Fine Line Between Marketing and Spam?

Before we delve into a deep examination of the subject, let’s test your knowledge of what exactly constitutes spam. Carefully examine the following situations and then determine if they are considered marketing or flat out spam.

1. You receive an email from a content company that you are not familiar that offers you a 30% discount on some of their new sets.

2. A person that you exchanged business cards with at Internext gets in touch with you and gives you a spiel on their new product and a business deal that they would like to work out with you.

3. Someone posts on a message board that they are looking for a specific type of content and they get bombarded with replies from people claiming to have what they are looking for. Their posts describe what they can offer this person, whether it is what they are looking for or not.

4. A Webmaster purchases an opt-in email list of surfers who are interested in teen content and then sends out a promotional email blast to them advertising their new site,

*Please see the bottom of this article for the correct answers.

As you can tell from the situations listed above, there seems to be a fine line between simple marketing (or networking) and flat-out spam. To clarify the difference between the two, let us try to define exactly what spam is (and no we are not talking about the canned meat product). Spam is, in actuality, any form of unsolicited advertising, whether it is transmitted via email, newsgroups or message boards. The key word in this definition is unsolicited. The dictionary defines the word unsolicited as: not looked for or requested; unsought. So, essentially spam is direct advertising that the consumer did not ask for. Spam is why web-based email programs such as Yahoo and Hotmail have created filters so that people can side step the junk to get right to their personal correspondence. Spam is when someone calls you during your dinner hour and would like to sell you chimney cleaning. Spam is when you have to pick through the pile of flyers and publishers clearinghouse envelopes to get to your real mail. Spam is everywhere in our lives, whether we realize it or not, but we seem to notice it the most when it comes to the online porn world in the form of unwanted emails and intrusive posts on the message boards. 

Legitimate marketing on the other hand is advertising for a specific thing that the consumer is interested in and/or is information that the consumer is expecting or has asked for. It can also be advertising that maybe the consumer has not asked for or is expecting, but is in an unobtrusive form. Some examples of legitimate marketing would be: information given out at tradeshows, a newsletter sent out to consumers that are members of a particular site, or emailing a current customer to let them know of an upcoming special. A few examples of unobtrusive legitimate marketing are: placing banner ads on various Webmaster resources, commercials, print ads, etc. If you exchange business cards with someone at a trade show and then follow up with them either via phone or email to explain exactly what it is your company does, then this would be another example of legitimate marketing. In this particular situation, the person has a common interest and more or less would be expecting to hear from you.

Now that we have defined both spam and legitimate marketing, it is easier to see how they both have similar qualities but are two completely different things. Marketing is legitimate, expected, and unobtrusive. Spam on the other hand is not expected or wanted and is completely obtrusive and blatant. To simplify, marketing is something that people either look at and are interested in or they do not think twice about it. Spam on the other hand annoys people and is bothersome. Marketing takes time and money to plan out while spam is cost effective and is quick to put into motion. Marketing can get you praise and recognition, while spam can tarnish your image and actually finish you in the industry. Finally, marketing is welcomed and tolerated, while spam is strictly prohibited in most areas of the online porn world. 

Now that it is clear how these two things: spam and marketing, are different; how are they similar? They are both ploys to get attention from consumers. They both say, “Look at what I have to offer!” They both also achieve in getting some attention from their target audience, whether it be positive or negative. They can actually both produce in an increase in sales, although usually more so from marketing than from spam. That is where the similarities end though. Aside from these few common traits, spam and marketing can differ in many ways, as stated above. 

While both spam and marketing have common purposes and can also share the same outcome, marketing is the only way to get ahead in this particular industry. Spam is like a disease in this industry and once someone gets it, it causes him or her to get quarantined from the rest of the Webmaster community. The only way to get ahead and gain respect is to go the legitimate route. It may be more costly and take a little bit more determination and time, but in the end you will be successful and well liked at the same time.

Answers: 1. Spam 2. Marketing 3. Marketing 4. Spam


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