How I Built My First Business Through Email Marketing

If I want to launch a business and make money fast, all I have to do is leverage my connections and my brand. Within days, I can easily get thousands of visitors to any website and generate thousands of dollars in revenue.

That’s exactly how I helped my buddy launch a product and generate over $100,000 in income within 30 days.

revenue

But when I first started out, it wasn’t that easy. I didn’t have any connections; I didn’t have much money; and no one knew who I was. So, how was I going to build my business?

I didn’t have any cash, so spending money on marketing was out of the picture. Every time I told someone I had a company, they would run away because they didn’t want to hear my sales pitch.

So how was I able to market and build my business? Well, through emails. Here’s how I did it:

Target millionaires

I learned the hard way that selling to people doesn’t always work, especially when you don’t have a track record. So I decided that I was just going to tell people how they were screwing up from a marketing perspective.

I did this by giving away the farm when I told them everything they did wrong. Sure, they could just take that list and fix things without me, but I made an assumption that if someone was a millionaire, they probably didn’t have the time to fix what was wrong themselves and would prefer to hire me instead.

For example, here is an email I sent to Michael Mortiz on July 16, 2007. Before you read the email, keep in mind that I was literally a kid when I sent it.

Hey Michael,

I know you are this big shot VC guy and make millions of dollars, but too many of your investments are screwing up and you need to fix them. Sites like Eons are NOT done in the best fashion for their target audience. I know I am a little college kid, but people like my dad (55 years old) who are looking to find social networks for himself like Eons all find it is too complex and then bug the hell out of people like me to help them use the site. Here is what is wrong with Eons:

  1. The homepage is too cluttered and there is no direction on what should be done next. I understand that there are different sections on the site, but for someone who is new the signup box isn’t always the easiest to find. It could contain a better call to action and stand out. Maybe a bigger signup button and make it a color like orange that stands out more.
  2. If your target audience is older people such as 50 plus, don’t you think that your default font size should be bigger? Yes there is a font size adjuster at the bottom, but you should have considered putting it higher at the top if you wanted the text size to be normal when the page loads. And the font size changer is done all wrong because when you click on it the page should not reload, the font size should just adjust.
  3. Eons needs to make better use of their real estate. Old people are known to save their money more compared to us kids so they don’t have big monitors. If you can move things up on the site and reduce wasted space it would make the user experience much better.
  4. The main area on the website has these 4 changing screens that goes all the way from Eons travel to how to use Eons. I do understand what you are trying to do with this area, but the messages need to be much more clearer. Granted some may be ads that you guys cannot control, but things like the Friday the 13th trivia game is not clear enough that it is a game. For instance my dad did not really get that it was a game at first just by seeing the picture of the cat.

There are a lot more things wrong with the site such as how it is being marketed and so forth… but this was my quick rant. You maybe thinking why I did not send this message to Eons directly, it is because their dumb feedback box sucks and is too small for sending long messages. Plus it is hard to get a damn email on their site.

I know I am only a kid but if people like Guy Kawasaki and Michael Arrington trust me and take my input, I hope you can too. If you ever want feedback on other sites, just let me know.

Thanks

As you can see, I emailed Eons.com investor Michael Moritz about everything Eons.com was doing wrong. I could have sent that email to Eons directly, but I avoided that because I knew they would probably ignore it. Their investor, on the other hand, wouldn’t. All investors care about their financial returns, so they will naturally do whatever it takes to make money.

Within that same day, Michael emailed me back (he probably doesn’t remember me) with this short message:

michael moritz email

Even though his email was really short, the important thing to notice is that he added Jeff and Lee, who were the founders of the company.

Within minutes of Michael’s email, Lee responded with this:

Michael,

Many thanks for sharing Neil’s comments below.  Hope all is well on your end.  Looking forward to seeing you on my next trip West.

Neil,

Many thanks to you as well for your comments.  I am sorry to hear that your father’s, and ultimately your, first experience on eons.com was a poor one.  I am happy to share that we are working on several of issues you highlighted below.  In some cases though, the design was intentional.  Would be happy to provide you some background.  Perhaps best if we could arrange a call to do this.  Just let me know if you might have some time this Wednesday or Thursday.  Again, thanks for your time and feedback.

Best regards,

Lee

Within a few days of this thread, Lee and I hopped on the phone; I gave him some more feedback; and he ended the call with a casual job offer. I then told him I wasn’t for hire, but I would be open to a consulting gig.

We weren’t able to come to an agreement on the consulting gig as I wanted too much money, but this still shows you the power of emails. I don’t write these kind of emails anymore, but I used to do it frequently when I was a kid and it worked extremely well. This one tactic helped us generate well over a million dollars in revenue.

That’s how I was able to work with people like Pete Cashmore, Michael Arrington, Guy Kawasaki, Gary Vaynerchuck and many more… just from a simple email.

How to market your company through emails

I haven’t used the above strategy in years, but I do know that it still works. If you want to try it out, here are a few things I recommend:

  • Only target millionaires – when I used to target people who weren’t rich, they would just take my recommendations and implement them on their own. Millionaires, on the other hand, are more likely to offer you a job or a consulting gig. And if you want to take it further, target billionaires like I did.
  • Don’t give up – Michael Moritz may have emailed me back the same day, but some people didn’t even email me back. When you email people, continually follow up until you get a response. It took me 6 months to get Michael Arrington to hire me.
  • Be thorough – my email to Michael Moritz wasn’t that thorough. I should have included screenshots, showed them how to fix their code to be search engine friendly, etc. The more thorough you are, the more likely your email will turn into a paid gig.
  • Don’t be afraid to name-drop – as you can see from the email above, I mentioned Michael Arrington and Guy Kawasaki. Those were two guys I also emailed and ended up working with. After you have done this a few times and worked with a few well-known figures, casually mention some big names in your email as it will improve your response rate.
  • Be respectful – if people ignore you, it’s ok. Even when you are persistent, some people will still ignore you. Don’t take it personally and don’t get mad… some people are just busy. By using Yesware you can at least see if people opened your email, but if they decide to ignore you continually, move onto the next person on your hit list. It’s their loss, not yours.

Conclusion

If I had to start marketing my business from scratch, I would use the tactic above. It works no matter what industry you are in, and you have more data at your fingertips to help you create awesome emails than I had in 2007.

Keep in mind that the tactic above brands you more than it brands your business, but that’s ok. Eventually, you can work on branding your business, but for now just focus on marketing yourself so you can drive revenue to your business.

So, what are you waiting for you? Once you find someone you want to email, just use Google to find their email address, and you should be good to go.