In 1998, entrepreneur and former circus ring leader, Derek Sivers founded CD Baby which became the world’s largest online distributor of independent music.
When someone bought a CD, Derek set up a short automatic email that thanked them for their purchase and offered a support email and phone number if they had any questions or issues.
The email read “Your order has shipped today. Please let us know if it doesn’t arrive. Thank you for your business.”
Then one day, on a whim, Derek ‘massaged’ his message to customers into something that many marketing people say is the best email ever written.
It went like this:
“Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.
I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year”. We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!”
Derek says he wrote the email because his mission in business was to make people smile. I think he succeeded brilliantly.
Ten years later, Derek sold CD Baby for a reported $22 Million.
I learned about this email and Derek’s story by listening to a Podcast by one of my favourite writers & podcasters Tim Ferriss.
Tim wrote a book called ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ which became my manual for successfully moving to Canada while still being able to maintain my businesses in Australia. It’s an amazing and inspiring read.
Anyway, back to Derek’s email.
There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun and making people smile. Okay, Derek is a gifted writer, but he also had the courage to do something completely different to what people would expect. He just wrote it as he would say it.
He let his personality loose on that email and real and lasting success followed.
Here is Tim’s interview with Derek. He’s a great guy and I know you’ll enjoy it.
Can I suggest you sign up to get Tim’s regular podcasts? He has some great guests and I think he’s one of the best interviewers going around because he doesn’t race, he doesn’t talk over his guests and he thoroughly researches each guest to ask excellent questions. When it comes to marketing, Tim is my benchmark and the inspiration for my own podcast.
Speaking of being inspired, I’ve almost finished writing a book about my experiences over the last ten years and how I’m able to operate remotely. It’s called Working From Roam. I’ll let you know when I’m done. 🙂