MBA Mondays: Sales Leads On A Small Budget

So today on MBA Mondays we are going to talk about something useful – Generating sales leads on a small budget. Every startup that wants to sell something runs into this challenge.

I asked Russell Sachs, who runs sales for our portfolio company WorkMarket to tell us how they do it. And this is what he put together. I think its terrific. I hope you do to.


Uncovering Qualified Leads Without a Big Marketing Budget

It is hard to debate the fact that leads are the lifeblood for virtually every sales
organization. Without qualified leads, scaling a business can be a tricky thing to maneuver. For
large organizations with big marketing budgets, there are many options at your disposal – trade
shows, conferences, SEO, social media, lead lists, outsourced sales and webinars to name a

But for startups, early stage companies and small/medium businesses, uncovering
qualified leads on a tight budget is a very different situation, and one that many organizations
struggle to figure out. While I am not suggesting we have discovered the holy grail here at Work
Market, I am going to share some of the more effective methods that we have used, and look
forward to additional comments on what this readership finds successful.

“Calling All Customers”

One of the easiest and most accessible sources for new prospects resides in an all too
often untapped source; ­ existing customers. What we have found in our organization is that
there are networks and friendships that extend well beyond the walls of competition. If you are
doing a sound job of servicing your customers, they will happily (in some instances eagerly)
share the success with their peers; even those that work for a competitive organization. Asking
your customer who else they can recommend can uncover a bounty of qualified targets for your
sales team to go hunt. The obvious caveat here is knowing when you have earned the right to
ask for referrals and recommendations.

A great example was a recent trip we took to visit a customer in a major metropolitan
location. The customer was so impressed with our software and team that when we asked her if she knew anyone else she could refer us to, she picked up the phone and called her colleague
at another company right on the spot.

Leverage the Marketplace

For those who are not familiar with Work Market, we are a contractor management
platform tied to an online marketplace that lets enterprise organizations efficiently find talent and
manage the on­boarding and off­boarding process of that contractor and freelance workforce.
Literally thousands of jobs are run through our platform every single day, and we are proud to be
able to support such a vibrant community. Because our freelancers have a great experience on
our site, get paid every week by hundreds of companies and can essentially keep themselves
busy all year, they are all too happy to refer us to other companies that they do work for or have a
relationship with. In fact, some of our best customers are the direct result of our talented
community referrals.

Recognizing that not everybody has access to an entire marketplace that they can tap
into, there are countless similar ways to leverage the same “crowd” dynamics. Whether you
sponsor a specific user group in your community, get active in a local “meet­up” or become a visible member of a relevant organization, you can successfully create trust and credibility.
Having others sing your praises will drive interest in you and your company ­ after all, word of
mouth is some of the most effective marketing available! Volunteer to host or chaperone a
session, moderate an interesting discussion, or present on a topic of interest at a trade show or
event. People will not only approach you to get your perspective on what you presented, but they
will be more inclined to invite you into their office to learn more about your organization (and you)
since you have removed the threat that you are simply contacting them to “get the sale”. And,
they will willingly share your information with their peers if you are providing them with content
and direction.

Get Social with “Social Media”

I am not proclaiming that you should create a Facebook page to drive inbound interest
(since this is an obvious solution). But there are a variety of professional tools like LinkedIn and
Twitter that will enable you to find out who your customers are connected to and what their
interests are. Too often, people are looking to link with others simply for the thrill of accumulating
contacts or to help them get a job. But, by reaching out to your customers and partners and
explaining why it makes sense to truly network via LinkedIn, you will have visibility into who they
socialize with and open doors to a vibrant community of constituents.

Similarly, by using Twitter to communicate relevant articles, blogs and data to your
community, potential customers will start following you and be more receptive to your overtures
if they perceive you as a contributor and expert in their field. Creating a corporate and individual
brand are vital to differentiating yourself. In our organization, we try to share content about
contingent workforce topics, associated companies and pertinent data to our followers every
week and have built a strong brand in the process.

Generate a Newsletter

At Work Market, we strive to educate our customers and prospects on a variety of issues, including product updates and new feature releases, ways to improve and scale
contractor business, customer success stories and case studies, as well as industry topics.

For example, tax and compliance are of top of mind for organizations that leverage contractors.
To address this, we recently ran a series of short newsletters educating our database about the
pitfalls of improperly managing and utilizing those resources, and found the interest on this topic
to be overwhelming. We used the power of sharing knowledge to establish credibility and enable
prospects to feel comfortable reaching out to us to learn more.

In addition, there are plenty of wonderful, low cost tools that let you email your prospects
and understand their open and click­through rates, survey them to gather feedback and opinions
and have visibility and transparency into exactly what messages are resonating. You can then
share this information with your sales force and arm them with a more precise, targeted
message to serve as catalysts for powerful conversations.

Outbound Calling Team

To be clear, I am not saying that outbound cold calling is a “new” strategy, but I am
shocked at how many people have proclaimed that using the telephone to source opportunities
is dead. We have proven this model to be extremely successful, and have tied incentives to
ensure that we are promoting the right behavior. For instance, we reward our inside sales team
for setting up qualified appointments and provide an additional bonus if their appointments turn
into closed deals. Lists on the internet are in abundance, and should be leveraged to their fullest
capacity. In my experience, if you are calling a prospect with genuine intent to uncover whether
a problem or pain exists, and are respectful and intelligent in your dialog, you will uncover great
opportunities at every turn.

I am sure that there are dozens of other ways that people get effective leads without
spending big dollars for them and I am looking forward to hearing more! Please share your

Russell Sachs
Vice President of Sales and Business Development
Work Market

#MBA Mondays

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Thanks RussellThe partnership between sales and marketing to fill the funnel is as old as it is a true partnership as business has.It is about combined strategy and intent as much as it is about budget.You only mention ‘marketing’ once as part of the a budget you don’t have.All your activities are outbound, no inbound leads. Oversight?

    1. William Mougayar

      Good point. I wondered about the role of marketing at WorkMarket. They don’t seem to have a marketing manager from the team page. Lots in sales.

      1. awaldstein

        Yup…can’t have one without the other.Sales, Marketing, BD are often one and the same early on. Was my job lots of times.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I still have trouble differentiating them, though I realize once an organization is larger the time consumed by each will be too great for one – so might as well specialize, instead of having multiple people filling the sales+marketing role.

