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Direct Mag

September 26, 2007

GourmetStation Markets Fancy Dinners Online

By Larry Riggs

After trying an initial local print campaign that proved too costly, GourmetStation.com is using a completely online strategy to market its fancy dinners.

The business was started in 1997 by Donna Lynes-Miller, who had been an executive at various food-related companies. The Atlanta-based firm markets gourmet Parisian, Tuscan, Cajun, Fusion and Americana style dinners as gifts.

The site is currently relying on search engine optimization, using such keywords as "gourmet dinners" and "food gifts." On Google's organic listings this week, the company ranked at numbers two and three under "gourmet dinners" and at number nine under "food gifts."

So far, GourmetSttion.com has pulled in about 22,000 customers, says Lynes-Miller. Anecdotal evidence shows customers tend to be between the ages of 30 and 50 with incomes around $70,000. And the majority of buyers are female, a not surprising fact since women tend to be gift givers, she adds.

For the past six months or so, GourmetStation.com has been running an affiliate marketing program, which now accounts for about 15% of its business. Lynes-Miller says she's self-financed her company, with the help of an "angel. " She notes that GourmetStation.com survived the dot-com bust of a few years ago largely through "tenacity" and its appeal to an upscale niche audience.

Next month, the company plans its first foray into retail by opening a shop in the gated community of Big Canoe, GA, north of Atlanta. Lynes-Miller hopes this outlet will help drive people to the Web site.

But in general, she plans to stay with the online marketing model because of the high margins it yields, which isn't always the norm in the food business.

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