Update 2/6/11: It’s that time of year again when Girl Scout Cookies go on sale. This year I witnessed something very cool.

My local office shop has a text message club for patrons to know what is going on for events and deals. On a Friday I get a text from them telling me that they will be having a Girl Scout table on Sunday at their location for people to come and buy cookies. Of course I immediately forward the text to everyone to share the great news! My girlfriend and I quickly scheduled in time to go get and coffee and some cookies.

We show up on one of the coldest days in Fargo and there lies the prize. A table full of Girl Scout cookies. We do our civic duty and purchase a couple boxes of ThinMints and proceed to get our coffee. After sitting down I continue to promote the adventure over Twitter and Facebook. Gotta Love Social Media.

I admire the effort and ingenuity of the coffee shop and the Girl Scouts to piggyback sales from those looking for coffee and others looking for cookies. Talk about a Win-Win for both involved. Great idea. I wanted to make sure others were exposed to it.

A final note: Each box cost $4 this time around.

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Original Post: All marketers strive to have a product recognized by everyone and their mother like Coke Cola or McDonald’s. I heard once that Ronald McDonald is more recognizable to young children than Jesus. I guess that speaks volumes to where more people go on a weekly basis. Anyways, the other day my girlfriend told me that she saw a sign for Girl Scout Cookies in front of a house advertising that people could go there to buy their annual stockpile of Girl Scout Cookies.

girl-scout-cookie-sign

The reason you have to stockpile the cookies is because they are available for a limited time once a year. Once you run out (in about 1 week) you have to wait 50 more weeks to get more. This helps to maintain the exorbitant price they sell these cookies for. I know they sell them to help raise money to do fun things like camping and helping elderly cross the street, but seriously do you need to charge $6 for a few mint wafers? Never mind all of that.

Did you catch the part that they have a sign in front of their house?

I remember helping to raise money as a kid. I had to travel the neighborhood asking my (mostly) polite neighbors if they would buy my overpriced goods to raise money for a good cause. Most the time they declined but nevertheless I was usually in the top fundraiser group at school. I didn’t cheat by having my family buy all my wares to win the competition, but I did go out and pound the pavement. Wow have times changed.

Now these lazy kids get to put a sign in their front yard and probably sell all their cookies because kids like me helped build the brand a long time ago. How long do you think people will keep lining up in front of a house with a sign in the yard to buy cookies before the brand suffers? Sooner or later people won’t care as much about the cookies as they once did because all of the kids quit patrolling the neighborhood trying to sell them. Eventually, the out of sight, out of mind will take hold.

I am not knocking the Girl Scouts for having such a powerful brand as to be able to put a sign in their yard and sell cookies. But I question how sustainable that model of promotion is. I don’t think it would take long before those kids have to go out door to door again to sell their supplies.

I have made a conscious decision to support any entrepreneurial kid that comes my way (including lemonade stands). But if they expect me to go out of my way to buy overpriced anything without effort on their part, they are sadly mistaken. If they came to my house and said I could buy all the cookies I want by going to the house with the sign in the yard, I would probably go and do so.

I guess the biggest lesson here is to understand how much brand equity you and your product have and then how much of that equity you are willing to spend. Brand equity is a continual balance that must always be replenished at some point and is a very important thing to monitor.

Has anyone else seen these Girl Scout Cookie signs around? How does that make you feel about the brand image they are trying to project?