Business Confession: “I Built Our Business On Spam”

Business Confession: “I Built Our Business On Spam”

 Spam, Now with Real Bacon!

So far in this Business Confessions series I’ve heard about the time someone got evicted, a conference speech nicked from an overheard conversation, and an extraordinary incident involving a wild animal in a boardroom!

My latest secret comes from a highly successful entrepreneur who writes to get this confession of his chest…

“I built our business on spam.”

“Way back in the early days of the web (mid 1990’s) the world went crazy for SAP professionals (you may remember the Big 4 running full page ads in the Sunday Times [at £70k a pop] each week.)  The demand for SAP skills far outweighed the supply and these folks were desperate, given that a typical Sunday Times ad generated 4 applications…”

“Being a web veteran in 1998 (with all of 2 years experience), I was aware of SAP professionals congregating on ‘Usenet’ – which hosted various technical forums at the time (the hardcore tech community are still there). After a few mins of desktop research, I had I identified 7,000 global SAP professionals lurking in the ether..”

“Thirty minutes later I had downloaded e-mail address harvesting software (A snip at $29) and had harvested the majority of the community participants’ details.”

“That day, we secured a deal with one of the Big 4 to *Guarantee* at least 100 hundred SAP application for a mere £40k.  Within 48 hours they had 1100 applications…”

“We repeated the exercise several times over the course of the next three months banking a cool £250k which gave us the capital to launch or ‘proper’ business, and the rest as they say, is history…”

“A dirty little secret?  Sort of.  Am i proud of turning $29 into £250k on the back of several meetings and a few emails?  Yes I am.”

“Oh for the good old days of web 1.0…”


One Reply to “Business Confession: “I Built Our Business On Spam””

  1. Thank you so much for this blog post. I suspect that there are more companies with ‘dirty little’ spam secrets.

    What really shocks me is that people are reluctant to send emails to contacts who have expressed an interest in being contacted.

    I recently attended an exhibition as a visitor, I only had 2 people send me a follow up email. Why do they think I gave them my business card? As long as you give me the ability to easily unsubscribe, what harm does it do to be proactive and send emails?

    I have recently started providing networking and event follow up services. I think a lot of business owners undervalue and under-use email as a marketing tool, because they are worried people will think they are sending SPAM. I’d rather irritate a small number of people than be forgotten or worse watch my business fail because I don’t have enough leads! Would be interested to know others thoughts on this controversial topic. @officehounds

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