GDPR and the marketer’s dilemma

On the twentieth anniversary of Permission Marketing, the EU has decided to write the basic principles of that book into law.

There are two ways to look at this.

  1. Lawyers and yield-maximizers can find ways to use fine print and digital maneuvers to get the same sort of low-grade tolerance and low-impact marketing they've always gotten. Industrialise interactions!  The marketing machine at their organization has an insatiable appetite for attention, for data and for clicks, and they will skirt the edges to get more than their fair share.
  2. Realize that the GDPR is a net positive for people with something to say, something to sell or something to change. Because the noise will go down and trust will go up. Embrace this insight and you can avoid the hit and run low-yield spam that marketers have backed themselves into.

Talk to people who want to be talked to.

Market to people who want to be marketed to.

Because anticipated, personal and relevant messages will always outperform spam.

And spam is in the eye of the recipient. 

In two simple words: Ask First.

There's a parallel here in environmental regulation. A hundred years ago, when governments first started paying attention to the effluent and poisons that corporations were dumping on their communities, some companies decided to stay where they were, to keep lobbying for 'relief' and to spend a lot of time and money fighting the change. Others decided to race to the top, intentionally becoming more efficient. It turns out that being clean pays for itself. The efficient path has proven, again and again, to be the smart one.

The EU is responding to consumers who feel ripped off. They're tired of having their data stripmined and their attention stolen. (Here's an episode of my podcast I did on this issue).

Marketers don't have to race to the bottom. It's better at the top.