Is B2B marketing dying in a post-GDPR world?

Has the fear of GDPR penalties made us all afraid of B2B Marketing?

Here at ITEC we are in the business of organising IT and Business Apprenticeships for local businesses but to do this we need to be able to contact them and talk to them.    We would like to make them aware of the availability of Government funding to help train their workforce, the courses and programmes we run that could help them train tomorrow’s workforce and the Government’s target of 3 million apprentices by 2020.

The usual email-shots and leaflet drops with follow-up calls have caused a bit of a stir this month.  Frequently, businesses are telling us that we can’t do this now because of GDPR.  Really?  We think the misconceptions about GDPR and its consequences seem to have frightened businesses away from B2B marketing.

Customer ServiceHow can businesses reach out to new customers?  How do you grow your business without B2B marketing?  How can businesses tell potential customers about their products and offers if we can’t contact them “without their permission”?  Well, we can!   We may have a ‘legitimate business interest’ for contacting them and do not need to rely on ‘permission’ to make initial contact.   Of course, they can then ask us to remove them from our list and not contact them in future, as this is their right, and we will honour that.

However, the GDPR was not put in place to prevent B2B marketing from happening.  It was put in place to give us more control over the personal data that is kept on us and how it is used.  It especially allows us, as individuals, to have our data deleted if we have a legitimate reason to request this and to ‘opt out’ of being contacted on a regular basis.  The GDPR was also put in place to stop all those nuisance calls at home, for instance, “have you been in a road accident recently?”  Grrrr….. our personal data cannot be sold to third parties as easily as before the GDPR and about time too!

We don’t profess to be GDPR experts but we have analysed the data we keep, documented the legal bases for keeping it and ensured that it will be deleted once it has past its ‘sell by date’.   In most cases, we keep personal data for contractual reasons and only share it with the legitimate contractors (in our case the Government Agency and the local funding organisation, usually one of the colleges).   We never sell personal data on to a third party, ever.

We do believe we have a legitimate business interest for B2B marketing and, as a business, you may be able to rely on this basis as well.  Check it out with the ICO, they are, after all, the experts.