Traffic & Conversion Summit 2019: You Won’t Believe The Insane Stunt We Pulled

 In Advanced Email, Cutting Through

Today more than ever we are pummeled by marketing noise from every direction by every brand under the sun.

Social media, data collection, and AI has (in theory) made those messages more targeted and relevant.

But, the result is still a “sea of sameness,” as everyone watches what’s working for everyone else, puts their own (marginally different) spin on it, then sprays it back out there right next to the same thing they’ve copied.

Cutting through

We take a completely different approach at

We’re in a very commoditized space:  there are more than 160 vendors that sell what we sell.

How will we compete?

  1. A bold, powerful value proposition (50% more opens or 2x your money back)
  2. A huge, premium, sexy, fun, high-end brand that uses people to connect with people at every stage of the funnel at 2019’s Traffic & Conversion Summit

A perfect example of how we’re connecting with people is how we approached the 2019 Traffic & Conversion Summit.

How do you “cut through” at a trade show?

In my opinion, exhibiting at a booth and hoping people visit you is definitely NOT the way.

There are a hundred booths, you’re one of them, they all look the same and hand out the same stupid things.

Buying a booth doesn’t cut through. No matter what you do. Full stop.


Stopping them dead in their tracks

We knew there were THOUSANDS of potential customers roaming around the T&C Summit, none of whom want to be sold to, and none of whom care about people at booths.

We also knew that if we had two pieces of information from these potential customers — their email list size and ESP vendor — we could appropriately assess their quality as a lead.

So we used a couple of time-tested, foolproof methods to bring attention to ourselves:

Sex and humor.


It’s what we all want to know

More females show up at T&C as it grows, but it’s still largely a male-dominated conference.

I thought it would be on point to play to the crowd. So we bought tickets for a group of eight of the most beautiful women we could find, gave them a script, dressed them in incredibly sexy, branded clothing, and sent them around the conference asking as many men as possible the following three questions:

    1. “Do you send email”? (the answer at T&C is almost universally yes)
    2. “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question”? (Go ahead is almost universally the answer)
    3. “How big is your list?”

Traffic & Conversion

The reactions we got were hysterical.

Some guys responded with “clever” quips (“How big is yours?”), some were laughing so hard they couldn’t answer the question, some defended their small list size by saying it was full of “influential people.”

It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion of the ocean, eh?

I watched hundreds of these encounters, and the faces of almost everyone brightened as the sequence of questions played out.

I love saying outrageous things. And sometimes I love it even more when other people say them for me.


More than a dick joke

When we originally came up with “size matters” and using beautiful women to look men in the eyes and ask, “How big is your list,” one of our co-founders, James Murphy, absolutely HATED the idea of debasing our potentially huge ( brand to a dick joke.

Especially in light of the #MeToo movement.

Right then I knew it would be pure gold.

Why? Because it’s so polarizing and so inappropriate, especially in light of everything that’s going on. And the current public mood, if someone hated it that much, others would think it’s absolutely fantastic, and it would generate tons of attention.

Had it just been a dick joke, I might have agreed with him.

However, our entire value proposition is that we can serve large senders better than either the platforms built for SMB or the marketing clouds built for enterprise (which require a HUGE investment to migrate to).

If you challenged me to describe how or why we would be able to help email marketers, and reduce it to the fewest possible words, I could get down to two, and you already know what they are:



Show me your list, big boy

I came from Wall Street. I was a derivatives trader at Lehman Brothers for ten years before I quit and decided to try to get into tech and work for myself.

Trading was a testosterone-driven, alpha-male, locker room culture.

There was an obsession with being “big,” other guys being “bigger than you,” “size,” and describing a large risk tolerance of an individual trader was often followed by stating that he had dick that dropped all the way to the floor.

If anyone has ever read Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis, you’ve heard the term “big swinging dick.” That term was still around when I was there.

The implication is that the more successful a trader you are, the bigger your dick is.

(I’m not sure if there has ever been a study on the correlation of penis size and financial success in trading. I’m sure there are those out there who would insist the correlation is negative).

The reason I LOVED asking digital marketers this question is because (to a lesser extent) the email world equates success with big lists, AND it’s a dick joke, AND there would be a beautiful girl asking both questions to these guys at the same time.

It’s a real one-two-three punch.

And it worked. We got stacks and stacks of business cards with list sizes, and on multiple occasions I eavesdropped on conversations where attendees were commenting on how our girls asked about their list size.


Make it last beyond the interaction

We also wanted to give everyone something they could take home, and we wanted that thing to remind them of the joke we told.

We thought gum was a great thing to hand people to warm them up to the conversation. So we made promotional gum with the joke on them.

One side said “ Matters,” the other said “An Enterprise-Grade ESP,” and “How big is your list?”

Cecilia, our brilliant lead designer, delivered a consistent, sophisticated brand feel, which subtly incorporates the dick joke.

I think they look pretty good.


Attention-getting strategies never change

Sex sells.

It always will.

Excellent humor is memorable.

It always will be.

Rappers used to rap in music videos in expensive cars with beautiful women. And 30 years later, people are still generating fame in the same ways.

Now, influencers lecture you via Instagram in their private planes, driving their Rolls and Lambos, or from their Florida mansions.

However, attention only gets you so far, and at, we know that.


Be at-home good: we know we are

Being at-home good (in the words of Jason Fried) is what we value most and what we do best, and we’ve been doing it for years at Robly, our first business.

We know that beautiful women and polarizing humor will draw attention to our brand and get people talking about it, so we’re going to keep pulling stunts like this one in hopes that increases the reach of our brand.

However, those attention getting strategies will quickly fall to the wayside as we provide you with years and years of the best products, services, and education we possibly can, along with people behind the products that you will get to know and love.


Are you ignoring selling to women with this strategy?


While I don’t think this stunt would be as effective in a crowd less dominated by men than T&C, and this message will very likely turn more women off than men, I still believe that many women laugh at dick jokes, and at outrageous things in general.

I also think that women who think the brand message is funny will think it’s really funny.

Every woman I’ve spoken to about the tagline and where it came from agrees…that size matters.

Some people — men and women alike  — will think we’re immature, sophomoric, insensitive, inappropriate, and shameless for selling with sex and a dick joke, given the times.

I consider these strong feelings a good thing. It gets people talking.

I also believe that marketers in general understand that being polarizing is a good thing in marketing, so even if they are appalled, they will likely understand why we’re doing it.

Sex sells. Humor is memorable. Size matters.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments.

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