Viking WelcomeA couple of weeks ago, I placed an order with Viking, an office supply company, because they were offering a free coffee maker with every purchase of over 40 euros (it was a particular one I’d been wanting). There are things that are always good to have in stock (printer ink, envelopes, etc), so I placed the order and eagerly awaited the arrival of my coffee maker.

A few days later, my order arrived. Inside was an additional welcome gift for being a new customer: a 2GB iPod mini! I’m totally impressed. It’s a thoughtful, generous, and useful gift. Any company that takes that kind of extra step will get my attention. And while I know it’s a marketing tactic, I’m sold.

I’m a big believer in “going the extra mile” just for the fun of doing it… for the pure fact that it adds something to life instead of detracts. Extrapool, an art organization in the Netherlands, sends their event flyers to their patrons with a piece of candy or bag of tea in every envelope. It’s a low-cost, gratuitously nice gift that adds a splash of fun while getting positive attention from their members.

One of my clients recently set up a private social network. We were looking at the statistics during a review a couple of weeks ago, and found that members were coming to the community but they weren’t staying long. We brainstormed ideas, and one of the things that the organization decided to try was to send a personal email to each new member.

While it does take extra time, sending a personal email gives this organization a chance to connect with each member in a very powerful way. The email can welcome each member and then point out some things that might be of interest to them: groups they might like to join, useful documents, upcoming events, etc. A personal email will get the attention of community members because it’s thoughtful and it will give them useful information.

It doesn’t need to be much, but a thoughtful, generous, and useful greeting to a new member of any organization will always make a difference. What are you doing to welcome your members?