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Hot Tip: Spam the Spammers

Here's how one company made lemonade out of lemons by sending its own advertisements back to spammers.

CEO's Notebook

Spam is one of those things -- like flat tires and ingrown toenails -- on which it's difficult to put a positive spin. Unless you're Joel Gaines, that is. Gaines, president of Third Rock Shops, a Web-site developer in Tucson, makes lemonade out of the lemon that is spam by sending his own advertisements back to spammers. In nine months, five companies -- including a jewelry manufacturer, a coffee vendor, and a computer retailer -- have signed on with Third Rock after Gaines replied to their spam with product pitches of his own. "We don't send out unsolicited mail," says Gaines. "But these folks won't be angry at us for doing what they do. And spamming is an act of desperation. Anyone doing it probably needs our help."

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Last updated: Jun 1, 2001

LEIGH BUCHANAN | Staff Writer | Editor-at-large, Inc. Magazine

Leigh Buchanan is an editor-at-large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture.

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