800Dessert.com Offers Sweet Tooth Sweepstakes

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Food Web site 800Dessert.com plans to launch today the first of many promotions seeking to entice consumers and food service businesses interested in purchasing key lime pies, cheesecakes and other dessert products.

"There's no one in our space right now. We have a narrow focus just on desserts," said Scott Bernstein, president of 800Dessert.com, Rochelle Park, NJ. "We're not just a pure business-to-consumer play; we're also targeting the hotel and restaurant trade. We're really filling a nice little [niche]."

To lure consumers' appetites to the site, 800Dessert.com will run a number of creative contests. The first, its "Send Your Mother-In-Law Away" promotion, launches today and runs through May 14. Consumers can go to the site and register a mother-in-law they'd like to send away. The winner will receive a cruise to Mexico or the Bahamas courtesy of WinDaily.com. First prize is a holiday gift basket from Alicia's Gourmet valued at $80; second prize is a bouquet from FlowersUSA.com, and third prize is a gift tin of 10 Madeline mini-cakes.

"By having them sign up their mother-in-law, this automatically gives me two people to try to sell desserts to," Bernstein said. "I can now e-mail them special offers."

Entering the contest also automatically enrolls the consumer in the Dessert Club. Everyone who enters receives, via e-mail, $20 in Dessert Dollars that can be spent at the site.

Users can earn $2 in Dessert Dollars for every $10 they spend on the site. "This [messes up] my margins, but it helps me move my products and establish a loyal customer base," said Bernstein.

Dessert Dollars expire after six months. The site will notify consumers when their dollars are about to expire and offer to double them if the consumer comes back to spend them.

Other upcoming promotions will include "Tacky Tie Day" for Father's Day, in which consumers will be encouraged to send in a picture of one of Dad's ugliest ties. For Christmas, the site is planning its "Six Degrees of Fruit Cake" promotion. Whoever can mail a fruitcake around the world using six different locations in the quickest amount of time will win a free trip around the world.

"There's a lot of clutter out there. We're not going to pretend to compete on that level," said Bernstein. "We're going to start with conservative, meaningful online marketing campaigns coupled with monthly promotions and public relations."

800Dessert.com will make modest banner buys to promote itself online. The site is launching with 34 vendors and will likely boost this number to 100 shortly.

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