Why The Boy Scout Who Sold Me Caramel Corn Is A Marketing Prodigy

Why The Boy Scout Who Sold Me Caramel Corn Is A Marketing Prodigy
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Remember when we sold cookies and candy for fundraisers as kids?  We would knock on people’s doors with a catalogue and ask them to buy whatever we were selling to support our organization.  Then mom and dad would hit up their co-workers because everyone supported each other’s kids.  When it was all said and done, we would collect the money, deliver the goods and pretty much forget about it.

Last year, a Boy Scout named Donovan, who couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12, knocked on our door and said he was selling popcorn and other treats to raise money for the Boy Scouts and our troops.  I expected to see a tattered catalogue, but my jaw dropped when he pulled out his iPad and started to go through his presentation.

Donovan completely blew me away, and I got to enjoy the sequel when he knocked on my door again a few weeks ago.  It wasn’t any slick sales gimmick, because I could tell that he’s a good kid with the best intentions.  He just happened to have a completely authentic, rejection-proof marketing strategy that any business owner or marketing professional would be smart to copy.  He also gives new meaning to the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.”

The iPad presentation would make any marketer shed a tear.

How many pre-teens do you know who could stand in front of a complete stranger and breeze through a presentation on an iPad as if they had been doing it for years, and do it in a thoughtful, sincere and compelling way?  I have to say, he had me at hello.

He told a compelling, personal story.

Donovan has a family member serving in the Middle East, which is a big part of what motivated him to sell more than $7,000 worth of treats last year, best in town and among the top 10 in the Northeast.  Both factors made me feel good about getting involved instead of just buying a bucket of popcorn.

He created a brand.

Thanks to his success, people started calling Donovan the “Popcorn Scout,” and it stuck so he embraced it.  Donovan went so far as to claim the ThePopcornScout.com domain, which takes you to his Facebook page.

The offer was irresistible.

How do you turn down the opportunity to help the Boy Scouts, our troops and a hardworking young man who gave such an impressive presentation?  Yes, I said opportunity.  I felt like I was given an opportunity, not a sales pitch.  Donovan even managed to sneak a subtle upsell in there, but because I was so impressed and knew he only had the best intentions, I could only smile.  Hey, we all have a job to do, right?

He engages his customers.

The day after I made my purchase, I received an email from Donovan that included a summary of my order and a big thank you.  He also invited me to go to ThePopcornScout.com, where I could leave feedback about what I bought, read his Scout Stories and comments from the troops, and learn more about the Boy Scouts, among other things.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you use Facebook for business.  By the way, when I made my purchase this year, he already had my contact information from last year, which was saved in his database.

Needless to say, I bought candy and donated a few bucks for our troops.  Thanks to his hard work, preparation and genuinely likable demeanor, Donovan the Popcorn Scout has a customer for the rest of his Boy Scout life.  Great marketing strategy, great kid.

Are you working this hard on your marketing strategy?

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Scott McKelvey
Scott helps business owners enhance their brand, build relationships and increase revenue by developing marketing messages that focus on the needs of their clients. Scott writes content for all things marketing, from websites and blogs to web videos and brochures. As Creative Director for New Jersey’s largest radio stations and TargetSpot, the nation’s largest internet radio advertising network, Scott has helped local, regional and national brands maximize ROI by combining powerful messaging with strategic geographic and demographic targeting. Scott's philosophy is simple: Show your target audience how your product can solve a real problem or fill a real need in their lives and you'll build a base of loyal customers. Visit Scott's site for more about his writing philosophy and experience.
Scott McKelvey
Scott McKelvey
  • http://www.facebook.com/ScottFisherCHA Scott Fisher

    Donovan thanks you for your kind story, Mr. McKelvey. (He’s a Scout, so it’s still Mr.!) Check out the response to the article. It’s good to see that the Boy Scouts of America and “Support Our Troops” are still popular topics in America.

    When you talk about “How many pre-teens do you know who could stand in front of a complete stranger . . . ” I actually told Donovan last year that HE was one of my heroes. I think his response was something that reminded be ABRUPTLY that he was still just 10 years old. (Oh well, dads have to have their moments — even if short-lived.)THANKS AGAIN!

  • Jerry Pittman

    Donovan The Popcorn Scout came to see me again this year too. I agree Mr. McKelvey, he is a great person to know. Needless to say I made the same purchase as last year and all the info was at his fingertips. This year my Better Half answered the door and she knew who he was and called me to the door also. That was a very nice blog you wrote and I can’t wait to see Donovan again next time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ScottFisherCHA Scott Fisher

    Another
    GREAT WEEK for Donovan “The Popcorn Scout” supporting the Scouts and
    also the Troops around the world serving our country! Last year ended at
    $7011 and this year is approaching $5000 with nearly $1200 in Support
    Our Troops donations!

    Way to go on those 180+
    “Likes” already for your article Donovan! Pretty Popular! Even having
    some new “fans” going to your “Shop Now” tab at ThePopcornScout.com and “Supporting Our Troops”
    right from your Facebook Page. Pretty PROUD!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ScottFisherCHA Scott Fisher

    UPDATE FROM DAD: Although he has a bit of popcorn remaining for another good weekend worth of sales, the 2011 Popcorn Season is coming to a close for Donovan “The Popcorn Scout.” Thanks again for the Shout-Out on Rahvalor Blog. I’m sure Donovan will see everyone again next year as he scouts to Eagle. Over $9200 later since starting this year, I look back on dozens of hours following Donovan around and delivering popcorn from the car while listening on Speakerphone as he improved upon his interactions and built the relationships with his customers. He turns 12 on Thanksgiving. Feel free to stop by ThePopcornScout.com and wish him a Happy Birthday.

  • PopPop

    It is August 2012, and “popcorn season” starts next week. I know that the Popcorn Scout has been practicing with his iPad, and getting ready for another year. If you live in his neighborhood, you can purchase directly from him, if not visit thepopcornscout.com and purchase popcorn from him, or send some popcorn to the US Troops.

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      We’re spreading the word! Glad we were able to hear Donovan’s story again, he’s an amazing kid!

    • Scott_McKelvey

      Great idea about sending popcorn to the troops. I know some of the troops expressed their gratitude on Donovan’s Facebook page!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ScottFisherCHA Scott Fisher

    UPDATE FROM DAD: With $16,167 Sold in 2012, Donovan “The Popcorn Scout” finished FOURTH in the United States among all Scouts. (There are over 6 million that could have sold popcorn last year!) THANK YOU to all “TPS” supporters — especially those on the list at the top of the page at http://ThePopcornScout.com/

  • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

    Wow, that’s fantastic! In a few years I want Donovan on my marketing team :) Congrats!