Girl Scout cookies – Differentiating the customer experience

It is a fair bet that all across corporate America, moms and dads are currently embroiled in a familiar marketing challenge – selling their daughter’s Girl Scout cookies to their colleagues. I’m new at this and have already seen how this exercise has some surprising lessons for customer experience professionals.

My daughter is the “newbie,” consider this her rookie year, if you will. So naturally this is my first experience in asking my coworkers for a small donation of their hard earned dollars.  To make matters even more interesting, my workplace has been dominated by one individual (let’s call him Brad) over the past several years.  Brad has a daughter that is several years older than mine and he has been the market leader within our workplace.   Because of this long standing sole-source environment, my colleagues have not had a true choice in their purchase of Girl Scout cookies.

As I developed my strategy, questions abound. How do I sway colleagues to buy from me? Are they are trapped because they have never had a true option? What if Brad has taken the necessary steps to develop loyal relationships? How do I differentiate? After all, this is a highly commoditized product – everyone sells the same EXACT product for the same EXACT price. My plan evolves and I am focused on challenging the market leader by differentiating on the customer experience. Girl Scout

FIRST, I invested in a two-pronged launch strategy. (1) To assist in reaching the projected revenue target for the project, I have chosen to offer a reward to the person that buys the greatest number of boxes, and (2) I offered to include ALL participants in a drawing for a gift card to a local eatery (everyone has to eat, right?).

SECOND, I have deployed the trusty, emotional pull by sending all recipients a picture of my daughter in her Girl Scout Uniform with cookies in tow.

THIRD, I provided additional product information – a descriptive offering of each cookie (albeit more for humor than nutritional facts).

FOURTH, I offered additional service – to personally deliver each order to the recipient. This will be another way of differentiating my services since Brad has been able to summon customers to come to him to pick up their orders.

The jury is still out as to whether or not my strategy will succeed, but you can anticipate that it just might prompt another blog post.

Regardless, I couldn’t help noticing how this simple little scenario had very real customer experience strategy lessons. Think about it – when entering new markets, there are several considerations that need to be accounted for.  Whether we are trying to move some cookies or a very complex product/service offering, we must differentiate the customer experience.  Understanding your competitor’s weaknesses, the alternative choices, the switching costs, the commoditization of the offering, the communication strategy for getting your message out to the targeted audience and the uniqueness that you can bring to your brand will all play a major factor in your ability to succeed.So, whether you are selling Girl Scout cookies or widgets, think about your customer strategy. And if you are interested in making a donation of cookies to our troops (Operation Cookie Drop), please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Michael Good
Vice President



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