The Swiss cheese that was once your contacts database
Well, the snake-oil pedlars are at it again. They may well be worth keeping in touch with just in case I get an irresistible urge to claim for PPI or if I have an accident at work. This time, the bandwagon is the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR for short. You may have heard of it. A few of these organisations may well be able to help. A bit. Many of them won’t be able to. At all. For all their scaremongering, however, they are doing the business world a service in drawing our attention to something that may well have a huge impact on the way we go about our businesses.
Whilst the information surrounding exactly what is or is not GDPR is at best a little sketchy, the penalties that will be dished out to those that fail to comply is anything but. This is serious. In short, if on any given company’s sales database, a contact or multiple contacts do not wish you contact them again, you don’t. Full stop. Hence the analogy with Swiss cheese; gaps are bound to appear, and unless the missing contacts can be replaced by new, fresh (and verifyably willing) contacts, you’ll be left with a cheesy-smelling hole where your database used to be.
So, what’s a poor businessman to do? Try good old fashioned, tried and tested marketing. In the short term, the social media owners will be rubbing their hands with glee as droves of confused business owners beat a path to their door in an attempt to generate more leads without the dread panic that they may somehow may be breaking some data protection law. Oh, you’re going to do some advertising then? No, I’m going to use Facebook. OK, you’re going to let Facebook choose who sees your advertising then? No, it’s social media. No, it’s advertising. Oliver ‘warts-and-all’ Cromwell would have been a refreshing addition to the Facebook clan, as the bulk of users today develop their profile into how they would like to appear, which may not reflect how they are. So, someone who ‘appears’ to earn £120k a year, but actually earns a quarter of that is hardly likely to be able to afford the Aston Martin whose ad just appeared on our hypothetical fantasist’s page. Twitter? Donald Trump uses Twitter: enough said. Instagram? Linked In? Like I said, try marketing.
Joking aside, if your company is B2C, there is a strong argument for using social media, but do it properly. If on the other hand, you are B2B, then it should only appear as a component part of a larger, coordinated marketing mix. Rather look for media that has an opt-in policy to a specific, targeted audience that you’d like to address. By all means, send them your press release, but bear in mind that at some stage, they will need your ‘support’. That means advertising. If all this seems alien to you and therefore a little daunting, drop us a line; we do this for a living. In the meantime, until the 25th May 2018 deadline for GDPR and particularly afterwards, you’ll need to make sure that the marketing collateral - which your sales force will effectively have one shot at creating the right impression to secure the all-important opt-in from the prospective client – is up to scratch. Again, you might want to call.