          1. Aaron Klein

            One generates demand. The other fulfills it.As usual, the lines are blurred, so cold calling by a sales rep generates demand.But the design of that program, finding lists, designing the referral program, writing the newsletter, etc., are marketing activities.Actually harvesting the interest into dollars is sales.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            That’s a great way to differentiate the two. Thanks. Hopefully my brain will start to sort them a bit better now. :)A well-designed product that “speaks for itself” is marketing, and along with the word of mouth that comes along with it? I normally put this under brand / brand perception, managing as best as one can.Of course social media is marketing – so then is customer relationship building and fostering technically under marketing too?And I wonder if there a similar rule as Product > Strategy > Business Model? Product > Sales Strategy > Marketing? My view would be that Marketing should come first though, as you need to create demand first … I guess there’s no way they can’t not cycle between eachother.Re: Harvesting the interest into dollars is sales – so then freemium is part of marketing, and sales is the upselling of those users into paying customers.

          3. Aaron Klein

            A product that markets itself is indeed blurring the line with marketing and is very powerful. Usually there is someone behind the scenes helping to drive that and make it so.Community managers are some of the best marketers a consumer web company will ever have — they generate demand.

          4. Matt A. Myers

            Speaking of community managers generating demand, they would also be creating loyalty — which in a way is also potentially part of both marketing and sales.

          5. Aaron Klein

            In my mind…if you are working 1:1 with customers to get them from qualified interest to forking over their credit card number, you are sales.Stoking loyalty, increasing desire and need, increasing brand perception…all of these are generally marketing tasks.But the lines blur all the time, so it’s not to say a community manager can’t possibly be in sales. Just not often the case or skill set.

          6. Matt A. Myers

            I think it would be jolting to have one person doing relations / partnership development with a person/company, and then drop someone else into the picture who’s asking for money.

          7. Aaron Klein

            What’s the difference between relations / partnership development + sales? Sales is about converting prospects into paying customers.Business Development is usually the term for developing partners, and yes, you’d rarely have a sales person contact a partner.

          8. ShanaC

            bwahahaThat being said – driving that demand as part of the product requres thinking very deeply about product and business strategy so that both are baked in – kind of problematic in terms of yesterday

          9. Aaron Klein


          10. ShanaC

            i often think it is clearer for large brands – coke doesn’t sell directly to you, but it does market directly to you

        2. ShanaC

          why is that

          1. awaldstein

            Because how you touch the customer and sell the product are part of the product experience itself.And all three of these ‘function’ direct how this is done. With different intents and objectives, but intertwined.

          2. ShanaC

            so why the pushback about getting engineering and product to sell the product

      2. fredwilson

        They are hiring one now

        1. awaldstein

          They will need someone with real chops and both sales and marketing dna to walk into an org with such deep sales culture.

        2. William Mougayar

          Great move. I just glanced at their Jobs section and read the job description for their VP, Marketing and I’m very impressed with the fact that it straddles both the Demand Gen side and Corporate Marketing, the 2 key marketing aspects for a startup.

    2. Russell Sachs

      great point – I took a different angle and specifically focused on outbound activities because there are many early stage companies that might not be ready to invest heavily in driving inbound interest.

      1. awaldstein

        I won’t dive into this as I’ve blogged on this endlessly, but I would rethink SEO as a cost.To not think about SEO from your site perspective is way more costly than building it in.Times are over when you can depend on SEO as the core driver of inbound, but for your biz that has a specific categorical clarity, it drives traffic no question.

  2. John Best

    I’m a believer that the newsletter can have value, you can make a customer feel part of the development process, part of the story of the product. What I would instantly caution against is unsolicited mail to prospects. The one thing you don’t want to get a name for as a small company is shotgun spamming. By all means encourage potential clients to get involved, and make knowledge available, but not at the cost of your reputation.

    1. fredwilson

      for sure

  3. Barry Nolan

    Startups are biased towards inbound, outbound, SEM and SEO. the outbound part is often ignored. Even Google do a lot of direct mailing and cold calling.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      You need to have a good product first though for direct mailing and cold calling to allow for a high enough conversion, from having enough use cases covered and ready to provide for — I suppose unless you’re willing to develop features that companies are looking for, though doesn’t guarantee they will pay beforehand.

      1. Barry Nolan

        Yea. Regardless of channel it all goes back to CAC months to payback.

    2. JamesHRH

      The sales side of Google is under appreciated. People tend to see the SOHO DIY ad placement service and think there are no sales people there.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Well, that’s because most people aren’t going to be contacted by Google … not big enough fish to go after.

      2. Barry Nolan

        +1 James

    3. ShanaC

      which I often find funny – their direct mailing don’t really reflect what businesses they are targeting (having gotten some)

      1. Barry Nolan

        Very. Apparently they were v anti sales organisation in the early days. Given the obsession to measure everything, the outbound mailers, rebates and cold calls must really work.

    4. LE

      Wanted to make another point here that Mike Arrington was absolutely doggedly persistent when he was the head of (prior to techcrunch fame) and got us involved in that. He sent emails, he called, he was right on top of it. I fended him off many times and he just kept coming back. At one point I had so many questions and objections that he literally almost gave up.I’m glad he didn’t we eventually signed up and made absolute shitload of money with person who did the same that I remember was Eytan Elbaz who was from Applied Semantics which ended up like this:http://googlepress.blogspot

  4. William Mougayar

    Most startups have a product & engineering culture. It’s part of their genesis. But when a startup begins to have a sales culture, some wonderful things start to happen: revenue!Another untapped source for leads is EMPLOYEES! Every employee is also a salesperson for the company in their own way. Run an employees leads incentive program & it will generate results.

    1. awaldstein

      If you have an engineering culture early stage company, your employees are honestly a poor source of leads. With no outbound market culture, you are an island.

      1. William Mougayar

        But every employee has a network of friends and family. You can train them to learn what to say so they could be that source. I agree they can’t necessarily “sell it”, but they can be a lead source.

        1. awaldstein

          Sure, we all do this but my experience is that anything programmatic, with the exception of hiring referrals at an early stage. is invariably a better idea than a reality,

          1. William Mougayar

            But I’m sticking to my point that Employees CAN be a good (and cheap) lead source, from seeing it in small and large companies alike. It doesn’t replace your army of sales people, but it can add some surprises.

