Stop moaning about GDPR and get your house in order

There is so much noise around GDPR. Everyone is talking about it. Many are predicting doom and the end of proactive b2b marketing. There’s lots of scaremongering regarding massive fines albeit, it is fair to say that there have been some genuinely high profile recent cases concerning breaches of data protection such as the Uber data protection leak of 2.7m customers data where hackers were able to obtain user names, email addresses and mobile numbers of customers in a breach that was covered up until last week. There was also the recent case of Morrison’s payroll data leak where thousands of staff are set to receive a pay-out in a landmark judgment over personal details posted online.

There’s no point in running scared

Accepting that the above may be high-profile cases, some marketing executives are running scared, unsure of what to do next. Yet, as far as b2b marketing is concerned, we await formal guidance from the Office of the Information Commissioner’s office (at time of writing, 5 Dec 2017) regarding precisely how the EU GDPR Directive will be interpreted in the UK. Whilst it’s clear we’re moving more towards consent as a basis for processing personal data, the concept of legitimate interest as a further basis remains in the EU directive but it remains to be seen what that means for each marketing channel and how that relates to continued targeting of customer and prospect databases. What is sure is that every organisation needs to get its house in order since there will be a tighter regime in terms of policing data management.

Check out our short video on what marketers with large databases need to do

Putting your house in order

But, GDPR is surely a way of getting ones house in order. Think of it simply. Do you want people to contact you if you don’t want to hear from them? And, wouldn’t you rather companies actively protect your privacy than abuse it? There are too many instances of cyber-attacks. If the NHS can’t protect our data, who can? Ransomware is on the rise. And, the more lax the approach to protection of our personal details, the higher the risk of our details becoming compromised.

Pretty straightforward isn’t it? Take measures to protect the data you hold on individuals and stop contacting those that don’t want to hear from you. And, make it clear what you’re going to with people’s data at the point that you process it. At any rate, that’s what you should be doing now as it is enshrined in current legislation!

Don’t use old habits

Of course, old school sales people will claim that their product is just what the prospect needs and, if they didn’t tell them, they’d never find out. The problem with that logic is that it starts with the seller and not the buyer. It presupposes that the buyer cares and considers the problem that the seller’s product or service solves as important. And, those buyers may be busy, time poor and harassed meaning that they prefer to ‘discover’ solutions at their own pace.

Don’t get me wrong, there remain plenty of potential prospects that are perfectly comfortable discovering innovations and solutions through all of the various outbound marketing methods. And, there’s your target market in a nutshell. If they want to be removed from your marketing endeavours, they can (currently) put themselves on the CTPS/ TPS register, unsubscribe to emails or tell you simply to STOP.

Now, the status above may change in May 2018. We don’t yet know whether consent will prevail over any form of legitimate interest and whether, not least for b2b, we will be still able to operate on an opt-out basis for some marketing methods such as b2b telemarketing and email marketing. However, whatever the outcome of the various deliberations on privacy, surely it makes sense to get ones house in order asap. Surely, it is sensible to look closely at internal and external databases of current customers, lapsed customers and prospects to establish whether the data is an asset or a potential millstone that drains resources and enhances risk.

Database management is good practice

The point is that data absorbs time and money. Data goes out of date quickly. Yet, clean data makes marketing more effective in every sense. It drives up response rates. It reduces wastage and thus cost. It improves team effectiveness for inside sales and external sales people. It engenders customer goodwill with accuracy and timely communication.

I could go on. The point here is that whilst GDPR may be seen as an inconvenience by some. The reality is that a large part of your customer database is old and out of date. Many of your so called ‘customers’ barely know who you are. A large proportion of your clients have had staff changes and that new personnel don’t have an affinity with your business or brand. And, you probably have a significant number of suspects and prospects on your CRM system that should be consigned to history.

Build value into the marketing mix

GDPR may well reduce the ability of some companies to do business. If you are wholly reliant on new business or lack referrals or indeed are totally focused on mass marketing, you may be disappointed once the guidance comes out. However, a positive impact of any change will hopefully be that it will encourage more corporations to work harder to build value into the marketing mix to encourage prospects and customers to want to engage with them. It will probably drive a ‘consent’ culture and greater reliance on inbound marketing.

Whatever the guidance in the coming weeks, it is incumbent on marketers to get their house in order and to focus more on engagement to build a solid database for future marketing.

If you’d like help in building a database of qualified prospects or you need advice on marketing to your current database, give GSA a call.

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