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Wednesday, 22 November 2017 by Peter Bell

Why GDPR is Direct Marketing's BREXIT

"Can we at least shake on GDPR?" (credit:The Independent)
Last week, it struck me how these two phrases, forever etched on marketing peoples brains, have a surprising amount in common with each other...
Consider:
  • Neither outcome is fully known until deadlines come and go
  • We are preparing for both best we can on limited guidance available
  • We are inundated with so called experts, doom-mongers and evangelists
  • They are bound to be some losers, but also big opportunities
But the single humongous problem affecting our business lives today is that we lack certainty. The stuff that we crave in order to design and execute change plans is rarer than the prospect of Barnier and Davis swapping presents this Christmas.
Informed guesswork is the name of the game here with those who feel theyre sailing close to the wind now (you know who you are) will likely court the wrath of the ICO GDPRstyle in 2018, unless business models are torn up and new strategies adopted.
The best policy (outside of an official one) is to use common sense. Many blogs ago, I suggested such common sense rules called the The Granny Test for those of you unsure how to apply best practice to consumer privacy and consent. The basic premise is before hitting go on that latest direct marketing campaign, think how your granny would feel about receiving it. If the impact worries you, hit pause and think again. I think this interpretation still holds well today in the absence of any explicit rules to follow.
May the marketing force be with you (youll need it!)

Wednesday, 19 April 2017 by Peter Bell

How to Solve Marketing's Consent / Privacy Dilemna

Image https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/6022973168 
Make no bones about it Privacy and Consent are now the biggest buzzwords in Direct Marketing. Cut to frantic scenes in compliance and marketing departments across the UK trying to figure out what the best approach is to take...
Is it a question of damned if you do and damned if you dont?
But before we all start ripping up marketing techniques that have been tried and tested over the last twenty years (since Data Protection Act of 1998 and 2003s PECR), lets start with performing a simple test on how you treat marketing communications with prospects and customers by applying The Granny Test:
Put yourselves in the shoes of your granny and think how she would feel if she received the latest DM pack, email or phone-call as part of a direct-marketing campaign. Youll get one of two answers:
  1. Shes worried/concerned/surprised to hear from the brand
  2. She understands the reason for contact and accept/ignores or declines the offer
Of course, eliciting answer No.2 means youve probably got the correct consent/opt-in whilst respecting her privacy. Anything else, means you have to go back down the mine and work out why your granny doesnt understand the reason for contact.
Best practice is no longer an aspiration but the absolute minimum for direct marketing post GDPR. GDPR sounds onerous (it is in terms of administration!) but does attempt to crystalise how everyone would prefer to be contacted via marketing channels. Compliance can no longer be seen as a barrier, but another way to enable better marketing results through fairer legal means.
From personal experience, recent conversations with client brands have resurfaced some age old questions around consent, opt-in and privacy. Actually it is now easier to answer those questions with a stricter ICO interpretation of data laws using GDPR.
One such dilemma is Should we use company name or brand name opt-in statement? On the face of it, the benefits of a company wide opt-in are obvious, offering multiple brand opt-ins and total communication flexibility. However caution must be urged - do your prospects/customers most commonly associate with the brand or the company? Apply the Granny Test and youll quickly get the answer you need! Under GDPR using a company opt-in to send marketing comms from a brand a prospect is unfamiliar with, is likely to suffer the wrath of the ICO as you will need to prove that the original opt-in consent scope is tight enough to allow this type of brand contact.
It seems only yesterday that pressure on companies to get serious about consent was at breaking point but looking back to 2015 the red flags were flying and highlighted (in no subtle terms) in a previous blog How to fix Direct Marketing Biggest Problem
2018 will be the year of reckoning for all those in the Direct Marketing game, so spend 2017 huddling together to solve your Consent / Privacy dilemmas, before the ICO (painfully) solves it for you.

Thursday, 12 January 2017 by Peter Bell

Automatic for the People?

Michael Knight escapes KITT(image thanks to Silver Blue)
"End Tech Disruption, Start Tech Enhancement"
Constant social media updates flood our news feeds daily about how yet another industry is disrupted by new technology.... and how wonderful this is because now a computer automates a task faster and cheaper than ever before. 
But wait... theres a catch or more a hidden story. That is, the lives of the people this technology disrupts. Disruption is rarely all good, indeed the definition is: disturbance or problems that interrupt an event, activity, or process - doesnt sound too rosy now, does it? Yet we are sold on the idea that disruption by tech is all good, inevitable, unavoidable and that if we cant see the advantage now, we will all benefit in the future.
Take Uber as a classic example of disruptive technology. The platform disrupts by removing the inconvenience of getting a taxi at short notice which was an inherent flaw with the offline taxi rank/office/black cab industry. So far, so good. However looking at the numbers, this company just cant make money with its current driver model. It just lost another $800m last quarter and on track to lose $3 billion by year end! It wont take a genius to guess that it will only ever likely turn a profit when a driverless model is the prevailing service.
So like the offline taxi model, Uber appears to carry a flaw (this time weighing c. 62kg) in its underlying model. As an Uber user, I like the convenience but I also love that fact that Uber provides someone with a new way to earn an income. Without a 62kg human driver, I could quite easily fall out of love with Uber.
Next time you are sold the next great tech disruption consider the downsides and how maybe technology should be evaluated on the enhancement it makes to us humans rather than purely as a cool disruptive influence. With this kind of thinking, better, more profitable and an altogether more humanistic approach can create tech business models that mutually benefit customers, employees and society at large (and dont even get me started on big corp taxes!).