The short answer is: yes, even if you are a permission mailer.
If you are working on your budget for 2004 right now, make sure you include a significant investment in your customer and prospect database systems. New and pending US and Canadian laws on email, telemarketing, faxing, and now even direct postal mail, all point in one direction.
You have to ask for permission. And then you have to be able to quickly and efficiently prove on demand that you have it.
It's the latter part of this that worries me for many marketers' sakes. If your various databases are silo-ed, if you can't tell precisely where and when each name joined your house file, if you can't prove you are innocent, your carefully collected list becomes worthless -- even a liability.
Marketers in other countries have been dealing with this longer than we have - take Germany for example where data and privacy regs are very strict. I'll make sure we get some tips from them to run in future issues.
Just as marketers were climbing out of the recessionary doldrums we had to get hit with this. Well, it's for our best in the long run. Gotta eat your spinach. Invest in your database.
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