Here is a technique you can use to build a mailing list or an opt-in prospect list. It's a great way to reach prospects among people you didn't already know (and let's face it, that group is bound to be larger than the group of people you do know). And instead of buying cold leads who don't know you, or who consider your solicitations as nothing but detestable spam, you are getting in touch with people who actually asked to receive information from you. How much of a difference does that make? The word "big" is not big enough.

Why does this technique work so well? Because it uses "viral marketing." People will pass your information and opt-in form to people they know--who will pass it on.... The folks you contact will end up passing on your information to relatives, friends, and co-workers who would never show up on any list that you could buy or rent.


My Homegrown E-Mail Campaign

Here's what I did to gather new prospects for my generic recruiting tips newsletter:


I changed all my signature files for my outgoing e-mails.


This is easy to do in your e-mail program. If you aren't using signature files, you're missing out on valuable advertising that rides along with every e-mail you send. In my signature files, I used the following text:


Are men better networkers than women? Here's proof:


I also used this one:


P.S. For a laugh and to see my wife's face, click here:


Both signature files sent people to the same short (15 seconds) Flash presentation, which was created by my 15-year-old nephew. My cost? A six-pack of beer. (Just kidding. His mom wouldn't let me. So, I took him to Starbucks as a reward for his one hour of "programming.")

If you're not familiar with Flash, it is the program that makes little movies or moving cartoons for the Internet. I don't know how to use the program, I just know how to spell it. All you need to do is to find some teenager with a bit of time on his or her hands to do the programming for you.

Both signature files worked well because


Are men better networkers than women? Here's proof:




P.S. For a laugh and to see my wife's face, click here:


both create tension and curiosity. This is crucial. If your teaser lines are boring, they just won't work.

Because the Flash presentation was funny, people passed on the link to their co-workers and friends. The viral effect was massive.

At the end of the Flash presentation was an offer for "77 FREE Tips." About 45 percent of the viewers subscribed. Now I had 77 more chances to create a relationship with the prospect.

This technique was one of the cheapest yet most effective way I have ever discovered for me to create targeted, qualified prospects.

I also mentioned this link in my newsletter--but it was not as effective for building a list, since my newsletter subscribers were already on my list. However, they did viral the link and I received many new prospects from them.



Now, what about your prospecting campaign? Compare the marketing costs of getting good prospects.


1. Think of a funny cartoon or story and have a teenager create a Flash presentation for your cartoon or story on your website. Cost? Starbucks, some CDs, maybe a shopping certificate. Once your Flash is in place, send people to see your Flash presentation simply by using your e-mail signature file (cost: zero) or e-zine advertising (cost: not much). You will have hundreds of qualified prospects who choose to hear from you. Wow!

2. Buy a list of e-mail leads. Pay cash. Cost: lots. Then send endless e-mail solicitations to these leads who don't know you and may never even open your e-mail.


There's no question that choice #2 is easier. Choice #1 takes a little more work, plus the teenager--but is much, much more effective.


TOM SCHREITER writes Fortune Now (, an online newsletter for network
marketing leaders.