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zferral.com: Lean Marketing for Your Business

[Jointly written by Jeff Epstein & Pete Michaud for the Lean Startup Challenge - Please vote for us! ]

Pete once replaced a SharePoint installation that had cost over $100,000 with Fogbugz. It turned out that the only difference between SharePoint and Fogbugz for us was that the team actually used Fogbugz.

Lean is doing less when you could do more.

Lean is doing just enough to overcome the million challenges that your startup faces (and the million more that will crop up tomorrow) so that you can build a core offering that absolutely kills it.

Lean looks different for each founding team because skillsets differ, but no matter what your core strengths are, lean is being smart with your money and especially your time.

zferral.com is taking on Appsumo’s Lean Challenge because we embody lean. Our company runs lean, and our service lets our customers run lean too.

Appsumo SXSW Lean Bundle = Viagra For Lean Startups

The SXSW Lean Bundle is awesome because it gives you access to free or nearly free services that enable you focus on your making core offering strong and outsourcing the bullshit that makes your business flaccid.

Why spend time writing a buggy recurring billing module (that will inevitably break 30 seconds before a big promotion), when you could drop in Chargify and call it a day?

Why risk your company’s critical e-mails falling into the void when you could trust Postmark to get it right?

Why spend a fortune on bloated accounting software that doesn’t integrate with jack squat, when you can use LessAccounting?

You know an affiliate or referral program would expand your customer base, but the task of implementing it keeps slipping to the “next” release? Just plug zferral in to your site or app, and watch the new customers roll in.

We Practice What We Preach (zferral Is Lean Baby)

zferral doesn’t just help you stay lean by providing drop-in custom affiliate programs, it also runs lean. We use:

  • SnapEngage – We dropped SnapEngage onto our sales website and now we proactively chat on a daily basis with customers engaged in the sales process. Jeff is a huge SnapEngage evangelist and you can find him on our chat nearly 24/7.
  • PostMark – We were sending e-mail out blind until we started using PostMark. Now we can track metrics about sales volume and engagement from companies and affiliates. It’s a must have.
  • BatchBook – All my customers and business contacts used to be one dropped iphone away from being lost forever, and we had to keep track of what was going on with all of them in our heads. With BatchBook we have everything backed up, always available, and fully tracked. Our service is integrated with them too.
  • KissMetrics enabled us to get real feedback and determine we had achieved Product/Market fit.
  • We are looking forward to diving into Trada, Ginzametrics, Infochimps & Twilio in the coming months too.

But wait, that’s not all!

  • We’ve spent less than $100 on advertising. We keep marketing lean by integrating with other awesome apps which brings the customers to us. And, of course, we have a referral program that works while we’re sleeping.
  • Our team works remotely, using collaboration tools like github and Skype to organize our schedules and workload.
  • We are listed on the following all-star websites as integration partners: Chargify, Highrise, MailChimp, Shopify, FreshBooks, CapsuleCRM, and Wufoo.

Where does zferral Fit In?

zferral enables companies to easily create, track and manage referral programs (also called affiliate programs). Referral programs engage your brand ambassadors, existing customers + outside companies, bloggers, and sales people to promote (and sell) your product or service for you. Those other people get paid when they send you a paying customer, so you never pay a penny until you make a sale. Only paying for sales in the bank is way lean. Sweet!

You decide what you want to happen (e.g. you want to make a sale), and you decide what you’ll pay (e.g. 20% of the sale), then your virtual army does the rest, leaving you to focus on your awesome product.

The best part is that affiliate marketing is like an escalator. Escalators can never break—they can only become stairs. Affiliate marketing can’t break either. It can only become free backlinks, facebook posts, e-mail and word of mouth recommendations. Nice.

We Want To Win The Lean Startup Challenge!

zferral is finally ready for some investment. Winning the Lean Startup Challenge would provide some rocket fuel. Intentionally vague stats:

Paying Customers: Over 100 (but under 1000) a month.
Monthly Revenue: Over $1,000 (but under $10,000) a month.

We have even worked with some of these Lean companies:

  • Chargify built an integration with us—recurring affiliate commissions in about 5 minutes!
  • LessAccounting is integrating their Affiliate Platform with zferral.
  • Postmark, Pandaform, FeeFighters & BatchBook all have accounts on zferral.

Plus some of the companies who have entered the lean startup challenge, including coinwhale and nelbee.

Other Reasons We Should Win The Lean Startup Challenge?

zferral is lean and mean, and it’s all possible because of the awesome applications that allow us to outsource everything but the core of our business.