9.07.2005

Marketing 101: Kids Made to SELL

My son just started Kindergarten. He's very excited about the prospect of going to school to learn, get knowledge, and become a marketing powerhouse on the playground.

He's there two lousy weeks and his backpack is already being bombarded with fund-raising materials he can't even read yet!

I'm no idiot. I know this stuff is targeted at me and my wife. And mind you, I have no objections to fund raising in general, or selling in particular. Economies depend on somebody buying something from somebody else. What I do object to is the product choices, the prices, the goals for reward and the lack of suitable sales training.

Let's examine each of these points.
(1) Product Choices: the word "suck" comes to mind in this context. Ugly wrapping paper, seeds for plants that have no chance for survival in this part of the country, childrens books that look like recycled free leaflets at the health center.

(2) Price: With terrible product, even the cutest child will meet with rejection and door slams, which I think is fabulous lesson to teach a 5-year-old - NOT. Add to that the laughable markup charged for the products being peddled, and we have a recipe for esteem-crushing disaster.

(3) Goals: Sell 3000 of item-X (usually the highest-priced and lowest perceived value item) and we'll send you to Disney World! Of course if you do the math, you'll find that you just made $5,000 for the charity, $50,000 for the company providing the materiel, and they're giving you a prize valued at more than the charity makes! Anybody else see a problem with this formula?

4) Lack of Sales Training: With bad product, high prices, and ridiculous goals that can only be met my rich mommy and daddy buying the stuff, kids are set up from the start for disappointment and heartbreak, And anybody who says knocking on doors of total strangers pitching junk is "fun and exciting" will get an earful from me! The schools don't teach kids "how" to sell this junk, they just expect them to "know" how.

I hope that's not the approach they take with reading or math.

1 comment:

Laura in VA said...

Hi, Dennis

Yours is one of only three podcasts I've subscribed to since my husband gave me my new sleek black iPod Nano for my birthday. You had me from the beginning, when you mentioned that your son started Kindergarten and how you were annoyed the school was pushing him to be a salesman. My eldest of two kids, Nathan, has also started Kindergarten this fall. I am not kidding you when I tell you he has been sent home with no less than six fundraising kits since school started (nearly one a week)! The first couple were easy to convince grandparents and co-workers to help out, but it was getting ridiculous after that. (People run away when they see us coming!) It's incredibly frustrating to think that money is so desperately needed at school that our kids are sent to beg on their behalf. Hubby and I just wish if the school needed the money for one thing or another, they'd just ask for it outright! It'd cut the hassle of selling coupon books, overpriced summer sausage, and ordering magazines.