11 Things Small Business Owners Can Learn From Girl Scout Cookies

1. Train – The Girl Scouts use cookie sales to teach important life skills. Take advantage of the opportunity to develop your team members…or hire a coach to help you.

2. Start Early – The best cookie sellers start knocking on doors the first day, and deliver their cookies as soon as they arrive. “The early bird gets the worm” seems to work everywhere.

3. Know Your Value – Girl Scout Cookies taste good and you get to help kids in your community. Make sure you provide similar great value to your customers.

4. Remember Your Manners – As you learned as a girl (or boy), always say “please” and “thank you”…to customers (even when they don’t buy), vendors and your team members.

5. Dress The Part – Brownies and Girl Scouts take pride in wearing their uniforms. Make sure everyone in your small business knows they only get one chance to make a first impression.

6. Go Deep – Girl Scouts reach out to family, friends and, of course, their parents’ co-workers. Ask everyone you know for referrals to expand your prospect list and grow your business.

7. Up-Sell – Did you know Thin Mints and Caramel deLites are impulse buys? As you learned in that first retail job, always ask the customer if they would like a belt or tie with that shirt.

8. Differentiate – Girl Scout Cookies are available once each year, and you can freeze them. Can you express what makes your products/services stand out in 13 or fewer words?

9. Rehearse – Young girls are taught to practice their sales presentations in front of family and friends before meeting neighbors. Make sure to practice yours before and selling opportunities.

10. Be Prepared – The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts share this motto. When asked, “For what?” Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell replied, “Why, for any old thing.” Good advice.

11. Be Careful Crossing Streets – Pretty basic, yes? Keep your eyes focused on the essential parts of your small business. There are lots of cars out there…and they move really fast!

Girl Scout Cookies Have a Long and Delicious History

Girl Scout cookies have been around more than 90 years. It’s been quite a wild — and delicious — ride!

The Earliest Girl Scout Cookies Were Homemade

Girl Scout Cookies started out in the kitchens of the girl scout members with mothers volunteering as technical advisers. The sale of cookies as a way to raise money for troop activities began as early as 1917, on the brink of the first World War and just five years after Juliette Gordon Low created the Girl Scouts.

Sensing a good thing, in 1922 the official Girl Scouts magazine, American Girl, included a cookie recipe that was given to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts. It put the cost of ingredients for six- to seven-dozen cookies at 26 to 36 cents. The cookies could then be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen to raise money.

Through the 1920s and 1930s, Girl Scout cookies continued to be made in the homes. These cookies were packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker, and sold door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen.

From the Girl Scout’s Website here is one of those early recipes:

AN EARLY GIRL SCOUT COOKIE RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and the cup of sugar
  2. Add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes.
  5. Sprinkle sugar on top, if desired.
  6. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.

Out of the Kitchens

In 1933 Philadelphia Girl Scouts baked cookies and sold them in the city’s gas and electric company windows. This proved so successful that in 1934 Greater Philadelphia became the first council to sell commercially baked cookies.

In 1935 the Girl Scout Federation of Greater New York followed suit. Buying its own die in the shape of a trefoil, the group used the words Girl Scout Cookies on the box.

In 1936 the national Girl Scout organization began to license the first commercial bakers to produce cookies that would be sold by girls in Girl Scout councils. The love of Girl Scout Cookies soon spread nationwide.

During World War II, when sugar, flour and butter were in short supply, Girl Scouts sold calendars to raise money for their activities.

After the War the scouts went back to the beloved cookies and by 1948 a total of 29 bakers throughout the nation were baking Girl Scout Cookies. At this time they came in just three varieties: Sandwich, Shortbread and the every popular Chocolate Mints (now known as Thin Mints). The 1950’s and 60’s brought the suburb and shopping malls giving the girls a new venue to sell their cookies.

Baby boomers swelled the Girl Scout membership in the 1960’s as well as cookie sales. In 1960, bakers first began wrapping Girl Scout Cookie boxes in printed aluminum foil or cellophane to protect the cookies and preserve their freshness and in 1966 Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies were added.

Girl Scout Cookies are Still Delicious Today

In the fall of 2000 new box designs were introduced which show girls having fun and growing strong. A maximum of eight varieties are made by each baker including three mandatory ones (Thin Mint, Peanut Butter Sandwich, and Shortbread).

When you see the girls outside a grocery, at the mall or at you door, buy a box or three. It supports a good cause and carries on a proud — and delicious — tradition.

From Wikipedia — The best selling Girl Scout cookies are:

  • Thin Mints (25% of total sales)
  • Caramel DeLites or Samoas (19%)
  • Peanut Butter Patties or Tagalongs (13%)
  • Peanut Butter Sandwiches or Do-si-dos (11%)
  • Shortbread or Trefoils (9%)

Girl Scouts – Thinking Outside Of The Cookie Box Using 7 Simple Marketing Strategies

The Girl Scout Cookie Campaign is the biggest annual fundraiser for the world’s largest organization dedicated to all girls. Can Girl Scouts use simple marketing strategies when selling their cookies? My granddaughter’s Girl Scout troop conducted a Women in Business Seminar. I had the opportunity, along with two other professional women to share with the troop and their mothers, what we do in our business.

To help the young ladies understand the logistics of implementing simple marketing strategies in their Girl Scout Cookie Campaign, I presented the following four questions for them to write down, think about and better understand what the process of marketing is all about:

1. What strategies do you use when selling your Girl Scout cookies?

2. What do you do to get new customers to buy your cookies?

3. Why is customer loyalty important to you?

4. Is it a good idea to send a thank you note to the people buying your Girl Scout cookies?

Some of their current selling strategies include going door to door, giving their order forms to their parents to solicit orders from their friends and co-workers, as well as setting up tables outside of local businesses to sell on site. Although the troop didn’t quite meet their goal for cookie sales prior to this seminar, we went over some basic selling strategies on how to prepare for increased sales next year. Here are seven useful tips:

o Pre-selling and generating excitement, at least a month before you are to begin taking orders.

o Be sure to keep a record of your total amount of boxes sold and sales generated from the year before.

o Know what your cookie goals are, compared to last years.

o Do not wear out the same customers every year to buy over and over again. You need to find new customers.

o Send a thank you note or create a simple one to give to each person buying cookies from you when you deliver them.

o Keep a record of what your best-selling to your least selling variety is.

o Think about selling your leftover boxes at flea markets. You can partner with other troop members to invest in a table if the entire troop does not participate. If everyone doesn’t participate, then don’t let that stop you. Be savvy!

Brand awareness or “branding” (a name, term, symbol or other feature that distinguishes products and services from competitive offerings), is evident through the Girl Scout Logo, the Girl Scout Name, pictures of scout members represented on the outside of the cookie box, the Girl Scout website and mission statement.

The Girl Scout Cookie Campaign helps to promote essentials of marketing, such as setting goals, customer service and money management that leads to courage, confidence and character. Thinking outside of the cookie box, will help them to develop better planning, execution and follow-up of their sales techniques now, which will be a great helpmate in whatever their career endeavors may be in the future. These strategic marketing tips can also be applied to Boy Scout fundraising campaigns.