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California is the First GDPR Domino to Fall in the U.S. – Here’s Why Content Marketers Should Take Note

“GDPR” is coming to the United States.

On Thursday, June 28, California’s governor signed “Consumer Privacy Act of 2018” legislation with data handling rules very similar to what the European Union has with its General Data Protection Regulations.

That didn’t take long. And while there is a little time for businesses to prepare (the regulations are set to take effect in 2020), organizations that thought they would be able to avoid making changes because they were U.S.-based made the wrong choice.

As I warned in a recent article, GDPR is a wake-up call for content marketers.

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Clearer opt-ins and rules about keeping the data of contacts who haven’t interacted with your company will kill low-quality content marketing efforts.

As the dominoes fall and more states pass their own GDPR-equivalent legislation, marketers need to refocus their efforts on building quality content that engages their target audience.

The Contact Grab

Read the home page of any marketing automation tool out there and it’s clear that companies have been operating under a different idea: grab that contact information however possible.

If you step back and think about it, we’ve all fallen victim to this trap ourselves.

We see an ad for a piece of content that seems like it’s useful to our day-to-day lives, click over to the company’s landing page and fill out the form, and then … What we get instead is thinly-disguised advertising, devoid of any actual information, research or thought leadership.

And because we were suckered in to offering up our contact information and visiting the company’s website, the onslaught begins.

Endless remarketing ads promising even more “great content” if we’d just come back.

Our inbox filled each week with self-serving offers.

Our phone blowing up with non-stop voicemails from Sales: “I saw you were interested …”

No. We really weren’t interested. And that’s the point.

Lose – Lose – Lose

When marketers deploy “thin” content marketing efforts designed more as a contact grab than an effort to build true relationships with their audiences, everyone loses.

Marketing loses credibility.

Sales wastes time and effort.

Most importantly, the audiences we try to reach become disillusioned and wary.

Hey, I’ve written and presented about the great things that marketing automation tools and email marketing can do for businesses myself.

But there’s one problem: without a real strategy to build relationships over time through quality content, the whole thing falls flat.

Start with the Audience Relationship

“Content Marketing” is a strategy designed to turn traditional marketing on its head. Instead of old-style “push” messaging, the idea was to attract an ideal audience by providing information and experiences that are useful, enjoyable

… even fun.

There’s nothing fun about being spammed with advertising.

How Many Leads Can You Get Us by Next Week?

Content Marketing is a long-term strategy, not a short-term route to leads and sales. It requires a genuine commitment from an organization to engage with sales prospects differently.

Not for a week, or a month. Permanently.

What’s more valuable? A quick way to build an email list or a long-term engagement with a happy customer? Clearly the latter.

Content Marketing is meant to build relationships of mutual trust over time between a brand and its audience.

A successful relationship doesn’t start with “BUY NOW.” And it doesn’t start with a less-than-genuine effort.

Successful Content Marketing takes real work.

Selling Without Selling

The Content Marketing way to sell is to … not sell.

It’s to serve. And to be client-focused, not self-focused.

Help your audience solve real, deep challenges they have in their day-to-day lives, and you’ll get more than a lead. You’ll get a fan.

This takes time, yes. But it’s worth it.

overworked content marketer with coffee

As marketers, we’re pulled in many different directions. Here’s one way to address the “content marketer’s dilemma” without losing sleep. Because we know … you really don’t get enough of that.


Be the most enlightened person around the water cooler.