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Could GDPR actually stifle innovation in the EU?

Feels like everyone is writing articles about GDPR now. Makes sense — it’s effective May 25th and it’s going to change a lot of how companies have to operate with European customers, so everyone seems to have a white paper, webinar, solution brief, etc. about how their product will save you from GDPR.

We have a little bit of a different take: it might be really bad for EU innovation.

Why?

GDPR will essentially make cold calling and cold emailing to all EU citizens illegal. B2C and B2B. Period.

Obviously that’s good in the most obvious way: less spam and time-wasting for individuals.

But…

… there are solutions for many problems that nobody would Google for. Would you Google for an HRM suite based on the Salesforce technology platform? SW outsourcing specialised for industrial product vendors? Cloud-based IoT platforms specialised for HVAC manufacturers?

No, you wouldn’t. You don’t Google for tailored solutions in B2B at all, do you?

The only way that you would get aware of such companies is a cold but well researched personalized email from that company that says: “Hey, look we have XYZ and we checked you out. We think you could need what we do, but you don’t know that such a solution exists. That’s why I wrote you!”

By the way, that example above is actually a good cold email: targeted and designed to convey “Hey, this solution exists that might work for you as far as I know about you.”

Two roads diverged in a yellow sales wood

Road 1: A B2B startup invests for years in content marketing, social media, conferences and trade shows — and spread the word and wait until the inbound leads are matching their ICP.

Road 2: Founders or business developers call the right buyer personas within their target group and say: “Hey, just wanted to say that we exist and that we have built the solution for your problem!”

See, Road 2 is the faster and more effective path to innovation — and companies making more money, hiring more people, boosting the economy, etc.

Question on Road 1: As a startup, how do you get feedback from the market to learn and improve your content and value proposition to finally match inbound leads with your ICP if nobody calls you back and you’re not allowed to ask?

Don’t get me wrong, we fully understand that selling commodities over email or phone is dead and customers needs to be protected from spam, but GDPR is also preventing real innovation to be sold to the EU. Finally it protects Google and its Adwords campaigns.

Is that a good thing? What’s your take? How else do you generate your sales leads?

Ted Bauer
About the author

I help companies to market their content in the most effective way.
3 Responses
  1. You have got it a bit wrong, Ted. While GDPR covers individuals within companies and organisations, it doesn’t cover companies/organisations as legal entities. This usually means that you can always send a cold e-mail (e.g. to [email protected]) or make a cold phone call (to their switchboard phone number) to a company and pitch your solution, but you cannot send a personal e-mail or call an executive to his/her direct line, unless he/she has provided you with their consent for doing so. GDPR changes things a bit, but not dramatically.

    Here is our view on the matter: https://insidescreentag.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/whos-afraid-of-the-gdpr/

    1. Joe

      I’d have to agree with Martin. From my experience, vendors thinking they have a solution that will benefit my company reach out directly to me to set up a conversation. I personally would exempt B2B communications but I also don’t think spam is that big of a deal.

      Really where I could see GDPR having a negative impact is companies avoiding the EU marketplace to contract for services or conduct transactions that may result in being subject to GDPR. I can tell you from personal experience just within the last three weeks alone, I’ve advised the company to not enter into a small handful of deals due to the fact that it may have resulted in consumer data being processed/stored in the EU or in gathering data on people in the EU. We have no intentions of ever dealing with GDPR compliance and yes that will definitely affect what companies we work with or what business strategy we take. I can’t imagine we’re alone in that stance.

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