Archive for September 10th, 2007

The Joy (not) of Spam

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Today I sent out the latest Free Manual in Your Email…and promptly had about 5% of them bounce because my server (the hosting company, that is) has been placed on some obscure spam list. Yarg.

This is particularly frustrating because the company I use is, if anything, pitbull-like in its anti-spam policies. In fact, I can’t do things I would like to do marketing-wise, because it would violate their rules–which are considerably more strict than the law requires. And yet, their machines are popping on spam lists and, as a consequence, my emails get blocked.

This is not the hosting company’s fault, nor is it mine. It is, however, a result of the hyper-vigilance of some people. I think some of these people are the same people who dress their kids like the Michelin Man before they go play anything active outside and/or who won’t take crap images off their sites because there may be some potential buyer who won’t hire ’em because of what they are not showing.

This is all fear.

Yes, spam is a pain in the butt. I get loads too and even with all the blockers, etc., it seems the worst of the worst always find a way through. The legitimate marketers, like me, get blocked. This just proves you can’t protect against everything.

In fact, protecting often has worse effects than the original problem. Look at antibiotics–we started using them like aspirin and now there are formerly simple bacteria that we can’t kill because they are now resistant.

What does this have to do with you and your business? Well, besides possibly not getting your Manual when I send ’em, over-protection is bad in business. Minimizing risk is touted by some as a positive, but when it goes from buying insurance (good) to not trying something new, it goes too far.

For example, the stock industry is changing rapidly these days. Companies like Getty and Corbis are falling all over themselves to lower prices to compete with microstock which is resulting in unhappy photographers and buyers who are getting crappy service because the stock houses don’t care about anything but their price-points. We have technology today that makes managing and selling your own stock a viable option to these huge companies. I think taking the risk of pulling your images from Getty (etc.) and marketing/licensing them yourself is better than staying with those same companies.

You might take a hit in the short term. It might not even work in the long–but I think the chances are good enough and the potential payoff is big enough that it’s worth taking that risk.

To be successful in business, you need to be willing to take some risks. No one got rich sitting on their hands. Like all things in life, you have to look at the chances something won’t work, the potential rewards if it does, figure the “pot odds,” and then make a decision to check, bet, or fold.