I put a big emphasis on acquiring leads through cold outreach.

Why? Because:

  • Systems are cheap to set up (~$400/m).
  • You don't need any sort of following.
  • Anybody, whether they're a kid living in a Bangladeshi slum, or a career professional looking to branch out on their own, can build a sustainable income through cold outreach.

Cold outreach is thus the ultimate leveller: status, class, income, looks—none of them matter. When all you are is a little snippet of text in someone's email inbox, or a tiny voice in their ear, the only thing they care about is how good your messaging is.

So unlike most other lead generation sources, cold outreach is something you have complete control over. It's very hard to do right, and consequently, it rewards those who figure it out disproportionately so.

The downsides

So why am I writing about this?

It's simple: cold outreach is fucking hard, and I don't want to do it anymore!

Whether it's an email or a call, cold leads are extremely skeptical. So to win them over you understandably need to do a lot of work.

You're always fighting an uphill battle—proving yourself and the merits of your company—and, despite how legitimate you may seem, there's usually always a big elephant in the room whispering "is this a scam?" into their ears 24/7.

So around a month ago, I decided I no longer wanted cold leads to be the primary source of my revenue.

My experience

Some will probably disagree. But I've sold a fair number of cold leads in my time so I feel like I have some authority here. I used to physically go out and knock on ~2K doors per month while I was selling B2B marketing. I did this for around a year (don't ask me how many times I was thrown out by security!) and it was one of the darkest periods of my life.

At the same time, it made me a lot of money.

Since then I've cold called thousands of other businesses, and sent probably somewhere in the realm of ~200K cold emails with varying levels of success. I'd put my cold outreach experience somewhere in the top 1%—I am great at it and it's why I've been able to build businesses that bring in 7-figure revenues.

So I think I have credibility when I say: selling cold for a long time sucks! It leads to profound impacts on your self esteem and your ability to relate to people socially (unless you're empathetically stunted or something). You do not want to do it for more than you have to, especially because there are much easier and more sustainable ways to acquire leads.

What I'm doing now

First of all, let me preface this with a disclaimer. If you're just starting out in business, and don't have any sort of established track record, cold outreach is probably your biggest bang for buck/your highest ROI. There are few channels as dependable and consistent if you're willing to sacrifice life satisfaction temporarily.

Again, it's the ultimate leveller—your inexperience doesn't matter anywhere near as much as your ability to sell, which makes it a golden opportunity if you're ambitious and intelligent (& if you're reading this, consider yourself so).

In my case?

  • I'm a few years into my career and have an established track record of success.
  • I have a variety of high-income skills that make working with me inherently valuable.
  • I'm great at speaking and at selling.

Put simply, I'm at the place where I can now leverage the factors I mentioned earlier—perceived status, class, and income—to acquire my customers. I no longer "need" a leveller. Logically, it makes sense to shift to playing a game where I inherently have the advantage, instead of one where I'm on an equal playing field. This is what I decided to do one month ago.

How am I achieving this?

I am building a brand! I want it to last a very long time, so I'm putting an emphasis on authenticity and genuine value.

My intention is for people see the brand, like what I have to say, and then reach out directly to ask for services or partnerships. In contrast to my cold leads, these would be extremely warm, want to work with me, and be willing to pay higher prices to boot.

As you can see, my plans are still vague and will probably crystallize over the coming months. But here's what I'm doing at present:

  1. I'm growing a following on YouTube by posting daily about various process automation skills. I'm minimizing friction and responding to as many people as I can with a disproportionate amount of value, whether it's a YouTube comment, an email, or a DM. My goal is to become the most respected person in this industry (not necessarily the most popular) and assist people in growing their businesses, both for free and for pay. As a bonus, this reflects positively on my future reputation and helps me acquire 1000 true fans.
  2. I'm publishing my journal here, on this blog, publicly. I don't expect it will have many readers for a long time, but journalling is what I do anyway, so the added time cost is minimal. I foresee this leading to a variety of serendipitous business relationships over the next decade.
  3. I'm joining a variety of agency communities on Slack, Discord, Skool, etc. Many of these are paid. I then carve out a few minutes every morning to post something insightful and respond to comments. My goal is to become well known in most of these communities and then leverage other business owners to build my reputation.

The numbers, Mason!

To be clear: so far, brand building has had a much lower short term ROI than my cold outreach campaigns. If I had spent an equivalent amount of time over the last month merely sending emails and booking sales calls, I'd have probably had at least twenty meetings, maybe closing an additional 3-4 customers. Could be anywhere from $10K-$20K.

But I'm comfortable sacrificing cold revenue in the short term for a warm lead generation funnel in the long term. I don't want to have to "pitch" people on anything moving forward—I want them to get so much value through my content that they pitch themselves and then demand that I work with them.

Here's how it's worked on a small scale over the last week. Note that I've received $0 in revenue so far:

  • 5 booked inquiries for automation related services from YouTube. 2 qualified.
  • 1 booked inquiry for automation related services from Twitter. 0 qualified.
  • 1 booked inquiry for automation related services from communities. 0 qualified.

I think, as I improve and streamline my qualification process, these numbers will improve. Given the length of my sales cycle, it's also possible I'll end up working with one of these leads, so I won't discount that.

There are indirect benefits to my other sales channels as well, as YouTube lends me authority and credibility, and I'm beginning to generate revenue from ads and affiliate placements (both of which I can see being significant over the next year). I've also just met a ton of smart people, and that's made my life a lot more enjoyable.

This is all experimental, and quite a departure from my usual "do whatever it takes to many money today" mindset, so I'll be regularly updating my progress on this blog and on YouTube.

Cold leads suck—but they make you a lot of money