The season is once again among us. It’s a time for making request and delivering goodies. Not Christmas, Easter or some other holiday, but Girl Scout cookie time! This is a wondrous time of the year where we cast off restraints and indulge a bit more than we should. Since 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low came up with the idea with her cousin in Savanna Georgia, the Girl Scouts of America have been working to empower and inspire young girls. As with any organization, economics began to play a major role in its effectiveness. So by 1917 the Girl Scouts found it necessary to utilize unique methods of fundraising. What began as a one kitchen operation to supplement the costs of business, has grown into a multi-million dollar expansion and the bulk of all funding for the Girl Scouts. With a track record like that, I believe we can learn a few things about growing our businesses and ourselves.
Every year someone ‘gets’ me for a few boxes of these cookies. Just when I think I have escaped their clutches, time and time again, it ends the same. Two boxes of thin mints and a box of Do-Si-Does. What can I say; I’m a sucker for a good cause. But if you pay attention to the obvious sustainability of the Girl Scout’s cookie hustle, it remains as a pillar for successful business.
How beneficial would it be for your family, business or even personal life to experience nearly 97 years of success? We are talking about navigating world wars, great depressions and the constant fluctuations of the economy. All while raising money to provide positive reinforcement for millions of girls who would go on to become world leaders. The Girl Scouts have done it longer than most and have been more successful at it. So I gleaned a few things I think we all can apply:
(1) Meet your customers where they are: It’s difficult to find an unoccupied store entrance in my area this time of the year. They are everywhere! These ‘cookie ninjas’ pop up near your car just as you’ve exited the market. The exact time they know you will have change in your pockets or purses. The lesson here is to make it easier for your customer base to access your products. Piggy back from another similar service, or better yet connect with someone who could benefit from a diversified partnership.
(2) Fearless marketing is successful marketing: Armed with nothing but their cuteness and smiles, Girl Scouts all over America approach us without fear. Why? Because they understand that very few can resist their brand. This is no accident. Through years of developing a culture of fearless sales, these girls will walk up to any and every person. And more times than not, they walk away with a sale. I wonder what could be accomplished through you today if you adopted a fearless mindset to sharing your vision? While standing in line at the store, or at a restaurant, take time to boldly share what you’re passionate about.
(3) Good customer service is what creates loyal customers: Some of us have been addicted to these yearly treats for a long time. Like fiends we eagerly await the announcement from co-workers that its Girl Scout cookie time. The reason we are so committed is because they have taken the hassle out of cookie shopping. Think about it. They bring us the catalog, we choose our cookies, pay later and they even deliver. What a bargain! The moral is if you take great care of the people who support your vision, they will be connected for a very long time.
Chances are your business isn’t cookies. You may be in retail, run a small business or a stay at home parent. Whatever you do, you’re a leader and more importantly, you are touching lives. The more successful you are, the more people you can affect. Take these principles from one of America’s success stories. The Girl Scouts have been a beacon of guidance and source of development. With the proper application, we can hope for such longevity.