How well do we maintain a connection with our customers after we make a sale? Was this just a transaction or the beginning of a long relationship?  

I bought a middle-of-the-line Taylor acoustic guitar maybe fifteen years ago, through a local dealer in Boulder. It was a step up for me from my earlier instruments. I still have that Taylor and always will. I love it.

But I was not prepared to be welcomed into the Taylor family. Soon after my guitar purchase, I began to receive their magazine Wood and Steel, several times a year. Since, I likely have gotten several dozen of these publications. I suspect the unit cost to be at least $5.00, if not twice that, with postage. The production values are very high and a considerable amount of effort and expense go into this publication. It is not an after-thought.

Of course I understand Taylor is marketing to me. But this magazine is much more than just overt selling. Yes, new products are showcased, and there is always a page offering Taylor swag. But dominating the content are real pieces of writing, artist profiles, music instruction, coverage of Taylor’s sustainability program and messages from Bob Taylor and Kurt Lustig that feel personal and sincere. As cynical as I can be about the manipulative nature of marketing, this works on me.

It occurred to me that Taylor had spent far more producing and mailing me these pieces than they earned from my meager $1,500 purchase. Why would they do that? As one of the most successful higher-end American guitar brands, they did not get there by making dumb decisions.

The answer lies in this certainty: If or when I ever purchase another axe, it will be a Taylor.

We can’t all replicate this after-sale magazine. But what is it we aredoing to welcome our customers into our families? Are we staying in touch with them? How? Do we even know who they are? Are we capturing their name and contact information? With e-commerce businesses of course we gather that information. But what do we do with it? In our brick-and-mortar settings, how do we stay connected? As brands, when we sell through a dealer network, how do we maintain our connection? Taylor managed to do this with me, without the dealer’s involvement whatsoever.

Our markets are far too competitive to allow us to make one-time sales. We need customers for life, like Taylor has with me.

This is true customer intimacy.

I’ll leave you with the question and let your creativity come up with the answers.

-Geoff O’Keeffe


  1. David Strumsky

    Great article, Geoff, and I think you nailed a few prime concepts. I’ve worked for a few companies who had the vision, the insight, to create customer intimacy – among them, Adventure 16, Taylor… and even Microsoft, for a brief halcyon period, got it and put money where their mouth was. I even workshopped some big corporations’ executives along the lines of David Whyte’s The Heart Aroused (you might know it, a similar theme). I noticed the value slipping away however from corporate commitment during the ’90s, and briefly hoped the internet would create a new home, new opportunities. We could be forgiven to be so naive then. But perhaps this tool, the internet, is so powerful it’s lured us past the present moment and lurched us into an ambiguous, tense future tense, toward expectations and “the next new twist.” I rarely see these ideas presented now, or the receptivity, so it’s gratifying to see you’re still chopping the wood, so to speak. Keep up the Good Works, my friend. You’re in my thoughts.

  2. Sandy O'Keeffe

    Taylor knows how to make a friend of the customer!