DON�T Send Flowers (If You Want to Keep a Customer).

We all love added value. Unexpected treats work big time. Well, most of the time.

The following tale of woe falls into the category of �don�t do this at home�. In fact, doing it at home is fine; it�s when it happens at work that it becomes problematic.

What�s �it�?

Picture this scene: there�s me busily working away in the office minding my own business when a courier arrives bearing gifts. Or A gift.

Think of the biggest, most sumptuous bunch of flowers you�ve ever seen. Then double it.

Another key part of the picture was that working in the office alongside me was my beautiful, newly ensconced Hungarian girlfriend. Did I mention the fiery Hungarian thing? Anyway, you get the picture.

Everything that happened next seemed to�be�in slow motion.

The courier asked for me by name. Bewildered, like any self-respecting man would be as he confronted his impending doom, I answered. Yes, the flowers were for me.

Now I can�t begin to imagine what my girlfriend was thinking at that point but the two metaphorical holes that were being bored into the back of my head as I signed for the flowers gave me some clue.

They were from my new, young, and yes, female masseuse. This was her way of welcoming me to her practice. I never found out why she chose the very expensive option of sending flowers as a relationship building strategy. A hand written thank-youcard would have worked just as well.

What happened next was, shall we say, sub-optimal. Now that some time has passed, I can say that Susan was �actively intrigued� that a woman would send me flowers just to thank me for my patronage. OK, she was furious and she took a lot of convincing that I was the �victim� of a misguided marketing strategy.

Not surprisingly, the flowers did not engender greater loyalty from me to my now former masseuse. As well-meaning as her strategy was, it failed the marketing 101 test: having empathy with how it will be received and, more importantly, perceived by the recipient.

Perhaps SHE�D love to receive flowers from a new supplier so why not send it to a new customer. Maybe she was single and didn’t have to consider how her partner would view her receiving a beautiful bunch of flowers from another person.

Frankly, I never found out. After a very short phone call explaining that what she did was not a fabulous idea from my perspective I haven�t spoken to her since.

Add value by all means but before you do so, consider how it will be received by the target market. If there�s even the slightest chance it could have a negative impact, don�t do it.

Make sure your �WOW!!� doesn’t turn into �WHAT?????�


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Peter Applebaum

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