As someone who also runs his own company (I'm a Czech-English translator specialising in the heritage sector), having previously been a marketing manager at a much larger firm, allow me to offer you some free advice.

Using a spam bot on IRC will result in some or all of the following:

[*] Negative publicity regarding your enterprise. This will lead people hearing your name in future to automatically associate your name with bad business practice. Remember the old rule: a happy customer MAY tell one or two other people about how wonderful you are - but an unhappy one WILL tell ten to fifteen people about the problems. This is the LAST thing you need as a new business - the adage of "all publicity is good publicity" does not apply to startups.
[*] Complaints being made to your ISP, and/or to your webhosting company. These may well result in your losing your own Internet connection, or the cancellation of your web hosting contract.
[*] You (or in extreme cases your ISP) being banned from IRC networks completely, i.e. permanently K-lined/G-lined. Most IRC servers specifically prohibit use for commercial purposes - read the Terms of Service! This is why IRC is free.
[*] An increased likelihood of Distributed Denial of Service attacks being launched against you or your business web site as certain IRC users get upset by seeing your bots. Note that even if your bots are on proxies, you ultimately must have a (vulnerable) web presence (website) somewhere...
[*] An increased likelihood that your business web site will become a target for hackers seeking to deface it.

I would suggest that you follow a strategy like this:

Step 1: Decide which market you are in, i.e. what specifically your business does. (Not just "sells stuff", for instance).

Step 2: Decide what makes you unique - why should the customer choose YOU and not your competitors?

Step 3: Determine who your target customers are. Young or old? In which countries? How much disposable income? ("IRC users" is too broad, you cannot appeal to such a diverse group effectively at one time. IRC is no longer the preserve just of young technophiles).

Step 4: Determine where best to reach out to your target customers: where do they all go? what do they all do? (IRC users will be only a VERY small part of your target audience, and trying to reach them will lead to a lot of effort but very little return - you'd be better spending your time/energy more efficiently).

Step 5: When you know who and where the customers are, decide how to put your name in front of them while explaining your unique selling point.

Step 6: DO IT. Make the necessary investments or find a way of reaching target groups without needing a large cash outlay (e.g. get journalists to write stories about you, get your name in the public eye, write online or paper reviews and articles showing how expert you are in your field etc.)

Remember that it takes TIME, EFFORT and above all PATIENCE to build up a business. Most companies fail in the first year because their owners do not realise that a typical business loses money for the first 6-18 months of its existence, and have not planned for this.

Your key is to keep customers coming back by giving them what they want at a price they can afford, with excellent customer service and unfailing politeness. It requires far more effort and investment to get a new customer than to hang on to an old one!

Basically, spamming shows a lack of respect for customers, does not attract the kind of customer likely to come back, and will cause you more problems - and possibly legal problems - than it's worth.

Lastly, I recommend that you prepare a simple, one-line explanation of what you do (like I used in the first sentence of this mail), to use whenever someone says "oh, so what do you do?". This is actually an effective method of finding customers both online and in the real world - they see you as a real human being, because they are talking to you (and everyone prefers dealing with someone they think they know), and will then ASK you for details if they are interested.

This means, firstly, that you're not wasting time going into lots of detail for someone who's not interested anyway. Also, THEY will be asking YOU for the info, so you are not spamming. Spam is by definition the sending of unsolicited details. Here, they have asked for (solicited) the details themselves. Obviously, this conversation MUST be held in private, not on a public channel, otherwise you're still spamming all the other channel users. Always, always, always let them make the first move and ask questions, never force yourself on them - it's counter-productive.

I hope you find this useful - good luck with your new venture!


IRCnet & DALnet @#travelersinn
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