Like every industry, marketing is bound by its own spiderweb of regulations and layers of compliance that must be adhered to. There are legal and regulatory standards that need to be adhered to and they can be set and enforced by both external and internal bodies.
It can be easy to get bogged down by trying to understand and be compliant with all of these laws and regulations which can stifle your creative energies.
But compliance is not something that can be ignored, as there are heavy consequences that can extend beyond simple monetary fines.
Applying the right tactics to be compliant will make your brand trusted, will ensure your clients are protected as well and that your campaigns are successful. The trick is to have the right systems in place to make compliance simple, easy and just a regular part of your operations.
Why you should never let your marketing compliance slip
Let's run a simple exercise. Pop the search 'ACCC marketing compliance fines Australia' into Google. At the time of publication, the headlines screamed the following under the Google news tab:? Ticket reseller Viagogo to pay $7 million penalty for 'industrial scale' misrepresentations
? Optometrist and eyewear company Oscar Wylee fined $3.5 million for breaches of Australian Consumer Law
? Health appointment booking engine HealthEngine apologies after being fined $2.9m for sharing consumer data.
The financial penalties for breaking compliance and releasing misleading marketing campaigns into the wild can be devastating. Could your business survive a $7 million hit? Not many SMEs could wear that kind of penalty. And those fines are only likely to get more severe. Non-compliance fines were increased from $1.1 million to as much as $10 million by the ACCC in 2018 and the penalties for individuals rose from $220,000 to $500,000 - PER BREACH.
Compliance extends beyond misleading campaigns as well. There is data security to consider so that none of your clients? personal information is made available to any other party and there is also compliance in your general workflow to consider. Taking shortcuts and bypassing legal checks and balances can result in inaccurate, false and potentially defamatory or damaging campaigns being released, which is bad news for everyone.
Even if your business survives the impact of a massive ACCC fine, it is highly unlikely it will be able to withstand the tsunami of damage that will be done to your brand and reputation. A Deloitte report laid these impacts bare, stating that a negative reputation event could hit your revenue by 41 per cent and a loss of brand value of 41 per cent. On top of that, if you have been fined once by the ACCC it is highly likely they will be watching you like a hawk and you will have increased regulatory inspections which is not a great look for your business and brand either.
For those businesses that have survived the financial hit AND the brand damage, there is further trickle down issues to mitigate as well. For example, retention and recruitment of quality talent. Would you want to work for a company that had just been raked through the media for non-compliance and was suffering waves of negative backlash from the public? You wouldn't want to involve yourself in that, so you could find your business loses its best talent and struggles to replace them.
There is technology available to help you remain compliant, but the No.1 thing to remember is to ensure you are getting the solutions that have the tightest security. You also need to ensure your cyber-security efforts are top-notch as malicious attacks are rising each and every year and your business is required to go public with any breach under mandatory data breach notification laws.
So it is vital to ensure you are following these four golden rules:
- Understand all of your regulation and legislative compliance requirements
- Have the proper workflow processes in place that ensure all legal checks are being made
- Use technology to help streamline workflows and simplify processes
- Ensure all of your cyber-security protocols and processes are regularly updated and are watertight
The benefits of staying on top of marketing compliance
While the consequences of not adhering to compliance are clear, there is more than just the fear of a big stick that should encourage you to be on top of your compliance. There are also lots of benefits for your business and marketing campaigns as well. On top of being more profitable (without forking out for big fines) and keeping your brand's reputation clear, these benefits include:? Foster loyalty: If you keep your nose clean and run your business with integrity, honesty and with consistent and authentic communications then your customers and clients are more likely to trust and stay loyal to your brand. Having a long list of regular, consistent and loyal customers is integral to any successful business operation.
? Efficient time management: It is always better to avoid mistakes rather than having to spend time going back and fixing them. By having proper workflows and technologies that tick off on compliance as you go, you avoid wasting time going back and fixing non-compliance issues.
? Better operations: By keeping your workflows tight to meet compliance, you are also going to have stronger approval processes and a more streamline system that is going to deliver better campaigns in a faster time.
? Retain and recruit better talent: As previously mentioned, the good operators aren't going to jump on board a brand that has had its reputation tarnished because of non-compliance.
? Better PR operations: Have a clean record? Use that to your advantage. Tell the world and be proud of your strong record of compliance and you are likely to attract more clients as a result. Positive PR is a lot more fun than trying to mitigate a PR nightmare if you have a breach or are fined by the ACCC.
And by combining all of the benefits, you are going to have considerable advantages over your competition and are going to be a more attractive proposition for clients - especially over marketing companies that have been dragged because of non-compliance issues.
Six marketing compliance tips to help you thrive in highly-regulated industries
Marketing compliance can be complex, so we have simplified it for you. Follow these six steps and you will be well on your way to compliance:1. Take the time to understand your compliance requirements: This is the important first step. Don?t try and juggle compliance on the fly, take the time to research all of your requirements and ensure you have all of the mechanics in place to ensure you are achieving your compliance.
2. Always think about the legal side of your campaigns first: Every marketing campaign should be legality-led. Outline which processes need legal approval at the very first planning stage and ensure they are carried out. Your industry will have watchdogs that will have the complete lists of compliance and legislation available online for you to research.
3. Map out your processes before starting your campaigns: Set up a digital calendar in the cloud that everyone involved in the campaign has access to. This calendar should include all of your goals, formats, channels and target audiences as well as a documented workflow approval process to ensure that legal checks are made at the right points during the creation of the campaign. An approval checklist is a useful tool to help ensure these legal checks are carried out.
4. Ensure all staff are trained and aware of their obligations: Having all of the processes in place is one step, but ensuring that every stakeholder knows their role in those processes is an important second step. Ensure you are conducting regular meetings so you know that your staff aware of their compliance obligations and also make sure every new team member is fully trained and knowledgable on compliance, legal checks and the need to get this right.
5. Use technology: Paper processes are prone to error and there is technology available that can improve your workflow processes, including legal checks and compliance checklists and streamline the entire process. Project management tools can map out the entire process and put stops in place so that the project will not proceed until the proper legal checks have been carried out and ticked off on. Not only will these technologies ensure you are compliant, but they will also improve your operations overall.
6. Market yourself to engender trust: Use your good work to your advantage by telling your current and prospective clients all about your compliance measures and your clean record. It is going to make your audience trust you more and put you ahead of your competition, especially those that have not put the same work in or have a negative record in the compliance space.
Never rely on guesswork when it comes to compliance. With proper research and planning and the right mix of technology, checks and approvals your marketing campaigns can be consistently compliant.