Voices: Pollard

Manufacturing Companies, How Do You Sell With Internet Spam?

Since the Intent of the Legislation is to Remove the Spam Lists so You Simply Can't Fire Out Thousands of Emails to Unknown Entities, Any Small Business That Might Rely on Email Address Lists from Accredited Sources Could Find Itself in Hot Water

By Jeremy Pollard

How do you do your marketing and sales? With the Internet, yes?

Many "on-the-road" salespeople have been kicked to the curb because of cost, lack of effectiveness, reduced budgets due to slimmer margins and any other excuse that allows companies, both private and public, to increase their bottom line.

This is kind of the same thinking as not marketing when your sales are down. Why do they do it?

As of July 1, Canada instituted its anti-spam law. CASL, as it's known, requires companies to register their recipients to send targeted emails to them on marketing, product information and the like.

If the target isn't registered, then the vendor has to remove said target from its database. Per the CASL website, however, there's a three-year grace period, during which implicit consent isn't required.

So why is this legislation important? To start with, there are 10 million reasons. That's the maximum fine for sending commercial-activity emails or messages without the consent of the recipient.

Also Read: Network Diagnostics or Spam — How Do You Get Rid of All the Noise?

With all the spam and duct-cleaning robocalls, one wonders why it's taken so long. Canada has had a do-not-call registry for a while, but the robocallers now have the ability to fake a phone number that would belong to a residence in your area, so you really have no idea where the calls come from.

Telephone spam can now be the same as spoofing. So can the CASL make a difference and/or will it allow for other governments to implement a similar approach to the spam issue so we can't contact anyone anywhere without permission?

Could this be used as a form of warfare, whereby whistleblowers everywhere try to rat out offending companies? I'm not convinced the legislation has any teeth, since the offended party must report the offender to Industry Canada. This might be too much trouble, but there's writing on the wall from this to take home.

Our sandbox has changed. Seems that the sand is much deeper than we thought, and the free reign we've enjoyed is coming to a slow and controlled halt.

I spoke with Terry Divelbiss, president of a small company that has a patented PLC-on-a-chip product that it builds products around, as well as designs and builds en masse for its clients. One of you reading this might very well be a client.

Upon discussing various topics of disarray, since Terry and I don't talk as often as I would like, we came upon the topic of tradeshows, and how there aren't any left. ISA Automation week is dead, and most of the open tradeshows and conferences are few and far between. Regional shows also are waning.

We don't get to talk much precisely because we normally talked at these events, so we have to learn about this thing called a phone to stay in touch, unless we have that perceived personal relationship per CASL and then we can use email.

But Terry's dilemma is big. Where does he find customers?

Since the intent of the legislation is to remove the spam lists so you simply can't fire out thousands of emails to unknown entities, any small business that might rely on email address lists from accredited sources could find itself in hot water. So Terry has to come up with a different marketing approach. He says he's not sure what that is just yet. He has an ongoing debate over where to target his expertise. Does he aim for special interest groups (SIGs), end-user group conferences or open, competitive tradeshows?

When Rockwell started its Automation Fair, it couldn't have known that it was starting a trend toward captive audiences. When in Rome, you can't travel anywhere else, which is the way the vendors want it—the big ones anyway.

What would happen if PackExpo packed it in? That's the premier application show and conference for packaging machine builders. What about Hannover Fair? These shows can help many companies, but the smaller the player, the less help they might be. The price of admission isn't cheap.

AutomationXchange was a targeted marketing effort, but again, it all costs money. So some options are still out there, but maybe aren't specific enough to help Terry.

I can hear you now: "Make up your mind."I know. I wish I could.

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