The Crazy Cypriot

A short story about a customer that still sends shivers down my spine..

Okay, so he wasn’t crazy, far from it, but I just wish he’d let me know what he was about to do…

This was back in the days when I ran my own ecommerce business. We had a great little high street shop in a quaint Surrey village. A converted smithy, fully decked in brick inside and out and oozed a warm, intimate environment. The walls were decked with rare guitars and accompanying guitar memorabilia. Nothing inspires a purchase like Jimi Hendrix staring down at you.

I’d built for my customers the guitar shop I’d want to visit myself.

I spent every Saturday in the store. I probably got in the way of my store manager, but I loved being involved with the conversations taking place. A boss' prerogative, right?

Customer Insight 101.

It was busy, but never crowded. Customers happy shared their dreams of owning the guitars now found in touching distance right there on my wall. Selling the guitar was never a challenge. Selling the justification was. Logic vs Emotion.

Enter the Cypriot...

It was around 4pm and the walls still reverberated the tones of Gibsons and Fenders when a chap walked in wheeling a small suitcase. He spoke to my store manager who, with a worried look on his face, headed across to me explaining how our visitor had just travelled in from Gatwick following a flight from Cyprus. He’d come about the guitar I mentioned on an email to him earlier in the week? My brain raced, I’d sent a LOT of email that week, but I couldn’t recall this exchange. Yikes.

Whilst chatting to my store manager, our Cypriot friend had carefully unloaded a guitar from our display and he sat atop an amplifier playing intently. I wandered across, warily, and introduced myself. ‘IAN, THIS IS THE ONE!’ he proclaimed. It turns out that having received my newsletter he’d fallen in love with a late-70s Wine Red Les Paul Custom I'd just received in stock. Now, rather than any sane person I know, he decided to head out on a 4 hour flight to England SPECIFICALLY to purchase that guitar.

Crazy? Oh, you know, rather than email to confirm the guitar was in stock or maybe put down a deposit, he packed an overnighter, pocketed his passport and boarded the next plane to our little shop in Surrey. Bonkers.

It scares me to this day to think what would have happened if that guitar had sold before he arrived.

So, Ian what's the takeaway for your work?

1.) people do the craziest things!

2.) my weekly emails were written with a specific customer in mind. Looking back, that customer was myself. It wasn’t a ‘newsletter’ per se, it was more of a personal letter sent from a yabbering, over excited guitar shop owner (me) telling my wonderful subscribers about the thrills of wheeling and dealing in gorgeous guitars.

Our Cypriot friend, just like I had, fell in love with one of the guitars I’d shared the story of. I bought it. He bought it. No logic in play. He took an extraordinary route to obtain that guitar. But, he knew it was the one. Destiny I guess.

3.) he never asked for a discount.

At this stage, I’d like to tell you about the impact of all the wonderful technology, customer segments and buckets of data insight that helped make that business a success. I can’t.

Lesson learned

You can easily forget that behind every data point is a real customer that acts upon emotion far more than logic. I see so many good brands falling foul with drab newsletters that rarely build a connection between the brand and their customer. We’re working here with people.

For every 100 customer segments you could create I’d swop them all for a conversational, honest email newsletter that acknowledges the reason your subscriber is on your list.

To share, to learn, to leave subscribers inspired. To allow your subscribe to feel part of something unique. Whatever you sell (by the way, drop me an email and let me know what it is you sell!), don’t forget the human touch. Never forget the crazy Cypriot. There’s probably one (or two) on your list also.

P.s. he was an extraordinary guitarist. He entertained us until closing time. We quickly locked the doors and headed to our local curry house to treat him to a well-earned meal and to share guitar stories before his return to Cyprus the very next morning.

Be careful what you write!

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