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Bad Marketing just became Illegal Marketing

First of all, it’s about fucking time!  GDPR isn’t just a wake-up call for those engaged in the prehistoric practice of cold-calling, it’s a clarion call to those sloppy, lazy marketers that have been driving us all nuts for years.

GDPR is a good thing and not just for data protection but to stop my inbox being inundated with unwanted and misdirected mail soliciting me to buy, or join something a little research would have prevented. This shouldn’t be seen though as simply annoying, this is actually damaging your business; the ‘annoyance factor’ is unquantifiable in terms of cost when recruiting new customers to replace the ones you pissed off.

GDPR should therefore be thought of as less about compliance and more about getting your marketing model right in the first place.

I’m not going to give you a rundown of the major points of GDPR, if you don’t know by now, you shouldn’t be in marketing…or business for that matter, and if you’re focus is solely on mere compliance then not only have you missed the point but if you’re not careful, you’ll miss the boat.

Data in marketing and advertising twenty years ago, was all about demographics and response rates. But not today, today data is ubiquitous and seizing this information is what enables organisations to brand-build, which in turn drives brand development and brand sales.

GDPR then, should be seen as more of an opportunity to engage in an overhaul of how we target customers, than in how we tick boxes.

If the recent study by DataMeer[1] is to be believed, with the introduction of GDPR there exists the possibility that due to a decrease in the availability of, or access to, consumer data, there may be a ’slow down‘ which will confine the capacity of marketers to target individual customers based on personal data harvesting.

The introduction of GDPR then, gives us an opportunity to modernise the way in which we engage with our customers.

So how do we go about this?

Modern marketing now has to be more about the lived experience than using LinkedIn to send emails to people who can’t be arsed reading your profile.  The amount of crap in my inbox from Joe or Asif asking me if I would like a website, or telling me how they can improve my Google rating, I run a successful marketing agency, if my website isn’t at the top of Google, there’s something fucking wrong.

In addition to this, people are so much more adept at seeing through bullshit, than they used to be in the past, pre GDPR can be likened to Nazi propaganda in the 1930s, using radio as the medium, there was a reason the NSDAP wanted a radio in every household in Germany and it wasn’t to listen to the Ring Cycle, it was to bring the message to the masses and it worked, but it wouldn’t work in the same way today.  As propaganda has become more subtle, so has marketing and post GDPR, it must become more so.

Today, it has to be more about Inbound and Salience marketing; focussing on appealing to consumers through relevant, thoughtful, and helpful content with the aim of adding value to every step of a buyer’s journey. But not through you targeting them, but through them finding you, and that means a greater social presence, be it through social media, blogs with free e-books, pdfs or white papers, or search engines.

In opposition to the pathetic mewling of outbound marketing, inbound strategies are not fighting blindly for the attention of prospective clients. They are a proactive positioning through careful, content creation, shaped and formulated to identify and address your ideal customer’s problems or needs attracting better-qualified prospects while at the same time building brand credibility and trust.

And as one thing leads to another, brand salience will follow. Brand salience by the way, isn’t to be confused with ‘top of mind awareness’; top of mind awareness is the brand that ‘comes to mind’ when you are asked to remember brands within a category. Brand salience is when your brand is brought to mind when a customer is in a buying position.

GDPR hasn’t been created to stop organisations from communicating with their customers and its unintended consequence will lead to enhanced data quality, hence why the best and most imaginative practitioners in marketing will see the bigger picture as an opportunity to develop stronger brand awareness and consumer trust, rather than the staid, stodgy, infuriating, “one-size-fits-all” lazy-assed approach to marketing many have fallen into.

Having said all of this, the rules concerning compliance are very simple:

  • don’t contact someone unless they request it
  • don’t assume they want to hear from you
  • don’t cold call anyone anymore, ever
  • and don’t send anyone irrelevant, untargeted, lazy information that they didn’t ask for in the first place.
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