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The Girl Scouts have been selling cookies for almost 100 years. As a former Girl Scout, I recall selling them, and now as an adult, a year doesn’t go by without buying several boxes.
Girl Scout Cookies are more than a sugary annual purchase, they are also a lesson in entrepreneurship. Let’s bite into the six lessons of success hidden within the cookies.
1. Who you buy from matters
Why do you buy Girl Scout Cookies? I’m guessing that you are like me and find it difficult to say no to a kid with entrepreneurial spirit. Always conscience of the calories I consume, I rarely eat the cookies I buy, which means I am not buying them for the product, I’m supporting an young entrepreneur.
Related: When You Make Your List of Savviest Marketers, Put the Girl Scouts at the Top
This lesson can be applied to any business. When selling your product or service, don’t forget the important step of explaining who you are. There are some consumers who just want what you sell, but often, your buyers are buying because they know, like and trust you.
2. A good cause
A box of Girl Scout Cookies runs $5 per box, roughly double the cost of a box of cookies you might buy at the grocery store. Why pay for it? It’s a good cause! Every penny of profit raised from cookie sales goes back to the local Girl Scout council.
For entrepreneurs, there’s an important lesson here. When you tie your product or service to a good cause, it gives your potential client just one more reason to choose you. Align your business with a non-profit (for a donation per sale) and market this as part of your unique selling proposition.
3. Time is up
Girl Scout Cookies are not available all year. When selling season is over, you have to wait until next year.
The lesson: when you put a time constraint on ordering a particular product or service, it forces the consumer to decide immediately. The problem with no time constraint is that when people can decide later, they usually won’t decide at all and deals are lost.
When releasing products, services and incentives, make sure there’s a time constraint to force a buying decision now.
Related: 8 Lessons This Record-Breaking Girl Scout Can Teach Entrepreneurs
4. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken
The Girl Scouts don’t offer a brand new line of cookies every year, they stick to the same old cookies that work. Most of the cookies that are being sold today are the same as the ones I was selling 30 years ago. If Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, Trefoils and Peanut Butter Sandwiches work, don’t mess it up!
Entrepreneurs are tinkerers, they like to play with their product or services to see what happens. As Coca-Cola once learned, don’t mess up something that is working! If you want to introduce new products or services, that’s one thing, but don’t do so at the expense of what’s already working.
5. Follow trends
Don’t fix the parts of your business that are not broken, but do fix the parts of your business that are. This requires that you monitor trends and add new products or services when they are warranted.
For example, back in my day we didn’t sell gluten-free cookies because there was no market for it back then. Today, there’s a gluten-free product offering as well as low-calorie product offerings for those who are interested. The Girl Scouts stick to the cookies that are tried and true, but also don’t mind experimenting when the trends call for it.
6. Belly to belly
Girl Scouts are not worried about SEO. The cookies are still sold the old fashioned way, belly to belly.
If you want to build an awesome business you need to get out and pound the pavement. You need to knock on doors and get in front of the people who will make the buying decisions. Step away from Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, and go get your belly in front of your client’s, because that’s the best place to make a sale.
Related: This Girl Scout Troop Turned a Vacant Warehouse Into a Drive-Thru Cookie Shop