The annual cookie program is a major fundraiser for the Girl Scouts of the Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys Council (River Valleys) (www.girlscoutsrv.org). Encouraging Scout participation is critical to the success of the program. In the past, staff had provided vital information through a monthly e-mail that only reached parents or troop leaders. River Valleys felt that communicating directly with girls would be important to growing the success of the cookie program. They needed a communication solution that would:
- Improve communication about the cookie program to Scouts and their parents.
- Engage three key segments: newcomers in Kindergarten through third grade, Scout parents and older Scouts who need extra encouragement.
River Valleys worked with Tom Kubinski at Sexton Strategic (www.sextonstrategic.com), a marketing firm based in St. Paul, MN, to develop a multichannel marketing program that engaged their membership in the cookie program. With the targeted 2010 program, River Valleys reduced its overall marketing spend while increasing the effectiveness of the campaign.
First wave: ‘Welcome Cookie Rookies’
This part of the campaign was targeted toward newcomers to the cookie program and consisted of an 11 × 17-inch sheet folded into a 5⅝ × 11-inch mailer. The mailer was customized with 12 variable fields including the girl's name and program level within Girl Scouts (Daisies, Brownies, or Juniors).
The mailer included a static cling car decal stating, “Girl Scout Cookies On Board,” and four smaller stickers to be worn by the Scout identifying her as a “Girl Scout Cookie Rookie.” This piece was intended to create excitement, engage the girl and family, and provide them with valuable online tools. This campaign was deemed as a success due to these factors:
- Multiple vehicles in the council's service area (the southern half of MN and western WI) were seen with the decals. It created great buzz and generated several calls from Girl Scouts who did not receive them to inquire how to order them.
- Many recipients who had not opened their own mailers requested the stickers after they saw other girls with them.
- The stickers helped build confidence in the girls who participated in their very first door-to-door program by letting the buyer know that this was the girl's first time or that they were new Girl Scouts. The River Valleys marketing team believes that this helped increase orders in this segment.
Second wave: ‘Thank U Berry Munch’
Segmented static postcards were sent to the parents of returning Girl Scout Daisies, Brownies and Juniors. This run consisted of 11 × 6-inch postcards produced conventionally with inkjet overprinting. These included information specific to the program level and got the girls excited about participating again.
Third wave: ‘Girl Scout C.E.O.’
This part of the campaign targeted 10,400 returning junior and senior high school age girls (Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors). The goal of this communication was to increase retention and engagement within this seasoned group.
An 11 × 6-inch postcard was mailed to Scouts encouraging them to visit a personalized URL (PURL). The landing page provided information on Girl Scouts' older girl program, “Cookie Executive Officer” (C.E.O.), which encourages girls to think about the cookie program in a business plan style.
Recipients were asked to complete a survey providing feedback on the cookie program and suggestions for improvement. The survey asked:
- Their favorite part of the cookie program.
- Why they think older girls participate in the cookie program.
- What types of materials, resources and programs they would like to see for older Girl Scouts.
- How they gather information and how they would specifically like to receive information from River Valleys.
River Valleys can use this program to tailor future communications and programs to meet the needs of their older Girl Scouts.
The integrated campaign contributed to greater Scout engagement, which in turn supported exceeding the council's cookie program goal. River Valleys' reduction in incoming calls showed that girls and families felt informed about the program. And 12% of targeted older Girl Scouts visited their PURL and completed an online survey, giving their feedback on the cookie program.
A critical success factor with this campaign was the ability to speak directly to the girls with relevant information. The campaign was successful in driving people to the website, where they could gather the right information in a timely and easy-to-understand manner. In the “C.E.O.” mailing, in particular, the marketing team found great value in the ability to see real-time response rates and survey results via their campaign dashboard. For the other audiences, the greatest benefit was engaging younger girls and families and getting them the best resources possible by empowering them to seek information online.
Best practices learned from this solution:
- Communicate directly with your audience | Relying on others to pass on your message, even if they are parents or other adults, can be tricky when you are trying to reach children or teenagers. By sending mailers directly to Scouts, River Valleys reached their intended target.
- Make it relevant | Providing age-level appropriate information to the Scouts and their families helped to engage them in the cookie program. The segmentation also allowed River Valleys to tailor its messages to the interests of each group.
First mailer: Xerox DocuColor 7000 with Creo RIP
Second mailer: Heidelberg Offset and Scitex Inkjet
Third mailer: Xerox DocuColor 7000 with Creo RIP
First and third mailer: XMPie
First and third mailers produced using PPML print language
Fugitive glue shut
First mailer: 10,400 pieces
Second mailer: 23,100 postcards
Third mailer: 10,400 postcards
This article appears courtesy of PODi, the Digital Printing Initiative (www.podi.org).