15 years ago, when I was in my relative infancy as an Alchemis employee, I remember a great murmuring resonating through certain parts of the marketing industry and national press. An event was about to happen and its ramifications were so great that they were almost unthinkable to thousands of sales organisations across Britain…
Companies that wanted to use the telephone to sell their products and services to other businesses were going to have to screen against the Corporate Telephone Preference Service list (CTPS)!
Surely this was the final nail in the coffin for the telemarketing industry? How would a New Business Agency such as Alchemis, whose main tool of the trade was the humble telephone (aside from a team of staff with years of B2B sales experience and a sophisticated CRM database choc full of useful information) possibly be able to operate, the naysayers cried?
Pretty well, as it turned out. Alchemis had already been screening all outbound calls through a phone software system well before the mandatory regulations came into place in June 2004. Automatically removing a bunch of businesses and contacts that don’t want to be contacted from the pool of data you are working with actually meant you could be more efficient as you are only targeting the ones that do.
Besides which, given the types of organisations that Alchemis target on behalf of their clients – i.e mostly large companies that have substantial marketing budgets to spend with agencies – the vast majority of these do not register themselves on the CTPS or TPS anyway.
So, fast forward to 2018… the world hadn’t ended. Businesses like ours were still able to make telemarketing calls. Clients were still winning new business from the meetings we had set them where the initial approach had been a well-targeted phone call.
But then (cue dramatic disaster music) GDPR came into force.
One of the things that struck me about this around that time was that if the subject of GDPR came up in conversation whilst talking to prospects, the people we spoke to would often fall into one of the three schools of thought:
- Ignore it and it will go away (no, it won’t)
- Alchemis and other similar organisations would not be able operate anymore and would need to delete pretty much all the contact information they hold in their databases (no again, they just need to ensure it is held and managed in compliance with the rules, which it is)
- It’s coming into force whether we like it or not. Every company across Europe will need to deal with it so let’s take a pragmatic approach and just get on with it.
As we approach the first anniversary since it was introduced, the world is still turning. Businesses are still selling to consumers and other businesses through a whole host of marketing channels. Just as they did when the TPS came into place.
So what next then? Well, Brexit is (possibly) just around the corner now. But whatever the final outcome of that, history has taught us that the marketing industry will ultimately find a way to adapt, innovate and thrive.