Turning the Table on Spammers

    September 11, 2002

You can profit from spam. First, I want it to be clear, however, I consider spam to be the lowest form of marketing. It really isn’t marketing at all actually, because most people think of it as a nuisance and delete it.

Much like the annoyance of mosquitoes on a summer evening, spammers do get a LOT of attention, but eventually get squished or sprayed.

How many of you get spammed? Raise your hands. Okay, don’t raise your hands – I already have a pretty good idea. If you have a website with your email posted, if you advertise in classified ads (free or paid), and yes, even if you advertise in ezines, you are most likely receiving spam.

Personally, I receive hundreds of spam emails daily. How do I deal with them? First, I look at it as the cost of doing business. It’s the cost of posting monthly to thousands of free classifieds, and exposure of my website. Second, I view spammers as totally amateur. Third, of course I have a spam filter system. And lastly, I REPLY to them as much as possible.

Assuming spammers to be amateurs opens up some avenues of marketing. Because of the heavy penalties for spamming (complaints, flaming, being blocked from ISPs, and even losing ISP accounts, etc), it is hard for me to believe they are anything but amateurs and not to be taken seriously for anything about which they are promoting.

Responding to spam is a rather warped view of permission marketing. But after all, they did send you email first. Some of the offenders are perhaps now “cloaking” their true identity or abusing some of the web-based services. However, for those to whom you are able to respond, there is some market potential and “free” leads.

Whenever you receive an email stating

– “I saw your ad, but you might be interested in this: blah blah blah”, or – “If you join my program, I’ll join yours”, or – “According to spamming code BS 601 I can spam you once as long as you reply with ‘delete’,
you have a strong indicator you are dealing with an amateur marketer.

These amateur marketers are motivated, although ignorant.

I believe that ignorance is treatable. Since my business is training, I have found this source of free marketing leads to be substantial. This has been a source for several of my affiliate programs. With proper guidance and training, former “spammers” can be effective recruiters.

Can spammers help your business? They may be misguided amateurs, but they are also highly motivated. If you need leads, try responding to spam in your mailbox. It could surprise you.

Paul Uhl is a training specialist for small business. For more details about making nuisance email work for you, send an email here, or click here for the Website.