The fun is in the details

When you buy a CD from Amazon, you get a confirmation email. When you buy a CD from the indie music giant CD Baby, you get a comic masterpiece:

Thanks for your order with CD Baby!

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 world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan 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.

We hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. In commemoration, we have placed your picture on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sigh…

We miss you already. We’ll be right here at www.cdbaby.com patiently awaiting your return…

All your friends at CD Baby

This email took CD Baby founder Derek Sivers all of 20 minutes to write. But notice how much memorable detail he crammed into less than 200 words. What a picture he paints! The exaggerated reverence—satin pillow, 50 employees polishing the CD, packaging it to ship in the light of an artisanal candle, the transportation by “private CD Baby jet.” (By the way, if you’d like to receive your very own copy of this email, just buy something from CD Baby. Here’s a great place to start.)

Just as my father told me many years ago, when you make people laugh they remember you. Email hadn’t been invented yet, so he spoke of a physical letter being passed around an office. Well, CD Baby’s email has been passed around the digital office: Google the phrase “private CD Baby jet” and you’ll find more than 60,000 citations. And who can begin to count all the readers those citations have reached?

By the way, Zappos seems to have gotten in on the act now. I just received this acknowledgment of a return:

Greetings Elaine Bennett,

Thank you for shopping with Zappos.com! We wanted to let you know that your return is back safe and sound in our warehouse. That trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house went smoothly.

I had no idea grandmother worked at Zappos. I hope they’re paying her well.

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