Data security essential for growth in the direct mail business

June 1, 2017 6:32 am Published by Michael Kellogg

When I went to law school what seems like an eternity ago, I never imagined myself as a CEO of a marketing services company, direct mail company, whatever you want to call it. When I entered the business it was only to be a short time, helping the owner to sell the business, then back to the legal profession as a litigator. That was 33 years ago. I’m still here and fully engaged.

Things sure have changed and now, more than ever, I rely on my legal training to help guide the business through a myriad of potentially devastating legal booby traps. I don’t think I read more than four or five contracts during the first several years of my tenure in the direct mail business. The emphasis was on workflow and deadlines. Managing those aspects of the business was the essence of success or failure in our business when I first got started.

In the past week I have read at least a hundred pages of fine type forming Master Service Agreements for a couple of new and old clients. Things of virtually no import a couple of decades ago now require many pages of legalese to describe the potentially devastating liabilities that clients are requiring our industry to undertake.

And for good reason. We are the shepherds of their data, data that is now more than ever protected by privacy legislation. Data that is now more than ever the focus of nefarious cyber-thieves. These underworld characters are all over the world and can pinch you from their bedrooms with the curtains drawn. The news is replete with data breaches and international hacking. Just this week we are hearing about the details of another one; Chipolte was systematically hacked by malware. Credit card info was targeted and attained.

Our clients have a right to be concerned that when they deliver their data to our custody we won’t be the source of leakage. In this day and age, a buttoned up platform, able to withstand the scrutiny of a security audit, is a differentiator that makes a difference.

As this new paradigm was taking shape we, like many of our friends in the industry, groaned under the weight of what data security was, how it could be effective and still allow the practical application of a profitable workflow. The technology part of the equation was matched in difficulty with understanding the liability and insurability aspects. Large, well-founded clients will tell you what their expectations are and, thankfully, if you satisfy one demanding security inquiry, you are likely to be able to work through most of them. But getting to that stage takes time, money and good eyeglasses.

Reading those legal documents…it just doesn’t seem to get any easier.

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This post was written by Michael Kellogg