Fortune cookieFortune cookie photo via SodaHead

The best confirmation email ever written

When Derek Sivers first built his business, he set up a standard confirmation email to let customers know their order had been shipped. After a few months, Derek felt that this email wasn’t aligned with his mission — to make people smile. So he sat down and wrote a better one.

“Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed on 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!”
— Derek Sivers, Anything You Want

The result didn’t just delight customers. That one email brought thousands of new customers to CD Baby. The people who got it couldn’t help sharing it with their friends. Try Googling “private CD Baby jet”; you’ll find over 900,000 search results to date. Derek’s email has been cited by business blogs the world over as an example of how to authentically put your words to work for your business.

The Fortune Cookie Principle

The Fortune Cookie Principle is available in paperback and Kindle on /

“This should be the next book you read. Urgent, leveraged and useful, it will change your business like nothing else.”
— Seth Godin

A few other book recommendations here.

Interesting thoughts from Bernadette about working with a publisher versus self-publishing.

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June 17, 2013


I guess the main thing we could learn from that email is to be different. To stand out amongst your competitors and become the purple cow.

Thanks for the link to the book David, I’ll be making my purchase now. :)

I love stories like this. So inspirational – and yet came from changing such a simple thing. I think we sometimes forget that changing our approach to certain processes can have such a big impact. Derek did an incredible job on the email confirmation and I will be purchasing this book.

Some advertisers treat people like they are stupid.
Most people like to be challenged, amused or intrigued.
Hats off to this guy for trying a more unusual approach – and the fact that it worked!

David, thanks for pointing this gem my way.

The only problem I foresee is what I call the “Copy Off” syndrome. Thanks to the book and Derek, there would be at least 2000+ badly written emails that try but lack that certain something and the businesses may be wondering what is going on? At least this is what I think. :)

We have already seen the number of clone sites that this and LDL have generated. :)

– Lak

No probs, Mark. Rahat, Jamie, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the read.

I agree, Lak. There’ll be a lot of duds floating about, probably because it takes more than just a change to an email. If the words in the email aren’t cohesive with how a company’s people deal with other aspects of work then it’ll just seem off.

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