Smart cookies: Lessons any marketer can learn from Girl Scouts

Every year, Girl Scouts make their cookie-selling efforts go viral. Here's how they do it.

NEW YORK: Marketers who are out of fresh ideas need to look no further than their local Girl Scout troop for inspiration.

Young entrepreneurs are pumping out viral cookie-selling campaigns on the regular. Most recently, Kiki Paschall, a 10-year-old Winnetka, California, girl scout made global headlines when she remixed "Money" by Cardi B.

"I got girls in my troop, cookies to roof," she sang in her parody. "Selling them cookies is my thing," and "Please real, not Monopoly money."

The video was covered by media including Time, NPR, Essence, "Today," and the Daily Mail and was retweeted by Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. and Cardi B. The video received 3 million views on the Girl Scouts retweet alone. Paschall reportedly sold more than 1,000 boxes of cookies in one day after her video went viral.

Stewart Goodbody, senior director of communications and external affairs for Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., said that Paschall created the video on her own.

"One of the most important elements that we tie back to with our Girl Scout Cookie Program is having it be girl-led," she said.

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. teaches members how to be an entrepreneur and run their own business, including marketing tips for selling cookies, Goodbody added.

"We see a lot of really innovative, unique ways of marketing from our girls every year," she said. "There are a few every year that happen to go viral. That is really exciting to watch. We applaud the girls for their ingenuity and their creativity."

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. encourages people to tag @GirlScouts in content related to the organization, and it monitors social media to source standout content that it can share on national channels.
"We know girls and their parents love to see themselves in national social media, so we are always encouraging them to share and think big," she said.

When scouts’ videos do go viral, the national organization uses the content as an opportunity to elevate topical messaging that shows how Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. provides members with the tools they need to lead and create positive change.

"We use viral moments to rally our members and to share their stories and voice," said Goodbody.

Once Paschall’s video went viral, Girl Scouts posted about it on Instagram to show how creative its young entrepreneurs are and encourage other people to get involved.

It isn’t just a matter of going viral. The organization also explains how its cookie-selling program works.

"Some of the social media follow-up after [Paschall’s] video went viral was an education to people about [the Girl Scout Cookie Program]: Where does the money go? What do the girls learn?" said Goodbody. "Yes, Girl Scout cookies are delicious, but they represent so much more than that. They represent the future of female leadership and entrepreneurship in the business world."

Other standout Scout marketers include Charity Joy, who covered Childish Gambino's "Redbone" to sell cookies last year. Glover himself purchased 113 boxes.

Scout Charlotte McCourt wrote a letter in 2017 rating each cookie and describing its respective flaws. The letter gained a global audience when famed TV host, writer, and spokesman Mike Rowe read it in a video on his Facebook page. McCourt sold more than 15,300 boxes of Girl Scout cookies as a result.

Other unusual and unexpected marketing ideas that have caught Goodbody’s eye include a Girl Scout "scuba troop" in Texas and a troop that set up a cookie booth outside of a city dump when it realized it could take advantage of weekend traffic.

Goodbody said takeaways any marketer can learn from Girl Scouts include being timely and topical.

"For marketing to stand out, being your authentic self, keeping things real, using humor, and, of course, connection to a large megaphone or a notable influencer is a great equation for virality," she added.

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