We’re only a few weeks away from the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). What does it mean for our marketing? Legislation like this takes a long time to implement, so it’s coincidental that after many years coming together, GDPR should hit at the same time as political issues have drawn people’s attention to the scary amount of data businesses hold on them. Like most people, I’ve been astonished to find that Facebook has been lifting unrelated data from my phone. In some cases that’s included records of all our calls and text messages. So it’s unsurprising that even free-marketers who get worked up about so-called red tape accept that GDPR is a major step in the right direction.
As a really good background article on Techcrunch explains, “The EC’s theory is that consumer trust is essential to fostering growth in the digital economy. And it thinks trust can be won by giving users of digital services more information and greater control over how their data is used. Which is — frankly speaking — a pretty refreshing idea when you consider the clandestine data brokering that pervades the tech industry. Mass surveillance isn’t just something governments do.”
Under GDPR, individuals have the right to access their personal data; the right to have their data deleted; the right to transfer their data from one service provider to another; the right to require that consent is freely given rather than implied; the right to have information corrected; the right to restrict use; the right to object to their data being used; and the right to be notified urgently if there has been a data breach. What’s more, the fines can be huge. Some businesses have declared a Year Zero: last June, pub chain JD Wetherspoon announced that it has deleted its entire email mailing list.
I suspect that most businesses could fall foul of the regulations, and whether some appear to be made examples of may depend on the tenaciousness of awkward customers. The best approach may be to ensure that you’re making a serious effort to move in the right direction. I would task someone with writing a document which maps where all of the personal data in the business comes from and what happens to it. Get rid of data which isn’t used, and record the clean-up process: erase (not archive) by default. Specify who has access to the data and what security procedure is in place. Review your privacy statements and disclosures. And ensure that from now on, when people deal with you, they’re given clear information about what you intend to do with their details. If someone gives you a business card at an exhibition, they have not consented to receiving marketing material from you. That requires separate acceptance.
Not for the first time, the folks at Velocity have written a good piece. In What GDPR really means they say: “The really great news is that Generally Dickish Practice Retirement won’t affect you too much if you don’t have any generally dickish practices to retire. For good marketers, this is a huge opportunity. GDPR is like guttering against the deluge of crap marketing. If someone’s receiving rubbish from a company, they have the right (and ability) to make it stop. But the companies people want to hear from? They can get through without difficulty. And they’ll find a lot less competition in those inboxes.”
“Native Advertising” is a big thing at the moment – it’s when paid-for content is put into the main flow of a publication. This isn’t anything new for those of us in B2B marketing; entire publications have been largely or completely financed by paid-for editorial for years. The practice, however, has normally been associated with the bottom end of the market. Now, led by online publications and the supposedly respectable label of “Native Advertising”, it’s moving up into the quality end of things. Expect to see a resurgence in the trade press soon.
To begin with, read “The Ultimate Guide to Native Advertising” by Joe Pulizzi or watch this fantastic ten-minute video piece by Jon Oliver of HBO in the USA:
If you don’t have time to watch the full ten minutes, at least watch the 45 seconds from this point.
Then, if you want more, have a read of “Native Advertising’s Apologists Miss The Point” on the Velocity blog. It’s a discussion which should interest all of us, and which – I suspect – will play a large part of shaping how we advertise in years to come.
Here’s an absolutely terrific free download from a London-based marketing agency called Velocity Partners, which has started to make a habit of producing great content …to illustrate why we should all be producing great content. The Big Fat B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist is an instantly downloadable guide to creating a strategy and execution plan for what’s often known as “marketing which doesn’t annoy your prospects”. If I was parachuted into an engineering or scientific company tomorrow and asked to take over their marketing, this is just the sort of guide I’d want to work through. What so many people love about a content marketing strategy is that it brings together, extracts the best of, and to some extent replaces traditional “PR” and advertising. The reason so many successful B2B marketers now base their efforts around it is because the message has finally hit home that customers are more interested in their requirements than your products. And if you’re not providing the sort of material we’re talking about, your competitors probably are. Indeed, this guide starts from the assumption that almost everybody has content marketing at the heart of their business development strategy, and therefore the next step is to do it better. Now, I must say I’d like to work in that world, but the implication is clear: content marketing is here to stay. Download The Big Fat B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist here.
Yet another good article on the B2B Marketing Blog discusses the problem of writing for audiences which have little in common, and when it’s preferable to avoid doing this. In B2B content marketing: when target audiences clash, we see that when writing for two audiences which have certain things in common, we can either aim for the common ground, or try to tell both stories, or create separate pieces. But what we should never do is to use generic language which somehow skates over the differences between the two, and in doing so creates boring content for both of them. This is something I see all of the time: you might provide sensors for some customers, controls for others and displays for the rest, so to bring them all together, you decide to market your company as providing “measurement solutions”. The problem is, nobody has ever gone out to look for a measurement solution, and if you could get away with that in the past, you certainly can’t in this age of search marketing.
A nice article called ZMOT, and what it means to Marketers on Velocity’s B2B Marketing blog talks about the idea of the “Zero Moment of Truth”, or ZMOT. There’s a good eBook from Google on the subject too. “FMOT” is the “first moment of truth”, the point where you buy something. “ZMOT” is the research you do before that. Sure, it’s all marketing acronyms, but it’s well worth thinking about. “Basically, you need to find out when people start researching the kinds of solutions youre selling and what questions they key in to Googles search field. This is marketings first lesson, applied to the digital age. At ZMOT, its not your story; its their story. Youd better make sure you fit in there.”