How much should a company know about you?

The world of marketing and advertising moves quickly. Our lives rely more and more on digital media, and this change has fundamentally altered the way we do business.

Most of the new media services people rely on advertising. Advertising occupies that space between what consumers want, and what businesses want to say or sell.

There is an old advertising adage that says ‘half of my advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half,’ attributed to various Mad Men down the ages.

It’s this quest to eliminate the advertising that doesn’t hit the right spot, or is irrelevant to a particular consumer, that makes digital media so alluring and so interesting to marketers. If you really know your customers, you can give them what they want.

We’re at the early stages of this quest. The data trails we leave behind when we use digital media can be used to help refine marketing messages and make them more relevant.

But some misuse that data, which causes concern. How much should a company know about you? What are you giving away when you opt in for something?

Data can show businesses what your likes and dislikes are, so they can introduce you to things that are relevant and of interest.

On the one hand, data can show businesses what your likes and dislikes are, so that they can speak to you and introduce you to things that are relevant and of interest. It’s the job of business to harness technology so that it can reach people effectively and promote trust.

However, some consumers are not so happy about this. For consumers to respect what businesses do, they have to be certain that their behaviour is ethical, helpful, but also optional.

So much change means indecision and uncertainty for businesses. For consumers, there is increasing worry about whether businesses are even entitled to use their data.

For consumers, there is increasing worry about whether businesses are even entitled to use their data.

Our organisation has attempted to put all this change into some context. We think those businesses that are open and transparent are on the right track. But there is more change coming. New laws are coming in from Europe and we think those businesses best-placed to adapt and show they are credible will win-through.

There are five principles to take heed of.

First – put the consumer first.

The most important principle of all, which informs all the other principles, and is as old as marketing itself. It’s the principle that makes companies like Amazon and ASOS so attractive – delivery is rapid and returns are unquestioned.

Second – respect privacy.

Imagine your company is a person. A person that spies on others is creepy. Respect privacy and behave decently. People will respect you for it.

Third – be honest and fair.

Tell your customers what you are up to. Tell them what you need their data for, and don’t deceive them. Again, once they know what you want to use their data for, they will understand and respect the transaction.

Fourth – be diligent with data.

Keep it safe. Data breaches do nothing good for companies. Keeping data safe should be a top priority and as we move into the future, will become even more important.

Fifth – take responsibility.

If you get something wrong, behave properly and apologise.

Companies that stick to these principles will succeed because they know how to treat consumers with respect. That’s the bottom line. Yes, we’re in the midst of tremendous change – but these principles will endure.

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