To support their traditional face-to-face sales, many Scouts are building their own web sites to sell popcorn. While the popcorn companies have their own online sales system, these Scouts find it better to use their own site to augment the popcorn company’s sites.
Before we look at these sites, we must talk about internet security. I recommend Scouts of all ages to earn their Cyber Chip. To help families and volunteers keep youth safe while online, the BSA, with help from NetSmartz, have developed materials which are grade specific and educate both youth and parents about the potential pitfalls of being online. This is a great program for all youth.
Now, let’s look at various Scout sites and the elements which make them successful.
Nick – Highland Park, IL
In 2010, Nick was the top online salesperson with over $8000 in online sales. Nick has since achieved his Eagle Rank and is over 18 so the links no longer work. However, this site was one of the first to have a Scout market themselves.
There are lots of pictures not only about the activities Nick has done but the service projects in which he has participated.
I think the request for action letter at the top of the page is excellent. “Since you are too far away for me to come by and knock on your door I am sending you this email to in hope that you will support my Troop or the Troops abroad by purchasing some popcorn.”
Nick was successful with this site because he developed an email database of over 300 names over the entire time he sold popcorn. He included this web page in his emails and asked them to forward it on to others. He used the popcorn company’s web site for order and payment processing. The biggest advantage is he never touched the product.
One concern people have had with his site is Nick using his last name in the materials. This is a subject the family should discuss before building their own site. Most Councils do not include last names of youth in any materials. However, if you are comfortable with it, then feel free.
Elian – Princeton, New Jersey
Elian has a unique site in he has two different ways for customers to order online. If a customer lives in the local area, the first link goes to the Square Market. This is the same company who offers the Square Reader to take credit card payments which I mentioned in a previous blog. This allows Elian to take a credit card payment online. In addition, the customer pays the same price for the popcorn as if the Scout knocked on the door and Elian delivers the product to them. Another advantage to this system is it captures customer information so he can ask them again next year. Finally, Elian created customized Military Donation button in the Square Market so customers could put in any value rather than just the standard Military Donation dollar amount.
If the customer lives outside the local area, the second option takes them to the popcorn company site with his Scout Code already imbedded in the link. All payment processing and shipping is handled by the popcorn company.
Finally, there is a link to Elian’s Popcorn Facebook Page to see even more pictures and locations of where he is doing Show and Sell so people can come visit them at the storefront.
This site was built using Google Sites.
Nick – Camarillo, CA
Nick’s site looks more like a traditional business site. HIs sales pitch by video is excellent. As a matter of fact, Nick has different videos from the past several years which are quite entertaining. His ‘Buy Popcorn’ button goes directly to the popcorn company site with his embedded number so Nick gets credit for the sale.
I must say, seeing this site brought back very fond memories. This Scout is from Pack 3877 in Camarillo, CA. When I was a District Executive in the mid-90s, I help start this Pack with just 5 Cub Scouts. It is rewarding to see the Pack is alive and going strong.
This site was built using WordPress.
Donovan – Hamilton, NJ
Donovan had the third highest popcorn sales in the country last year selling over $23,000. In talking with Donovan, he uses an iPad to present a slide show about why he is selling popcorn as he goes door-to-door. In addition, Donovan uses other sources of social media to generate popcorn sales. Not only does Donovan use this site, he maintains a Twitter account linking back to his popcorn page. As you can see by his site, Donovan is attending the World Jamboree next year in Japan. I am sure popcorn has paid a significant portion of his way to this amazing event.
This site was build using Facebook.
Online sales are a great way to supplement your traditional face-to-face sales. I find as Scouts grow up and get into high school, it is not the lack of the ‘cuteness factor’ which prevents them from getting popcorn sales. It is a lack of time. With sport practice, homecoming, and club meetings in addition to Scouts, most weekends and after school time is taken. Online Sales provide a different method to sell without taking as much time.
Just having a web site is not enough. It is still important to have a database of customers to send the link to the Scout’s web site and find other ways to spread the message about their site via social media. It is also a good way for them to work on their Salesmanship and Entrepreneurship Merit Badge.
Good luck and keep selling.
