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  • Michael Kerman

Marketing in a GDPR World

A few days ago, I received a call from a CEO who wanted to get some advice on marketing. He has a head of marketing, but he was particularly troubled by, surprise, the General Data Protection Regulation or "GDPR". We met for lunch and he shared with me his situation which can be translated into the following statement:

"How can I have a European marketing plan with GDPR in place? What can I do where?"

Now, the first thing I did was to mention that he should get legal counsel, ideally from a firm that specializes in this area. You don't want to mess around when the penalty can be up to 4% of your annual sales!

That said, I shared with him some thoughts about how to work around these digital marketing constraints by thinking both "outside" and "inside" the box.

1. Say "farewell" to a European marketing plan. The days of a single marketing plan that you can just roll out across Europe or even the EU are gone. Countries all have a different interpretation of GDPR; Germany is different than France which is different than the UK. (Note: I'm not even going to touch Brexit on this blog post). So, you need to develop profiles based on each country's view of GDPR.

2. Think "Old School". Yes, it is true that many EU countries have a rigid interpretation of GDPR meaning you can only contact someone via email if they have previously opted-in to receive electronic communications. One strategy many companies are pursuing to deal with this constraint is the old-fashioned tele-sales. While you can't email these prospects, you can call them. So, we are seeing a bit of a renaissance in terms of telesales teams and organizations focused on developing awareness and prospects via phone. TIP: Anyone prospecting via phone should be prepared to end their script with "and will you permit me to add your name to our email list so I can keep you up-to-date on our events and product announcements?"

3. Think "New School". If you're looking for a way to get around the emailing limitation, consider using social media. Platforms like LinkedIn actually enable you to run and track fairly targeted campaigns. For example, you can run a campaign targeting certain content and call-to-action to CIOs in Germany or even to specific companies within certain countries. No, it's not as precise as being able to target specific names and titles via email, but it is a good addition to your marketing strategy to include targeted social media campaigns.

4. Leverage Partnerships. One way to gain access to prospects without relying on email is to leverage partnerships. For example, partnering with media or information provider firms who hold webinars or physical events could provide the venue to interact with prospects and gain their approval to opt-in to receiving your marketing communications.

After we finished our lunches, I sensed that he understood everything I said but was still a bit apprehensive. When I probed further, he sighed and said that finding new prospects and customers was always difficult. The emergence of GPDR seems to make it even more challenging, less scaleable and potentially more expensive.

I smiled and was going to reply with "this helps bring job security to the Marketing Exec role".... but I knew better!

Let me know what you think.

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