Stop the GDPR Scaremongering. Nothing's too daunting for b2b marketers

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Stop the GDPR Scaremongering. There's nothing too daunting for b2b marketers


Well. GDPR is here. The fanfare is in full volume. The Prophets of Doom are out in force. And, isn’t it ironic that there are supposed GDPR experts promoting their services like crazy, exactly what most poor SME’s and large enterprises want to do for their own businesses?

The problem is that scaremongering persists. It’s been around for a while. First, it was the death of direct marketing. You could argue that was predicted with the advent of social media. Legislation has allegedly made it harder for businesses to actually do business.

Let’s face it. Technology and legislation does, to some extent, restrict what we can achieve in direct marketing. We have voicemail, IVR routers, the ease at which we can block a number, the ability to consign email to spam at the click of a mouse, CTPS/TPS registers and the like. It all makes us poor marketers want to tear our hair out. At any rate, those that still have hair!

And, the latest supposed dagger in the heart of us poor, downtrodden b2b marketers is GDPR. Or maybe I should say GDPR. You see, it’s a big subject, yet this isn’t the blog to go into great detail. Please check out the checklist and other info on the DMA site for more. You can also call the Office of the Information Commissioner for compliance advice if you can bear the wait, 2 hours and 7 mins when I called a few weeks ago!

But, I don’t believe that GDPR should be scary at all. It can be quite a bit of work if you aren’t prepared. But, think about it logically. It’s good practice not to spam. It’s good practice not to cold call to pitch your wares at someone that doesn’t want to hear from you. And, what’s more, The Data Protection Act has been around since 1998 with much of the same requirements as GDPR. With The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), the two pieces of legislation have governed direct marketing for a good number of years. And, in the broadest sense, not a great deal has changed. That’s perhaps a bold statement but let’s look at just a couple of aspects.

  1. CTPS/TPS registers were in place and a legal requirement before GDPR

  2. B2B marketing under PECR was on the basis of opt-out before (recognising that data protection law draws a distinction between a Limited Company and sole traders etc.)

  3. You needed an unsubscribe on b2b marketing emails before GDPR

I accept that there is a lot more to it and, of course, there are changes. Legitimate interest is definitely a good thing as one of the lawful bases for processing. Certainly, you need greater diligence. For sure, you need to get your house in order in terms of privacy policies, data protection statements, supplier and internal security measures and so on. But, once again, these should have been in place and relevant before.

Ultimately, GDPR is a good underpinning for your approach to direct marketing. The new legislation is an excellent way for you to streamline your practices. Why are you holding customer data for ever and a day? Why do you still simply send personal data on email with no encryption? Given the number of abuses and high-profile cases of breach, why wouldn’t you use this as a new start if your process isn’t as tight as it should be.

Ultimately, it’s about taking ‘appropriate’ technical and organisational measures to protect personal data. For b2b marketing, that data is often quite light in terms of risk and is often mostly in the public domain. Whilst that latter point certainly doesn’t absolve you of either risk or responsibility, it does mean that you should be able to get your house in order. And, assuming that you work to get things in order and follow the rules (many of which you should already have been following), you should be just fine.

So, stop listening to the boo boys. Spend some time reviewing your data flows, processes and security procedures. Look at your smelly old database if you haven’t given it a wash and brush up in a while. Take the necessary action to be compliant. But, b2b marketing isn’t dead. Your ability to do business hasn’t gone away as long as you follow the rules.

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