My oldest daughter came to us at the start of 2021 and said she wanted to reach our council’s Elite Entrepreneur level for that year, which meant selling 2,021 boxes of cookies. (Their minimum for making this Elite level matches the year number.) Her highest total before had been just over 1,300 boxes. So she had some experience in previous years with managing large quantities of sales. And as a family, we knew 2,021 boxes would be a challenge, but one that was possibly within reach.
A different year
2021 looked like it was going to be a rough cookie selling season for everyone. And it was certainly a different kind of year. Covid was in full swing, and it was affecting how we did everything that year. Selling Girl Scout cookies was no exception.
Selling door to door for our 2021 season was off limits because of health restrictions, and even cookie booths required lots of changes and adjustments. So we had to get a little more creative in how we sold. Cookies were harder to find than previous years. Neighbors weren’t being visited by lots of girls selling cookies on their doorsteps. So girls who got creative that year often sold more cookies than they normally would have.
How’d we do it? Planning, patience, dedication, and marketing.
Ultimately, one of the keys to selling cookies is all about how you market them. Girl Scouts does an ok job at providing resources, but you have to get creative. Here are some tips for selling Girl Scout cookies successfully.
Use Digital Cookie
Take the time to set up your Digital Cookie page. That page is where all of your Girl Scout’s online orders get placed. And these days, you can’t ignore the convenience of online sales for many customers. We spent a good two hours taking photos of our daughter in a clean uniform and making sure she was presentable, professional, and sans chocolate on her face! We treated this like a job interview and explained the importance of her appearance and her professionalism.
We had our daughter write out a script for a video we later shot of her that shared why she was selling, where the money was going, and how to support her troop. We then posted that video to her Digital Cookie page. This Digital Cookie page is significant and shouldn’t be rushed. Also? It’s never too late to set it up and get her info out there.
Use a link shortener
Even without being too technical, you or your Girl Scout can set up a link shortener that makes a shorter, easier to remember URL that points to her Digital Cookie page. Then that shorter URL is what you can send out, tell people about, or put on flyers, posters, and other marketing materials.
Start those fitness trackers
Buy a good pair of walking shoes, because promoting cookies takes getting in some miles. I’m not joking when I say we went door to door all weekend long, for multiple weekends. Even some afternoons after school. We had postcards made where our daughter shared information about cookies and how to buy them from her Digital Cookie page. We made a short URL that pointed to Digital Cookie, and used that instead of the long URL. Delivering postcards to each house was a lot easier than dragging a wagon behind us. It also saved a lot of time. By the time we got home each afternoon or evening, we’d have several new orders.
Hit up friends and family
Contact all family and friends. Not only do our friends and families get holiday cards from us, but they also get that Cookie postcard we mentioned, letting them know it’s time to order.
Be persistent and patient
This tip is more for the parents. Even though we wanted to give up, our girls didn’t. We kept on. There were some really long, hard days, but we knew it was temporary. Having a cookie season that is six weeks long, we knew we could push through.
Build long-lasting relationships
Take advantage of your surroundings and build relationships. We took cards to our dentist, doctor, and real estate agents we know. And we also make sure to let our previous customers know when it’s time to buy cookies again. They are now repeat customers and order from our girls year after year.
Keep detailed records
We keep an email list with a couple hundred customers now. We send them an email a week before cookie sales start so can start to get an idea of how many cookies we might need.
Use social media wisely
When we post to social channels, we use one of those thoughtful photos we took, or the video our daughter recorded, plus the short link to Digital Cookie. This way, your friends, family, and followers don’t feel like you are just asking for something. Your daughter put thought and time into the request, and cares about what she is doing.
Set expectations at the beginning
It’s much easier to have a small goal and increase it over time. For example, our girls have always sold 1,000 each every year, but the 2,000+ goal was a stretch. So we started with a smaller number and increased as we went.
Clear your schedule
I know a lot of people can’t do this. But if you can, know that your cookie weekends will be spent walking door to door or standing with them at cookie booths in front of a grocery store. We tell ourselves it’s only once a year and for a short period of time. If they can do it, we can do it.
Grab a partner and set up a lemonade stand or take advantage of booth locations in your area. If they do this alone, it will be a lot of work and not as fun. So do booths with other Girl Scout friends if at all possible. Emma had other troop members and her sister come sell with her, we’d keep careful tallies of sales, then they would split the sales each time. It would have been much harder to reach that high goal without the support of friends that sold alongside her.
Before we started that year, what we didn’t know was that she would surpass her initial goal on the first two weekends of cookie sales! Her total sales that year ended up pushing her to become the 2nd top-selling Girl Scout in San Diego that season.
It took a lot of work on her part, and quite a bit of support from us as parents, her grandmother, and even some from her little sister. Selling 9,000 boxes of cookies that year meant a lot more than just the number. It taught her how to set goals, plan, promote, manage time and resources wisely, establish relationships, follow through on commitments, and coordinate lots of cookie boxes and deliveries. We even got to know our neighborhood streets much better by walking so many of them, and then later driving around to deliver cookies to everyone’s doorstep.