Month: July 2013
As I travel around the country, Units have asked me this question, “If there is one thing that will motivate Scouts (and parents) to sell popcorn, what would that be?” The answer can be said in one word…Incentives.
Recently, the Top 100 Units in each of the four Scouting Regions were asked to complete a survey. These Units averaged just over $28,000 in sales. In this survey, the question was asked, “Outside of the Prize Program or other Council sponsored prizes, did your Unit offer additional prizes or cash to Scouts for the Popcorn Sale?” Of these Units, 82% stated they offered their own Unit-level prizes.
I asked these Units why they offered their own Unit incentives. Here are the four most common responses:
- Immediate Recognition – As we know from the Scouting Advancement program, Scouts prefer to receive recognition as soon as they earn it. If a Scout meets a certain goal by the end of the day, giving some reward at that moment provides the Scout a sense of accomplishment. In addition, the Scout did not have to ‘wait until December or later’ to receive his prize.
- Increases Likelihood of Getting a Prize – Many Councils conduct a drawing if Scouts “Fill a Form” or sell a certain dollar amount. However, depending on the number of Scouts that are eligible, the chance may be slim. Scouts have a higher probability if they in a drawing with just Scouts in his Unit instead of the entire Council.
- Increases Team Morale – Some Units offer a special reward or activity which everyone can receive if the Scout or Unit reaches a certain level. Most Units have charts to show the progress toward the goal. In addition, these charts encourage those Scouts that are behind or not participating to do their part.
- Wanted Better Quality Prizes – Some Units did not like the Prize Program being offered by their local Council. They felt prizes at the lower levels were not of good quality and felt they could do better. In addition, some Councils do not offer a Prize Program. Top Selling Units from this survey created their own Unit Prize Program to provide incentives for their Scouts.
In this same survey of the Top 100 Units in each Scouting Region, a follow-up question was asked. “If Yes, what percentage of your Gross Sale did your Unit spend for these additional prizes?” The results are surprising.
The majority of Units allocated 1%-2% of their sale toward Unit prizes. However, these Units sold on average $28,000. This means even these Units allocated $280-$560 for Unit Incentives.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is 12% percent of Units that allocated 5% or more of their Gross Sale toward Unit Prizes. This equates to $1400-$1960.
If you want to get as many Scouts (and parents) motived about the Popcorn Sale, I recommend setting aside a minimum 3% of your Gross Sale for Unit Prize Incentives. These incentives could be Individual Scout Incentives, a large Unit-wide incentive or a combination of both.
I was fortunate enough to be on the OA Service Corps at the National Jamboree in 1985. At the time OA staff stayed in barracks at Ft. A.P. Hill. My parents sent me with a phone card. Fortunately, we had a pay phone in the barracks to call home. Of course, I only called to let them know I arrived and to tell I was alright after the remnants of a hurricane hit the Jamboree site. The only other way to connect with my parents was to send them a letter. The only other way my parents knew what was going on at the Jamboree was to read the newspaper and hope there was an article or perhaps see a spot on the evening news. What a difference a generation makes.
This year, I sent my son with a smart phone so he could call if he wanted. He text me a picture on occasion and even sent me video of the fireworks ceremony. I was able to watch the Opening Ceremonies on JamboLive.org and I even sent his Unit a tweet which was shown on the big screen for all to see. I have read every blog from Bryan on Scouting and emails from his Unit Leaders at the site.
This got me to thinking of how communication (and how we sell) can change the Popcorn Sale.
The first step of marketing any product is the customer must know you exist.
Most Units rely on one or perhaps two methods of communicating to others about the sale. The only method of selling was to take the Order Form door-to-door and sell customers popcorn. Think of this as the newspaper of old. If you did not get the newspaper then you did not know about the sale. Many Units still rely on this one method to let others know about the sale.
Your Council may offer Units the ability to sell product at their local grocery store. I call this the “commercial method”. It is like commercials on television. A person has to be ‘watching’ a specific channel at a specific time and hope it is not ignored. While a form of mass communication, this method relies more on the chance that a customer is going to the grocery store at the exact time you will be there.
With this in mind, I offer six other methods to help Units communicate they are sell popcorn.
- Advertise your location site – Ask your location site if you can put up a poster on the Monday before your Unit is scheduled to be at the site. This lets more people know your Unit will be at that location.
- Create a database – Collect all previous order forms and enter that information in a simple database. Once the sale starts, pull out the database and start contacting your previous customers. These are the easiest sales a Scout can make.
- Facebook – Create an Event on Facebook telling your friends about the popcorn sale. This is better than just a post as it requires a response from the friend.
- Twitter – Use Twitter for two things. Tweet out when your Unit will be at their location site and ask others to share. In addition, tweet out the information about how others can buy online. Build a tweet that customers can post after they have purchased a product online showing others how they can do the same.
- ‘Sorry, I Missed You’ Hanger – My son has used an item he places on the door of houses when no one is home. It gives information about when he will be by again and how to order sooner if the customer wishes.
- Create a website – The top online selling Scouts have all created a personal website. It has information about the Scout, activities, and product. In addition, it is easier to tweet out a web site link.
These are just a sample of the many ways to communicate the sale to your customers. I hope this provides a start to thinking of additional ways you can use to promote your Popcorn Sale.