          2. awaldstein

            We’ve all make endless lists on white boards. Invariably only the top three matter.Employee sales leads are never in the top tier.We need smaller, smarter lists to get focused. And sales pipelines are all about focus.

          3. LE

            “We’ve all make endless lists on white boards. Invariably only the top three matter.”God I thank my lucky stars that I can just execute whatever I want with my own money w/o having to sit in a meeting and convince someone else (who doesn’t think the same way which is not the same as saying they are wrong they are right for what they know and how they think) of my point.

        2. LE

          “every employee has a network of friends and family”My personal feeling is that if the employee (if not on the correct plane to begin with that is) see’s that “daddy is pleased” when he gets new business they will be more likely to go out of their way to seek out and connect “daddy” with leads. (I use that example because it’s the way kids get excited about things … by what they see their parents caring about. Generally.)Consequently if Fred was looking for deal flow (which he is) and he has interns working for him, if they see how excited Fred is when he gets leads for deals they will be much more likely to want to please him by putting in any effort they can to identify potential deals that he might not know about. As they go about and mingle in the startup scene in NYC. Assuming of course this isn’t already obvious to them, in order to make my point I use Fred as an example. Most importantly Fred must reinforce all behavior in that direction as positive even if the deal isn’t good (because statistically it won’t be) in order to be turned onto the nth deal. Management of this interaction is really important and can’t be stressed enough. (FYI same works with dating referrals if you are not thankful to those that bring you potential blind dates they will stop looking out for you.)

      2. PhilipSugar

        I’d agree except if engineers talk to customers. If they do they need to be coached to get leads.A customer is much more likely to give an engineer a referral because its a good exchange of value and they are not a sales person.If you coach engineers to get these, it can be gold.

        1. awaldstein

          Point well taken.More true for certain types of products than others I think.I traveled for years with sales engineers…great ones a true gift that never stops giving big time.

        2. falicon

          +100Too many engineers are afraid of this interaction as well…but if they believe in what they are building and the company they are a part of, it should be *very* rewarding for them (as builders) to be a part of the sales and leads process…

        3. Matt A. Myers

          When I work with engineers, I hope too that they’re able to contribute to brainstorming and ideas based on basic sales and marketing strategy.

        4. ShanaC

          that’s why palantir hiresa engineers as sales people

        5. Donna Brewington White

          Different topic but not too far afield I’ve been thinking that this could also be a good recruiting strategy, empowering the engineering team to participate in generating leads for recruiting if nothing else. Important to make it feel nonintrusive and as organic as possible.

          1. PhilipSugar

            Here is my view and I could be totally wrong. I disagree with William that you setup a referral fee.But I always have thought, if you want to work with great people, if you want us to be successful…Then lets talk about how we do that.Maybe its me because I think “give thrice before you expect to receive”I am just saying make people aware. Hey if you are at client, ask if there is somebody else that should be using us. No pressure, no sell hard at the cash register for the warranty contract, just ask.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            “But I always have thought, if you want to work with great people, if you want us to be successful…”Definitely seems like you’d want to try to hire people who think like this and whose thinking leads to action.

        6. Donna Brewington White

          Meant to ask in that comment if you thought that would work?

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Intuitively and from observation, what you say about creating a sales culture seems spot on. I have similar thoughts about creating a recruiting culture which I think is necessary to be truly competitive in today’s talent market — particularly for startups and innovative companies.From my prevous work in compensation management, I have thought a lot about how pay ties to performance and how to incentivize and/or reward behavior. I am rusty but I do remember that you have to be very careful in setting up incentive programs, thinking through not only the intended results but also the by-products.Am I being naive to think that employees (or as I like to call them “team members”) can see themselves as lead generators just by the nature of being fully engaged in the process of helping to build a company? At the very least during the early stages?

      1. William Mougayar

        At the very early stages for sure,- that’s why it’s better to label this actually a “lead referral”, i.e. it’s not a qualified lead. Referrals are easy. Similar to recruiting referrals that are popular and accepted as a practice. I don’t see why sales referrals are any different.The incentive program could be fun. It doesn’t have to be monetary. It can be something like free house cleaning services for a year, or dry cleaning services for 3 months, or something creative.

  5. Richard

    Don’t forget the power of good PR. Renovate a house In New Orleans, Detroit, or even help out a municipality under Financial distress.

  6. leigh

    Freshbooks & dropbox exchange discounts on product for referrals. Generates huge sharing especially when coupled with users who are already passionate about the products.

  7. Tom Deierlein

    Depending on your solution – you can also use a lead gen shop that you pay only for appointments not volume of cold calls. My company once used one that was from a women’s prison (not a joke). The point is if you don’t have inside sales team yet, but have a tight 60 second elevator pitch and some decent one pagers – you can outsource some of these folks to cold call for you.

    1. Chris O'Donnell

      Tom – if you have any referrals along those lines please get in touch. I’m looking to outsource some lead gen right now and everybody wants to be paid just for the effort of calling. I’d prefer to pay for leads.

    2. awaldstein

      99 times out of 100 for early stage this is a very bad idea.Organizationally and positioning wise invariably a monstrous pain. Sales people touch more potential customers than anyone else. Giving that to an uncaring third party–beware!

      1. Aaron Klein

        I’m with you. I’d rather hire and train college kids who I can watch and control closely than outsource.Marketing and sales have to be core competencies.

        1. awaldstein

          With a few exceptions, I’ve always had a couple of outbound sales people on the phone, building the connections between them and account execs, figuring out how to define handoffs in the CMS system.I always wanted them right near my desk as well.Nobody is the voice of the company like those who sell its products.

          1. PhilipSugar

            We are in complete agreement here.Not only does the person need to know your company inside and out they need know who they are calling, which means you can’t rely on outsiders.

          2. PhilipSugar

            Also the money quote for this one is: “I want them near my desk”

    3. Russell Sachs

      funny enough Tom, we used that same company in an old company of mine – our marketing team didn’t realize they were from a prison!

    4. ShanaC

      really? Did they do a good job? And how did you find them?

  8. JimHirshfield

    Nice piece Russell. I’m a big fan of the phone call, much more powerful than email, although more time consuming. I remember you telling me: the sales people that made the most phone calls, made the most sales. Seems obvious and fundamental. But I think many forget this in the age of email.

    1. awaldstein

      There’s a direct relationship between sales activity and sales closed. If there isn’t, something is broken.

      1. JamesHRH

        Organizing energized sales people is waaaay easier than energizing organized sales people, IMX.

