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GDPR 2018: It’s still ok to get in touch with your emotions

3 min read - by Stuart Constable - Head of Copy and Content

Sorry. It’s GDPR again. But for once it’s not about the horror of it all.

We’ve been looking at the creative side of the General Data Protection Regulations, and getting emotional about it.

This was the main theme for the panel discussion at the launch of Twogether media, our specialist B2B media agency. Under the banner of “GDPR: Obstacle or Opportunity?”, the event gave industry experts a chance to discuss their experiences with GDPR so far, and look at the positive ways it is impacting their organisations.

GDPR is a media issue because it’s prompting some fresh thinking about the role of inbound channels in the modern marketing mix.

Twogether Media was established to give B2B clients an agency that blends creative, digital, data, and media, providing end-to-delivery of integrated campaigns. And when GDPR outlaws so much of the data currently available, that integration will be invaluable.

It was Michele Reale, Media Director for Twogether media, who put emotional issues at the top of the agenda.

“GDPR is already prompting a revival in classic inbound marketing techniques,” he said. “We’re seeing B2B marketers talking about the emotional content of their messages, and engaging audiences with traditional story-telling principles.

“Without direct access to a prospect’s inbox, you have to be far more compelling with your messaging. You only have a fraction of a second to grab attention, even with best-targeted advertising.

“Our creatives are once again playing with ideas that will put an instant smile in the mind of a completely unknown prospect, persuading them to find out more.”

Elle Todd, Head of Digital and Data at the law firm CMS, reassured the room that it’s still not too late to get the right policies in place. On a slightly less reassuring note, she said that it was surprising how many large and reputable organisations are only just beginning to take the regulations seriously.

Dan Sullivan, Director and Head of Marketing for Capabilities at KPMG UK, commented that GDPR is a fundamental question about how your organisation views customer data, not just a regulatory and legal concern. Holly Harding, EMEA Marketing Programs Manager for Hitachi Vantara, concurred and observed that it was fascinating to witness an end to the era of untrammelled email marketing.

Her view was supported by Laura Milsted, Global Advertising Director, B2B and Insight at the Financial Times. She pointed out that marketers operating subscription-based models have always understood the sacred nature of client data. You don’t maintain customer engagement by bombarding them with irrelevant messages and content.

Summing up, host Joel Harrison, Editor-in-Chief for B2B Marketing, reflected that GDPR, like so many regulatory changes, is bringing emotion back to the B2B Marketer’s world.

Actually, it’s never been that far away, and not just when briefs change at the last minute. The best B2B marketing campaigns are masterclasses in creative thinking, bringing humour, pathos and drama to the most prosaic of products and services. And I’ve seen plenty of glamorous B2C creatives come unstuck when confronted with a B2B brief.

It’s dead easy to make cars and trainers exciting. Virtual Application Delivery Controllers, or digital transformation programs for insurers, present an altogether more daunting challenge.

And as GDPR begins to bite, we’ll soon see who has what it takes to win hearts and minds in the new world of B2B marketing.

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