I originally wrote this article for the lovely people at Consider, to feature in their newsletter. If you’ve got questions about GDPR, or you’d like to chat about ensuring your marketing is in line with the new regulations, get in touch.


For many in marketing and also for business leaders, the mere mention of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into force next May, is enough to leave us a bit pale. And who can blame us? It’s shrouded in techno-jargon, it’s deeply unsexy and it poses a serious threat to that which many hold dear: ‘business as usual’.

It’s not comfortable having to rethink processes that have been hugely effective for our organisations. But the days of cold data and swapping mailing lists are over. Consent is king. And that’s not such a bad thing.

Much like Consider Creative Director, Alistair Kelly, I think this is a huge opportunity for us; GDPR is going to help (or force) us to become better marketers.

We work in a people business. Our audience aren’t ‘segments’ , they’re human beings. We’re all someone’s audience, and we’ve all been on the wrong end of terrible marketing. We’ve returned from holiday to an inbox full of borderline spam, we’ve had calls about non-existent car accidents right in the middle of EastEnders. And a ‘re-targeted’ banner advert for the birthday surprise idea we were checking out, appears just when our loved one borrows the laptop. Oops.

With GDPR, all marketers (including good guys like us) will be forced to reassess the data we use and how we use it. And this is our big chance, to go beyond mere compliance and create a truly great experience for our customers, individuals, donors, and students – the humans like us that we want to reach.

When we plan our marketing with real human beings at the front of our mind, we’re far more likely to act with integrity. Even the worthiest charities will need to put the donor before their own ‘legitimate interests’ to avoid a breach of compliance and reputational damage.

The question we should be asking is ‘what’s in it for Joe or Jane Public?’ How would they like to be contacted? Would they be happy for us to use their contact details like this? By putting their needs first, we can be sure that if they were to peek over our shoulder as we called up their data, did some profiling and sent them a message, they’d be happy with what they saw; our letter or email would be welcome and lead to meaningful action.

That’s the goal we should aspire to. And the great news is that putting people first won’t just mean that our businesses are compliant; they’re also more likely to be successful.

Now that might put a bit of colour back in our cheeks.


© 2020 Faye Levi