Your Business Online | Professional Jeweler



February 28, 2000
Give and You Shall Receive
The recipient of a gift bought from your site isn't your customer – yet

In their rush to identify Web customers, many e-tailers do some dumb things. One is to presume people who get gifts bought at their company are the company's customer. That's not necessarily true. Gift recipients are just victims of someone else's generosity, notes Bob Dorf, president of Peppers & Rogers Group, a consultant that works with Web-based marketers.

"Recipients have no relationship with the e-gift firm at all," says Dorf. "Nonetheless, most e-gift recipients are almost instantly bombarded by cross-sell." By cross-sell, Dorf refers to e-mail asking "Can we help you?" or some similar marketing offer that many companies make in the normal course of business.

Delivering a gift does represent a marketing opportunity, however, and some e-tailers handle the opportunity well. As an example, Dorf points to Send.com, a high-end gift service that offers products like expensive scotch, wine, cigars, crystal – even golf outings and exotic car rentals. Givers and recipients tend to be affluent and are, therefore, worth bringing into the circle.

Rather than presume a business relationship with the recipient, however, Send.com demonstrates a willingness to interact.

Ten days after the gift arrives, the recipient receives a personalized note from Send.com founder and CEO Michael Lannon, saying, among other things, he hopes the recipient enjoyed the gift and the surprise, and that it had been selected especially for him or her.

Then, in what Dorf called the "piece de resistance," Lannon's note says "I've enclosed a simple acknowledgement card and a stamped envelope, purely for your convenience should you decide to drop a note to the person who sent you the gift."

The card is attractive, not at all commercial, and had only the tiniest Send.com logo on the back. The message was subtle, yet loud and clear: Please don't hesitate to call us if we can be of any service to you in the future.

There were no presumptions of a relationship – just a smart, inexpensive yet elegant way to begin to earn a new commercial relationship on the back of someone else's business relationship with Send.com. A clever strategy for earning, not presuming, the opportunity to gain new customers through relationships with old ones.

- by Mark E. Dixon