      2. JimHirshfield


    2. Russell Sachs

      so true Jim! Hard work and flawless execution pay terrific dividends.

    3. karen_e

      I’m still waiting for the Jim Hirshfield guest post.

      1. JimHirshfield

        🙂 You first.

  9. Chris O'Donnell

    I’m very disappointed in this. Not that there is anything wrong here, just that I was hoping for a golden nugget that I was not already doing 🙂

    1. Russell Sachs

      sorry chris – my goal was to share what we do and remind people that sales fundamentals are a critical part of success. Great to see you are using these tactics.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I think that can be a title for a post. There are no golden nuggets. Just hard work.

        1. falicon

          The golden nugget is *effort*.

          1. PhilipSugar

            On of my favorite sales guy (it was a guy) quote:The only golden nugget is the one you dugget!

  10. Tom Labus

    At the core of any successful sales effort is some talented sales pros. They are the engine that makes things happen and this is even more so during rough economic time.Finding them and keeping them is a your greatest challenge since they are few and far between

    1. pointsnfigures

      I am always interested in how to organize the company structure to support them as well. Does one large rainmaker take a lot of employees to support them-or can one person support a lot of different salespeople. Different businesses have different models.

      1. Tom Labus

        It can be a company wide effort depending on the service/product

    2. Russell Sachs

      well said – we continue to look for them at Work Market!

  11. btrautsc

    I had flashbacks when I hit the “outbound” calling section. Does it work? For sure. But a startup has to be at the stage where they have a well defined product fit, can sell on value quickly, and has done significant research/ time to have lists of qualified targets.My second startup stemmed from the soul crushing nature of this work. *plug* Ambition is our solution for employees that adds a gaming layer (much like fantasy football) to the sales cycle…( )My point, is it works great when you can highlight the pain point and your pain relief solution in less than 15 seconds.

    1. btrautsc

      **forgot to mention, with our 2 early customers results have been pretty staggering.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      Your link goes to a 404 error.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          You had the close parentheses inside the anchor tag the first time, that’s what caused the 404 error.

          1. btrautsc

            got it, many thanks Dave! Fat fingers + bagels + typing links is less than ideal.

      1. btrautsc

        thanks for the heads up, Dave.

    3. falicon

      sales staff can be very competitive internally…this sounds like it could be a really fun and productive way to leverage that and improve the bottom line…congrats!

      1. btrautsc

        thanks – it has been incredibly interesting since I’ve been in the environment and felt that pain. So much of what good sales depts/ managers are doing on excel, whiteboards, with gongs – we can do really well with softwarehappy to give you more info if you’re interested

  12. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Fantastic advice – This is spot on for B2B particularly where capturing a few key enterprise clients can leverage access to whole markets

    1. Russell Sachs

      appreciate the comment James – it is amazing how landing a few key customers can open so many doors.

  13. pointsnfigures

    Shoe leather and knocking on doors is underestimated in this day and age. Depending on the business, it might be a good use of time. Selling skills are valuable-and when you show up in front of a potential customer-sell why the company does what it does-don’t puke all over them with Features Advantages and Benefits. Lead with the close, and then have a conversation. Then close em again.

    1. falicon

      +1 for ‘then have a conversation’ 🙂

  14. Salt Shaker

    Ah yes, lead generation. In search of that sweet spot between efficiency and effectiveness. I have a friend who is producing/directing an off-broadway play in NYC. He’s hired a publicist and a social media team, but nonetheless creating a buzz on a small budget is challenging. To help drive interest and awareness in the play, I suggested he invite every NYC actor (and a guest) who read for a part–well over 100–to a FREE preview as a token of gratitude for their time and interest. Of course, the end game is to subsequently have these 100+ actors “push” the play to friends and other interested parties via FB, Twitter, etc. Only time will tell if this is an effective sales strat, but creative deployment is an imp’t part of lead gen.

    1. falicon

      I really like your suggestion…if they go with it, would love to hear how it turns out.

    2. LE

      “I suggested he invite every NYC actor (and a guest) who read for a part–well over 100–to a FREE preview”Potential for animosity on the part of the losers maybe?So one way to counter that would be to invite them with the explicit idea that you want their criticism and suggestions on how to improve (similar to what they do with movie screenings or mock juries). That way they feel empowered. Not only that you give them much more to talk about. Perhaps even hold a meeting at the end to discuss their thoughts. Let someone film it etc as well. Doesn’t mean you have to follow their suggestions. Either way publicity will result which is the idea.

  15. Aaron Klein

    Awesome list…I’ve used all of these to great success at one point or another. One that isn’t there: create events. Not just generic webinars, but an “exclusive briefing” for a narrow slice of the market.Limit your seating to create scarcity and urgency, and you will build audiences of some of the most powerful prospective customers out there.

    1. Russell Sachs

      great point – thanks for sharing!

  16. PhilipSugar

    Fred! What happened from here to post where you said you only had to do marketing if your product sucked? :-)I think the major point here is that you have to work at it in many ways.Russell does a great job of explaining those and recognizing its hard, and is the lifeblood of the company.There was a person from the ladders that was great explaining how this is the biggest difference you will encounter between a large company and a small company.I always talk about the advantages you have versus BigCo, but this most definitely is an area where you are at an extreme disadvantage, recognize it and work like hell to mitigate it.There are no magic bullets, no shortcuts, no outsourcing your way to bliss on this one. Just having every single person in your organization think about it and improve the situation.

    1. falicon

      I still think there is often a *big* difference between marketing a product and actual sales…for the types of ‘highly engaged networks’ that Fred is interested in, you prob. shouldn’t have to market the product…but you almost certainly will have to work to *sell* the value of that network when you become focused on revenue…

      1. Aaron Klein

        I always viewed that post as Fred saying exactly what Phil said above…”there are no magic bullets.”Don’t think you can just spend your way to marketing success. The market has to have traction around your product and then marketing efforts and spend just accelerate and drive that forward.

        1. falicon

          I agree – I was just trying to say that I think there is a difference between having to market a product and having to sell a product…to me, marketing is more focused on bringing attention to something, getting on the radar, getting the word out…sales is more about closing the loop on the value that you’re providing (or going to be providing).I think they are closely related in many ways, but ultimately I think of them as two different beasts…marketing can/should lead to sales (and in a perfect world, sales can/should lead to wider marketing)…

          1. Aaron Klein

            Yep. As I commented elsewhere is this thread, marketing is the generation of demand. Sales is the harvesting of the demand.

