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| 3 minutes read

GDPR - Do you risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Yesterday I read the post quoted below stating that that pub chain JD Wetherspoon has deleted its entire email database because of fears around GDPR.

When I shared this with a friend who looks after digital marketing at another large pub chain he said it reminded him of the guy who cut down his favourite tree because the council told him they were on the verge of listing it. Seems like an over-reaction.

Today I am at PM Forum's event GDPR – everything you ever wanted to ask aimed at lawyers and other professional service marketeers. Michael Warren, Director at Stanton Allen and Simon Morrissey, Partner at Lewis Silkin have been sharing their knowledge. 

Back in April Michael shared his excellent Countdown to Compliance: a 12 Month Plan part 1 and Part 2.  You are only two months late so worth a read.

This is what I have learnt today:

  • Interest in GDPR has been bubbling away for a while but the packed room of slightly worried looking professional service folk tells me that GDPR is starting to be taken much more seriously.
  • There is opportunity to change strategy around data.  New rules mean you can market in a better more focused way to a more engaged audience.  GDPR is not just a stick but also there is a carrot.
  • The obvious - clean your database. Focus on the few that really want to hear from you rather than the many who do not.
  • Consent rules are different for B2B compared to B2C but best practice is consistent across both. Apply the rules as if  you were talking to consumers. 
  • You must know what consent you have for your data and keep it for the reason you requested it.
  • Ensure you can deliver what you promise.  If you offer a sophisticated choice of marketing collateral make sure you can deliver it
  • If someone wants to be forgotten you must forget them and quickly!
  • You must be transparent
  • Question asked: Fee Earner meets someone at a conference - can marketing market to them?  Answer: it depends.  Fee earner can ask about consent when they exchange cards but that is awkward.  Best to use that contact as an opportunity to take the next step. It is an opportunity for an introductory touch point and a chance to ask about what that contact might be interested in.
  • Data capture scripts (permissions) need greater granuality.   Marketing cannot be binary - everything on or everything off.  You do not want ten fee earners sending the same marketing message to one contact.  It needs to be more granular - be subject-specific and send it when they'd like to receive it.  There is opportunity here - showcasing the expertise of your fee earners to the audience that is specifically interested in that expert's subject.
  • GDPR is prescriptive. The rules are there to read and acted upon.  There is a checklist. Use it.
  •  The questions to ask about consent: Who gave it? What was the consent given? When did they give it?  Make sure you have the means to record this.
  • Email marketing is coming to an end
  • Quality is key not quantity.  Forget your vanity metrics!  Use content and data to target people.
  • Get moving - use the next 10 months before GDPR to send out a preference email... but be careful. (There is irony here).
  • Use GDPR as an opportunity to get the marketing data from your fee earners and get control as marketers.  It does not mean you need all the fee earners' contacts.
  • Be sure you know what your vendors are doing.  Vendor management is important.


Don't get scared, get prepared.  Start to act now (there is hard deadline on this May 2018).  There is opportunity to use the new rules to create targeted marketing solutions to those who really want to hear from us. 

There is a great opportunity to use quality, expert, timely content to keep in contact and drive business with key clients and targeted prospects.

PS to see how this post has helped me drive our business check out this post

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has deleted it's entire email database. Not by accident, but on purpose. Considering how valuable CRM databases can be for businesses, and how time-consuming it is to build and maintain them, it raises the question whether they did it out of for logistical reasons (did they really want to ask 656,723 people to double opt-in?) or financial ones. The business was fined back in 2015 for a data breach, and penalties will increase dramatically under GDPR to a possible €20 million (or 4% or annual global turnover).


content marketing, b2b marketing, gdpr, lewis silkin, stanton allen, law, professional services, email marketing