Why should people in your Unit believe selling popcorn is a good fundraiser? I was reminded of this as I read the comments from others on the Bryan on Scouting Blog referencing a very imaginative video parody of the song Do You Want to Build a Snowman from Frozen.
The comments ranged the gambit from “Adorable! Well done boys!” and “Really cute video” to “Problem is the product is overpriced” and “Popcorn violates BSA Guidelines”. By the way, thank to you ScoutingManiac for the unsolicited endorsement of my website.
I found it interesting nearly half the respondents were negative about popcorn. Do they not know the Boy Scouts have been selling popcorn for over 30 years and over that time period across over $1 Billion have gone back to fund local Units and Councils across the nation? If you think there is a membership or financial challenge now with the Boy Scouts of America, think of where they would be without popcorn sales.
My only conclusion is these people do not believe in the Popcorn Sale. I would guess this feeling is prominent in Units around the country. In an article I wrote in 2013, I spoke about 4 Reasons Most Unit Leaders Are Not Successful with Their Popcorn Sale. The first item in this article is Lack of Belief.
So how do we get others to believe in the Popcorn Sale?
In the book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion renowned psychologist Robert Cialdini identified six key principles of building credibility for a product or service.
People are more likely to do something for you if they feel they are repaying a debt or favor. This is the number one reason stores offer free samples. The customer feels and obligation to do something if they get something for free. Yes, guilt works. Have more experienced Scouts give ‘free advice’ to first-time sellers. Pair up these same Scouts at Show and Sell or on a Take Order route and have the Scouts split the sales. Take away the objection which makes the popcorn sale difficult and parents will feel obligated to have their son participate.
As I have said many times over the years, “Consistency creates credibility. Credibility creates trust. People buy based on trust.” People will trust you more if the leader is consistent with the message on why popcorn sales are important to the Unit and Council. Develop an atmosphere of consistency in your Unit by always showing up on time and follow through on your commitments. Have a Planned Program and a Unit Budget. Let others know exactly what is going to be accomplished and steps needed to be done to get there.
When trying to convince others the popcorn sale works, it is important to bring in someone who has been successful in the past. Camp Masters Popcorn, has a person come into Councils who has led his Unit in selling $10,000 in one weekend. People can duplicate the efforts of another if they see it has been done before. If you are the leader trying to convince others about popcorn, bring in a person from outside the Unit to endorse popcorn sales and the value it brings to their Unit.
Have the top-selling Scout share what he did to be the top seller. If you do not have one in your Unit, then find another Scout in the Council who is willing to share his best practices. Think of the confidence you build up in a Scout when he is brought in as the ‘expert in the field’ on popcorn sales.
Customers like Scouts in uniform. There is a brand associated with a Scout in Uniform. Take any person from a street gang and put him in a well-kept, properly worn Scout Uniform and the perception of that young man will immediately change in the eyes of those who look upon him. Popcorn, in many Councils, is the only fundraiser where Scouts can wear the uniform. This makes in a huge advantage over other fundraisers. My son went out this year in full Scout Uniform including his sash with all the merit badges. People would come up to him and ask him about what he did for his badges. Do you think they would have approached my son in the same manner if he was wearing only a ‘Class B’ shirt? They found him more likeable in Scout Uniform.
People want what they don’t have. Girl Scouts Cookies are only sold one time a year and as stated in the comments of the blog article, people look forward to this time of year to get their Girl Scout Cookies. I will admit the popcorn companies have done a terrible job of capitalizing on providing this same scarcity in the popcorn marketplace. However, Units could do this themselves. My son’s Troop will be going out this weekend for Show and Sell. We have special signs made up saying “Last Weekend to Buy Popcorn to Support Local Scouting.” In addition, teach parents in your Unit the popcorn sale is for a “limited time only” and will not go beyond a specific deadline. For the Girl Scouts, cookie sales are often the only fundraiser they have. What would happen if popcorn was the only fundraiser for the Boy Scouts? When my son was a Cub Scout, popcorn was the only fundraiser we did and we had high participation because of it.
Last weekend, I was at a business conference and they stated this quote, “Fear and Faith cannot exist in the same body.” I believe this is the same with all fundraisers. One must first have faith and belief the fundraiser will work if planned and executed correctly. Only then will people’s fear of not succeeding be eliminated.