          2. awaldstein

            You are selling value in both cases:Value needs to be sold…

          3. falicon

            Yes – but sometimes with two different intents and to two different types…Twitter and Tumblr are great examples in that they had to market the value of the network to users, but sell the value of the network to advertisers…and they could only do the later *after* accomplishing the former…

          4. awaldstein

            Actually Twitter and Tumblr did little marketing to end users that I every noticed. They I”m sure went after major accounts to sell value.I wouldn’t consider either on a marketing organization.

          5. falicon

            That is what I was trying to get at in making the distinction of ‘not needing marketing’ but still ‘needing sales’…reality is you usually need both…but I think the ideal is to have the need be heavier on the sales than the marketing…

          6. awaldstein

            You are exceptionally wise today my friend. I wonder if it being your birthday has anything to do with this wisdom ;))

          7. falicon

            heh thanks! I do hear wisdom comes with age…but in my case, what little I get right, I think comes from doing it wrong just about every way possible first…process of elimination is eventually leading me to success…I just need many many more moons and I’m sure to be an overnight success! 😉

          8. Rohan

            Happy birthday Kevin! 🙂

          9. falicon


          10. ShanaC

            happy belated!

          11. falicon


          12. Donna Brewington White

            Birthday? Happy Birthday, Kevin. I didn’t mean for my tweet to be a birthday present, but there you have it! How timely.

          13. falicon

            Thanks…and yes that was very serendipitous! 🙂

          14. Donna Brewington White

            Okay, O Marketing Great One, anything I ever say to you about marketing I do with trepidation (she’s serious but grinning) but you don’t think that all the decisions Twitter made around product development and user experience — what to do and not to do (the latter being the more powerful) — were not rooted in marketing decisions? Maybe not structured marketing but someone had to have great marketing sensibilities. But I hear you about not formally marketing to the end user. One of the smartest things they did was to let users have the sense that we were developing the product. This made us evangelists and marketers on their behalf. Perhaps, accidental genius, but I’d like to package that.

          15. awaldstein

            Hey Donna…You flatter well my friend ;))Great question.There’s a good part accidental genius in all success. Luck if you will.Twitter has a laser focused sense of who they are, of the communications reflex that the product provides. It works cause it functions as a natural extension for expression.That magic is what makes it what it is. Our adoption of it as our own is where it’s power lies. True for Instagram as well. FB at times.So yes, they knew what their market pulse and kept it crisp and clean. They understand well that we are the product as is true for all of these social nets.But they are poor communicators. To the developer world early on for certain. To the users as a whole–take 20 of your friends who use Twitter and ask them if they know how the @ and the # function? Most won’t.There’s no one rule or pattern but yup, if we can take market pull and bottle it up we would but we can’t.I think you get better at recognizing it. At designing for it. And at understanding how to let it attach to people and the market.In that sense of market chops they are certainly mavens. At their ability to talk to me and make me as close to the company as I do the personal capabilities of the product, not so much.#toolonganswer

          16. Donna Brewington White


          17. awaldstein


          18. karen_e

            PR leverages the power of the ‘independent’ referral. Twit and Tumbl both had huge celebrity endorsements and deep media chops.

          19. awaldstein

            News-2-me.Any data on how they targeted and got this to happen.With Facebook, the way they targeted regions was to locate the most prolific rock star social networks and put them under employ and work their nets through Facebook.This is how they developed such a huge following in Turkey early on.

    2. Aaron Klein

      “There are no magic bullets, no shortcuts, no outsourcing your way to bliss on this one.”So true. We are continuing to innovate product and that pours fuel on the fire, but right now, innovations in how we market and sell are just as important. As evidenced by small changes resulting in X00% changes in top line and key metrics.

      1. William Mougayar

        Ah, innovation in sales. Yesss. Music to my ears, and much needed. A small change can sometimes make the biggest difference. In the early stages, selling tends to be more consultative because you’re trying to figure out the customer value hot buttons, but once you have figured that out, then you’re on good grounds for growth.

        1. falicon

          Did you see the movie ‘Guilt Trip’? Small *spoiler alert* …throughout the movie he has a great product but is having a horrible time selling it…he eventually figures out (via advice from his mother) how to have the right conversation around the product and it completely changes his results…it wasn’t really the point of the movie, but was an underlying subtle plot point that I thought was a great/honest addition to the movie…Guess you can get tips/life-lessons/inspiration from the strangest and most unexpected places sometimes. 🙂

          1. William Mougayar

            Interesting. I didn’t see the movie, but will check it out. thanks.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I saw that on a plane. Liked it better than I thought and took note of that lesson learned.I don’t know what it is about film, but I have aha moments during movies all the time — something in the film sparks a thought or realization.

      2. awaldstein

        How you sell is part of the what you sell for certain.Why outsourcing invariably doesn’t work. Why three tier distribution is such a challenge.

    3. LE

      “no outsourcing your way to bliss on this one.”Ironically management of this is actually workmarket’s business model.

      1. PhilipSugar

        No, workmarket is not about hiring a FTE for a year.It is about hiring somebody to get something done quickly.If I want a nice Powerpoint, then I might hire a person from workmarket.If I want to outsource development, I would go to one of the bodyshop’s that calls me daily.

        1. LE

          I’m unclear about what you are saying I am saying.My statement was that workmarket’s business model revolves around outsourcing being ironic because you said “no outsourcing your way to bliss on this one” and that is what they do. (Didn’t say they had anything to do with hiring FTE at all). To me using freelancers is outsourcing. Using for expertise is even outsourcing for that matter. Outsourcing (to me) is not just sending a load of work to a firm (overseas or not) could easily be using someone working from home doing assembly. This is where we get into definition differences (and one of the problems I have with school testing by the way).Anyway, with respect to workmarket:http://www.aboutfreelance.c…Particularly:”Founded in 2010 with $6 million in funding, the Long Island-based company has carved out a niche as an outsourcing platform for businesses, particularly for contracted IT service and administrative workers.”

        2. fredwilson

          i doubt you would use workmarket to get a powerpoint donetheir marketplace is mostly skilled onsite freelancers

          1. PhilipSugar

            Oh, I very much would pay for a good powerpoint, or website. Five figures worth.Everybody has their personal definition and that is not right. When I say outsourcing I mean outsourcing development.I don’t consider lawyers or accountants outsourcing either, although you pay both more than an FTE.

