We’ve recently run a series of blogs on the golden rules for implementing a coherent data privacy policy in your firm.  Welcome to the Directors’ Briefing Room summary.  We hope you find it helpful.

There is a great deal of legislation with which we have to comply in all the territories in which we operate.  You don’t have a choice but to comply with that legislation.  You can find a useful list of laws around the world here.

The proposed changes in data privacy legislation in the UK and Europe and their international equivalents, for example the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), or the Australian Privacy Act, mean that we live in a world where we have to be extremely careful about how we communicate with our clients and contacts.

My argument is that data privacy is a good thing for CRM.  For too long the emphasis of CRM systems has been to add contacts to mailing lists and then to recycle those mailing lists over and over again, irrespective of whether the subject matter is remotely relevant to the recipients.

So as a Director or Manager, what’s your role in all of this?

  • Contact Management is a tactical issue.  We need to frame the conversation on data privacy and management of contacts in a more strategic context e.g. what are we trying to achieve with our CRM programme?  We must avoid getting caught up in detailed tactical conversations driven by a minority of cautious partners.  Taking a practical view of with whom and how we communicate is part of a wider strategic agenda that you should lead.
  • Recognise the practical limitations of what your department can deliver.  If we are to introduce individualised marketing preference management for contacts, then you’re certainly not going to be able to do that for hundreds of thousands of contacts.  That means your CRM system should only be populated with clients and contacts that are part of the audiences with which we wish to communicate, not a catch-all for any business card that finds its way in to the possession of a fee earner.
  • Use data privacy as an opportunity to start a debate on the basic principles of good marketing communications and business development.  In my opinion the reason that we need to comply with data privacy legislation has nothing to do with the law and everything to do with the fundamental principles of good marketing communication.
  • Don’t just aim for the lowest common denominator.  The decisions around data privacy should be considered alongside issues such as the firm’s Social Media strategy.  We live in a world where we have less control over our target audience and the channels to market, that means we have to have something interesting to say or very quickly our communications will become “unsticky”.   Both the legislative and business implications need to be considered together to implement an effective policy.

So in summary, as with all good things in marketing, we need to obey the rule of the 4 P’s to succeed:

  • Policy – you are required by law to have a policy in place which is accessible to all (although you may not personally be responsible for it);
  • Processes – that policy must have clearly documented processes to achieve compliance to it in all of the territories in which your firm operates;
  • Plan – you must have a clear plan for implementing changes to your policy and processes to reflect the changes in legislation;
  • Power – you must have the power within your organisation to implement the plan.

We’ll be blogging on another topic which is challenging the world of CRM early in the New Year, so watch out for our blog on internationalisation and its impacts on CRM, marketing and BD teams operating in a global world.