His $75,000 ad spend got him 3 customers

Someone asked Tony Shieh, CEO of Zappos (online shoe retailer set to do $1 billion in sales this year, from 0 sales 9 years ago) how he could afford to pay for his customers’ shipping – both when they buy and return shoes and accessories.

He smiled and said he stopped spending money on other things that did nothing for getting customers or keeping them coming back.

For example, he said, Zappos had spent about $75,000 one time to buy an ad billboard behind the plate in a baseball stadium. People saw it during the game. They could only track 3 customers to that expenditure.

With that same $75,000, how many customers can he make extra happy by paying for their shipping? (At $7/order, that’s 10,714 happy customers!!).


What do you spend your business money on? A convention? How about a leads program? Or a traffic generation program? It gets into the thousands quickly, doesn’t it?

How has money spent like that helped you keep 75% of your customers coming back?

What would you be earning if 75% of your customers and recruits were still buying?

The good news: it’s never too late to learn to start keeping who you have. It’s a different focus than getting new ones, and likely way more profitable and fun.

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Very interesting post. A food for thought for most marketers. Sometimes as a marketer we lose focus on what really brings in the sales. We spend time and money on unproductive task, especially if we see others doing it. Great advice.

  • Great post. Sometimes we as marketers fail to take a closer look at where we are spending our marketing budgets. We fail to ask ourselves which of all the marketing tools and avenues is actually bringing in the sales and which isn't. This post is a great advice.

  • Tracking our activities is right up there with remembering to brush our teeth! Offline marketing can be difficult to track at all. But using Google Analytics code on our blogs and squeeze pages is great for telling us where to 'ramp' and where to 'dump'. This blog rocks, Kim!

  • Good point! There are so many marketing bells and whistles to be explored in cyberspace that you can quickly get sidetracked. Keep the most important thing the most important thing.

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