    4. Jon Birdsong

      Philip,B2B and B2C are completely different beasts.Twitter (a portfolio company of USV) doesn’t need to market.Every B2B company can and should market their ass off.Best,Jon

      1. PhilipSugar

        What you think Twitter’s market (its users) is not. It is its product.What they need to market to make money is BigCo’s.

      2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        I agree with @philipsugar:disqus – Twitter definitely needs to market and it is paying customers are the B2B or B2C companies. Interesting to note their recent release for lead generation and live advertisement.

    5. fredwilson

      i got schooled on that post and have admitted many times that it was my post that sucked

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Oh but what fun we had as a result — a three-day Marketing summit with responses all over the internet. One of my all-time favorite AVC moments. @awaldstein:disqus had a field day!

      2. PhilipSugar

        You know they like you if they remember. If they forget they don’t care. When they can heckle you they love you. No different than friends, acquaintances, and family.

  17. cfrerebeau

    On the cold calling side, we had very good success by hiring young professional performers. They know how to stick to a script, it’s a good side job for them but it’s not too costly for the company and with the right incentive/compensation program it can be very successful.

    1. LE

      That’s a good idea. One of the things that I’ve done in the past is to setup someone not with a script but with a general “role” that they follow. I literally describe the process as if they are an actor in a scene. They knowing the basic drift but not exact words. That way they can improvise. Obviously this process must be much easier when using performers.

  18. William Mougayar

    “One of the easiest and most accessible sources for new prospects resides in an all too often untapped source; ­ existing customers….Asking your customer who else they can recommend can uncover a bounty of qualified targets for your sales team to go hunt.”100% spot on. Your best customers are your best sales people. A happy customer becomes your Advocate and will tell 10 others about your product. Especially in B2B, decision-makers talk to their peers, and they typically form their opinions way BEFORE speaking to your sales rep.I would add to your point: Don’t make asking a customer for leads a one-time thing. Train your customers to always think about giving you leads, testimonials, success stories, case studies, etc. Even better, if you have lots of customers that can become Advocates, consider implementing a formal Advocate Marketing program via a platform like (disclosure: I’m a shareholder).

    1. Russell Sachs

      great addition William – if you can get your customers to keep you top of mind and evangelize, you are certainly going to reap the rewards!

  19. falicon

    I believe it’s all about having the ‘right’ conversation, with the ‘right’ person, at the ‘right’ location and the ‘right’ time…you *should* know what the right conversation is, and hopefully the ‘right’ time is always right now…so the challenge is in how you identify/find the ‘right’ person and the ‘right’ location to be having that conversation….and as luck would would have it a little service known as is entirely focused on helping with that ‘conversation search’ problem…in fact, this is really the big picture, long vision, whole point, of the service…

  20. Greg Gortz

    Very good post Russell. Your first three points could be categorized as social selling. Building brand awareness and trust within your market is important. I have found you can do this by being part of the community you are trying to sell into – in a genuine way. Engage in G+ groups, meetups, conferences, lunch and learns, etc; first. Once you build credibility, as Russell points out, its a lot easier to go back for the sale. (give, give, give, then ask) Also, if you can identify an early, happy client, who also has industry klout – do everything you can to cultivate that relationship. Ultimately, at the end of the day, hard work pays off. Sales people who call, email, and work all angles, generally have the most success.

    1. Russell Sachs

      thanks Greg! contributing to your community does pay massive dividends!

  21. BillMcNeely

    Russell Sachs I like your points on social media and outbound calling.One tool that I used to leverage both of these when I sold cars was IFTTT allows you to use API to call information from various sources Twitter, Facebook, CraigsList, Instagram etc. and then deliver that information to your inbox. In gmail you can set up a filter. My filter was called Nissan Sales Leads.Outbound Calling Example: The dealership spent a lot of money on advertising and lead gen but would not feed those to inexperienced sales people like myself but I was still required to perform. The dealership WOULD give us aged out leads from their database that led to nowhere.I knew that CraigsList was a source of folks wanting to sell their cars and if they were selling their cars then they were possibly looking to buy.So I built an IFTTT receipt.… I then went into my Gmail account set up a filter called Nissan Sales Leads. This worked out great because I had 100 leads with a name, phone number and something to talk about delivered to my inbox. I met my sales calls numbers easily, my caller engagement was high and reach people who would not have otherwise been reached.Social Media Example: You can do the same thing with Instagram or Twitter. You can use #hashtags. So in my case #Nissan #Sentras etc. I would tell people their cars looked great getting them talking about their vehicle etc. I would share links to articles about car buying etc.

  22. Clay Schossow

    This is a great, easily applicable post. I remember the early days when we launched our web agency (7 long years ago), we tried just about every trick in the book. We were still in college when we started, so we had no natural network of prospects and had to build one from scratch. We figured out what worked and what didn’t and also what we liked. Some of the big takeaways:1. Partnerships w/ Centers of Influence. For us, these were ad agencies. Agencies had clients, lots of them, and many needed help on the web. Also, these agencies were more established than us and were consistently being brought into RFPs that we could’ve never had access to. By building a relationship w/ an agency, we only needed to make one sale, but it could lead to a lot more (in some cases dozens).2. Cold contacts. Russell hits this in his post. They’re not fun, and it’s not something we do anymore b/c we just didn’t enjoy it, but it was a way to cheaply get off the ground. Calls, emails, and letters. It is a game of luck, but you will catch people who are willing to talk and also wanting to buy.3. Blogging and Inbound Tactics. Russell brings up the newsletter, which is an awesome example, but we also saw great returns with our blog. By blogging about things our audience cared about, they would stumble on our content and share it with others.Personally, we just didn’t like #2 and we didn’t want to work at a company where there was a room of people making cold calls, so we focus on the other areas (building relationships and inbound) and delivering great service, which leads to referrals.Great post!

    1. Russell Sachs

      thanks for sharing your thoughts Clay – cold calling certainly isn’t sexy and isn’t fun! But for us it does work.

  23. Chimpwithcans

    Great post. Interested in why Work Market have chosen newsletters instead of blogs? Conscious choice, or just how it’s always been done for he company?

    1. Russell Sachs

      we do both – proactively deliver newsletters to our community and blog (probably should have made that clearer). Thanks for checking on that!

