Inc. 5000 Spam

When we were named to the Inc. 5000, my partners and I wondered what, if anything, would come of it. While did it primarily for ourselves, we also wanted to make the most of a rare opportunity to promote our business outside of the car care world. Somewhat predictably, two things happened: 1) we got a small amount of local press, and 2) we started receiving a massive amount of solicitations via email and phone.

It makes sense. The Inc. 5000 list is a great list to solicit from, and I’m sure you can buy a list of contacts either from Inc. directly or from a third party. Pretty much every email went the same way: “Congrats on making the Inc. 5000. My company offers X service that we think you’d be interested in.” Followed by multiple follow-up emails over the course of the next few weeks.

I used to reply to everyone who reached out to us. Last year it became too much and we implemented and email policy, which is basically “write us a real email and we’ll reply.” Surprisingly/unsurprisingly, no one did that. They were too focused on contacting 5,000 companies to actually focus on reaching out to one. Who knows, maybe the blanket solicitations worked, but my guess is they didn’t. We’re pretty transparent, it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes of time on our sites to learn a ton about us and make a connection as to why we’d be a good fit for a product/service.

(Which I think is a good lesson if you have a product or service where you’re cold emailing. You’re better off taking your time and writing good, quality, “real” emails to people or businesses that you think would genuinely be a good fit for what you’re offering.)

One other thing I did last year was set up a “cold pitches” labels and corresponding filters. From that post last year:

When I get a pitch like I referenced above, I archive it with the label “Cold Pitches”. This allows me to track follow-ups. If someone bothers me enough, I’ll mark the messages as spam and create a filter to send all future messages to spam. I’m creating my own “blacklist”, similar to the famous PR Blacklist Gmail filter.

This technique saved me when managing all of these emails. I skim the message, if it’s an unpersonalized solicitation, I create a filter to send any emails from that person straight to the “Cold Pitches” label with it marked as read so I never have to see it. Sometimes they follow up from a different email address so I end up filtering out the entire domain. I like storing them in a folder, as opposed to deleting them, because then I have a history of their emails if someone from their company contacts me in the future.

It’s unfortunate, but I guess it just comes with the territory. It certainly isn’t enough to stop us from pursuing the Inc. 5000 in the future. I think there’s a good chance we’ll apply next year, and any year in the future that we’re eligible.