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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

Many years ago there was a marketing practice called Direct Mail (DM).  The concept was simple, as a marketer you created a piece of DM and you sent as many by post as you could.  If you throw enough mud at the wall, some of it will stick! Right?

As a consumer, your biggest job during the day was to move this pile of DMs that the postman had delivered and put them in the recycling bin.  The business case was simple, DMs cost you little or nothing you could afford to send thousands out in the post.

Many of these DMs would arrive in letter form, with a pre-paid envelope which you could send back, buying the product or service.  One bright spark pointed out that if everybody sent back the pre-paid envelopes, empty, then these companies would go bankrupt.  The assumption being that only a few pre-paid envelopes would be sent back and these people would be paying customers.  But if everybody, that had got a mail shot, sent the envelopes back, the company wouldn’t be able too afford to pay the mail costs.  Genius.  I always sent the envelopes back, but before the ground swell of opinion could take these companies down, the regulation stepped in.

That was when the DM industry was regulated through the Direct Mail Preference law.  As a consumer, all you had to do was register yourself at the MPS website and the tsunami of DMPs would stop.  As soon as I heard of this service, I registered and the DMs stopped.

Today consumers and business use many different means to stop cold calls; we employ gatekeepers, voice mail, call logging and similar to the direct mail preference service in the UK you can register yourself on the Telephone Preference Service.

Enter GDPR on the 25th May.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is European legislation, which you have to comply with if:

  1. You are within the European Union (EU)
  2. You are Outside the EU but are Selling to EU citizens
  3. You have EU employees

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulation strengthens and unify current data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).  GDPR aims primarily to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.

GDPR was adopted on 27 April 2016. It becomes enforceable from 25 May 2018, after a two-year transition period.  Unlike a directive, it does not require national governments to pass any enabling legislation and so it is directly binding and applicable.

GDPR and Cold Calling

GDPR DOES NOT outlaw cold calling, but similar to the idea above where you sent empty letters back to bankrupt the companies, individuals can do their bit to end the interruptions.

What to Do If You Get A Cold Call

The data used to call you cannot be held unless you have given the cold caller permission to hold it.

You can request from the company that has called you that they send you all the data they hold on you.  The cold callers, Data Protection Officer (DPO) must do this within 40 days.

This will obviously cause companies to be wrapped up in bureaucracy.

(Salespeople ask me, what happens if I inherited a spreadsheet.  Companies have to delete all people data where they don’t have permission to hold that data to comply with GDPR.  For example here at DLA, we have deleted all personal data and asked our employees to do the same.  It is not therefore possible to inherit data.)

The second thing you can do is to enact your “right to remain forgotten”, which is where the cold calling company MUST remove you from every system.  That’s not just the CRM, but every single spreadsheet, even the ones held on sales people’s laptops.

If everybody does this, it will stop the constant irritation.

The same applies for email marketing.

Nobody Is Going to Complain

One salesperson on a LinkedIn thread the other day said that nobody would bother complaining about data privacy miss-use, here is an article we wrote on a number of people we know that will be proactively registering companies with the EU that don’t comply.

Why We Will be Requesting our Data Under GDPR and You Should Too!

Cold Calling Vs Social Selling

As I mention above GDPR does not legislate against cold calling, but your use of a person’s data does.  Somebody must have given you permission to make the cold call, which is a oxymoron.  In other words, there is no choice anymore, it’s time to move yourself into the world of social.

As a lawyer friend fo mine says “ignorance is a not a defence in a court of law”.

There more articles you might like to read:

Spamming, Cold Calling and Annoying Ads – Know Your Rights!

How GDPR Transforms How we Sell…

How as a Small Business We Became GDPR Compliant

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