In the tech sector, privacy has long been a major issue (especially after the recent NSA scandal). It’s been an issue ever since the dawn of the Information Age. Just how much should you put out without risking your personal space? On the other hand, B2B marketers end up asking this question in reverse. How little can you put out without risking less exposure?
Either case is something you need to take seriously because otherwise you might have a hard time getting customers and getting a sale.
Now I’ve seen both sides when it comes to loving and hating today’s culture of technology. And predictable as it sounds, they both have plenty of misconceptions with regards to privacy.
You might find it funny to hear about people who’ve unplugged and disconnected from the rest of the world. (And personally, I think they’re a preachy and annoying bunch too.) However, they’re dead serious when they say it’s the best solution for personal privacy. It’s their way of having a sense of peace (and in light of the NSA mess, they may have a point).
What most of them don’t tell you is that such privacy is its own heavy price. Gunter Ollman of security firm IOActive says that such a lifestyle (no matter what the reasons) “involves years of investment”. Hence, getting a prospect who thinks like an extreme privacy advocate is going to be highly unlikely. What kind of business would spend so much to hide itself? It’s not like you’re Silk Road or anything.
It might also be bad business practice. For example, Chris Abraham of Biznology strongly advocates tying your staff’s Google+ profiles to your business brand. A move like that would sound the alarm of many outspoken privacy activists but you can’t really argue about the need to get business coming in. This can also apply to many business clients who need information on their customers. Last August, the DMA had even slammed a member of the FTC commission for comparing the activities of data-driven marketers with that of the NSA. So as much as you value your privacy (and customers/consumers value theirs), maintaining it to a high degree isn’t always worth the losses. Not everybody is living like a monk without a need for either business or the conveniences of what a business offers in the Age of Information.
Still, you need to draw the line when it comes to sharing as well as collecting information. On the B2B Lead Roundtable blog, Jessica Lorenz recommends engaging with strong regards to context. This can include any exchange of information on particular channels.
It’s usually in these cases that you get the overload that many privacy advocates warn about. Sharing only relevant and digestible information is a marketing practice that all businesses need to adhere to. For example, you don’t copy the entire content of your white paper into a single email do you? Most likely, you’d do it when a prospect is already somewhere further along the buying process.
It’s the same when you’re defining your target market. You don’t share with just anybody. You optimize your blogs and direct your content to an audience that will take the most interest in it. Blogs on CRM are directed towards both IT and salespeople for instance. How-to videos for payroll software are directed to HR departments for reference. You’re not interested in marketing to the whole world, just the target market that just happens to be all over it.
Privacy might still be a sticky issue in the years to come but that’s never an excuse to stay misinformed. It’s a price for both the business and the customer.