GDPR is a Real Opportunity for B2B Marketers: Start Planning...

On 25th May 2018 we will see the new GDPR framework take effect - and it offers all marketers the greatest opportunity for business transformation in a generation.

The GDPR brings about legislative change that confirms that data e.g. contact information belongs to the "data subject" i.e. the person whose information it is. Businesses and marketers cannot continue to use personal information about customers and/ or prospects as they have been doing in the past. Brands that fail to comply will lose customers, goodwill and ultimately shareholder value. Those that demonstrate good data governance will find customers will trust them more and share their data more, which should lead to better revenues.

My professional world of B2B Marketing seems to be consumed with information related to GDPR. In the past we have witnessed the hype of Y2K which resulted in nothing, our computer didn't self-combust, life continued. I have never seen the volume of articles, adverts, comments, thoughts, ideas, guides, training courses and certificates that are available to prepare for GDPR compliance.

My advice to all marketing professionals as a GPDR consultant and IDM trainer is simple. Read the accurate and useful materials available from credible sources like the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM). These organisations enlist industry experts, like myself, to spend the time to review and interpret the 99 Articles and 173 Recitals which make up the GDPR. They say the following...

The GDPR lays out 6 legal grounds for processing personal data. All are equally valid. In conversations, webinars and debates I have attended, the focus has been on two of those six, "Consent" or "Legitimate Interests". Which legal ground will your business choose for your marketing, or will you employ a mix of both?

A lot will depend on how you are processing personal data for marketing now. If you are using consent then you will need to continue with this ground. However if you are using legitimate interests now, which you will be if you offer an opt-out of marketing, you can choose to continue using this post May 25th or you can switch to consent.

B2B marketers will be able to make use of the "Legitimate Interests" legal ground for their marketing activity in most instances. "Legitimate Interests" is a subjective legal ground, meaning that an organisation must justify their activity and consider the privacy risks for data subjects. "Consent" is more black and white. The data subject must freely give, specific, informed and unambiguously expressed 'Yes'. However, it is a robust standard which may be hard to achieve and may not be the best choice for your marketing activities. The ICO have said "Legitimate Interests" might be a better choice.

If your business chooses to adopt the approach of either "Consent" or "Legitimate Interests" but you have not started the process, then act quickly and get a plan together. Now is the perfect time to engage with your customers and prospects and you have a reason to approach them. Either to gain consent (or update this for current customers/clients) or demonstrate how you are going to use their data responsibly for future communications.

The debates continue for B2B Marketing professionals, do we go down the path of "Consent" or do we opt to focus upon "Legitimate Interests"? Now is the time to make that crucial GDPR process decision.

Regardless of your choice, do take legal advice as each choice, whether Consent or Legitimate Interests, will give you different opportunities once we hit the new GDPR world in May.

To ease your preparation for the General Data Protection Regulation, the IDM have created a full GDPR portfolio, from an entry level evening course to an expert level qualification. So whatever part of the preparation journey you are at, the IDM has a GDPR course for you.

To learn more about how the GDPR affects marketers, enquire about the IDM Professional Certificate in GDPR.

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