The Difference Between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts Outside the Grocery Store
The Boy Scouts of America have really got to hire a marketing expert to have a little talk with the way they let the Scouts raise money outside of grocery stores because at this point I swear it feels like I am being accosted by tiny, well-prepared drug dealers.
Photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar
Let me explain.
I go to the store every day because I don't believe in stocking up on food when I live with two impossibly picky eaters. That means that during Girl Scout cookie time and Boy Scout... coupon book time (That does not flow well at all) I see the Scouts of both sexes very regularly and get a pretty good idea of their methods of presentations.
With the girls I have absolutely zero problems. Each set up outside my local Kroger features a nice table with the various cookies all neatly arranged in professional piles. There are usually hand drawn signs to go along with them to give the table that whimsical, childhood touch. Clearly, each stand is a Place of Business representing a brand you can trust.
The girls themselves are always decked out nicely in their uniforms, full of smiles and in one delightful case this year with a prepared song and dance number. Their mothers or fathers stand back near the excess stock, always ready to help replenish the dwindling piles or help with change or other duties. All in all, it's a grand, adorable microcosm of capitalist society.
The Boy Scouts do not do this.
First of all, they're selling coupon books. Look, I know that they are up against the mother of all competition (Literally) with the Girl Scout's cookies. That's a tough bantha to break, and I don't really have a better suggestion. Dried meat snacks? OK, hey, it looks like I did have a better suggestion after all.
There's nothing wrong with coupon books in general. In fact, they can be both a great way to save money and at the same time get acquainted with local businesses. However, they make for very poor presentation. No big colorful boxes, no stacks, nothing. There's no table involved, and the accompanying parent is usually sprawled dejectedly in a nearby folding chair instead.
Most of the time the Boy Scouts just keep the books in their pockets, and their sales pitch is usually to walk up to you as you exit the store, whip out the book from their pockets, and ask quietly if you want one. That was the actual language I heard on several occasions, by the way. "You want one of these?'.
I grew up in East Houston, OK? This is exactly how drug dealers used to come up to me coming out of convenience stores. It doesn't help that it's been somewhat rainy lately and the Scouts are donning hoodies over their uniforms, sliding the non-descript looking folded paper in a way that completely obscures what it is from their pockets in a manner I can only describe as shady.
Boys? You need to come up with a better plan than this. I have no doubt that you're approaching the whole thing with the absolute best of intentions and pushing a product that you believe in. It's not coming across how you think it is, though. I'm telling you, a table heaped with jerky is the way too go. It's woodsy and manly and the meal of the prepared explorer.
You'll thank me in the end.