A Girl Scout in Los Angeles made the LA Times this week for setting up shop outside a pot dispensary. She sold 117 boxes within two hours, almost a box a minute.
Let’s pretend for a second that there aren’t adults in favor and adults against this young lady’s location choice — and just look at the location.
It’s an example of thinking outside the obvious.
For decades Girl Scouts have been going door-to-door throughout their neighborhoods and camping out in front of local grocery stores, Walmarts and other “family friendly” locations. These are the obvious locations — sell where other families might shop themselves.
When it was my turn, my sale-to-minute rate was along the lines of one box sold to every 20-to-30 minutes spent knocking on doors. That rate decreased as my age increased. The old lady on the corner had a large heart and an open wallet for the eight year old, but that 13 year old was shit out of luck because other eight year olds had taken her place…
Same low sales rate when selling in front of stores. Store shoppers weren’t there for Girl Scout cookies, and they usually didn’t arrive hungry, so cookies were often a pity or impulse buy — or because the seller was their daughter, granddaughter, neighbor, niece, best-friend’s daughter, niece’s best friend’s daughter, “best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend[‘s]” sister…
So where else to sell the cookies? I’ll leave that specific answer to the parents and Girl Scouts, but it’s a question to think about when selling your book or painting or film or album — or whatever it is you’ve created.
Years ago, I’d hear sales reps discuss “special sales,” which were along the lines of the pot dispensary. They were sales into places that weren’t bookstores, but sold books. Think Wholefoods, Restoration Hardware, Urban Outfitters, etc. — stores that either have a small book section or that use books as props, but also sell them.
I wouldn’t call them “special” anymore as they’re the way and not just a special way these days.
The mistake made with special sales is pitching places that seem obvious to the seller (Girl Scouts selling in front of grocery stores) but aren’t where some prime buyers are shopping (pot dispensary).
For example, I’ve listened to publisher after publisher complain about not getting their military-related/themed books into military base exchanges. To them, the most obvious audience is the active-duty military community. Afterall, if someone is in the military, they must spend all their free-time reading about military-related topics, too, right? And, the obvious place for them to buy these books is within the military exchange stores.
Hit them where they hang out — not just where they work.
It’s the same idea behind seeing a Star Wars-themed book within the Star Wars-themed bedding display in Pottery Barn for Kids. The store itself isn’t the obvious go-to store for Star Wars fans, but… They shop there, too.
A few years ago I spotted a copy of a book from the Art of Manliness team, smack dab in the middle of a window display for a Las Vegas men’s store. It served as both decoration and product. Added to the window dressing and was for sale, too.
When you pull your possible sales list, don’t ignore the obvious. But, if a location and/or audience is obvious to you, it/they’re likely obvious and over-targeted by others, too.
What’s the place where can you sell almost one unit a minute in two hours?