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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Work Smart To Earn Online Customers

Online customers are even more demanding than those who can look you straight in the eye.

Key Question:


Make the searching and buying as quick and easy as you can afford.  Unfortunately it still takes major money to make online buying smooth.  

Search for more on the topic of customer service and technology and click on the question for more answers.

Think about it

What do your online customers complain to you about?  What steps do you need to take to make the user experience more elegant?  What have you done online that works well?

Clip from: PC Flowers & Gifts

Stamford, Connecticut:  Bill Tobin has always risen to a challenge. He's always been an entrepreneur. When FTD Florist told him to go away, he began looking to find a way to take over. He said, "I had to do it. I had to do it. Everybody said it couldn't be done. Everybody said, `It won't work.' "

When this episode of the show was taped, Bill Tobin was selling more flowers than any one person in the world. He started PC Flowers and Gifts in 1989 and by 1996 he had become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in cyberspace. Though he sold the business to Figis, he continues to leverage his knowledge with strategic cyber partners throughout the world.  
Among other things Bill established over 2,700 co-branded web sites. In 2000, Bill was awarded a patent for web co-branding protocols. 

PC Flowers & Gifts

Bill Tobin, Founder

134 Davenport Circle
Stamford, CT 06902

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:
Internet Sales

Year Founded: 1989

Work Smart To Earn Online Customers

HATTIE: Bill, what is PC Flowers & Gifts?

BILL: It's the most comprehensive floral and gift service in the interactive world today.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) In 1989, in partnership with the online service Prodigy, Bill Tobin started PC Flowers, and in 1994, he expanded.

BILL: I instantaneously used push-pull technology, which is the latest technology, cutting-edge technology to give you motion, to say, `OK, we sell greeting cards. We sell Valentine's Day roses. We sell flowers of all kinds, plants of all kinds. We sell balloons. We sell bears. We sell gourmet foods. And we sell gift baskets.'

HATTIE: So all this is happening for me, I don't have to do anything?

BILL: Nothing. I believe that on the Internet, as in an online service, you must earn the right of the consumer to tell them about your commercial message.

You can't be as intrusive as you are with traditional channels and means of advertising--TV, radio, print media and so forth.

HATTIE: Is that because the user is a different kind of customer?

BILL: Yes. This is a highly educated user. This is a user that is used to our laser-beam approach to what they want. This is a user that won't put up with a waste of their time, and it's a user that's very demanding. Believe me when I tell you that the marketing to online consumers is so different than to consumers as channels of distribution. They are far more demanding, and basically, the reason is that they have total control. If you anger a consumer in your traditional channel of sales, such as a catalog or a retail store, they won't come back.

HATTIE: Right.

BILL: They possibly might even call your number and complain. On an online network, the sword of Damocles drops with a keystroke. They can go and tell 10 million people how you ruined their mother's Mother's Day by going on a chat service, and they have a sword that has never been before over any type of retailer or marketer.

HATTIE: Right.

BILL: And you can use it to your advantage or you--it can destroy you. The Internet consumer or the interactive consumer is far more demanding than any other consumer you've ever dealt with. He's smarter, he's better educated, he has more money and don't think he's going to take all this time to go through because it's your ugly child site. We've put together--Magnet Studios has designed my site to the point where it's instantaneous gratification, and it must be that way.

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