Wild A. Freeborn, sporting pigtails and the trademark green vest, ends her sales pitch for Girl Scout cookies with a simple appeal:
“Buy cookies! And they’re yummy!”
That’s where the YouTube video ends and the social networking begins for Freeborn, a Girl Scout with Troop 71 in Asheville. With a little help from her father, former Asheville City Council member Bryan Freeborn, the enterprising young woman is using a variety of Internet social networks in an attempt to sell a whopping 12,000 boxes of cookies—enough to pay for the whole troop to attend summer camp, he says.
“We’re hoping there’s a lot of success in the approach,” says Freeborn, who is chief operating officer of Top Floor Studio, a local Web-design company. “And we hope Wild learns a valuable lesson in networking and building relationships.”
Freeborn says he posted the short YouTube video last week and then followed up by creating a Web site. He also used Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and del.icio.us to spread the word about his daughter’s cookie push in cyberspace. The idea, says Freeborn, came after he and Top Floor Chief Executive Officer Ty Hallock gave a presentation about online marketing to a UNCA class. After the video and sales announcement went online Jan. 23, Freeborn says his daughter racked up pre-orders for more than 400 boxes of cookies after having gathered 40 pre-orders by going door to door in her neighborhood.
“Part of the reason the Girl Scouts sell cookies is to teach girls about entrepreneurship and networking,” notes Freeborn. “We thought we could save some time and effort, sell more cookies and learn” from the process.
Tamara Blankenship, product sales manager for the Girl Scouts of Western North Carolina Pisgah Council, says she’s seen Girl Scouts be creative in their sales, but Wild Freeborn “has definitely taken it a step further.”
Blankenship says girls have had to think of new ways to sell since the organization, worried about children’s safety, discouraged them from going door to door. Today, the most common sales method is setting up a booth in front of a store, she reports. The average Girl Scout sells about 180 boxes of cookies, notes Blankenship, adding that the local council’s 2,100 Girl Scouts sold 322,076 boxes of Thin Mints and other assorted flavors last year. A box of cookies costs $3.50.
“The cookie sales make up about half of our annual budget, and we use the money to offset fees for programs” and provide scholarships, Blankenship explains.
Last last week, the Girl Scouts of America asked Bryan Freeborn to take down the YouTube video, worried that it might violate regulations regarding Internet sales. But Freeborn says he’s certain the video doesn’t break any rules, and it’s still posted on the Web site Top Floor created for his daughter.
“We hope this takes off,” he says.