J. Crew Gets Personal – CEO Mickey Drexler Shows Personality

Anyone who was on any of the J Crew’s mailing lists, received an unusual email last month that was signed by the CEO, Millard “Mickey” Drexler.* What strikes me about the note was how personal it feels. Granted there is plenty of corporate messaging within. However, through several very intentional components, you get a corporate message that resonates and makes the reader take note.

Here is the email, that was sent out April 23, 2016:

Mickey Drexler

mickey drexlerWhat did Mickey Drexler do in this letter that is worthy of note for others who would like to engage their customer base?

  1. Drexler uses personal letterhead
  2. The note is in the first person
  3. The start of the email is entirely personal and gives insight into what the CEO likes to listen to in terms of music, that he goes to the gym and that he is man of habit (ie. his preference for the Americano)
  4. His style is quite informal. He uses the “Period” to get effect
  5. Mickey Drexler expresses his personal engagement: I [am] committed to providing you with “your J.Crew”
  6. He adds an invitation for a call to action to contact him
  7. He includes his own personal email: msd@jcrew.com.

It’s a wonderfully crafted note and is leaps and bounds ahead of what the vast majority of CEOs (of large publicly traded companies) are prepared to do: expose themselves. I sent an email to Mickey’s address to see how they handled the direct approach and asked if he’d join me on the podcast. An assistant replied on his behalf within a day (but declined the offer).

Naturally, the emails that this provoked would be managed by his team. That would be the only feasible method.

How I’d go even further…

Meanwhile, there are a couple of improvements I might have recommended:

  • Get personally on social. Specifically, Mickey Drexler would do well to get on Twitter and add his handle in his signature. Twitter is a great way to hear what is going on and provides an alternative to allow (more digital) customers to reach out. As written in this HBR article, entitled “What CEOs Have Learned About Social Media, a 2015 study by Weber Shandwick showed that 80% of the chief executive officers of the world’s largest 50 companies are engaged online and on social media. . You have to play [with social media], to pay!
  • Provide a better user experience. Make the email address copyable and clickable, so that in one click of the button, the receiver can start up the communication (as opposed to dead PDF).
  • Reply To: I would even have added Drexler’s personal email address in the “reply to” as opposed to the generic mailing list email.
  • Personalize. Too bad, they were not able to personalize the email to the first name of the recipient. Even if it’s automated, it inevitably makes the note more personal.

In any event, it’s a worthy effort by this CEO, one by which other leaders should get inspired. Of course, it means finding one’s own voice, linking the message to be in line with the brand’s strategic imperative and, finally, taking a more-or-less measured risk to expose one’s inner self.

We’ll see if Mickey and his team also respond to this blog post!

Your thoughts and reactions welcome!

*Since I didn’t receive this email personally (found a good connection on Linkedin, thanks Jaron). You can also read up more via Eliza Brooke’s (@eliza_pb) article in Racked.

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