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.