshop guru by the time she hits her teens. Admittedly, I went a little wild with the branding. I blame Vista Print. I intended to order business cards for Zoë to hand out with each cookie sale. She ended up with coordinating business cards, yard signs, pens, postcard order forms, and an iPhone case for me. It’s not my fault. Vista Prints kept offering me special deals and discounts if I ordered them right away! (If you do ever order from them be sure to do a quick Google search for “Vista Print Coupon”. They always have coupons. You might as well take advantage of them.) Do you want to see?
- The plastic yard sign (used for site sales) was SO much better than poster board signs. It was thick and stood up by itself. Most importantly, especially in Seattle, rain did not turn it into a streaky, smeary, soggy mess.
What did not work:
- The business cards and the door hangers. (I didn’t order the door knockers from Vista Prints, I just printed them on bright pink paper.) They did not generate a single order. Not one. Zoë put out SIXTY door hangers and handed out countless business cards, all for nothing. They were a complete waste of time and money.
- The Car Magnet was of limited use. It was a great way to draw attention to the car. Everyone definitely knew we had a Girl Scout selling cookies, but the font was much to small. If you were standing still looking at the car it was very legible, but there was no way anyone driving down the street would be able to read the number to call to place an order.
- Zoë put Cookie Order Form Postcards in the mailboxes of all the teachers at her school and Eden’s preschool. They were fabulous, and even had a QR code to watch her sales video. They generated two orders. TWO. I get it. Teachers and staff are bombarded with Girl Scouts. Is it wrong that I want them to say no to all the other Girl Scouts and just by from my daughter? Hmph.
Fun but not in any way helpful:
- Pens and iPhone case. They were darling, but completely an impulse purchase. I don’t recommend buying an iPhone case from Vista Prints. The graphic rubbed off about 50% in the two months I carried it around in my back pocket.
And now this years marketing material. Truth be told, I like it much better. I’ve never been a fan of the brown Brownie vests. I know, Brownies are brown, but so are turds. I’m just saying, green (or blue) is 100x better.
Branding Improvements: This year we ditched the business cards, post card order forms, and door hangers. Instead we spent that money on Girl Scout cookie t-shirts, a Girl Scout table cloth, and car flags. I am pumped about the car flags. Eden keeps running around the house with them. They may be lost before the cookies arrive. I digress… Instead of a car magnet, we ordered window decals. However, after a day of driving around with the decals, I ordered the magnets again. The decals were distracting while I was driving and the air bubbles were driving me nuts. Zoë and I simplified the wording and made the font larger. I did order more pens and a coffee mug this year. I couldn’t resist. Darn you, Vista Prints! Zoë and I made two yard signs this year. One was similar to last year, the other promoted donations to Operation Cookie Drop on one side, and had a sales thermometer on the other. Having a sales thermometer has made a huge difference the last weekend of site sales. Last year, Zoë did FOUR site sales on the last day to reach her sales goal. 85% of the people walked straight past her mumbling that they had already bought cookies or ignored her completely. [Insert unkind remark here.] The few that stopped did so because they saw she was literally 25 boxes away from reaching her goal. She made it by two boxes with twenty minutes to spare. I’m so proud of my girl. I may help Zoë with marketing, but she does what needs to be done to reach her goal.
What Did Not Work: I’m just going to say it: Don’t have your daughter waste her time selling cookies at school. The handful of cookies she will sell is not worth the disappointment at being told “No” by her favorite teachers. Zoë has never had much luck selling at school, so this year we came up with a new plan: Samples! Thin Mints are like Lays Potato Chips, you can’t eat just one. We set up a little table of samples for the staff with order forms. Orders were not required, of course, but you can imagine her disappointment when six boxes of cookies got eaten by forty six staff members and nobody chose to order from her. You should have seen the sad and dejected look on Zoë’s face when I told her. Like I said, don’t waste your time.
Order Organization: This is not a way increases sales, but it really helped keep orders organized. Instead of using the pre-printed order form, I downloaded an order form here. Zoë uses multiple order forms: Neighborhood, Spokane (we deliver to family and friends there), Schools, Office, Ship. This year I modified the form to include “Entered in Cookie Club” so we don’t loose track. This concludes the cookie sales portion. Moving on to Troop Cookie Mom Tips. Deep Breath. Grab more coffee.
Troop Cookie Mom Tips
Coordinate Site Sales with SignUp Genius: Can I tell you how lame this tip made me feel? I was chatting with our troop leader last fall and she asked, “Can you use SignUp Genius for site sales?” I have been using SignUp Genius for years to coordinate volunteers at Zoë’s school. I login to it every single month, usually multiple times. It never occurred to me to use it for cookie sales. *smacks head on table* I won’t even tell you how I was coordinating site sales before. It is an embarrassment.
Create a Troop Website: Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts alike can use Scoutlander.com to create a free troop website. It is quick and easy. Did I mention free? On the homepage I created a “Cookie Sales” section. You can see it below. It is now the one stop shop for all cookie related news. Once I sign up for site sales, there will be Sign Up Genius links there. (You can’t see me, but I’m doing a happy dance. You’ll have to take my word for it.) No more emailing 15 parents with site sale update, oh no. You can enter events (such as when pre-sales are due and final cookie money is due) and ScoutLander will automatically email your troop with a two day warning. I <3 Scoutlander.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Good luck with cookie sales!!!