  24. BillMcNeely

    @russellsachs:disqus In my current role at MailLift ( API for handwritten notes I have been using AngelList to find firms to reach out to. What has your experience doing this?

    1. Russell Sachs

      I have not really leveraged AngelList. I am about to dig into it now!

  25. Rick Wnuk

    Solid post – assume you took these approaches after a comprehensive market analysis was completed to determine revenue opportunity, market size, target profiles etc. I see many executives and companies not invest in this crtical step and fly blindly with their lead generation approaches not knowing the opportunity, market or positioning.

    1. Russell Sachs

      For sure. canvassing for leads without understanding your target market can be a recipe for disaster!

  26. Jon Birdsong

    Russell,Great post. On your final point, there is great data from the Bridge Group on the value of outbound calling:… and their Outbound Index.Great post and I look forward to more of them.Best,Jon BirdsongCEO | Rivalry

  27. Jamison Powell

    I’ll stick to 1 point of personal interest here…Calling All Customers: There are 2 ways to grow a business quickly; Sell what you have to new customers, …or sell new stuff to existing customers. I’m a huge advocate of leveraging referrals to get new customers, but it shouldn’t come as part 2 of a sales strategy. Instead, it should be raised early on in the conversation so the prospect/customer knows it’s coming and can think about the referrals before you ‘officially’ ask. It’s just another expectation being set to execute upon when appropriate.The appropriate time I’d shoot for is when the deal is being signed, …not after if you can avoid it. If it needs to be 3 months later so you can prove value and do what you said you were going to do as far as the product/service goes, so be it, but tell them it’s coming. You’d be surprised at how many times you can get a referral much earlier (at the deal signing if you’ve done your job well).Additionally, if your product/service is ever negotiable on price, this is your moment to get referrals every time. ALWAYS get something of greater or equal perceived value when negotiating price. Referrals are just that (and when I negotiate price I always ask for 2-3). In addition, you may ask for a multi-year agreement, payment upfront, minimal to no legal interaction, white paper / case study, internal reference (have customer speak to your team about the difference made for their company w/ your product/service) and external reference (have customer speak to a prospect about the same) to name a few of my favorites.Referrals can be active or passive. For the most active referral, have your teams incorporate it early into their pitches as part of their Upfront/Verbal Contract on what is planned to be covered (part of the agenda). “At the end of this conversation/engagement, I’m going to ask you for one more thing. My personal goal (or the company goal, or whatever) is to maintain 80% of my/our business through active referrals. So, assuming it’s a fit and it makes sense, I’m hoping you can help me there.” (Again, I’m not asking for a referral here, …but I’m letting him know I’m going to at the end).Final Bonus w/ this approach: At times, you can even get referrals from folks that DON’T BUY, because you’re asking them, now that they fully understand the capabilities, if they can think of anyone that may benefit from this service/solution as it stands today. Remember, just because it wasn’t a fit for them, doesn’t mean it isn’t a fit for someone else.

    1. Gordon Bowman

      great points Jamisonsetting the expectation upfront that you’ll ask for a referral is a great tactic

  28. Gordon Bowman

    +1 on sourcing referrals from your current customersIn Pandora’s early inside sales days, that’s how we drummed up a ton of new business.”Jim, if you’ve been happy with your campaign and our business we’d love it if you referred us to a few of your work friends in the Charlotte area.”Simple as that. This is low hanging fruit and too many startups don’t take advantage of it.

    1. Russell Sachs

      Simple but effective. Its amazing how easy it is to forget basic blocking and tackling – I constantly need to remind myself of this. Appreciate the comment and insight!

  29. Sean Hull

    The newsletter resonates for me strongly. Have run mine for 10 years, and it never ceases to amaze me how much referral work it brings. Write something useful, talk about your area of expertise, bring people curated content or some value to their inbox. Pay forward, the dividends keep going.My business of 1-3 people has thrived and is into it’s 18th year. Not least because of this type of passive sales. Social media efforts are starting to win as well.

    1. Russell Sachs

      thanks for sharing Sean!

  30. Donna Brewington White

    Noted that you used the heading MBA Mondays. Although you’ve continued to use the tag — even yesterday. I remember feeling some confusion while reading yesterday’s post “Wait, is this Monday?” then today noticed the tag.

    1. fredwilson

      i am still trying to figure out what MBA Mondays is

  31. awaldstein

    I finally remembered the question I wanted to ask Russell–how do you determine the size of your budget? Or even, in your model, what percent of revenue is sales (+marketing)?

  32. george

    I think there are essentially two main parts to effective selling, (1) selling mechanics and (2) sales talents. When you have both working together, you have something really, really special! I believe the article focuses on the the former which can really help consistently fuel your organization but it’s generally, more incremental. The latter (sales talent) is way more game-changing in my opinion.

  33. Mitchell Caplan

    Great points but one left out: tell a great story. Perfect example: One great video that was shared millions of times. Small budget, great idea. If you are clever (and strategic) you can hit the multiplier effect without breaking the bank.

  34. karen_e

    The intensity of the comment storm today reminds me how ‘dark arts’ marketing is to us. And endlessly fascinating.

  35. Keenan

    Great post Russell, I think you’ve hit on some good strategies and tactics to drivenbusiness. Outbound calling isn’t dead, that’s for sure. Good for you to notice.With the exception of outbound calling, and to some degree “calling all customers” it is very difficult to systematize the other listed strategies. Therefore, it is hard to manage them, to rely on X number of leads per month and create a repeatable lead generation process around them. The best lead generation programs can reliably and predictable deliver leads month over month.With this said, I think you missed the biggest lead generation opportunity there is today and that’s Content Marketing. ON a budget of less than 800 dollars month, a small business or even an solopreneur can generate 100’s of leads a month, opt in leads with identifiable interests, that can be nurtured, educated and managed continually month over month until they close.In addition, or the side benefit of a solid content marketing strategy is the improved SEO and organic search wich drives more leads AND the improved brand recognition as a thought leader in your space.Without a doubt, there is no more effective way to market, improve SEO and generate leads for a small or start-up business today than content marketing.I’ve gone so far as to say it is the one of the 3 MOST CRITICAL sales strategies for 2013.

