John Montgomery, founder of Bridgeway Capital Management, tried a lot of marketing ideas in the early 1990s to get his upstart mutual fund company off the ground. All of them failed.

"We tried direct mail with some very fancy design work, business page advertising, affinity group marketing... and we knocked on doors," said Montgomery, a 42-year-old native of Houston, Tex. "We had a good story to tell, but we kept hearing the same answer: `You don't have a track record. Come back in three years.'"

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