  36. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    great post @russellsachs:disqus ! It goes really well with another post from Aaron Ross where he describes the three type of leads as seeds (word of mouth), spears (outbound sales) and nets (marketing). It is a long post but well worth a read – see link http://predictablerevenue.c… – What I find interesting is that ‘seeds’ are described as the most efficient marketing tool which is not a surprise but they have a problem of scaling. This is where motivating employees (interesting discussing below started by @William Mougayar:disqus on this topic) and customers could potentially enable the scaling of this process. One of way of doing this is through the creation of custom branded advocate communities where calls to actions are clear and the best customers (and employees) are motivated to advocate for a variety of reasons (increasing social capital, recognition, rewards, networking, etc…). This is the fundamental belief of companies such as Influitive (full disclosure: I work for Influitive). In my short time with the company I have seen remarkable success for some of their customers in mobilizing advocates to do various important tasks for the company. If interested – check out some of the case studies

  37. Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

    Excellent post @russellsachs:disqus . Internet marketing lends itself well to generating sales leads on a small budget. For small local businesses, free local listings like Google+, Yahoo! Local, Yelp!, City Search, Urban Spoon, Facebook, etc. are critical. In a world that is increasingly mobile and were purchase decisions are informed via smartphones, online reviews are becoming more and more important to local small businesses. One can view these kind of local Internet marketing tactics as free, perpetual online advertising. In rural and suburban areas where competition to get on or to the top of the first page of the relevant search results is low. For these small businesses, local search listings are extremely low hanging fruit for generating leads on a small, and in some cases, non-existent marketing budget. Thanks for sharing.

  38. Jack William

    Every referral marketers has their own strategies for doing referral marketing.

  39. William Mougayar

    Good point on the extreme side of it, and I wasn’t advocating an that. It’s more of opt-in scenario, and you can train them to be good ambassadors, and not do anything and you’ll be sure to have bad messaging come out.I’ve seen situations where employees in engineering become disconnected from what moves the company, and can’t even articulate a 2 sentence value proposition. They need to be able to say it well when they are at the friends’ barbeque when someone asks them what they do for a living. Maybe that person is a potential customer or knows one who is.You don’t get anything by being quiet about it. When the sales machine is well oiled and the product is good, then I expect every employee to speak-up about what we do. They can say the right thing and if there’s a pick-up, they will know about doing the hand-off.

  40. LE

    The whole idea is to do it right. If not done right of course it will blow up in your face. This really isn’t any different than anything else pre-internet where you weren’t simply grabbing the low hanging fruit. It’s like saying “direct mail does or doesn’t work”. Depends totally on how you execute the campaign, product etc etc.That said this is a human nature issue more than anything. So anyone who implements this and doesn’t know how people behave will probably design the wrong program and have a hard time gaining from it for sure.William Mougayar feels (no disqus icon btw another disqus issue that has been going on forever) comfortable that he can execute this based on how he views the issues and what he is capable of.

  41. PhilipSugar

    See my comment above. Words of wisdom in my mind. We totally think alike.Coach not force.

  42. awaldstein

    I would.

  43. ShanaC

    isn’t this essentially a community and pr push though?

  44. William Mougayar

    It depends on the culture of the startup. The CEO can announce an incentive program. Reality is that some employees will use it, and others not and that’s fine. That’s what I meant about the opt-in. There is no penalty if you don’t refer anyone.But to ignore the potential of employees for referrals is a sin. I firmly believe in that point and have seen employees refer wonderful sales opportunities that worked. Maybe Leads is a strong word and we should say Referrals. The sales rep can qualify in less than 5 mins whether a referral is a valid lead or not.

  45. LE

    Some people are “connectors” (Gladwell) and some people aren’t.Care and feeding of connectors are important.Years ago one friend I had “Mike” got me a ton of business w/o ever asking at his father in law’s company.However one of my sisters, who worked for me for years, (and knew what it takes to make sales) went to work at a large company (she was qualified because of the skills she got working for me) and didn’t bring me any business at all until my father spoke to her (himself a connector) and told her how screwy that was. It was literally that she didn’t understand (she was an artist by training) the concept and had her head in the sand. (My other sister did a version of the same thing). Even when pointed out to her she didn’t fully understand what the big deal was. She didn’t feel any need to go out of her way to try to get us business.

  46. LE

    Google’s direct mail is meh and I’ve received a ton of it. They also fail when you want a question answered. You get a call center third party contractor that just screams “we’re losers working at a call center”. When we used to do direct mail if you called we gave you quite the reinforcement and stroking. You knew you were appreciated. It worked. Google also fails in the difficulty of the whole program. Which makes sense since they are engineers at heart so why would they know how to get that right? They don’t even know how to hire the right people to get it right.Anyway the point that I wanted to make this morning when I first read this post was that missing from the list was direct mail.A simple letter to a potential lead.It’s essentially been forgotten.I get a ton of cold calls and obviously emails but I almost never get a personal letter. (Always hang up on the cold call especially if it starts right off sounding like it came from a cubicle or to perky. )This makes sense given who typically works at startups and what their history and background is.As someone who used to do much with solicitation of this type there is absolutely a place for it in sales.That doesn’t mean to design a typical piece that screams “direct mail throw it away” and comes off looking like a credit card solicitation.And how much you can spend depends on the value of a customer. Sure postage costs have increased but productions costs have dropped (although postage is a more significant part I will agree).Absolutely a place for direct mail of different types in the sales effort.Start with a simple first class letter. Personally signed. With a personal one sentence note.FYI: The local coach store has the clerks send me a hand written “thank you” penned in ink whenever I’ve made a purchase for my wife. That takes plenty of time and effort. (They are tapping into down time when the staff isn’t busy I’m guessing) Coach has done it multiple times over several years. We can safely assume they have figured out that that works to increase business.Lastly, cold calls are always interuptive. Letters are not. Better yet if the value of a customer is really high send the letter by $5 overnight mail for added punch.

  47. Barry Nolan

    It is indeed. But it must be effective, otherwise no way it would happen. Their inside sales team scour blogs and news sites to personalise their outbound channels.

  48. falicon

    I’ve always been fascinated by direct mail.I actually used it, to some success, to build my initial customer base for Draftwizard back in the day…but ultimately Draftwizard did not have the proper customer lifetime value to keep at it (though many of my best, most active, subscribers had come from the direct mail efforts).In fact I even used that experience, and my belief in the direct mail market through experience, to invest in some Banta Corp. stock (which made me a small profit when they were acquired back in 2006).Good stuff all around!